xxxHOLiC (Volume 6) Manga | My Reviews 24 SEP 2008

xxxHOLiC 6Kimihiro Watanuki takes a welcome break from his grueling service to the time-space witch, Yuko Ishihara, only to find himself mixed up in the strangest parade of the Japanese magical world. But a slip up reveals that Kimihiro is a powerless human! How can he survive the festival without being eaten by its dangerous participants?

Then Kimihiro meets a woman grieving for her lost son. Since Kimihiro is an orphan, the two form an immediate bond. But what will Kimihiro do when he realizes that his wonderful new friendship may very well kill him?

Kimihiro Watanuki is an easily excitable, highly strung and extremely unlucky high school student who happens to be able to see and has been plagued by the spirit world all his life. A chance meeting with the beautiful but unpredictable space-time witch Yuko Ishihara who’s business it is to grant wishes has given Watanuki the chance to finally be rid of the spirit world for good – but in exchange the hapless student now needs to work in her mystical shop where all manner of things spiritual and downright scary abound anyway!

Volume 6 sees Watanuki and Domeki dragged directly into the spirit world thanks to a gift from an unexpected visitor to Yuko who then decides to pass the present on to Watanuki as part of his ‘learning’ instead. However, this particular journey into the spirit world is by far the most dangerous yet and the slightest miscalculation or misstep may actually be the death of both of them!

This is then followed by an important lesson as to the origin of old wives’ tales when Watanuki decides to challenge the convention of not clipping one’s toenails after dark.

Now working at the wish-granting shop certainly comes with a lot of perks, but more usually it is paired with back-breaking work and cooking, so Watanuki is more than a little thrilled at the prospect of getting some time off as Yuko and Mokona need to travel elsewhere to take care of some pressing business, leaving the young man to his own devices. But as per usual trouble isn’t far behind and the sad drama revolving around a mother who has lost her son and the friendship she strikes up with the orphan Watanuki is about to unfold, a drama which may just actually end with the death of one of these two people!

And then finally, one last task awaits our hapless hero – a full moon delivery that will only go safely if you know how to play with words!

xxxHOLiC is produced by the super popular, all female mangaka group CLAMP, responsible for some of the most well known manga titles to ever reach us out here in the West. These four ladies started out producing doujinshi (fan fiction) a while ago but word of their work soon caught on and being of such a high standard, they quickly began to make a name for themselves in the professional world. Some of their previous credits including Chobits, X/1999, CardCaptor Sakura, xxxHOLIC and Magic Knight Rayearth, just to name a few!

Volume 6 of xxxHOLiC has to go down as one of the darker and more serious tomes yet, with the focus of the entire story most definitely taken off the silly comedy that one has come to expect from the interactions between Watanuki, Domeki and Himawari and placed instead more on the tangible dangers that the spirit world actually holds in store for the people who would freely interact with it.

There is a lot more sadness to this volume and although it is balanced out with the necessary mysticism, comedy and humour that xxxHOLiC is known for, this time around you will end off the book feeling a lot more down than what you would normally do with any other volume in the series. That said, the quality of story and writing is exactly what you would expect from the CLAMP ladies, so this volume holds up perfectly in the series then.

xxxHOLiC continues its rather unique visual presentation, with its exquisitely detailed costume designs and rather appealing elongated character proportions, all mixed up with some beautifully heavy but clean brush work. As always xxxHOLiC is extremely light on the background details, only filling anything in when it is absolutely essential.

Detailed but always fun character expressions and the occasional use of super-deformed caricatures continues to enforce a lot of the book’s humorous elements and one has to say that volume 6 ranks right up there with the rest of CLAMP’s masterful works.

In summary, volume 6 of xxxHOLiC certainly feels more meaty and dramatic than the previous volumes, but at the same time retains the humour and atmosphere that has made xxxHOLiC such a hit for CLAMP and therefore makes for a well-balanced, enjoyable read that is sure to please almost everyone who picks it up off the shelf.

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.