xxxHoLic Volume One is a manga by CLAMP, and it was published in North America by Del Rey Manga in 2004. The series is rated “T” for teens 13 and up; after reading this manga volume, I would agree with this rating.
A young man named Kimihiro Watanuki, who has the ability to see spirits, unexpectedly finds himself going into shop where Yuko Ichihara, the proprietress, grants wishes to people for a fee. Yuko has a gothic look about her, but her clothes also make her come across as a bit of a seductress. She ends up talking Kimihiro into wishing to lose the ability to see spirits. For his fee, Yuko makes him do tasks like cleaning, cooking and lifting; she will only grant the wish once Kimihiro does enough work to “pay” for his wish.
As Kimihiro spends more time at the shop, he starts becoming involved with the clients who ask for the store’s help. The first is a woman who is a compulsive liar. She comes to the shop because she can no longer use her little finger. As Yuko tells about herself, Kimihiro can see a weird black miasma surrounding her. Yuko gives the woman a ring to wear on her little finger. A little later, Kimihiro sees what the end result is for this woman.
The next story has Yuko and Kimihiro visiting a woman in her apartment, because she has an online addiction. Her husband has asked her to quit going online and to spend more time with their young children. The woman has been communicating with Yuko online, and asks for her help to break the Internet habit.
This volume of xxxHoLic ends with Sakura and Li Syaoran making a crossover appearance from the Tsubasa manga series, and this is the story that should start Volume Two of xxxHoLic. And speaking of crossovers from other CLAMP manga, two creatures who bear a striking resemblance to Mokona in Magic Knight Rayearth also make an appearance in this manga volume.
One thing that really stands out to me about xxxHoLic is the way the story is written. As Yuko and Kimihiro work with clients, Yuko’s dialogue really makes the reader think about why these characters are acting the way they are and the consequences of those characters’ actions or inactions. CLAMP also has a way of building the suspense with each client, which made me want to keep reading to find out what decision the client would make about their situation.
I also think the interplay between Kimihiro and Yuko works rather well. Kimihiro is basically the “straight man,” and he comes across as rather serious and logical. Yuko, on the other hand, is a practitioner of magic who has a rather laid-back attitude. Watching these two characters with such contrasting personalities interacting with each other is an enjoyable aspect of xxxHoLic.
If you’re a fan of CLAMP’s art and writing style, then you should be able to enjoy xxxHoLic Volume One. I also think that readers who enjoy stories that combine supernatural elements with comedy might also be able to enjoy this series.