Reviewed by: PaulB
Released by: Del Ray
Publishing Country: USA
Age Rating: 13+
Page Count: 185
Watanuki comforts Kohane the medium, listens to sage advice from Haruka, meets Tsubasa’s Sakura and there’s also the suggestion that Watanuki’s reality may not be quite as ‘real’ as first thought.
Kimihiro Watanuki is plagued by ghosts until he meets Yuko Ichihara, a witch with the ability to grant wishes - but at a price. In return for her services, Watanuki is forced to work for Yuko and gets caught up in all manner of supernatural antics.
In this volume the story builds on Watanuki's relationships with characters that have slowly been introduced in previous volumes.
This includes Domeki's grandfather Haruka who Watanuki has been meeting in his dreams. Haruka has served as something of a mentor to the young student and here he hints at some hitherto unspoken aspect of Yuko's background.
The theme of dreams continues as Watanuki encounters Sakura (from companion title Tsubasa) and discovers a connection between himself and Sakura and Syaoran.
Meanwhile, Kohane the young psychic girl runs into trouble during a TV show. Correcting her fellow psychics results in her reputation being attacked. Watanuki and Domeki go to visit her at home and discover the house is daubed with offensive graffiti, while Kohane herself is recovering from injuries sustained falling down some stairs, hinting she may have been pushed.
Later that night, Watanuki again begins dreaming, but is unsure if his waking hours are real or that in fact the dreamworld is real. Is he merely a product of a dream as well?
It's tough to fault xxxHOLiC, the art and story by CLAMP are beautiful and although the story occasionally takes some dark turns, there's often a well-needed spot of humour (usually in the guise of Watanuki's put-upon attitude under the domineering Yuko or his friction with Domeki) The characters have a way of generating a particular empathy with the reader and the emotional dial very often gets turned up to 11.
Watanuki continues to change as the plot advances. What will the future bring?