Drug & Drop Vol. #01 Manga Review

Drug & Drop Vol. #01 Manga Review Creative Staff:
Story: CLAMP (Nanase Ohkawa)
Art: CLAMP (Tsubaki Nekoi)

What They Say:
The story of Drug & Drop picks up right where Legal Drug left off! Kazahaya awakens from a disturbing dream of the sister he had to part from, Kei—covered in blood and clutching him close to her. If it’s a case of seeing spirits, there’s one young (?) man Kazahaya and Rikuo can go to for advice—a special guest character CLAMP fans know from xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle—Kimihiro Watanuki!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The volume opens with Kazahaya dreaming of his sister Kei, who then turns into a bloodied girl with long dark hair he’s never met before, but suspects Rikuo has. They go about their day and off to work, and their boss, Kakei-san, sends them on a job at a mansion they don’t recall ever seeing around. There, they are greeted by Kimihiro Watanuki (a character in two of CLAMP’s previous works) and it turns out they’ve arrived at his shop. He seems too young to be filling in running the shop, but something is odd about the youthful looking boy, and he explains his shop is one that fulfills wishes and he cannot leave it. The job he requests of them seems simple- find an object, located in another building, that is similar to the shell-like one he gives them for reference. When Kazahaya touches the shell, he starts to feel unwell suddenly, and when they enter the building they find the smell of alcohol and a child lounging upstairs in a room. Kazahaya collapses and the child possesses him, pointing out Kazahaya’s abilities to see visions.

The child, who turns out to be inhuman, longs for something it won’t explicitly ask for, implies Rikuo has some kind of power himself, and draws out possessing Kazahaya until it finally reveals what it wants- blood. It drinks blood from Rikuo’s neck, reveling in the sweetness of it created by regrets and guilt that Rikuo carries over Tsukiko. When Rikuo asks the child-like inhuman what it knows, it tells him that he’s already made the connection that will allow him to find what he seeks, but has not realized it yet. When he does, what awaits him is more red than he’s ever seen, a sea of blood. After the encounter, Rikuo and Kazahaya wake up elsewhere with Watanuki and Saiga watching over them. Watanuki explains to Rikuo what the inhuman creature was. The pair return to work the next day, and Saiga shows up with information for Rikuo- a few months before she vanished, Tsukiko was approached by a religious group called The Ship of the Moon.

Later, Kazahaya dreams of Tsukiko, who asks that he take care of Rikuo. When he awakes, the shell object is in his hand. During a conversation about it with Kakei, the shell object merges into Kazahaya’s hand. He wonders if the shell/scale will now give him a new power. Saiga arrives, and they have a job to send Kazahaya on that he’ll have to do solo since Rikuo was not at work and presumably working out the lead Saiga gave him. The job is to deliver a memory. Kazahaya accepts, and as he goes off, Kakei and Saiga reflect on how they will protect the boy and protect what the boy wants to be protected. Elsewhere, a black bird flies overhead of a beautiful young girl. The girl appears to be Kei, speaking to the bird of finding Kazahaya, of their promises to always be together. She then breaks the bird’s neck, commenting on how her and Kazahaya must always be together and if anyone gets in the way of that, they can just murder that person. And so ends Volume 1.

In Summary:
Having never read Legal Drug, I felt dropped into a fictional universe I had no familiarity with and that I missed a lot of character/plot backstory by not reading the previous manga series. That being said, I could pick up some of the gist of the story in that Kazahaya is special due to his abilities, that he and Rikuo came together somehow by some likely fated manner in Legal Drug, and that one or both are special enough to be protected. I get the feeling that something terrible happened to Tsukiko and am curious to know why Kei is currently a token creepy, CLAMP teen girl.

I think this overall the challenge with sequel series, making it a good continuation for old fans while having the ability for new fans to pick it up as well, but in terms of Drug & Drop, it overall feels like it caters more to the former than latter. You really need to have read Legal Drug to understand or appreciate the story and what’s going on, otherwise it’s being dropped in well in the middle of things and you spend more time trying to figure out who is who than on the actual story as it moves.

The story is full of the usual CLAMP-iness one can find in their work- ambiguously together/not-together pretty boys, one or more being The Chosen, psychic powers, mysterious and intimidating superiors/protectors, etc. etc. The art is on point for the standards set by CLAMP’s work, beautiful flowing lines, everything is pretty, and a strong black and white toned palette. As notable in their recent works, they really like having characters from other works of theirs crossover.

I think if I were to continue with this series, I would really need to go back and read it’s predecessor before wanting to read more of this. If one has read Legal Drug, this is probably a good continuation of the story you’re already familiar with.

Additionally, on a general CLAMP end note, while it’s great they’re continuing this particular fictional universe, as a long-time CLAMP fan I also cannot help but feel frustration that there are other excellent series they’ve created that are still currently unfinished and with no sign of being completed,  ie- X/1999 and Clover. While some of this is likely tied up in the issue of magazine releases and finding new magazines for them, it’s been a long time now and feels like both should have had those problems resolved by now and both stories concluded.

Grade: B-

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: January 7th, 2015
MSRP: $10.99