the Little Red Reviewer

xXxHolic, by CLAMP

Posted on: November 4, 2010


first things first, the xXx in xXxHolic (sometimes known as triple ex holic, or just “holic”) has nothing to do with anything adult or dirty, and even less to do with Vin Diesel. The “xxx” is a way of saying “anything can go here”. And we’ll get to what that’s all about in a bit.

Somewhere in the city, there is an old house. Surrounded by skyscrapers and the noise of the city, the walled yard keeps some people away, and invites others in. Sometimes, people who have never even noticed the house are drawn to it, something telling them they need to stop in, right now.

High school student Watanuke tries so hard to be a normal student. But it’s tough, when spirits and ghosts plague him day in and day out. How is he supposed to take the adorable Himawara out on a date with spirits chasing him down the street? Walking home one day, Watanuke can’t help but explore the old fashioned house in the walled yard.

There, he meets Yuko, who runs a gift shop of sorts, out of her home. Yuko has been called many things – space time witch, therapist, wish granter, alcoholic. Yuko knows people only find her when they need to, and it’s not long before she figures out Watanuke’s problem regarding the spirits. They make a deal: Yuko will help him learn how to keep the spirits at bay, and in exchange, Watanuke will work as her assistant. Oops, make that servant, personal shopper, cook, errand boy and sometimes student. Every day after school, Watanuke reports to Yuko. Sometimes they visit her clients, sometimes they clean out the shop (hey wait, what’s that doing here??) , no matter what they do, it’s always a learning experience for Watanuke, and an excuse for Yuko to break out the sake. If there are two things Yuko loves, it’s sake and fashion. In that order.

Yuko’s clients find her because they need her to help them with something. Maybe they have an addiction, or they think lying is OK, or they are having family problems, or they have lost their way home. Yuko is always willing to help them, for a price. Maybe she’ll take your most precious memory, or a few years of your life, your ability to love, or even your soul. If you want something so badly you’ll pay any price to have it, you’ll find your way to Yuko’s. To get something precious, you must give something precious. xXxHolic jumps from silly to deadly serious at the turn of a page, and leaves you wondering what she’s really doing to Watanuke. See where the “xxx” comes in?

Something you’ll notice pretty quick about the mangaka that make up the CLAMP team is they love clothes, fashion, and detail. Part of the fun of reading xXxHolic is finding out what rediculous outfit Yuko is going to wear next. It’s worth it to seek out the multivolume omnibus editions just for the full color two page fashion spreads. Shojo? Totally. Do I want a pet Mokona? Hell yeah!

Watanuke’s classmate Domeki joins the scene as well, as Yuko believes his priestly training can be of help to Watanuke. Domeki is calm and collected, while Watanuke is nervous, immature, and sure that Domeki’s real goal is to woo the adorable Himawara. This isn’t exactly the case, but Watanuke’s misplaced jealousy leads to plenty of humorous situations. At least they are funny to everyone else!

At first, the series is pretty fun and light hearted, and although I felt the first few volumes suffered from “monster of the week” syndrome, it was nice to take the time to get to know everyone before things get serious. Himawara has a dangerous secret, Yuko always something up her sleeve, and Watanuke has no idea what he’s gotten himself into. When the time comes, will he be strong enough to make the ultimate sacrafice? Currently at more than 15 volumes, xXxHolic is sure to keep you entertained for a while. If you’re a veteran of CLAMP, then you know they love crossover series. xXxHolic can be read as a stand alone, of course, but there are plenty of bits and pieces you’ll recognize from other CLAMP series, especially Tsubasa, which was purposely written in parallel to xXxholic.

What the hell is CLAMP and why is it always all capital letters? CLAMP isn’t a what, it’s a who. CLAMP is an all female team of Japanese mangaka (manga artists). Having made their name with Card Captor Sakura, the ladies of CLAMP now have more than a dozen completed series to their names. Published widely in the 1990’s, they put out a handful of kid and teen friendly titles, such as Chobits, Clamp School Detectives, and Magic Knight RayEarth. The 2000’s saw CLAMP producing titles more appropriate for older teens or adults, like Legal Drug and xXxHolic. In the US, CLAMP is published under a Del Rey imprint, and they have done a surprisingly good job of keeping CLAMP titles in print and available.

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1 Response to "xXxHolic, by CLAMP"

[…] wrote a halfway decent review of this back in 2010, it’s nice to see I did a decent job of writing a plot based review! […]

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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