In this installment of CLAMP's xxxHOLIC series, Watanuki is having strange dreams that seem very real. He meets up with Domeki's deceased grandfather, a character who has appeared in his dreams before, and who has often manged to help him out in difficult - and dangerous - situations. When Watanuki asks him if it is all a dream, Domeki's father, who was a Shinto priest, says, "Yes. But you could also consider this its own world."
He goes on to tell Watanuki a parable about a butterfly and a dreaming man from (we're told in the notes at the back of the book) the ancient Chinese Daoist philospher Zhuangzi. The theme from this story about the perception of reality and the reality of dreams is woven throughout this volume of the series - to the point that it becomes difficult to tell them apart.
I always enjoy these books, mainly because the characters are so interesting, and their interactions are so touching and humorous (often both at the same time). I also love the way Japanese folklore influences the storyline, which is never predictable.
There is always a note at the beginning of each volume of xxxHOLIC noting that it "crosses over" with the manga series Tsubasa, which I have been meaning to read but haven't gotten to yet. "Athough it is not necessary to read Tsubasa to understand the events in xxxHOLIC," the note continues, "you'll get to see the same events from different perspectives if you read both series." I used to agree with that statement, but starting with the previous volume, I've been feeling a bit out of the loop, and I now believe that in order to understand it, you really do need to read both series. Not that I mind - I love the illlustrations, the humor, and the intricate plot of this and the other manga I've read by CLAMP, so I'm sure I'll enjoy Tsubasa as well. Plus it'll tide me over till my library gets the next installment of xxxHOLIC!
xxxHOLIC, Vol. 12 by CLAMP (Del Rey, 2008)
Also reviewed at:
A Clever Literary Reference
Slightly Biased Manga
For B&OT reviews of previous volumes of xxxHOLIC, see:
xxxHOLIC, vol 9
xxxHOLIC, vol 10
xxxHOLIC, vol 11