the golden witch.'s Reviews > Gate 7, Volume 1

Gate 7, Volume 1 by CLAMP
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Sep 01, 11

bookshelves: arc-galley, ebook, 2011, manga-and-comics, magical-reality, net-galley, reviewed
Read from August 22 to 23, 2011

** spoiler alert ** Netgalley, you always have my back. Once again, I have to thank them (and Dark Horse) for putting up the first translated chapter preview of CLAMP’s newest series, “Gate 7″. However, because I’ve been following since its initial publication in Japan late last year/early this year, this was a great opportunity to compare the translation to the original, and I have to say that once again, in the translation department, Dark Horse has renewed my faith in QUALITY translation within the manga sector. They did a FANTASTIC job with this series – and it’s not easy, seeing as how it relies so much on a lot of deeply historically researched and semi-obscure Shinto-related practices and concepts. So my hat’s off to Dark Horse for doing such an awesome job with this series so far.

As for the story – I love it. I absolutely adore it. And I love some of the huge risks that CLAMP is taking with this series – the plan to get it out to North America was inked around the same time the serialization deal was, so they knew ahead of time what they might deal with concerning their foreign audience’s ignorance on the finer points of the series. So I really have to hand it to them to explaining the concept of “kotodama” (wiki it, it’s too long to go into explanation here) in terms of simplifying it for everyone and making their story progress really gorgeously and smoothly. The art, of course, is exceptional (no surprise there), and I love how they’re bringing in other characters from their series (if you’ve read XXXHolic or Tsubasa, then you’re familiar with how they interweave their previous tales into new ones in new ways) in totally new ways. It all fits, and it’s a very smooth ride.

And then there’s the romance option – there’s always a degree of romance with CLAMP stories, but here they actually show kisses! That’s rare. I’m not sure why it is, but it is, and I’m happy to see they’re breaking their habit of hiding physical affection and hope it continues.

The history aspect – the Sengoku period (“Warring States” period in English) has always fascinated me, and I really love how CLAMP is using old Shinto mysticism in all of its glorious obscurity with some of the facts lost to recent history about the Sengoku period to create this very addictive story. If you don’t know much about the Sengoku period or its heroes and villains, don’t worry! CLAMP lays it out for you Cliffs Notes style without losing any of the details and nuances of the really complicated and confusing period that was Sengoku.

The result? I literally could not put this book down when I read it the first time around, and Dark Horse just makes me want to read the translated version even more. If you’re a fan of Japanese history, or religion, or you just have a passing interest, this is definitely a series you want to check out. This makes my best of 2011 list just for the sheer ballsiness for using such a complicated period in Japanese history along with obscure references in the Shinto practice.

CLAMP, I love you even more now. Don’t change a thing.

The first volume of “Gate 7″ will be out in North America in early October, with other volumes to follow. If you’re not in North America or Japan, consult your local translation houses to see if it’s been licensed in your area, and when it’s due out. Seriously worth a read!

(posted to librarything, goodreads, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)
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