the Little Red Reviewer

project reread: xxxHolic omnibus #1, by CLAMP

Posted on: September 17, 2017

xxxholic omnibus 1xxxHolic, omnibus #1

published in 2007 (I think?)

where I got it:  have owned it forever.

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I’ve been reading Manga on and off for probably ten years. I don’t mention manga much, because there are very few series I’ve liked enough to invest in.  One of the early reviews on this blog was for the first volume (or first few? I can’t tell) of xxxHolic, by CLAMP. The Manga section of Barnes and Noble is full of 3 volume omnibuses these days, but back in the old days, a three volume omnibus was an oddity. No one planned to make more than one of these monsters, so sometimes there wasn’t even a  number on the spine.  And speaking of “way back when”, xxxHolic has been floating around in one form or another since 2004 or there abouts.

 

I 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!   It’s interesting to see what I got out of xxxHolic then, and what’s I’m getting out of it now. The surface stuff is always the easy stuff – Yuko’s hidden “shop”, the crossover plotlines and funny little jokes from other CLAMP works, the “monster of the week” episodic feel of these first three volumes, the gorgeous artwork.   If you’re used to American style graphic novels, Japanese manga, CLAMP works especially, may be a shock to you – everything is in black and white, there is far less dialog per page, motion is depicted very differently, and the human body is drawn differently than you might be used to.

are you the spacetime witch

Back in the day, I stalled out six or seven volumes into xxxHolic, I felt the story wasn’t really going anywhere.  At the time, seven volumes was a pretty big investment to make in a series if I wasn’t going to continue.  Yuko might be the space time witch who offers to help Watanuki get rid of his spirits problem, but I needed more than just urban fantasy slice of life.  I didn’t continue reading it, but my husband did, eventually trading in our single volumes for these hefty 3-volume omnibuses. And he let me know the story gets deeper, deadlier, and darker. So now I want to give it another try, because I like all of those things!  Watanuki might be getting dragged on Yuko’s errands, but it’s important later for him to have safely been exposed to all this urban fantasy type stuff. Even at the ghost story telling ceremony with Domeki, Watanuki might might not feel safe, but if Yuko is in the room she’ll never let anything permanent happen to him. Or at least I don’t think she’d let anything happen to him . . .

ghost ceremony

My favorite scene in this first omnibus is when Yuko tasks Watanuki and Domeki with investigating creepy things that have been happening at a local school.  Some students have been messing with a type of ouija board, and now students are being trapped.  They find a few girls on the roof, the girls want to take their hands off the board, but can’t.  Turns out there is a lot more on that roof than a few students and a ouija board. Or, perhaps, less on that roof than some students and a ouja board, depending on your point of view.

 

What’s great about xxxHolic is that it doesn’t believe in manga genre labels. Is this a slice of life manga? Sort of.  The artwork style screams shojo, but it’s missing a lot of the plot trappings of a standard shojo story, and it sure isn’t an action packed shonen. To use a label that’s not often used for manga, I’d categorize xxxHolic as a coming of age story. When we first meet Watanuki, he’s isolated from his family, has knee jerk reactions to just about everything, and rather embarrassed that spirits seem to stick to him like glue. He has a crush on Himawari, but is too tongue tied to just ask her out on a date.  In just these first three volumes,  I liked watching Watanuki’s confidence grow as he slowly realizes the world of magic and spirits is much bigger and weirder than he imagined.  He feels less threatened by Domeki, realizes he’s satisfied with just being friends with Himawari, and opens his eyes and mind to everything Yuko is trying to teach him.

not chobits

It’s hard to know where to start with manga, especially when there doesn’t seem to be much variety in plot lines in the current batch of stuff you’re sure to find at Barnes and Noble.  In an ocean of seemingly sameness, xxxHolic is something refreshingly different. Although, for all I know, back in the day when this was new and trendy, there might have been a ton of coming of age urban fantasy mangas floating around.  The xxxHolic omnibuses give notes at the end of each story with translation notes and how scenes in xxxHolic connect to other CLAMP stories.  You don’t need to have read any other CLAMP manga to enjoy xxxHolic, but it is fun that the artists let their stories overlap with each other.

 

Also? This artwork style, I love it.  The full page artwork between chapters is as gorgeous as it is over the top.

CLAMP artwork

Yuko spacetime witch

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2 Responses to "project reread: xxxHolic omnibus #1, by CLAMP"

XxxHolic is still one of the best for artwork as far as I’m concerned. The ending of the series was just weird and I’m not sure I really understood then, or even now. But it was definitely worth buying each volume as they came out 🙂 The kind of manga I’ll re-read every 5-10 years…

Liked by 1 person

no spoilers, please!

I love things like this, where you enjoy it, and enjoy it enough to reread it every 5-10 years. Speaking of, I’m due for a reread of Fullmetal Alchemist.

Liked by 1 person

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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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