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