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Manga Review

Book Cover

Volume 7


Author: Clamp
Artist: Clamp
RRP: £6.99, US $10.95
ISBN: 978 0 099 50486 3
Ages: 13+
Available 05 June 2008

Kimihiro Watanuki is your average young school kid who just happens to be troubled with spirits, spirits which he would dearly love to get rid of. Salvation comes in the form of Yuko Ichihara, who promises to rid the boy of his troubles in return for him working in her shop - a shop where he meets Himawari Kunogi, for whom he feels a deep affection and Shizuka Domeki, who becomes his rival...

xxxHolic is a manga from Clamp the all female collective who produced the very sweet Chobits. Not having read the story before the PR company saw fit to send out the book starting with book seven, so whatever great plot twists may have happened previously your guess is as good as mine. It’s a bit like ripping out three middle chapters of The Hobbit and then being asked what you thought of the story.

Book seven seems to display most of the elements which make up the book. Yuko is presented as a morally ambiguous figure, granting wishes from her shop to anyone that asks. In this volume she is asked to rid a woman of a photograph, an odd request until Kimihiro discovers that the photograph of a young woman is actually moving, and the scene which slowly plays out is that of her murder.

Yuko agrees to get rid of this evidence for a price. The price is that the woman who brought her the incriminating picture can never herself have her picture taken. It doesn't sound like too much of a price until you count the amount of CCT cameras, even cameras in electrical shops, should this happen then the picture of the murder would be transmitted to everyone. It's an interesting conundrum as the only way that the woman could keep the secret that she was a murderer would be to never leave her house, thus enforcing self imprisonment. Having started with this volume it is not clear whether Yuko is highly moral, capricious, or random in her choice of payment.

The story thread which runs through book seven is another oddity. When Kimihiro gets stuck in a spider's web, Domeki frees him by destroying the web. The spider takes umbrage at this and curses Domeki covering his eye with a web; Kimihiro feels responsible and so takes the curse upon his self, loosing an eye in the process. Domeki is unwilling to accept this and so searches for a way to reverse the spell. More stories of actions and consequences. It could be that the heart of the book is supposed to be a morality play.

The artwork is up to Clamp's usual high standards, though some may have a problem with the highly stylised depictions of the characters, especially the decision to draw them in an elongated fashion. This works for the most part, though in some panels some of the heads look disproportionately small for the bodies.


Charles Packer

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