Gate 7: Volume 1
Chikahito Takamoto - main character, obsessed with Kyoto history, in High School. I have to be honest, if his name is historically significant, I'm unaware. I know little to nothing about the whole Warring States period of Japanese history, or any of the time surrounding that... so to truly appreciate this story, I'm going to have to do a little research.
Hana - girl who lives in house with sakura and tachibana
Sakura - Tall, light-haired dude who is generally good natured.
Tachibana - Dark haired dude who is generally sour natured.
Hidetsugu - guy with little girl demon oni who seems to be in charge of the house Chika-chan is living in (Hidetsugu represents the spirit of Toyotomi Hidetsugu ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyotomi_Hidetsugu ) )
Mikoto - Hidetsugu's oni
Mitushide Akechi - snotty guy who attacks them with his Oni (who looks just like him with elf ears) (also another of the historical figures ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akechi_Mitsuhide )
Enka - Akechi's Oni
Dairokutenmaoh - most powerful oni, MIA
Nobunaga - human who made a contract with most powerful oni, MIA (also another historical figure: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobunaga )
In the first volume, Chikahito finally gets to take a trip to Kyoto (he lives in Tokyo) to see the ancient temples that fascinate him so much. Unfortunately, once there, he gets sucked into an incident with Hana, Sakura and Tachibana as they battle. Hana then gives him a kiss, which acts to draw him back to Kyoto to live (through a bunch of really weird circumstances)
He moves into Hana, Sakura and Tachibana's house where he acts as chef to pull his weight, and attends a local school. Hana is obsessed with noodles, so having a chef in the house isn't a bad plan.
They go to meet Hidetsugu, who ?owns? the house and decides to allow Chikahito to stay when Hana tells him Chikahito is the opposite of her (not that we really know what Hana is, we just know that Hana says they are alike in the ways of "not"). Chika-chan also finally gets to see an Oni, Mikoto, who travels with Hidetsugu.
At the end of the story they run into Akechi (many of these people (Hidetsugu, Akechi, etc), Chikahito recognizes as historical figures. Akechi challenges them to battle.
Just before that, Hidetsugu's Oni, Mikoto, explains how Oni work to Chika-chan.
The story itself is intriguing, and the main character, Chika-chan, is adorable, likeable and someone I want to learn more about, but the most amazing, fascinating thing for me about this series is the mixing of CLAMP styles.
This series incorporates the beautiful, delicate, intricate, detailed artwork of the caliber you'll find in X/1999 with the adorable, cartoony, chunkier style you'll find in their work like The Tsubasa Chronicles. Over the years, CLAMP has exhibited several art styles, but for whatever reason, Gate 7 has just struck me as the most beautiful marriage between them.
Beatiful, X/1999 style artwork:
This is Hana, one of the main characters... look at that beautiful line work 0_0 Especially around the eyes and hair. These aren't even the best examples... there are some really amazing fight scenes as well... but I tried to choose non-plot important images. XD
Now... here is Hana again:
This is her in a more chibi, adorable, sort of The Tsubasa Chronicles like mode... where human forms get more "cartoonish" in proportion and expression... it's amazing. Especially since in the image above you can see how in the next panel she's right back to being "Serious Hana"... and when you view it in context of the entire manga, it works... amazingly.
What also impressed me though was the mixing of the styles IN one panel. Tachibana and Sakura are almost always drawn seriously... even when others are not:
Chika-chan and Sakura
Hana and Tachibana
I love it, because you can continue to see them as "Two serious dudes" even when everyone else is being goofy.
This isn't the only comic you can find this marriage of styles in, XXXholic seems
to do this as well... but for whatever reason, Gate 7 is the one that has really struck me as the perfect marriage of the two.
Here's another example of a very cartoony style.
Gah, aren't they just friggin adorable?