xxxHOLiC Volume 15

By CLAMP. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Magazine. Released in North America by Del Rey.

I have a very love/hate relationship with this title, which has a bunch of things I adore, but also a bunch of really irritating things. This volume in particular is a good example.

First of all, I’m not sure if you recall, but the early volumes of xxxHOLiC were actually quite funny. Yuko in particular was an endless vein of humor with her drunken antics, and Watanuki was in a constant state of apoplectic rage. It was a good thing, as the stories themselves could be quite melancholy, so the humor helped to balance things out. Unfortunately, events in recent volumes, this one in particular, slide everything to the melancholy side a bit too much. Watanuki in particular seems to have mastered the art of looking like he’s accepted the saddest fate in the world. It was actually refreshing seeing his complete breakdown in the final chapter.

Of course, there is one bit of hilarious humor right at the start of this volume. Let me quote it to you: “Although it isn’t necessary to read Tsubasa in order to understand the events in xxxHOLiC…” Isn’t that just a STITCH?

I may, of course, not be the best judge of this. I have read Tsubasa, after all. But it strikes me that anyone who’s trying to keep track of just xxxHOLiC is going to find themselves thinking this volume is rushed and doesn’t explain much. And yes, this is at heart CLAMP, Kodansha, and Del Rey trying to get you to buy both series. But I suspect Tsubasa fans who decided to skip xxxHOLiC ended up with the better deal in the end.

All that said, I did find much to enjoy in this volume. Though I felt the cooking plot dragged on a great deal, it reads better in volume format, and is blessedly resolved here. Watanuki’s dogged persistence is admirable, and he gets to the heart of the matter without any need for Yuko at all – which turns out to be for the best. And though I have issues with Watanuki and Yuko’s final scene, it is fairly gut-wrenchingly emotional, resolving the very first plot point of the series, and with Watanuki making a promise that I suspect was a bit too rash, but is entirely understandable.

And we see Himawari! I love Himawari. It must hurt to have a fandom so devoted to the two boys that they don’t even bash you, as they simply feel you aren’t enough of a threat to their couple. (To be fair, CLAMP seem to feel the same way – Domeki and Watanuki have enough Ho Yay to choke a goat.)

Most of all, xxxHOLiC is CLAMP’s mood manga, evoking through its beautiful art a gothic, melancholy world that would not be all that fun to live in, but is very nice to read about. Tsubasa was the epic crossover from hell with a plot so complicated that it makes your brain hurt, but even at its worst, xxxHOLiC gives a sense of peace. I suspect CLAMP feel the same; after all, Tsubasa is over but xxxHOLiC continues in Japan. They like to draw this series.

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