Book 4 of the contemporary fantasy xxxHolic series opens just before Valentine's Day, and Watanuki is a bit annoyed that his friend/nemesis Domeki is inundated with chocolates and cards from the girls at their school, but Watanuku doesn't receive any. That is, not until his huge crush Himawari presents him with some - but she gives some to Domeki, too, which sucks the joy right out of it. But then Watanuki is given chocolate in a bizarre, dreamlike scene, and the giver is not exactly human - which sets in motion an unexpected chain of events.
The other storyline in this volume concerns two sisters, twins, who have a rather unhealthy relationship. Yuko remarks to Watanuki, when the twins pass by them on the street, that there are chains that only humans can use to bind others. The more Watanuki sees the sisters together and witnesses the dynamics of their relationship, the more he understands what Yuko meant. But as much as he'd like to help, he's not sure if he should interfere - or whether or not his actions can make a bit of difference.
I continue to enjoy rereading this manga series, for the arresting artwork, the fascinating characters, the intriguing stories, and the elements from Japanese folklore and mythology. Unlike so many books that I read, the stories are never predictable, and I love that they can surprise me every time. I'm hoping to catch up soon with this side of the story, so that when I return to reading the Tsubasa volumes, I'll have fun with the way events and characters in both stories intersect from time to time.
xxxHolic, Volume 4 by Clamp (Del Rey, 2004)
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