CLAMP’s xxxHolic continues here, with the ninth instalment of the popular supernatural fantasy tale. Watanuki is now intrinsically linked to his perceived rival, Dômeki, via a shared right eye. It sometimes allows the latter to see what the former sees. More specifically, it happens when Watanuki sees spirits and visions. But when our protagonist is not seeing such things, he is usually working to pay off his debt to Yūko, or, he is spending time with the relentlessly cute Himawari.
The first few chapters are all about dreams. It’s a new year in xxxHolic-land, and so everyone is talking about their first dreams of the new year, which are sometimes thought to be prophetic. But somehow, Watanuki manages to inadvertently “buy” a dream from his cute classmate, Himawari. This being Watanuki, with typical luck he bought a nightmare, so as usual he has to enlist the help of Yūko to deal with the consequences. It’s an interesting little story, and one that’s all too brief. It comes and goes very quickly and I would have liked to have seen a bit more about it.
But it’s quickly followed by a less engaging tale about a “spiritual psychic” girl who appears on television and “exorcises” spirits. Well, Watanuki, and us readers, know that she must have similar powers to Watanuki, and so he meets her and tries to help her as best he can. This story doesn’t really go anywhere, it just goes along for a few chapters until it reaches a natural conclusion.
Watanuki remains a really likeable character in this volume. He is really kind and caring, and also it is interesting to see how well he carries his burden about being able to see the spirit world. His seemingly irrational hatred of Dômeki is still entertaining as well. xxxHolic is a beautifully drawn manga, there’s nothing spectacular in this volume but it’s solid enough. As usual, Translation Notes round things off.
In conclusion, this is a solid if unspectacular entry in the xxxHolic catalogue. It doesn’t really move anything forward, but if you’ve read the previous 8, there’s no reason to skip this volume.