by Janelle Jimenez
If you find a four-leaf clover,
It will bring happiness;
don't tell Anyone
Where its white flower
Or how many leaflets from its stem extend.
The four-leaved clover.
I only want your happiness, knowing
I can never be yours to share it.
Clover is set in a futuristic cyberpunk society where organized crime runs rampant and the computer allows humans to travel to distant locations in an instant -- yet is a world run by wizards and still full of magic. The very heart of the series is a song which enigmatically tells the entire story in symbolic ideas and phrases. In the tradition of CLAMP's dark tales, Clover is truly a tragic, uncomplicated story.
The main character is a former military officer named Ryuu Fei Kazuhiko who is given the duty to transport a government secret, a young girl named Siu. Kazuhiko is a somewhat brash man who seems to have a lot of enemies from his past, but also a few great allies. Gingetsu, is a friend from Kazuhiko's past, a lieutenant colonel who saves Kazuhiko from sticky situations during the unraveling of the story. He also happens to be the "caretaker" of super-bishounen Lan, a young male who's an absolute wiz at computers-and has some other very special gifts as well. Both of these men try and aid Kazuhiko in his mission to deliver Siu to a run-down, old, amusement park.
Siu, although not really the main character, is certainly the focus of the storyline. She is a naive, innocent girl who by decree of the wizards has lived much of her life shut away from the rest of the world, her only communication with the outside world a singer who touched her heart named Oruha-who also happens to be Kazuhiko's dead fiancee. Siu is a girl with a secret, a secret that is shared by only a few people on Earth, two of them being Lan and Oruha. However, they're allowed to live semi-normal lives, while her secret keeps her from contact with any being, for fear that she may fall in love with them. But what is her secret and why have the wizards enlisted the help of Kazuhiko to take her to a dilapidated amusement park? The first two volumes of Clover explore this question, while the third volume is the prequel. The upcoming fourth volume is rumored to be a collection of side stories featuring other characters in the storyline.
Clover is a very fast moving story, leaving little time for in-depth character development which in turn can sometimes confuse readers. The physical layout of the manga can be somewhat confusing as well. Rather than using the usual scene-by-scene layout of most manga, Clover's illustrations are something like camera angles; rather than showing an entire scene in one panel, they appear in separate pieces as if stills from a movie. This makes the story sometimes difficult to follow -- but the result is almost like watching a movie. Despite any of the confusion which may result from physical aspects of the manga, the story itself is fairly uncomplicated and fascinating. The story is thoroughly enjoyable and leaves the reader longing for the happy ending which can hardly ever be in a CLAMP masterpiece.