Speaking of CLAMP's weirder little short stories, let's return to the world of CLAMP School for yet another exercise in frivolousness. This time it's tokusatsu flavored!
CLAMP SCHOOL DEFENDERS DUKLYON (Gakuen Tokkei Dyukarion), by CLAMP. First published in 1992 and first published in North America in 2003.
When classmates Kentaro Higashikunimaru and Takeshi Shukaido aren't arguing amongst themselves and engaging in all the frivolities of CLAMP School, they suit up to become the CLAMP School Defenders Duklyon! Together with their easily aggravated team leader Eri, they fight back against the dastardly Imonoyama Shopping District Association and their legion of bizarre monsters!
Even by the low standards of the CLAMP School works, this might be one of the goofiest and slightest of the bunch. Much of that is on purpose, but what few jokes it has to offer get old FAST.
The whole thing is one big riff on tokusatsu shows. Even if you never watched anything beyond Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, this much is obvious. That's a perfectly fine conceit, even if the jokes never dig particularly deep. The problem is that there are maybe half a dozen jokes in the entire and every single one of them is hammered firmly into the ground. There are only so many times you can be expected to laugh at how obvious everyone's secret identities are, the manzai-like routine between the boys, or even the villain's big dumb crush on Eri before you just start getting annoyed with each new instance.
There's also another problem: of all the CLAMP School manga, this one crosses over with all of them. Duklyon is commanded by a very poorly disguised Nokuro, leader of the CLAMP School Detectives. The last chapter here is a 2-on-1 battle between the Duklyon boys and Man of Many Faces, which is the phantom thief alter ego of another member of the CLAMP School Detectives. These aren't even cameos! They're basically supporting roles, and without having read those other works their appearances might as well be pointless. When that pointlessness is combined with the annoying humor and half-ass parody, the end result is simply inane.
Being a CLAMP School-era work, the character designs here are a little rougher than later works. The boys are perfectly cute in CLAMP's typical fashion, but their faces tend to be as stiff as their armor-like Duklyon suits. At least they get off easier than their classmate/villain Kotobuki. He damn near threatens to drown in hair that looks more like a Kabuki wig than hair, even when he's in his ridiculously oversized costume. There's not much in the way of backgrounds, as CLAMP mostly leans on some rather plain screentones. There's also not much in the way of action. All the fights are basically over within a page, maybe two at a stretch. All in all, there's not much here for anyone unless they really enjoy CLAMP's older character designs.
CLAMP School Defenders Duklyon is meant to be goofy, but it's simply too lame and too immersed in the CLAMP School universe to be anything other than an annoying curiosity.
This series is digitally published by Viz, and previously by Tokyopop. This series is complete in Japan with 2 volumes available. Both volumes were published and are currently out of print. This series is available digitally through Viz.