Sat, 28 March 2009
Manga review of xxxHolic Volume 4 by CLAMP. Translated and adapted by William Flanagan. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Del Rey, $10.95, Rated T for ages 13+.
It's Valentine's Day, which in Japan, is the day when girls give homemade chocolate to their beloved, or crush, as it may be. In a lot of cases, the giving of the candy might be the first time that a young girl has revealed their feelings to the object of their affection. Of course, Watanuki is hoping to get some from Himawari, the girl that he likes. None is forthcoming, though, and he finds himself, instead, slaving in the kitchen making chocolate for Yuko! While this reverses the gender roles of the day he still tries to salvage things by intending to let Himawari taste it. Domeki tries some instead in his laidback manner of butting in. But all is not lost for Watanuki. There IS a girl that likes him and wants to give him chocolate, but she also wants to steal Domeki's soul. In the second story arc of this volume, Watanuki and friends get mixed up with twin sisters that have a supernatural bond centered around the power of words and negative thinking.
I was a little let down by the writing in this fourth volume. It didn't really have any hooks. I found the Valentine's Day chapters really funny, but the storyline with the twins never paid off. They weren't creepy or scary and the climax was a bit of a letdown. I guess a large portion of the book just didn't have enough of that Twilight Zone feeling that I usually get when I read xxxHolic. Where CLAMP more than makes up for the subpar script in Volume 4 is in the beautiful, and at times, stunning artwork. There are some really nice panels in the Valentine chapters where the characters are backlit against the moon which really highlight CLAMP's mastery of solid blacks and flowing lines in this series. What a contrast to Tsubasa's rough unfinished edges.
My Grade: B