Foreign Friday: Tokyo Babylon

“Do you know why a sakura tree’s blossoms are pink? It is because there is a body buried beneath every tree.”  – Tokyo Bablyon

This week’s Foreign Friday entry is Tokyo Babylon by CLAMP.

The Story

Subaru Sumeragi works as an onmyoji (exorcist) in Tokyo. Together with his twin sister Hokuto, he attempts to protect the city and its inhabitants for a myriad of supernatural problems.

The Charaters

True to CLAMP’s style, all the characters within the story have detailed, and often twisted backstories. Subaru is a kind, gentle young man who is trying to make a difference in his beloved city. His twin sister Hokuto is more concerned about enjoying life and making sure her brother enjoys it too. Seishiro Sakurazuka appears to be a kindly veterinarian with subtle romatic feelings for Subaru, but he is more than he appears.

What I Thought

If you are a reader who enjoys a series of substories that involve the pain of the human condition and ultimately leaves you with a depressing view of the human condition, then this series is perfect for you. However, if you are like me and desire to have at least some semi-sweet closure at the end of a harrowing tale, then do not pick up this series. CLAMP has the amazing ability to write compelling stories with a lot of philosophical twists and turns, so I didn’t realize where the story was heading (i.e. that it wasn’t going to get better at the end) and read the whole thing, which ended with the aforementioned view of the human condition. The series style reminded me of a writing style I studied in an American Literature class, called humanism, (an example would be the novel Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser) which showed human nature as a sort of inescapable spiral down to our worst traits. Tokyo Babylon is made up of a series of subplots with a vague over-arching plot that only becomes clear in the last part of the series. The title is explained in the end with the discovery that in this Tokyo, no one can understand or really communicate with another. The series is 7 volumes long and is available in English in the US.

I heard that there is an anime version of the series. I have never been depressed enough interested in watching it.

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