Drug & Drop, Vol. 1

By CLAMP. Released in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Dark Horse.

And so, after a 10-year hiatus, Legal Drug returns, with added plot! It began right about the time that xxxHOLIC was wrapping up in Young Magazine, which is appropriate given the similarity between the two series. Indeed, CLAMP underlines this by having Watanuki show up in the middle of this first volume, assigning the team a task that he, being unable to leave the shop, cannot accomplish himself. It’s somewhat disappointing that the Watanuki we see her is the post-series calm, reserved, smirking Watanuki, as of course during most of the best parts of xxxHOLIC, he and Kazahaya were like peas in a pod – little balls of frustration and anger who screamed at their close friend/rival whenever life became too much for them, which was all the time.


I had thought that the art style would be greatly changed from the first 3 volumes in the past, but it turns out that’s just the cover, which has our heroes prettied up and I suspect is drawn by another member of the team. Once inside the art is much the same as it was before, although 10 years more experience has made Nekoi’s eye for composition even better than it was before. As with so much CLAMP, this is simply pretty to look at, with even noble suffering being given a languorous tone, and where smoke wafting around the room can have a smirking quality to it, just like its owner. And, of course, where a crow being ripped apart by human hands can also looks quite pretty, if devastating.

One problem with Legal Drug is that its main ‘plot’, so to speak, was very much held back, with the series kept on as a ‘monster of the week’ sort of story till it found its feet – and then, of course, came the hiatus. Now that it’s returned, we thankfully don’t need that incubation period, and a lot of what was suggested in the first series is brought into sharper relief here. Rikuo has someone (sister or lover, I’m not sure), who he keeps searching for even though all signs point to her being dead. Kazahaya has a sister he loves dearly but who he is desperately hiding from, and the cliffhanger of the book shows us why. And the shop the two work in seems to have been created as a place for the two of them to have their Big Destiny together – Kakei and Saiga are just helping them along.

There’s a lot less humor here as well, sadly – the amusing overreactions are kept to a minimum, and Rikuo outright gets a prophecy that says he has to make an impossible choice and will fall into despair no matter what. It works out, though, because the two leads seem better equipped to deal with whatever tragedy comes their way. Kazahaya is still impulsive, but not to the point of being socially inept like in Legal Drug. Rikuo is stoic, but is actually bothering to explain things to Kazahaya this time around instead of merely rescuing and smirking at him. They FEEL more like the two chained by destiny that they’re supposed to be.

So in the end, Drug & Drop is much like its earlier incarnation, only more serious and with better written characters. I can’t guarantee it will end well, given my experience with CLAMP’s endings over the years, but for now let’s just enjoy the ride.