What can be said about CLAMP that hasn’t been said so many times before? They have created some of the world’s most well known manga, examples being, Chobits, Cardcaptor Sakura, Angelic Layer and their latest Tsubasa Chronicles. Now we have xxxHOLiC (with a strange way to write the name) which, whilst being a self contained story is also a tie-in to the excellent Tsubasa Chronicles.
xxxHOLiC follows the story of Watanuki Kimihiro as he finds himself in the company and service of the enigmatic Yûko, owner of a shop where she grants people’s wishes... for a price. Watanuki is special as the blood that runs through him lets him see ghosts and creatures of the other world. With this and now working at Yûko’s shop where literally anything can happen, he will have his work cut out for him.
Now, while xxxHOLiC does link in with Tsubasa the stories of the pair are very much stand-alone stuff in the grand-scheme of things. While some things do interlace with each other, such as Syaoran and Sakura’s arrival at Yûko’s shop, its interesting to see the other side of the conversation. While in Tsubasa, Watanuki seemed nothing more than an errand boy, in xxxHOLiC we actually see him ask questions and talk with Yûko about these two kids that have fallen out of the sky. We even learn how Monoko and Mokona (the little Cabbit creatures) were created and the interplay the different dimensions have with each other, not to mention an insight into why Syaoran and Sakura are important in the grand scheme of things.
The characters are especially entertaining. While Yûko starts off having the most personality, Watanuki quickly bounces ahead with the help of Yûko and helping to understand the world that he lives in and the ties that bind everything. Its entertaining to see that while Yûko comes across as someone who does very little but drink and work Watanuki to the bone, she is actually an incredibly complex character who knows how things will play out with her ”clients” and while her methods seem over the top at times, always have a deeper meaning.
That is xxxHOLiC in a nutshell. Everything that is done, experienced or looked at always has a deeper meaning and becomes apparent as it progresses. There is a great mix of horror, suspense and comedy that makes xxxHOLiC an irresistible read. As with Tsubasa, the notes at the back of the book provide that extra information needed to truly appreciate each volume and really enjoy what is going on.
If there is one negative so far it’s the relevance of some characters. While Watanuki’s rival, Domeki, is entertaining in his own right and actually complents Watanuki (as much as he would hate to admit it), its token love interest Himawari that seems to misplaced, being nothing more than a girl for Watanuki to swoon over. She seems completely oblivious to what happens to Watanuki and Domeki and not much is known about her outside of what happens in the manga. Maybe this will change in future volumes, but she seems a little under-used at the moment.
Whilst this can be read alone, I would recommend that you also read Tsubasa, as the pair make an interesting combination, with xxHOLiC's more informed worldview allows for an entertaining and richer experience.
In short, this is an entertaining story, with fantastic artwork and interesting characters which make xxxHOLiC a must have.