PAINTING WORDS AND WORLDS

The Use of Ateji in Clamp's Manga

Mia Lewis

ABSTRACT


This study explores wordplay in the works of CLAMP, a popular Japanese mangaka (comic artist) group. Specifically, it examines CLAMP's use of ateji, the pairing of kanji (Chinese characters) and furigana (a reading gloss) with different meanings. This allows two different words to become one, creating meanings that transcend words¡¦ literal definitions. Original research on ateji in six different manga zasshi (comic magazines) and three of CLAMP's works ¡X Cardcaptor Sakura, Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, and Clover ¡X identifies five distinct ateji techniques. This study focuses on the way these techniques are employed by CLAMP to express complex ideas, develop plot, and portray characters. As a technique embedded within the Japanese language, the implications of ateji use in manga extend beyond the medium of comics, pointing to shifting trends in the language as a whole.

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