xxxHOLiC volumes 1-3
Publisher: Del Rey
A few summers ago on our way back from Wisconsin, back when my family went places, we stopped by a German looking town in Illinois that had apparently just had some type of festival. Having just rained, the air was damp and the streets semi-deserted. It was here that I first discovered xxxHOLiC by manga superstars CLAMP. There in that historic city I walked the streets reading about the occult while my mom took well more than her time shopping in the seemingly different gift stores. It was the perfect atmosphere to be introduced to the “time-space witch Yuko.”
Flash backward to a couple weeks ago where I rediscovered xxxHOLiC in a special omnibus edition. Del Rey has released omnibus editions for three of their most popular titles, Negima!, xxxHOLiC, and Tsubasa (also by CLAMP). These omnibus editions compile the first three graphic novels of each series and are only available to Barnes & Noble stores and barnesannoble.com. With a $12.95 price tag, only $2 more than any single volume of manga Del Rey has released, these omnibus editions are quite a steal, especially if you haven’t been introduced to these series before.
Watanuki is a high school aged orphaned boy who has seen spirits and ghosts for as long as he could remember. On his way back from school one afternoon, he is drawn to the time-witch Yuko’ store. Having no idea how he ended up in the store, Yuko tells him that it was “hitsuzen,” fate. Watanuki would not have been drawn to the store if Yuko did not have something that he desired. Having found out that Yuko could cure him of seeing the spirits that continually haunt him, Watanuki readily agrees to become her after school servant.
xxxHOLiC crosses over with the other CLAMP manga that I mentioned earlier, Tsubasa. Although only appearing at the end of volume 1 and the beginning of volume 2, the cast of Tsubasa is also a customer of Yuko as they travel around the universe gathering the pieces of their friend’s memories. xxxHOLiC however mostly deals with one shots of Yuko’s customers involving some sort of occult item. In the third volume for example, a young woman finds the legendary monkey’s paw in Yuko’s back yard and demands to have it. The monkey’s paw grants the owner five wishes, however is known for ending in disaster. Yuko’s customer believes that her good luck will overcome the ensuing calamity but in the end succumbs to the paw’s power after her boss found out her much talked about seminar was stolen. Another excellent story contained in this omnibus edition is the woman who was addicted to her computer. Knowing from personal experience how hard it is for me to sometimes tear myself away from the computer I could relate. The woman’s obsession with the computer has lead her to dismiss family and friend obligations and has torn herself away from personal interactions.
Artwise, xxxHOLiC is pure black and white with very little shading. The binding in this omnibus edition holds relatively well for a 600+ page novel. The page count at the bottom of the page restarts after each original graphic novel finishes. Although lacking the color pages from the original editions, this edition includes all of the translation notes and even the kanji previews (for volume 2 at least). For $13 this edition is quite a steal. If you’ve never been introduced to CLAMP previously I highly recommend picking up this volume. When not trying to connect certain items and events to previous CLAMP stories, xxxHOLiC really shines.