In the first volume of xxxHolic, Kimihiro Watanuki, a high schooler with strong spiritual powers, walks into a strange shop that grants wishes. He ends up working for the owner of the shop, who goes by the name of Yuko, in order to have his wish to get rid of those powers granted. While he’s working at the shop, he meets a few of Yuko’s customers and watches as she grants their wishes. Some parts are creepy, and the customers are kind of “monster of the week”-type stories, but Yuko is sarcastic and cool enough and Watanuki plays the grumbling assistant well enough for the series to be entertaining. Clamp’s art is amazing, as usual, especially their designs of Yuko and her various outfits.
The manga was localized by Del Rey, and the translation generally stays true to the feel of the original Japanese (at least what I remember of it). There one or two places where the English didn’t quite flow right, and one place where the Japanese characters were left in unexplained (they were translated right after, but it wasn’t clear that the next line was the translation), but I am probably just being picky because I work in the industry (though on the anime side mostly, these days). There were also some uncommon Japanese words that were left in untranslated and romanized that seemed like they would have been confusing to non-Japanese speakers, but there were notes in the back explaining everything. I’m not used to reading manga in English and I wasn’t paying enough attention to the table of contents, so I didn’t see them until the very end, but it seems like something readers used to reading Del Rey manga would figure out sooner.
The first thing I saw when I opened up xxxHolic was that it crossed over with Tsubasa (another manga by Clamp) volume one. Even though I’d read xxxHolic volume one before in Japanese (and seen the anime, where I remember the crossover), I’d forgotten that the crossover happened in the first volume of both. I happen to own the first volume of Tsubasa (Reservoir Chronicle) in Chinese, and when I flipped through, I saw that I’d stopped reading right when the crossover with xxxHolic started. I’d bought the first two volumes in Chinese on a trip to Taiwan during college, when I was taking Chinese and wanted to practice reading, but I hadn’t even heard of xxxHolic then, so I think I had gotten too confused and stopped in the middle of the first volume. (I’d gotten them because it was the sequel to Cardcaptor Sakura, which I liked from watching “Cardcaptors” on TV. I owned a bunch of the DVDs so I could watch the Japanese versions, but Tsubasa was so different that I thought I’d gotten a Chinese rip-off at first…)
The crossover doesn’t happen until the end of volume one, so I picked up where I left off in Tsubasa after I finished reading xxxHolic. My Chinese is super rusty, but with my newfound kanji knowledge from learning Japanese (my Chinese had been better than my Japanese when I bought Tsubasa, but now my Japanese is way better) and more context from the xxxHolic anime and manga, I was able to get through the crossover scene in Tsubasa and understand more of what was going on than I did before. I still prefer the original Cardcaptor Sakura series to both xxxHolic and Tsubasa, but at least xxxHolic is funny. Even though Tsubasa is the direct sequel to Cardcaptor Sakura, it’s really serious, so I’ve never liked it as much as the other two.
Anyway, all this to say that while the story of the manga wasn’t new to me, it was my first time reading it in English. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I don’t read a lot of manga in general, and even less in English, but since I’d been requesting so many books for my youth literature class anyway, I thought I’d add the English version to the queue and give a proper review.
This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter X. (It took me so long to get through the Chinese that this post is pretty much written in real-time, i.e., not scheduled in advance, but posted at exactly 27 minutes after midnight because it’s Day 27 of the challenge.)