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Gate 7 Chapter 1 Manga Preview Review

5 min read

CLAMP returns with a new series, though for better or worse parts of it already feel a bit familiar.

Creative Staff
Story/Art: CLAMP
What They Say
An innocent sightseeing trip to Kyoto opens up a magical realm to shy high schooler Chikahito Takamoto! Visiting a legendary shrine, Chikahito finds himself in the mystical world of Hana and her comrades–and his immunity to their powers leads them to believe that he’s no ordinary, awkward teenager! Protecting our world from violent elemental beasts, Hana and her team welcomes the confused Chikahito–who isn’t quite sure that he wants to be caught in the middle of their war! One’s thing’s certain, though, since he’s smitten with aloof, childlike warrior Hana, he’s along for the ride, for better or worse!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Chikahito Takamoto is a young man with a love of things that have a long history to them such as shrines and ancient arts. He is finally visiting a city that in itself has always had a pull to him-the history laden Kyoto. A key focus of his journey is the Kitano Tenmangu temple which he has been obsessed with visiting for years as he has talked his mother’s ear off about it. As he crosses one of the small wooden bridges on the property on his way to get a charm after touring the grounds his world is suddenly rocked in a way he couldn’t expect.

The world swirls around him a bit and suddenly he sees an odd trio of figures perched in trees wearing more traditional clothing. The member in the middle particularly catches his eye but he is unable to tell if the figure is a boy or girl from a bit of a distance. His state of confusion isn’t helped any as the two men on either side of the figure start arguing about things like setting boarders and a “normal visitor.”

The middle figure suddenly rushes at him as some odd shapes start to form behind him and he finally learns the person’s name is Hana when she is told to form her weapon by one of the men in the trees-which she does by pulling a sword out of almost thin air. Surprise is the order of the day though as Chikahito shows another remarkable power besides just breaking through seals to the three but he is in line for one final shock. How will the events of this day now shape his future and who are these three strange individuals and what was it they were fighting?

CLAMP has become one of the powerhouses in manga when it comes to their creations and even when they simply do character or costume designs for other series their name helps draw attention to a project. With such a large following as they have assembled over the years anything they do is often met with great anticipation, and the news that they were starting Gate 7 after the finish of their previous two manga managed to catch no small amount of attention. The thing is when someone or a group becomes that big can expectations actually turn against them?

I am a very big fan of CLAMP’s work. Their Magic Knight Rayearth was even in the first manga anthology magazine I bought (OK, I bought the magazine for Sailor Moon but Rayearth was still in there as well) and have a fairly large collection of their works including some posters and art prints. I tend to look forward to their new projects, though the last couple have admittedly not given me quite the same thrill I was getting when their works started popping up in mass in the early part of the 2000s in the US manga market. Still, each time I hear of a new project hope springs anew for that title to make me feel like some of those works I experienced in the early days of the US manga boom.

Sadly Gate 7 doesn’t feel fresh or new in this first chapter, rather it feels like it is cobbling together bits from other CLAMP works as well as other titles that have been more main stream lately. The introduction chapter tries to tease the audience by hinting at the mystery behind the main character but he comes off as so vanilla there really is nothing to grab onto here. When add in that he gives off a Watanuki from xxxHOLiC vibe in his design and the story elements presented it kind of feels like an early, and less interesting frankly, assimilation of elements from that recently ended series. Throw in some generic talk from characters that are certain they established seals to keep people out and this set up feels like something that has been done in dozens of works over the past few years.

The art being from CLAMP is still spectacular but if I was handed this chapter in a manga anthology today and not told who created it I would comment that the art was very good but that this premier story felt generic and l would likely not go out of my way looking for a second chapter if it weren’t in a magazine I was already buying or I saw it in completed form somewhere offered for cheap. Being that it is CLAMP behind this project I am willing to give them at least a volume or two simply because of how some of their other titles have hooked me but unless something moves rapidly forward from this start a couple volumes may be all the chance they get to woo me on this story.

Also of note the lack of honorifics are something I can deal with though not love but I hope very much that the manga volumes have a translator’s notes section as some of the names being dropped caused a great disruption in the flow as I had no idea what they referred to and it caused my eyes to kind of glaze over but they clearly seem to hold some significance (well, that and CLAMP tends to do that with their main characters at the very least in their stories as well).

In Summary
CLAMP’s latest manga sallies forth but in the first chapter it follows a path that feels very “been there, done that.” While being the popular group they are means they probably can bide their time in a way a new mangaka can’t in terms of needing a big splash up front what is here feels fairly vanilla and common. The art is, as expected, superb-especially in the traditional clothing designs-but the hook that is presented in this initial chapter isn’t very fresh or unique feeling. Hopefully this is a sign that CLAMP is keeping their cards close to the vest rather than a harbinger of things to come.

Content Grade: C
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Text/Translation Grade: C

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Released Date: October 25th, 2011
MSRP: $10.99

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