Moving on with xxxHolic and volume number 9 – leading to realize that all my CLAMP series I’m working on are all on the same volume number.
Title: xxxHolic Volume 9
Written and Illustrated by CLAMP
Translated by William Flanagan
Lettered by Dana Hayward
Originally serialized by Kodansha’s Weekly Young Magazine
(Story Titles of my own Creation)
“Kimihiro and the Dreams” – Kimihiro inadvertently buys dreams from Himawari and Doumeki, and they come into effect in reality – the problem being that Himawari’s dream was a nightmare.
“Kimihiro and the Medium” – Kimihiro comes across a young girl who, like him, can see spirits, and can somewhat exorcise them. Like him, she doesn’t totally like this power. However, unlike him, her mother knows about this power and promotes her as a medium and exorcist on TV stations.
“Kimihiro and the Mahjong Game” – Something of a follow-up to “The Medium”, Kimihiro, Yuuko, Doumeki and Kuro-Mokona (Black Mokona) play Mahjong at Doumeki’s shrine, at the tree the spirit from “The Medium” was moved to.
The High Points
While “The World” is another Youkai story, because we got “His Eye” last volume, the feel a lot like it’s setting things up for something later, instead of being just another stand alone story. It also has some really good character development for Kimihiro and Doumeki, particularly their relationship with each other, though some of this is stuff we got last volume.
“The Medium” isn’t exactly a Shop of Horrors story, it has some of the trappings of the premise, and I really hope what is set up in this volume comes up later. Oh, and there’s the whole matter of the conclusion… with what appears to be a second Syaoran, and the implications that this has for Tsubasa.
The Low Points
“The Mahjong Game” – If you don’t know how to play mahjong, like I do, you will be hopefully lost. As near as I can tell, the rules of Mahjong are like a more arcane version of Bridge. Plus there are all the references to really obscure Mahjong manga and anime. Well, I mean that they’re not obscure in Japan, but I get the impression from the translation notes that Bill Flanagan is throwing up his hands and going “**** it, I dunno.”
No blood, gore or nudity, or really mature themes, aside from the Medium’s dysfunctional-even-for-Japan family.
Originality: While much of the subject matter of this volume is based of Japanese cultural and societal stuff (Reality TV shows about the supernatural and mediums, Mahjong), “The Dreams” tread some fairly original ground. 3 out of 6.
Artwork: Still great as usual. 5 out of 6.
Story: The youkai stuff has gotten more interesting since last volume, since I’m getting an impression that it will pay off eventually. “The Medium” is pretty interesting as well, as the story feels like CLAMP is getting back into some of the societal commentary they did earlier in their career with Tokyo Babylon. 4 out of 6.
Characterization: Kimihiro’s character gets a little more development here (as does Doumeki), as he demonstrates that he’s becoming more active about some of the supernatural things he encounters, instead of pointing them out to Yuuko or Doumeki – though he’s still occasionally in over his head (as in the case of “The Dreams”). 4 out of 6.
Emotional Response: “The Medium” does a pretty good job of setting up that the other titular character’s life is rather unpleasant. Other then that, there isn’t much of an emotional reaction (aside from humor at Kimihiro and Yuuko’s verbal sparring) for either Kimihiro, or the spirit in question. 3 out of 6.
Flow: 6 out of 6.
Overall: This is an enjoyable chapter, but it really doesn’t stand out that much. It doesn’t have the horror elements from earlier volumes, the Youkai chapter is fairly short and aside from mention of the fox-spirit’s oden stand, there isn’t much in terms of continuity to earlier chapters. That said, it wasn’t terrible, and it was above average. However, I wouldn’t call it great. 4 out of 6.
In Total, xxxHolic vol. 9 gets 29 out of 42.