Thursday, August 23, 2007

My favorite manga

There are lots of series out there that I enjoy, but I'm always happiest when the next installment of xxxHOLIC arrives at my library. I just finished #9, which continues the story of Kimihiro Watanuki, a boy who can see ghosts. He hates this strange ability, especially when the ghosts follow him and get him into trouble. When he stumbles into the very unusual shop of mysterious time-space witch Yuko Ichihara, she says she can help him - for a price: he must become her servant.

Watanuki is a wonderful cook, and Yuko delights in asking him to prepare intricate and difficult meals. It is so funny to see how annoying he finds her requests, but then he is clearly proud of his skills when he is able to produce delicious dishes. Even more hilarious is when he cooks meals and his classmate, Domeki, ends up eating them (especially when the food is intended for cute Himawari-chan). I love his relationship with these characters - Himawari seems determined to be friends with both boys, and Watanuki is anxious to be the one she really cares about. He gets so angry about things, and rants and raves in such a funny way, while Domeki is always calm and collected, with a deadpan expression and dry sense of humor. The artwork is priceless - it adds so much to the humor and mystery of the story.

In this episode Watanuki inadvertently buys a dream from his beloved Himawari-chan. Unfortunately the dream is a nightmare, and now it's happening to him! I love the Japanese ghosts and spirits (such a refreshing change from the same old reworked fantasy and horror notions that tend to show up again and again), as well as the helpful notes in the back of book that explain customs, folklore and language issues.

This is a fun, intelligent manga series that always leaves me thirsting for more. I just wish I knew how to pronounce it! (Is it "ex-ex-ex-holic" or "triple-ex-holic" - or something else?)

xxxHOLIC #9 by Clamp (Del Rey, 2006)

See also B&OT reviews of
xxxHOLIC #10
xxxHOLIC #11

11 comments:

  1. I like the Clamp!Their drawings are beautiful and very dramatic. I haven't read this one though. I've read X (not all) and RG Veda. I also heard that Chobits is really good.

    But since I left Italy I don't read mangas anymore, here they're too expensive, the price of a book!and there's nothing near the HUGE range selection that we have in Italy. We're such manga and anime lovers.

    My favorite is an old classic, Glass no Kamen,
    I new one I really love is Nana.

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  2. I love finding another CLAMP fan! My girlfriend first introduced me to them with RG Veda ages ago. She loves their art and I've come to love it too. X remains my favorite of theirs. The movie, the series, and the manga are all top notch. I read the first two xxxholic mangas and then stopped for some reason. Not that I didn't like it, just didn't go back to it. Looks like I have lots to catch up on!

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  3. Valentina - I'm not familiar with those manga you mention, but I will definitely check them out. I can see it would be painful to pay the price of a book for something you can sit down and read so quickly. How frustrating! When I left Italy back in the 90s, I don't think manga were that popular yet. What I used to love to read, though, was Diabolik. Is that still around? I haven't thought about that in years! I am a cheapskate and only read the manga my library has. But the collection is growing by leaps and bounds. It is one of the most circulating parts of our collection.

    I'm glad you like Clamp too, Chris - I'm amazed at their artistic and storytelling skills. They really do an amazing job. I think I started with Cardcaptor Sakura, mainly because all these kids kept putting them on hold, boys and girls both, at my library, and I was curious to see what it was all about. And I got hooked! I particularly love Clamp's skillful character development and fun sense of humor. I also enjoyed Angelic Layer, which was a bit odd but interesting, but for some reason I wasn't able to get into Tsubasa. I often wonder how they go about working together on these manga - what their collaborative process is.

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  4. Italy has always been a fan of anime basically, since the 80's I grew up with them and still adore them.But it wasn't till the 90's that the manga started to circulate. I'd say Sailor Moon helped a lot in that sense. Now if you go into any comic book shop their main area is manga, and SO many of them, I can't keep up with them anymore. They've also started to print all the mangas from which all those glorious 80's anime were taken, which is fantastic.

    I know Diabolik,but I'm a fan of it. you can still find it though!
    do you know Dylan Dog. I think I was in love with him as a teenager 15 years ago!

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  5. I meant I'm NOT a fan of Diabolik,sorry.

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  6. No, I never read Dylan Dog, I'm sorry to say. There were just so many to choose from (and I was broke most of the time), that it was hard to know where to start. I think it was my friend's roommate who had the huge stack of Diaboliks that I plowed through one summer. I remember when I first went to Italy how surprised I was by the popularity of comic books in general. And those glorious newsstands with all the wonderful titles! I remember also being surprised and loving it when I saw very well-turned-out businessmen on the bus reading Topolino comics. Not something you'd see around here, unfortunately!

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  7. ah ah!that's funny about Topolino (Mickey Mouse). I actually miss Italian newsagents stands. Here they look very...spartan.
    But do and try to read one Dylan Dog if you have the chance, and then you tell me. Not the new ones, but some of the old ones are masterpieces!

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  8. I have never read any manga comics for some reason. I'd definitely like to, though - like you said, it must be so refreshing to come across things that are to us so new and unfamiliar.

    I love the cover of this book!

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  9. Valentina - I'll see if I have any luck locating Dylan Dog online, since unfortunately I have no plans to go back to Italy any time soon (sigh). And I'll let you know!

    Nymeth - at first I found it difficult to slow down and really look at - and enjoy - the artwork. I'm so text oriented, and I hadn't really realized that. Then, when I managed to take it slowly and really absorb the illustrations as well as the words, it was like I could feel entirely new synaptic pathways firing as I read. It's really a very different experience for me from reading regular books. And then, slowly, I got hooked! These xxxHOLIC books always have an initial sequence on glossy paper that's done in full color, and the artwork is truly exquisite. I guess it's a chance for the artists to really strut their stuff, since it would presumably be prohibitively expensive for them to publish the manga in full color. Although it sure would be nice if they did.

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  10. HELLO,
    pardon me but,this is to any one who has or is currently reading the book,but is thebook Spirits That Walk In The Shadows any good
    I just bought the book but,Its very hard to catch my iterest especielly with books,but the summury was very intreging.
    any thoughts on this any one.

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  11. I just read the book and loved it. There's a link to the review in the sidebar (under books reviewed). I hope you enjoy the book!

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