Reviewed by: Azure
Released by: Tanoshimi
Publishing Country: UK
Age Rating: 13+
Page Count: 192
Kimihiro Wantanuke finds himself caught up in a spirit parade or Hayakki yoko, and his only companion on this strange journey is Domeki. Humans aren’t normally allowed to join in, so if he and Domeki are caught they are in big trouble. Then Wantanuki meets a woman grieving for her lost son, since he is a orphan they instantly make a connection. Are their regular meetings really doing more harm than good?
This volume of xxxHolic wastes no time in getting in on the action, a strange cat visits Yuko’s shop and gives her a lantern, she promptly passes it on to Wantanuki. All Wantanuki knows is that if he and a companion hold it together that night they, ‘can take part’. He promptly invites Himawari who blows him off and in the end, he has to go with Domeki. It turns out the event is a Hoyakki yoko or spirit parade, and it’s as they travel with the spirits Wantanuki realises just how much danger they might be in. This gives CLAMP plenty of excuses to draw strange spirits and surroundings. The idea of a spirit parade will probably be familiar with Ghibli fans in particular a number of their films including Spirited Away and Pom Poko feature them.
The other major story of this volume concerns Wantanuki’s friendship with a woman he bumps into outside Yuko’s shop. They connect and she and Wantanuki keep meeting after school to talk, since Yuko is away Wantanuki has extra free time. It turns out that the woman has lost her son, Wantanuki having lost his parents can sympathise. Day by day though Wantanuki keeps getting sicker, until the point where he is literally coughing up blood. With Yuko away it’s Domeki who takes the lead in helping Wantanuki weather he likes it not. This story is much slower paced than many in xxxHolic and is less concerned with morals and more with telling a touching story.
Volume 6 of xxxHolic stands out for it’s character development more than anything else. Wantanuki gets to show his softer kinder side whilst conversing with the grieving woman, but so do those around him as they do their best to help Wantanuki and show they care. It’s the characters that make xxxHolic stand out from others in the horror investigation genre, by this point in the series it’s easy to see where to twists will come what’s harder to anticipate is how the character’s relationships will develop.