Publisher: Del Rey
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: April 2010
Synopsis: “Kimihiro is having some wish-granting success with his very first customer, but his first efforts are interrupted by a disturbing dream of witch Yuko vanishing forever. Even people Yuko has helped are saying they’ve never heard of her. Too bad there is no such thing as “just a dream” in Kimihiro’s universe…”
Easily being what could become one of the most memorable volumes of the series to date, the fifteenth volume of XXXHolic may not always be entirely coherent with its continued crossover calamities and abstract concepts, but like any volume of this generally artistic gem, once the ball gets rolling, prepared to be bowled over by it.
The character of Yuko has always walked a very fine line between character and enigma. With her contrasting out-going nonchalance towards most things, and abilities that are only ever revealed just enough to keep her mystique enticing, Yuko’s played the role of teacher, confident and inspiration to Watanuki and her customers while much more rarely standing out as her own person. Much of this seems intentional however, a distancing on the part of the character from those around her.
But truer words were never spoken when it was said that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. As Watanuki lives in the shop awaiting Yuko’s return, he becomes horrified to realize that those whose lives Yuko had touched have now forgotten about her. As if she had never existed, Watanuki comes to learn that past customers recall only him in their memories. What really becomes an unexpected but entirely compelling turn of events is how naturally Watanuki slides into the role, as if he truly had always been there.
While XXXHolic has successfully stirred a thought and inspired an epiphany more than once in the duration of its run, never before has it come so close to stimulating a tear. The volume’s end is heartbreaking and succeeds in being so because of the delicate but tenured relationship that has been fostered between Watanuki and Yuuko since their first meeting back in that fateful first volume.
It’s a mystery where exactly XXXHolic will go from here though. The charm of wondering where does falls a little flat though in light of what can only be described as the series feeling a little worn out. It isn’t as though anything in this particular volume fails to impress but the direction it’s going in seems so open-ended that knowing it does keep going for another potentially considerate amount of time feels both daunting and a bit unnecessary.
Do readers want more XXXHolic? Most definitely. At the expense of its charm? Ehh… maybe not. But we won’t count our chickens before they’re hatched – and while speaking of hatching we look still to the egg in Domeki’s possession for potential future escapades – so volume sixteen of XXXHolic will perhaps be the most worth looking forward to in some time. For while this fifteenth volume set the path in place, it’ll be sixteen’s job to show us how CLAMP will choose to walk it.