My Week in Manga: March 23-March 29, 2015

My News and Reviews

Well, it wasn’t really intentional, but last week at Experiments in Manga was apparently Viz Media week. Both of the in-depth manga reviews posted as well as the most recent manga giveaway feature Viz Media titles. The winner of this month’s giveaway will be announced on Wednesday, so there is still time to enter for a chance to receive Chika Shiomi’s Yukarism, Volume 1. The first review posted last week was of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Part 1: Phantom Blood, Volume 1, the very beginning of Hirohiko Araki’s long-running, outlandish, supernatural epic. It can be pretty brutal and the manga certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I’m very happy to finally see it being released in English. Over the weekend I posted my review of Aya Kanno’s Requiem of the Rose King, Volume 1, a moody historical fantasy inspired by William Shakespeare’s Henry VI and Richard III. The debut of this series was one of the manga I was most looking forward to this year. I’m very happy to say that I loved it.

And speaking of Aya Kanno, it was recently announced that she will be one of the featured guests at this year’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival! (TCAF is currently the only large comics event that I attend.) Gengoroh Tagame, who was a featured guest in 2013, will be returning to TCAF this year as well. Ken Niimura (whose collection of short manga Henshin I thoroughly enjoyed and reviewed back in February) will also be an exhibitor. And since I mentioned Niimura, I would also like to point out Organization Anti-Social Geniuses’ interview with him from last week. Completely unrelated to TCAF, Seven Seas made a new license announcement—the first volume of Arata Yamaji’s manga series A Certain Scientific Accelerator is currently scheduled for release in October.

Quick Takes

The Man of TangoThe Man of Tango by Tetuzoh Okadaya. Originally licensed but never actually published by Aurora’s Deux Press, I was very happy when Sublime Manga picked up Okadaya’s boys’ love manga The Man of Tango. The English-language edition of The Man of Tango includes the story’s debut one-shot as well as previously unpublished material, making it the most complete version of the manga currently available. Though technically a boys’ love manga, with its burly character designs and emphasis on physicality, the tone of The Man of Tango is fairly masculine and the volume feels more like a gay manga. (Interestingly enough, Okadaya apparently didn’t even know what BL was before being invited to create the story.) As can be safely assumed from the title alone, tango plays a very prominent role in The Man of Tango. Dance is portrayed as a means of passionate expression and communication. Angie is a skilled dancer who teaches Argentine tango in Japan. Although he has been in many relationships, it isn’t until he meets Hiro, who exhibits a natural talent for tango, that he has completely fallen for someone.

Say I Love You, Volume 5Say I Love You, Volumes 5-6 by Kanae Hazuki. I become more and more impressed with Say I Love You the more I read of the series. Hazuki has captured the turmoil and insecurities of adolescence incredibly well. Sometimes the characters do seem a little wise or mature for their age, but generally the series remains well within the realm of believability. At the very least, the constantly shifting and messy interpersonal relationships of the series feel very realistic. Say I Love You excels at character growth and development. The recent introduction of new characters have complicated matters greatly for Mei and Yamato. Kai has started to develop feelings for Mei and he tends to be honest to a fault, which results in a significant amount of drama and strife as Yamato struggles with how to deal with his jealously. Another source of discord is Megumi. Her advances were rejected by Yamato and so she is doing everything that she can to disrupt Mei’s friendships and make her miserable. Mei, who is still learning to have confidence in herself and in her relationships with other people, is particularly susceptible to this sort of attack.

xxxHolic, Omnibus 3xxxHolic, Omnibuses 3-4 (equivalent to Volumes 7-12) by CLAMP. I only read the first few volumes of xxxHolic when it was initially being published in English by Del Rey Manga, so the material included in these omnibuses is completely new to me. While Watanuki still tends to be extreme in his reactions—quickly moving between utter joy and absolute despair—for the most part the tone of xxxHolic has started to even out and the balance between the series’ humor and the horror is better. There continue to be comedic elements, but the manga’s more serious nature has come to the forefront. Though frequently it’s deliberately cryptic, at times the manga can actually be fairly thought-provoking. xxxHolic has turned out to be far less episodic than I thought it was going to be. Some of the chapters don’t have a dramatic or direct impact on the story, but an overarching plot has developed. The series also ties in with Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, but the connection between the two manga occasionally seems a little forced. I find that I enjoy xxxHolic more when it’s completely free to be its own work.

My Week in Manga: March 9-March 13, 2015

My News and Reviews

Two reviews at Experiments in Manga last week! First up, I finally got around to reading Kouhei Kadono’s Boogiepop at Dawn. Technically the sixth Boogiepop novel, and the fourth to be released in English, it actually serves as a prequel to the entire series. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read of the Boogiepop series and found Boogiepop at Dawn to be particularly satisfying. I’m hoping to do a Boogiepop Adaptation Adventures post once I have a chance to read the manga and watch the anime and live-action adaptations. The second review posted last week was of Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi, Volume 2. Mushishi is one of my favorite manga, and the second volume includes some of my favorite stories in the series. The review is part of my monthly manga review project focusing on horror manga. Next month will feature Setona Mizushiro’s After School Nightmare again.

Sparkler Monthly has been getting some good press recently, which I’m happy to see. Jason Thompson delves into the comics side of the magazine in the most recent House of 1000 Manga. Lianne Sentar was interviewed by Brigid Alverson at Robot 6 about Marketing to the Female Gaze. Sparkler has been adding a bunch of new comics lately. The most recent is actually a rescue from the closure of Inkblazers, Heldrad’s Orange Junk. More comics and more print releases will be announced in the very near future (I’m particularly looking forward to the Tokyo Demons Cherry Bomb collection), so now is a better time than ever to consider becoming a member to support the creators and the rest of the Sparkler team.

Last week was apparently “manga week” at ICv2, which included interviews with Dark Horse’s Mike Richardson (Part 1 and Part 2) and Viz Media’s Kevin Hamric (Part 1 and Part 2). The Comics Journal has been collecting and posting tributes to the late Yoshihiro Tatsumi, and Ryan Holmberg has written an in-depth article on Tatsumi for the site as well. Elsewhere online, Comics Forum posted Masafumi Monden’s article Shōjo Manga Research: The Legacy of Women Critics and Their Gender-Based Approach and Reflecting Lights has a nice publisher spotlight on Vertical Comics. Finally, Sean has a roundup of all the manga and light novel licenses that have recently been announced.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, Volume 3Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, Volume 3 written by Ryo Suzukaze and illustrated by Satoshi Shiki. An adaptation of a series of light novels, Before the Fall is a prequel to Hajime Isayama’s immensely popular and successful manga Attack on Titan. It takes place well before the original series, during a time in which humanity is facing the Titans, but has yet to really find a way to effectively deal with them. At this point, the Survey Corps at least knows how to destroy the Titans, but it is lacking the resources—specifically the three-dimensional maneuvering gear—that greatly aids in actually accomplishing the feat. Apparently, as the extra manga at the end of the third volume implies, Kuklo will somehow be involved in reclaiming that crucial bit of technology. However, most of the volume is devoted to the intense battle and tragic outcomes of the Survey Corps and Kuklo’s unfortunate confrontation with a Titan outside of the walls. There’s some plot and story development as well, but the action takes precedence this time around. In general, I don’t find Before the Fall to be quite as compelling as the original Attack on Titan, but it is interesting to see more of the overall worldbuilding and backstory that has been created for the franchise as a whole.

Cage of Eden, Volume 16Cage of Eden, Volume 16 by Yoshinobu Yamada. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of Cage of Eden, though the sixteenth volume seems to be pretty par for the course. I enjoy a good survival story, but the manga is just not as enthralling as I want it to be. It doesn’t help that the fanservice tends to be narratively awkward; the sixteenth volume includes not one but two naked bath scenes of buxom middle school girls that interrupt the flow of the story. As for the story itself, there have been a few interesting developments. Having split into separate groups to investigate the spire and the pyramid on the island, the survivors have been able to begin piecing together exactly where they are as they uncover more and more secrets. Considering the number of deaths in Cage of Eden so far, it’s probably a safe bet that not everyone is going to survive to the end of the series. Especially taking into account the fact that the dinosaurs and other beasts aren’t the only dangerous creatures on the island. Humans can also be extremely deadly. And manipulative, too. It’s this menacing human element that the sixteenth volume of Cage of Eden focuses on. Trying to survive on the island has definitely taken its toll on the characters both mentally and physically.

Missions of Love, Volume 10Missions of Love, Volume 10 by Ema Toyama. To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Missions of Love nearly as much as I do, but here I am, ten volumes later, still completely hooked on the series’ melodrama and exceptionally twisted train wrecks of relationships. And there are some pretty momentous developments in those relationships in this volume, specifically a confession of love that can’t be mistaken or ignored. It seems as thought the time is drawing very near in which Yukina will have to choose either Shigure or Akira, but she’s only now realizing that might mean losing one of them completely. Partially in an attempt to avoid having to make an immediate decision, she challenges them both with a mission: to take her on a date as boyfriend and girlfriend. Missions of Love has always been suggestive, often skirting the edge of what would be deemed appropriate behavior and occasionally crossing over the line, and the tenth volume is no different. The relationships in the series aren’t healthy ones and never have been. Seeing as how many of them were initially based on manipulation and blackmail that probably isn’t too surprising, but it is interesting to see the characters develop legitimate feelings of affection for one another. They just don’t always go about expressing it in the best fashion.

xxxHolic, Omnibus 1xxxHolic, Omnibuses 1-2 (equivalent to Volumes 1-6) by CLAMP. I read the first few volumes of xxxHolic when the manga was originally being published by Del Rey Manga but never got around to finishing the series before it went out of print, so I’m happy that Kodansha Comics is releasing the omnibuses. xxxHolic is a manga of extremes. One moment it’s ridiculously comedic and the next it’s deadly serious. The manga can be a strange mix of humor and horror; sometimes the balance between those two aspects of the series works better than others. I like the incorporation of yokai in xxxHolic since I have a particular interest in yokai. Generally, CLAMP’s renditions of the traditional stories are much more contemporary and free-form in nature. Yokai and folk tales serve more as a source of loose inspiration rather than a rigid structure for the manga to build upon. xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle are directly related to each other, although they can be read separately without to much of a problem. So far, I find the Tsubasa references to be some of the least interesting in xxxHolic, but I do get a kick out of some of the throwaway nods to other CLAMP manga. For example, the leads from Legal Drug make a brief appearance with a minor (yet arguably crucial) role selling a hangover cure.

My Week in Manga: March 2-March 8, 2015

My News and Reviews

And the honor of the first in-depth manga review for the month of March at Experiments in Manga goes to Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki’s Oishinbo, A la Carte: Vegetables which, as is probably fairly obvious, is a food manga about vegetables. I tend to enjoy the Oishinbo, A la Carte collections, finding them to be both educational and entertaining. Vegetables is a good volume, but it does get pretty political. I also posted a list of manga featuring immortals last week as part of the announcement of the UQ Holder! Giveaway Winner. February’s Bookshelf Overload was posted as well, which can mostly be summarized by me yelling “JooooooJoooooo!

I was fairly busy last week, but a few things did catch my eye online. Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint announced two new licenses: Bloody Mary by Akaza Samamiya and Honey So Sweet by Amu Meguro. Seven Seas had a pretty big surprise, too—it’s opened a division focused on producing anime and manga themed tabletop games. First up? A deck-building game based on Space Dandy. Tofugu posted a great article about choosing the best yokai books available in English. I’ve reviewed two of the books mentioned—Yokai Attack: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide and The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons: A Field Guide to Japanese Yokai—and have read some of the others, so I can confirm that it’s a worthwhile list. Also, Paul Gravett has a lovely post remembering mangaka Yoshihiro Tatsumi, who passed away over the weekend.

Quick Takes

Black Rose Alice, Volume 3Black Rose Alice, Volume 3 by Setona Mizushiro. After a brief detour into lighter territory in the second volume, the third volume Black Rose Alice has taken a definite turn for the darker again. The series can be legitimately disconcerting and oddly provocative at the same time. Alice is getting to know all of the vampires in the nest a little better, but it’s Leo who is in the lead for her affections. The twins are somewhat immature and Dimitri is intentionally trying to not get involved with her, so Leo seems to be Alice’s obvious choice for procreation. Going through with it will lead to both of their deaths, so she is taking her time in making the decision, wanting to feel confident that her choice is the correct one. However, time is not on Leo’s side; his death is already imminent. Alice is unaware of this, though she does notice him acting out-of-character. Black Rose Alice is a strange and disturbing series. As a whole the vampire mythology that Mizushiro has created continues to be unlike any other that I’ve encountered. There is a very dark eroticism to the story as well. Occasionally there are more humorous moments, but they only serve to emphasize the underlying horror of the series.

My Little Monster, Volume 4My Little Monster, Volumes 4-6 by Robico. The third volume back-pedaled from the progress that the story and characters had made in the first two volumes and now with these three it seems as though My Little Monster is stuck in some sort of mire. I still like the characters, most of whom are quirky or weird in one way or another, but I find it immensely frustrating that the series just isn’t going anywhere. Actually, other than the awkward romance, I’m not entirely sure what the overarching story is even supposed to be at this point. However, there is definitely one heck of a love polygon going on. But even with so many unrequited feelings, there doesn’t seem to be as much drama as would be expected. In some ways, that’s actually a little refreshing. It’s nice that the characters can enjoy one another’s company even considering the romantic rivalries. I am glad to see that Haru’s volatile and frequently violent emotional state hasn’t been romanticized, although occasionally it is used for a bit of humor. In part, My Little Monster is intended to be a comedy, but these volumes are generally a bit more serious overall. There are still some genuinely funny and endearing moments, though.

Not Enough TimeNot Enough Time by Shoko Hidaka. Because I’m enjoying her ongoing series Blue Morning so much, and to make the wait for the next volume a little easier, I’ve made a point to read more of Hidaka’s manga. Not only was Not Enough Time Hidaka’s debut in English, it was also her first volume of boys’ love manga to be released in Japan. Even though it’s an early work, Hidaka’s storytelling and nuanced characterizations were already quite excellent. Her artwork is lovely, too. Not Enough Time is a collection of six short boys’ love manga, some of which share a few recurring characters while others are completely unrelated. One lead couple consists of two high school students, but all of the other romances in the volume are between adult men. The basic settings and overall scenarios of the stories collected in Not Enough Time aren’t particularly unusual or unique. What makes them stand out is Hidaka’s willingness to allow the relationships to be complicated and messy; the endings aren’t always wrapped up happily or neatly. Instead, there is a sense of ambiguity and the feeling that characters’ lives continue on well after the manga has concluded. I thoroughly enjoyed the collection.

xxxHolic: Rei, Volume 2xxxHolic: Rei, Volume 2 by CLAMP. After two volumes, I’m not yet convinced that CLAMP knows exactly where Rei is going as it feels a bit aimless. I find that I’m much less interested in the episodic stories of the series than I am in its underlying plot. Only ominous hints are given as to what is going on, just enough to keep the manga engaging. Watanuki is as clueless as the readers are at this point (if not more so), though he is becoming increasingly suspicious about his precarious situation. Both Yuko and Domeki obviously know what is what, but they either can’t or won’t tell him. Rei may be somewhat haphazard story-wise, but I really do enjoy the series’ striking artwork. It might not be absolutely necessary to have read xxxHOlic to follow Rei, but I do get the feeling that the manga will be more meaningful to those who have at least passing familiarity with the original series. (I should actually get around to finishing xxxHolic one of these days, especially now that it’s back in print; I’ve only ever read the first few volumes or so.) I’m very curious to see how Rei ties back into xxxHolic proper, or if it ever does. The third volume of Rei has been released in Japan, but apparently the series is currently on hiatus.

My Week in Manga: February 2-February 8, 2015

My News and Reviews

A small variety of posts went up at Experiments in Manga last week. First up, the Cinderalla manga giveaway winner was announced. The contest was a tie-in to the Female Goth Mangaka Carnival, so the post also includes a list of the featured creators’ manga available in English. The first in-depth manga review for February was Saki Nakagawa’s Attack on Titan: Junior High, a parody spinoff of the immensely popular Attack on Titan franchise. The series’ funniness can be somewhat uneven, but it can be absolutely hilarious at times. And posted over the weekend was January’s Bookshelf Overload, revealing the absurd amount of manga that came into my household last month.

Elsewhere online, Viz Media’s Shojo Beat announced two new licenses: QQ Sweeper by Kyousuke Motomi (the creator of Dengeki Daisy, which I rather enjoy) and Idol Dreams by Arina Tanemura. Organization Anti-Social Geniuses posted The Very Unofficial Guide to Discovering Manga in 2015, which is a nice overview of demographics, publishers, where to read and buy manga, and so on. Den of Geek has an interview with comics historian Graham Kolbeins, one of the editors behind Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It and The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame: The Master of Gay Erotic Manga. Finally, Otaku USA interviews Patrick Macias about Hypersonic Music Club, his collaboration with artist Hiroyuki Takahashi and the first of Crunchyroll Manga’s original series.

Quick Takes

Sky LinkSky Link by Shiro Yamada. Like many boys’ love mangaka, before making her professional debut Yamada started by creating doujinshi (she seems to have been particularly fond of pairing Gintoki and Hijikata from Gin Tama together). Sky Link is Yamada’s first original manga and is currently the only work of hers available in English. The volume collects two unrelated boys’ love stories, the titular “Sky Link” and “You through a Kaleidoscope.” Unfortunately, neither of the short manga are particularly satisfying; while her artwork can at times be quite lovely (occasionally her characters’ eyes are unintentionally creepy), Yamada definitely has room to grow as a storyteller. “Sky Link” had too many disparate elements to it. It could have worked quite well as a longer series, but as a short story Yamada didn’t have enough time to effectively develop the plot or characters and everything is left frustratingly vague. Ritsuki is a first year college student with some sort of troubled past who has caught the attention and affections of one of his new professors who, it is later revealed, has a troubled past of his own. “You through a Kaleidoscope,” a fairly standard high school boys’ love romance, isn’t as ambitious but is more successful as a result.

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Omnibus 1Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Omnibuses 1-2 (equivalent to Volumes 1-6) by CLAMP. I originally read the first few volumes of Tsubasa back when it was being released by Del Rey. Because I was borrowing it from the library and people had a tendency to steal volumes Tsubasa and its sort-of crossover series xxxHolic, I never got very far with the series. I’m glad that Kodansha is bringing Tsubasa back into print, because it really is an immensely enjoyable adventure tale. And because the setting is constantly moving from one dimension to the next, CLAMP is able to have a lot of fun with the clothing designs and worldbuilding from one short story arc to the next. The drive of the series is the search for Princess Sakura’s memory, pieces of which have been scattered throughout space and time, but the remembrances of her and the other characters form an important part of the story as well. I do think I’m enjoying Tsubasa a little more my second time trying to read it. I’ve now been exposed to more of CLAMP’s work, so I can better appreciate the references being made and the alternate-dimension versions of characters from the group’s other manga. (Seeing couples originally from X actually have a chance at happiness is both touching and heart-wrenching.)

UQHolder3UQ Holder!, Volume 3 by Ken Akamatsu. I enjoyed the third volume of UQ Holder more than I did the first two, but the series has yet to win me over. It seems as though the manga is starting to focus a bit more, which it desperately needed to do, but that may simply be because Akamatsu spends very little time on trying to develop a coherent plot and primarily sticks with the action sequences. The third volume is almost entirely devoted to a sequence of fight scenes. Right now the battles in UQ Holder are probably my favorite thing about the series. They are entertaining, exciting, and extremely energetic. And because immortals are involved, they can be pretty epic, too. The damage inflicted on both persons and property is impressive. Many of the characters, even the non-immortals, have superhuman powers of some sort. Incredible strength, quick regeneration, shape-shifting, and magic—either alone or in combination—are only a few examples of the over-the-top abilities found in UQ Holder. But as entertaining as the battles can be, from time to time the action is unclear. Something will happen and it will be extremely difficult to understand exactly what or how. I’m not even going to try to attempt to explain why Yukihime suddenly loses her skirt for seemingly no reason.

My Week in Manga: April 21-April 27, 2014

My News and Reviews

Last week was another week with two reviews here at Experiments in Manga. The first review was of Fumi Yoshinaga’s What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Volume 1, one of the manga I was most looking forward to being released this year. I really enjoyed the debut of the series and look forward to reading more. The second review posted last week was of Jen Lee Quick’s Off*Beat, Volume 2. The third volume in the series will be released soon, so I decided to revisit the previous volume in preparation. Off*Beat is a comic that simply makes me happy and I think I enjoy it more with each rereading.

And now for some interesting found online: Jason Stroman wraps up his manga advice series at Organization Anti-Social Geniuses with 20 Things I Learned from the Manga Advice Series. Joe McCulloch takes a close look at some of the pre-Tezuka manga available in English at The Comics Journal. No Flying No Tights has updated its list of must have manga for teens. A recent poll of Japanese parents asked “Which manga do you want your kids to read?” RocketNews24 lists the top ten, eight of which are currently available in English either digitally or in print.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volume 12Attack on Titan, Volume 12 by Hajime Isayama. The English-language release of Attack on Titan has now more or less caught up with the Japanese release of the series, which means the time between volumes has increased. Granted, those who are impatient have option of reading the most recent chapters on Crunchyroll, but I’ve personally been waiting since January to see what happens next. I am still impressed by just how many twists and turns Isayama is able to incorporate into the plot of Attack on Titan. Even though the twelfth volume is more about the action than it is about the story, there are still some surprises in store. Granted, each revelation in Attack on Titan only seems to raise more questions. In this volume the Survey Corp is tasked with rescuing Eren, who is in bad shape and being held captive along with Ymir by Reiner and Bertolt. Facing off against Titans is one thing, but having to attack those who at one point seemed to be allies is another thing entirely. Attack on Titan has always been intense and the twelfth volume is no different.

Border, Volume 1Border, Volumes 1-3 by Kazuma Kodaka. Although Border is an ongoing series at five volumes and counting, only three of those volumes have so far been released in English. I’m not sure if Digital Manga plans on licensing more at this point or not. Border is the most recent of Kodaka’s boys’ love manga to be translated. Though calling it boys’ love might be a bit misleading. The manga’s lead, Yamato, is gay and all of the characters seem to be in love with him to one extent or another, but so far the series seems to be more about detective agency he runs with his two foster brothers and his cousin than it is about romance. The first volume, which focuses on ex-soldier Yamato and his tragic past, is the most boys’ love-like (including explicit sex scenes), but subsequent volumes turn to the other characters—his brothers Kippei, a computer genius, and Tamaki, a hair designer whose skills are handy when disguises are needed. Their backstories are likewise tragic. I like this narrative structure of Border. And if the pattern continues, the next volume in the series should focus on Yamato’s cousin Sogo, which I would be very interested in reading.

Eyeshield 21, Volume 32Eyeshield 21, Volumes 32-34 written by Riichiro Inagaki and illustrated by Yusuke Murata. Often I find that reading sports manga makes me at least temporarily more interested in the games which they’re about, but for whatever reason that hasn’t been the case for Eyeshield 21. I probably have developed more of an appreciation for American football, but it still isn’t a sport I care very much about. Eyeshield 21 on the other hand, I’ve come to love. The artwork is phenomenal and the characters are engaging and distinctive. At this point, much of the humor and many of the running gags from the start of the series have faded into the background; Eyeshield 21 has become much more serious and dramatic, but it’s still a tremendous amount of fun. The series has been building up to the Christmas Bowl where the Deimon Devil Bats are playing against the Teikoku Alexanders, an all-star team which has never lost the tournament. The games in Eyeshield 21 have always been exciting but the Christmas Bowl match is fantastic. I fully anticipated Eyeshield 21 to end with the Christmas Bowl, but no, there are still three more volumes to go!

xxxHolic: Rei, Volume 1xxxHolic: Rei, Volume 1 by CLAMP. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of the original xxxHolic manga, and I never did finish reading the series before it went out of print (happily, Kodansha will be re-releasing the series in an omnibus edition), but I was still happy to see Rei licensed. As indicated in the translation notes, rei in this instance means return, “signaling a return to the series and to its roots.” It’s not really clear yet exactly how, or if, Rei will tie into the main series. I do have a few ideas how it might, though. Those who have read at least some of xxxHolic will be at a slight advantage over those who haven’t since the characters aren’t thoroughly introduced, but even new readers should be able to make sense of most of Rei. I love Clamp’s artwork in this series. The high-contrast and relatively simple illustration style is very evocative and elegant, and creepy and disconcerting when required. The supernatural elements in the manga tend to be dark in tone, but at the same time the main characters and their interactions tend towards the more comedic. It’s an interesting mix that somehow works; even the humorous scenes have something menacing lurking underneath.