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The Supernatural Situations in Tokyo Babylon Still Remain Poignant

When I first read CLAMP’s Tokyo Babylon years ago, I was always struck by its execution and the nature of its spiritual situations. I’d started getting more into manga when Tokyopop started picking up series an making them more accessible. I’d been familiar with “monster of the week” situations. Due to an appreciation for Cardcaptor Sakura, Magic Knight Rayearth, and Clover and how they often did what I didn’t expect, went into thisseries hoping for the best as well. Years later, Yen Press picked up the series and is releasing the CLAMP Premium Collection Tokyo Babylon manga volumes, and I’m amazed at how well elements of it hold up.

For example, the introductory exorcism Subaru is explaining as the volume makes the spirit seem more sympathetic than the person she was haunting. Akie was a woman led on by a celebrity. She committed suicide, and her spirit essentially attached itself to his bed. Right at the outset, it is presenting us with an unexpected situation. The “ghost” isn’t evil. Just broken and grieving. The person being haunted? Maybe they deserved it?

This sort of conflicted morality comes up in the second encounter. This segment also highlights the translation Amanda Haley did. I’ve seen impressions of the second situation, which involves a possessed Chanel suit. This localization makes it clear that the feelings of people who envied, but could never have it, when they saw it in a window and the feelings of greed, hurt, and anger from the others who attempted to buy the suit during the Isetan Big Summer Sale, but didn’t, all collected. It showed the power of strong emotions, particularly negative ones, and how they influence people. 

But what strikes me most is how hard the Tokyo Tower case still hits. Spoilers aside, this is a situation during which both Subaru and Seishirou face a spirit that has the potential to terrify, as well as maybe even harm, visitors to the Main Observation Deck. The conversation between the spirit and the two of them, and the developments that arise, are so identifiable. It’s so easy to connect with the ghost and understand their experience. It remains just as relevant, and I really appreciated seeing some of these cases and situations hold up.

However, I will note that now that I’m older, seeing the relationship between Subaru and Seishirou hits much differently. Part of that is likely due to being a “real” grown-up, now that I’m reading the series again. Another element is probably due to having finished this series before, read X/1999, and having the awareness of knowing everything that will happen between the two of them. 

Still, Tokyo Babylon is still something special, and the CLAMP Premium Collection release of the first volume is well executed. The translation is good. The cover art is lovely. It really makes returning to the series and its story inviting. Especially when you realize how relatable some of the spirits and situations are. It also makes the situation surrounding the 2021 anime adaptation even more sad. 

Volume 1 of CLAMP Premium Collection Tokyo Babylon is available now, and volume 2 of the manga will appear on January 23, 2024. 

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The Supernatural Situations in Tokyo Babylon Still Remain Poignant


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