|Not an auspicous beginning.||2 out of 2 users found this review helpful.|
While I'd consider Tokyo Babylon the first of CLAMP's urban fantasy series, it's certainly not the best known. That title falls upon X, known in the United States as X/1999.
The first volume of the series follows Kamui, Kotori and Fuma. Kotori and Fuma are siblings, a brother and sister respectively, who were friends with Kamui in childhood. Kamui left them after a family tragedy. Now that all three are old enough to be in High School, Kamui has returned, now more violent, and impersonal. Additionally, Fuma has been having visions of an apocalypse, one in which Kamui plays a part.
Being that this is the opening volume of a long-running series, many questions are posed, without answers. A lot of characters need to have their personalities and motivations set up. The writer also needs to get the audience behind their main characters, to keep them reading. They succeed in doing this with Kotori and Fuma. However, CLAMP fails at doing this with Kamui. He's violent. He's petulant. He's almost sociopathic. Considering Fuma's vision and his behavior, he seems like he'd be the villain of the series.
The comic spends a great deal of time on Kamui, enough to give the reader the impression he's the protagonist. Unfortunately, he's not one I feel like I could get behind. His ultimate objective is single minded, and he doesn't have the motivations of a well-intentioned extremist like Light Yagami, nor is he executing the sort of labyrinthine plans Light does – which keep you wanting to read to see what the rest of the plan is. Instead, with Kamui any desire to keep reading is based on either finding a L to be an opposing force for Kamui, or hoping that Kamui will undergo a personality change like Kamille Bidan did in Gundam Zeta, that makes him a more mature character.
That said, the art in this manga is gorgeous. While Tokyo Babylon's backgrounds couldn't keep up with their character designs, the art here is splendid across the board. It is an definite improvement over their earlier work.
Still, at this point I would not consider this a strong opening. The later volumes in the series that I've read thus far do show enough of an improvement that I'd tentatively be willing to recommend this volume, but only if you're planning on continuing to read the series.