This volume continues the thread that began in Volume 7, in which Watanuki makes a sacrifice in order to help his friend Domeki, and in doing so he loses one of his eyes. (This loss of vision in one eye is a theme repeated in Tsubasa, with Syaoran's blindness in one eye - I wonder what 's going on with that?).
Watanuki does not realize that his eye has become a sought-after prize in the spirit realm, and when he discovers that the Zashiki-Warashi, a lovely spirit-girl who has a crush on him, has been captured by a malicious being, he is astonished to learn that his eye is the cause of her troubles. The being that holds her captive is a dangerous force, and Watanuki rushes in to save the Zashiki-Warashi with no real idea what he's up against. There also remains the debt that exists between Watanuki and Domeki, and they need to find a way to settle that matter, as well.
The following story in this same volume is a lighter, more humorous tale that recounts a shopping trip that Yuko, the space-time witch, takes, dragging Watanuki along as always, so he can carry everything back. He is dismayed to learn that they are shopping for a new refrigerator! He spies an unusual creature while they are in the store, and another strange adventure follows.
Once again there are interesting notes at the end of the story that explain cultural or historical references in the text. Here are some that I found particularly interesting this time, describing the background of some of the magical beings we meet in this volume:
Raiju: The name Raiju is made up of the kanji for "thunder" and "beast." In Japanese mythology, it usually appears in the form of living creatures such as cats or monkeys, but there are cases of it taking flight as a ball of lightning or fire. Raiju is the companion of Raiden, the Shinto god of lightning. Marks of lightning on a tree are said to be made by Raiju's claws.What a fun series this is, always full of interesting twists and turns, and problematic situations that are never resolved by taking the easy way out. I continue to enjoy the rich folkloric and mythological elements that help shape the stories, as well as the lovely artwork.
Joro-Gumo: Literally it means the Prostitute Spider. The Joro-Gumo as it exists today is an orb spider with the Latin name Nephila clavata. There are tales of a mystical Joro-Gumo from the Izu peninsula that depict her as the beautiful mistress of a waterfall who tries to ensnare a man in her webs and plunge him to his death. In another story, she takes fatal revenge for a broken promise.
Books in the xxxHOLIC series:
xxxHOLIC, Volume 8 by Clamp (Del Rey, 2006)
Also reviewed at:
Read about Comics: "In an ongoing serial comic, it’s easy for creators to take the easy route, keeping the status quo from one installment to the next and no real lasting effects shaking out. In some ways that’s part of what helps xxxHOLiC stand out so much for me; not only are the individual stories that make up the book interesting, but the book’s characters continue to grow and change in interesting ways."