In this third volume of the xxxHolic series, Watanuki is delighted when Himawari, the girl he has a devastating crush on, organizes a picnic for everyone. She mentions that a friend of hers, who goes to a nearby school, has described some odd goings on there, and Himawari thinks she might be in trouble. It seems the girls have been playing a Japanese game similar to Ouija, and things have gotten out of hand. Yuko agrees - but instead of helping Himawari herself, she sends Watanuki and his friend/nemesis, Domeki. Watanuki is dying to help Himawari, but he finds Domeki's presence massively annoying - even though, as Yuko points out, when Domeki is around, he doesn't see ghosts.
The adventure at the school is followed by another episode, in which an uber-confidant young woman shows up at the shop, and she asks to purchase an unusual round container, which Yuko agrees to sell her - on the condition that she never try to open it. The girl agrees, then immediately sets out to open it. She just knows that whatever is in it will not be bad luck for her - maybe for someone else, but she is special, lucky, and such rules do not apply to her. When she does access the object inside, Watanuki sees some very strange things happening, and he has a sinking feeling that, despite the girl's confidence, things are not going to end well for her.
I continue to enjoy my reread of this manga, with its fantastical nature and folkloric elements. My favorite part of the book is a scene near the end in which Watanuki, hurrying back to the store later than he intended, comes across a food cart manned by a fox wearing a kimono. The fox is a Kitsune fox spirit, and Watanuki is kind to the little fox cub who is there, too. It seems that seeing spirits is not always such a bad thing. I love the notes at the end of each volume of this series, which explains the significance of aspects of the book that readers unfamiliar with Japanese culture might enjoy learning about. This book seems to be a bridging novel that allows us to get to know the characters a bit better, but it also introduces some thematic elements that will become important as the series progresses.
Books in the xxxHolic series:
xxxHolic, Vol. 3 by Clamp (Del Rey, 2004)
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