October 26, 2012
CLAMP – Del Rey – 2011 – 19 volumes
At one time, this was my favorite CLAMP series ever. Then it started to meander a bit. I’ve spoiled myself silly on the end, which is why I’ve left these last two volumes so long. I know. I know it breaks my heart in the end. CLAMP, I’m losing faith.
This volume isn’t really bad in and of itself, though. It’s still maddeningly vague about some things, even one volume from the end. Most of that is resolved case to case, though. The majority of the volume is stories about two of Watanuki’s customers, with a little bit at the end that checks in on the dimension hoppers since the end of Tsubasa.
The first customer is a mystery wisp of smoke that follows Watanuki around. Neither Domeki nor Kohane can see it, and Watanuki seems to be going to absurd lengths to protect it. Again, the vague hints and leading on throughout this story, which takes up the first half of the book, are maddening, but all the questions are answered by the end. It’s a nice story, and it’s great to see Watanuki coming into his own so much. It’s got a great sense of foreboding throughout, and the malevolent force that attacks at the end of the story is one of the most violent things in the series. It is really good, I’m not giving it enough credit, but I really was hoping for more from xXxHolic at this point.
The second story was more along the lines of what I wanted. The customer is a young woman that wishes for an individual to fall in love with her. Watanuki isn’t sure how he wound up playing matchmaker (his customers usually have more on the line) until he realizes she wants Domeki, and is almost cursing him in order to get him. This almost-not-quite hints at a relationship between Domeki and Watanuki, though ultimately I believe the object of Watanuki’s desire is still Yuko. To be fair, Domeki is basically taking care of Watanuki, since Watanuki can’t leave the shop, and seems to be devoting his adult life to the study of folklore in order to help Watanuki. I mean… yeah.
So! No hints of any sort of plot winding down here. Just another volume of xXxHolic, though it’s one where we find out the characters are more-or-less stuck in their current patterns, and Watanuki is getting better at what he does. Let’s see how it all ends in volume 19!