XXXHolic Vol. #05 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 10.95
  • Pages: 176
  • ISBN: 03-345-47789-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

XXXHolic Vol. #05

By Matthew Alexander     February 22, 2006
Release Date: May 15, 2005


XXXHolic Vol.#05
© Del Rey


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Clamp
Translated by:William Flanagan
Adapted by:

What They Say
Kimihiro Watanuki is the indentured servant of Yuko, the beautiful but completely unpredictable Space-Time Witch. He must work at her bizarre wish-granting shop until he can pay off his own wish: to be free of the spirits that haunt him. Yuko’s latest customer is a rain spirit who wants Kimihiro dispatched on a rescue mission. Little does Kimihiro know that this mission will take him to death’s door!

Kimihiro has another problem. A cute spirit has given him a Valentine’s Day present, which means he’s obligated by Japanese custom to return the favor. What do you get a girl who may not even exist in this world?

The Review
Packaging:
Up until now, I have been happy to see Del Rey using the original Japanese cover art with only a different color logo and shape of the black border. Del Rey continues the trend with this volume, however they chose to zoom in and alter the artwork. On the original Japanese cover, Yuko is holding a delicate parasol and wearing a Victorian style dress with her front leg revealed showing her fish-net stockings. The cover continues the wrap around style to the back where Watanuki similarly to Yuko. In the Del Rey version, the picture is the same but it is zoomed in enough to hide the top of Yuko’s hat, parts of the parasol, part of her hand, and the stocking-clad leg. The extra area of her leg is also filled in with a black border to be sure no bare leg is visible. Unfortunately I feel this blatant censorship completely erases a feeling the artist was trying to convey. I originally saw the Del Rey cover first and thought, ‘Hey that’s a pretty cover’, but when I saw the original Japanese version I thought, ‘Wow Yuko is pretty damn sexy and mysterious’.

Ranting aside, the first two pages of this volume are beautifully colored, along with the two-page spread of Watanuki and Domeki dressed in old school Dracula clothing. The black and orange tones in the picture give it somewhat of a Halloween feel which works perfectly. Del Rey continues to include a lot of extras; table of contents, description of honorifics, and multiple translation notes.


Artwork:
Clamps artwork in this volume is amazingly beautiful. The lines are strong and clean, and there are also numerous full page and two page panels that are just gorgeous. The artwork flows really well from panel to panel giving a nice pace to the story and a fair depiction of movement and action. The artist also does an excellent job of illustrating characters’ emotions with the expressions on their faces, especially the more subtle nuances. This gives the reader a good understanding of the situation and how each character reacts to one another, which adds to how well the story reads.

I especially enjoyed the close up panels of Yuko’s face when she’s being seriously somber. Keeping true to form, Yuko goes through multiple wardrobe changes from scene to scene that are as beautiful as they are different.


Text/SFX:
The translation continues to read smoothly with no misspellings or grammatical errors and the honorifics continue to be left in, which is something I appreciate. Having the SFX translated are a definite plus, especially since they are small and don’t intrude on the panel.


Contents: (Watch out, spoilers upcoming)
Because of Watanuki’s ability to interact with spirits, he’s sought out by a Rain Maker spirit in the form of a very cute, yet impetuous girl. The Rain Maker wants him to go on a rescue mission near some enormous hydrangeas, where he’s dragged into the spirit world. Inside, Watanuki finds a little girl trapped in a black world of nothingness. She desperately wants him to travel to another realm with her, which would effectively cut him off from his own world forever. Luckily, Watanuki figures this out and finds his way back to his world where he discovers the girls’ spirit was trapped in the other world because she had been killed and buried under the hydrangeas. It was sad to discover someone had killed the girl, but even more sobering to learn the Rain Maker wanted to rescue the hydrangeas from being polluted by the girl and not the other way around.

With the Rain Maker satisfied, Watanuki has to figure out how to find the Zashiki-Warashi to return her Valentines Day favor. But before he can come up with a plan, he notices a female classmate with wings growing from her back. The girl acts really belligerent whenever Watanuki encounters her. Yuko, in her usual mysterious manner, warns Watanuki to beware of the girl. Her warning becomes well placed when the schoolgirls’ wings turn out to be an evil spirit, which leaves her body and attacks Watanuki. Once again someone rushes in to save him, but this time it’s his new spirit companion and not Domeki. I won’t ruin the surprise for you, but I will say his spirit companion comes in two sizes, small and furry and extra large with nine tails.

This portion of the story is one more example of how Watanuki’s interactions with others highlight his own personality flaws. Because the girl was prone to outbursts, like Watanuki, she was a perfect vessel for the type of evil spirit that possessed her and eventually stole her soul and left her in a catatonic state. Yuko also warns that even when a person feels love for someone, if not dealt with properly, that love can turn to violence against that person. Which has an eerie similarity to Watanuki’s inability to tell Himawari how he feels about her.

Yuko explains the evil spirit was a soul harvester, Ko, and was doing someone’s bidding. She tries to follow another one of the Ko to its’ master but fails to discover who is harvesting the souls and for what purpose. In the meantime, Watanuki visits a beautifully rendered spirit realm where he hopes to find the Zashiki-Warashi who gave him a Valentines Day gift.

Who’s harvesting souls in Watanuki’s world, and what could they want with them? Will Watanuki find the Zashiki-Warashi and repay is Valentines debt? Will his new spirit companion ever leave him alone?

Comments
I still laugh at how competitive Watanuki is with Domeki and how he flies off the handle at the smallest things when the two are around each other, although it is nice to see them using their different abilities to help each other achieve a common goal. Character development moves forward some in this volume, especially when we get the first glimpse of Watanuki at war with his own feelings over Domeki. Up until now, we’ve only seen Watanuki aggressively fight against being teamed up with Domeki and the fear that Himawari may choose Domeki over him. But now Watanuki has to admit that Domeki is quick to act in his defense and has saved Watanuki’s life on more than one occasion, but that doesn’t change the fact that deep down Watanuki is still jealous of him.

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