Legal Drug Omnibus Review

Written by: CLAMP

Art by: CLAMP

Publisher: Dark Horse

Any fan of manga or anime is sure to know CLAMP by now. Chobits, Magic Knight Rayearth, Tokyo Babylon, Cardcaptor Sakura, the list goes on. Legal Drug is a series that most are sure to be unfamiliar with, however, mostly due to its strange publishing history. Its original Japanese run ended when the magazine it was published in ended and Tokypop only published 3 volumes. Dark Horse has thankfully finally collected and translated the full series which is presented to us in a pretty huge collection of 528 pages.

Legal Drug is about two men, Kudo Kazehaya and Himura Rikuo, who work at a drugstore ran by a man named Kakei. Kakei, however, also has them do a bunch of odd jobs in return for extra money. The neat thing about these jobs though is that they end up being way more than Kazehaya and Rikuo anticipated and usually have a bit of a supernatural influence. Fans of CLAMP’s xxxHolic will feel right as home as the general setup is about the same. There’s a bunch of character interaction at home/the drugstore, and then a wild supernatural adventure that our protagonists believed would be a simple task. As a huge fan of xxxHolic, I greatly enjoyed this overall setup. Overall, xxxHolic tends to be darker in theme but Legal Drug hooks you in the hints it gives about its main characters.

This character mystery, however, is also a bit of an unfortunate downfall. It’s easy to see that CLAMP was building up towards giant reveals for both characters as both of their histories are fairly unknown. Throughout the series we get small flashbacks and hints towards their pasts but so much of it is steadily maintained as a mystery. Kakei is also hinted to have some sort of powers in which he can determine futures (or something to that effect) and we’re led to believe that Kazehaya and Rikuo have been brought together not by chance but by fate or whatever cosmic powers exist. And we end up finding out that Kazehaya and Rikuo both have powers of their own which seems to be why Kakei has employed them. Kazehaya can see and feel memories of people when he touches them or their belongings and Rikuo has telepathic abilities that allows him to break things


With all this paranormal business going on, everything manages to stay pretty fresh and CLAMP really needs to be commended on how many ideas they have for all these paranormal series. In Legal Drug, most of Kakei’s extra jobs seem to actually be centered around helping people and the individual stories themselves can be disheartening with all the pain involved.

Legal Drug has some gorgeous, clean artwork and its easily apparent that it’s a CLAMP work. All of the characters are thin and lanky, there’s a great amount of attention spent on facial expressions and close ups, and the environment has a great amount of detail thrown in. Since this is also an omnibus collection, we’re treated to some of CLAMP’s fantastic ultra-detailed drawings that serve as breaks between chapters or intros. The only issue I have with some of their artwork is that CLAMP tends to reuse general character designs but that also has a lot to do with the manga stereotypes that exist within the medium in general. Is there a young looking, fair-haired character with big eyes? There’s a good chance that’s going to be the innocent, naive guy in the story. Taller, dark-haired, muscular man with narrower eyes? He’s going to be our tall, dark, and mysterious man who’s often brooding and tends to stay somewhat silent. CLAMP fortunately writes well enough to prevent their characters from being carbon copies but since their art style is so iconic, it’s pretty easy to see where they ended up using the same general character designs throughout their series. Legal Drug is arguably my favorite CLAMP series artistically, however, because it’s almost the perfect body of work to showcase their iconic style since it is so clean. And they devote a large amount of their heavily detailed drawings to ramping up the shounen-ai elements which is great in terms of fan service.

Which is actually worth mentioning on its own. The shounen-ai elements in Legal Drug are pretty heavy. As a big fan of manga (especially CLAMP works) this wasn’t too shocking or anything for me but it deserves a warning to people who only know CLAMP as the people who made that cute Cardcaptor cartoon. There’s very heavy implications of gay relationships in here and be prepared to run the whole gambit of shounen-ai fan service from characters accidentally falling asleep in the wrong bed, cross-dressing, and a bunch of dudes telling each other how cute and handsome they are. If you are a fan of that (and I’ll be honest, it can be a bit of a guilty pleasure) then Legal Drug is a fantastic bishounen manga to pick up as it has cute boys, an interesting story, and well-crafted characters and we all know how hard it is to find all 3 within shounen-ai. By all means though, a bunch of that definitely takes a backseat to the stories and I don’t believe Legal Drug was intended to be a shounen-ai manga, but the elements are heavily present and it may turn off a few readers who were expecting another xxxHolic (that largely focused on girl-crazy Watanuki). The final arc in particular is extra heavy on the shounen elements but I believe that it was actually the strongest story within the collection and ended up being my favorite arc due to how much happens within it. And there’s some really good fan service within the page spreads between chapters of our heroes in somewhat compromising positions.


Legal Drug fortunately continued under the name Drug & Drop and Dark Horse is set to release that in 2015. Legal Drug could easily be one of Clamp’s best series and is really only harmed by the fact it never got to finish and has a lot of loose ends that didn’t get tied up. Kazehaya and Rikuo are more than hinted at being destined to meet and perhaps being the people that they each need to help them get what they’re searching for. I’d recommend it all the way for fans of xxxHolic as it will help fulfill that desire for paranormal short stories and there’s some very similar character elements between the two series.  Legal Drug managed to be compelling and kept my interest all the way through, which is important for any kind of serial piece of work, and Drug & Drop will probably fulfill our appetite or knowing what’s the deal with Kazehaya, Rikuo, and even Kakei and his ridiculous jobs. This is easily a manga I’d read multiple times and eagerly await Dark Horse’s publication of Drug & Drop which is more than we can say of other comics and manga.

Overall, pick up Legal Drug if you want an interesting paranormal drama and/or you particularly enjoy CLAMP’s beautiful artwork and consistent body of work. I wasn’t disappointed and walked away with a new potential favorite series that could rank right up there with xxxHolic if Drug & Drop ends up wrapping up these loose ends. Otherwise I definitely can say I enjoyed the story and that it constantly surprised me with its twists and paranormal premises. And a gigantic 528 page collection at $20 is more than a good deal as it’s sure to take even the most avid reader a decent amount of time to get through, especially if you take the time to appreciate the art that more or less demands your attention to details.