My Week in Manga: August 3-August 9, 2015

My News and Reviews

Okay! In addition to the usual My Week in Manga feature, I managed to post three other things last week. First up was the announcement of the Sparkler Monthly Giveaway Winner, which also includes a list of the current, ongoing series being released in Sparkler Monthly (which is only a fraction of the total content). The other two posts were in-depth manga reviews; I took a look at a couple of Kodansha Comics’ recent releases. The first in-depth review of the month went to Naoshi Arakawa’s Your Lie in April, Volume 2, which I enjoyed. But then again, it’s a music manga, so it’s not too surprising that I like it. I also reviewed Masayuki Ishikawa’s Maria the Virgin Witch, Volume 3. It’s the last volume of the series, although the seque Exhibition is scheduled to be released in English later this year. Maria the Virgin Witch is somewhat uneven, but I still found it to be both intriguing and engaging.

As seems to always be the case nowadays, life was keeping me very busy last week, but I still came across some interesting things  elsewhere online. A translation of an interview of Daisuke Igarashi, for example. Last week also marked the seventieth anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States. It’s quite timely then that Last Gasp launched a Kickstarter project to create a hardcover edition of Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen with schools and libraries specifically in mind. To coincide with this, Paul Gravett reposted his article “Keiji Nakazawa: Barefoot in Hiroshima”. Barefoot Gen is a tremendous work. One of the Manga Moveable Feasts was even devoted to it back in the day. If anyone is interested in learning more about Nakazawa himself as well as some of the historical context surrounding Barefoot Gen, his autobiography was translated into English several years ago.

Quick Takes

Prophecy, Volume 3Prophecy, Volume 3 by Tetsuya Tsutsui. The first volume of Prophecy is the one that left the greatest impression on me, but in general it’s a very strong series. I didn’t find the second volume to be quite as compelling as the first, but the third provides a mostly satisfying conclusion to the series even though in some ways it felt a little anticlimactic. One of the members of Paperboy tips off the police and soon the Cyber Crimes Division has been able to identify the four terrorists. As the investigators draw closer and closer to capturing the men, they begin to notice what at first seem to be mistakes, slip ups, and inconsistencies in the group’s behavior. However, everything falls into place once Paperboy’s true motivations for committing all of the crimes are revealed. Prophecy is a realistic, smart, and engaging series with the added bite of social commentary. There’s apparently also a Prophecy spin-off series. I don’t think that it has been licensed, or that there are any current plans to do so, but I’d certainly be interested in reading it.

xxxHolic, Omnibus 6xxxHolic, Omnibus 6 (equivalent to Volumes 16-17) by CLAMP. For the most part I have been enjoying xxxHolic since the beginning of the series, but I think this omnibus has been my favorite so far. I really liked its brooding, ominous atmosphere. The humor that was so prevalent earlier in the series is actually almost entirely gone. The comedy in xxxHolic could be fun, but I have a particular penchant for the series’ supernatural angst, and that’s definitely taken the forefront in the last few volumes. I also initially found the crossover between Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle and xxxHolic to be intriguing, but I’ll admit that I was happy to see that the other series didn’t intrude too much in this omnibus. Instead, xxxHolic is focusing on how Watanuki and the others are coping now that Yuko is gone. Watanuki takes it especially hard and his tendency to slip in and out of dreams is becoming increasingly dangerous. There’s not much that the people who care about him can actually do except to watch over and support him as best as they can.

Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 3Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 3 by Miki Yoshikawa. There really are witches in this series! With its good-natured comedy and gender play, I’ve liked Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches a great deal from the very start. But with the third volume, Yoshikawa has started to really develop the series’ worldbuilding and is diving even further into the details of how the magic works. The relationships between the characters are also becoming more fleshed-out and complicated, which I’m enjoying as well. One of the things that I particularly appreciate about the series is that it seems perfectly okay for a guy to be crushing on another guy. Yes, it’s because there are some strange supernatural powers at work, but it’s also not treated like something gross. The setup also allows kissing to freely occur regardless of gender, which is fun. There’s still plenty of fanservice in Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, as one would probably expect from a shounen series full of gender- and body-swapping, but I generally find it to be tastefully done.

My Week in Manga: June 1-June 7, 2015

My News and Reviews

Happy June, everyone! I’ve been super busy (I seem to say that a lot, don’t I?) but was still able to post a few things here at Experiments in Manga last week. The winner of the Ema Toyama Twosome manga giveaway was announced. That post also includes a list of manga available in English that feature novelists and other writers. The honor of the first in-depth manga review for the month of June goes to Masayuki Ishikawa’s Maria the Virgin Witch, Volume 2. Ishikawa seems to be trying to do a lot with such a short series (it’s only three volumes), maybe a bit too much. Even if he’s not able to successfully pull everything off, I still find Maria the Virgin Witch to be an intriguing series and want to read the rest of it. Finally, over the weekend I posted the Bookshelf Overload for May. I had a pretty big haul of manga and comics last month; I largely blame TCAF.

Elsewhere online there’s been some interesting reading to be found. Justin interviewed Kate Dacey (aka The Manga Critic) over at Organization Anti-Social Geniuses. Kate was one of my biggest manga blogging inspirations, so I’ve been very happy to see her recent return. Sean Kleefeld brought my attention to a panel on the history of manhwa. Drawn & Quarterly recently released the massive anthology Drawn and Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels. Joe McCulloch specifically looks at the volume’s manga content. Mangabrog has a translation of a conversation between Naoki Urasawa and Hisashi Eguchi. Last but not least, two licensing announcements were made last week that I’m very excited about: Viz Media is finally releasing a print edition of One-Punch Man by ONE and Yusuke Murata and Drawn & Quarterly is releasing more of Shigeru Mizuki’s GeGeGe no Kitaro! (I loved the publisher’s first Kitaro collection.)

Quick Takes

Welcome to the N.H.K., Volume 1Welcome to the N.H.K., Volumes 1-4 by Kendi Oiwa. Originally published in print by Tokyopop, Viz Media recently announced that it would be releasing Welcome to the N.H.K. digitally in the very near future. Tatsuhiko Takimoto’s original Welcome to the N.H.K. light novel was fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed the anime adaptation, too. It was only a matter of time before I read Kendi Oiwa’s manga adaptation, though I am a little surprised that it’s taken me this long to get around to it. It has been a while since I’ve read or watched the other versions of Welcome to the N.H.K., but so far the manga is closer to the anime than it is to the novel, except that it seems a little more streamlined and perhaps even a little raunchier. Satou is a college dropout and hikikomori who has been targeted by Misaki, a young woman who is determined to rehabilitate him despite her own oddities and personal issues. In some ways, the more recent Watamote is reminiscent of Welcome to the N.H.K. Both series feature protagonists who are extremely socially awkward and both series can be hilarious, but they can also be somewhat depressing and painful to read at times, too. But, I am enjoying the manga version of Welcome to the N.H.K. a great deal.

xxxHolic: Rei, Volume 3xxxHolic: Rei, Volume 3 by CLAMP. Initially, I felt that it wasn’t necessary to have read xxxHolic in order to enjoy xxxHolic: Rei. However after reading the third volume, I feel I need to revise that opinion. It’s still not absolutely necessary to have read xxxHolic, but Rei makes a lot more sense and is much more meaningful if a reader has that background. I’ve actually not finished reading the entirety of xxxHolic, so while I was able to get the basic gist of what was going on in Rei, I did feel I was missing out on some important context while reading the third volume. However, I really like what CLAMP is doing with the series and I’m looking forward to reading the part of xxxHolic where Rei ties in directly. Rei has developed a marvelously ominous atmosphere that has a surreal, dreamlike quality to it. CLAMP’s high-contrast artwork in the series is great, too. At first, Rei felt directionless as though CLAMP didn’t really know what to do with the series, but the third volume begins to bring everything together in a way that actually makes sense. Of course, this also means the Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles connection is becoming more pronounced as well, which can sometimes feel forced.

Ze, Volume 7Ze, Volumes 7-9 by Yuki Shimizu. Despite it being a series that I tend to enjoy, it’s actually been a few years since I’ve read any of Shimizu’s supernatural boys’ love manga Ze. Although there is some dubious content (which doesn’t really surprise me much at this point), these three volumes reminded me what it is about Ze that I like so much: Shimizu has a knack for creating fascinatingly intense and complex relationship and power dynamics. The seventh and eighth volumes explore the backstories of Kotoha and Konoe; I was very satisfied with the explanation of their peculiar relationship and personalities. (Granted, most of the characters and relationships in Ze are pretty strange.) Ze, Volume 8 focuses on Shoui and Asari. Most of the story arcs have been two volumes long, but perhaps because their relationship has been developing in the background over the course of the series, the eighth volume is the only one specifically devoted to the couple. These three volumes are also very important in setting up the next and what I believe is the final story arc which will reveal more of Waki’s tragic history. I had forgotten how much of an asshole he can be, so I am curious to find out what made him the person he is.

My Week in Manga: May 18-May 24, 2015

My News and Reviews

Well, it was a little later than I initially intended, but I finally finished writing and posted my random musings on TCAF 2015 last week! It’s a long post which includes some of my general thoughts as well as write-ups of the panels that attended while at the festival. Even considering its length, people still seem to like it or at least find parts of it interesting, which makes me happy. Tangentially related to TCAF, I also posted and in-depth review of Wayward, Volume 1: String Theory, the first collection in an ongoing comic series created by Jim Zub and Steve Cummings. (Zub was one of the exhibitors at TCAF, though I picked up Wayward long before that.) The comic is heavily influenced by stories about yokai, but it definitely has its own modern twist on Japan’s myths and legends. String Theory is a great start to the series and I’m looking forward to reading the next volume.

Last week seemed to be oddly quiet on the news and licensing front. I’m sure there must have been some interesting things posted, but at least I didn’t come across very many. However, speaking of yokai, The New York Times recently published the article “Reviving Japan’s Dreaded and Beloved Ghosts” (or, “Pokémon’s Spooky Ancestors” if you try to look it up in the print edition) about some of the recent and forthcoming books being released in North America about the creatures. Vaguely related, Seven Seas announced that it has licensed Yoshihiko Inui’s Tomodachi x Monster, a dark parody manga series about kids and their pet monsters. Otherwise, if I’ve missed some particularly good reading, please do let me know!

Quick Takes

NimonaNimona by Noelle Stevenson. Originally an award-winning webcomic, Nimona was recently released as Stevenson’s debut graphic novel. The comic has been slightly revised for the print edition and additional content, including a new epilogue, has been collected in the volume as well. Nimona is one of my favorite comic releases so far this year. In the beginning it’s silly and very funny. But, while it never loses its humor, the comic does become more serious and even heart-wrenching as it progresses after some of the characters’ personal struggles and backgrounds are fully revealed. Nimona is a young shapeshifter who has decided that she will become the sidekick of Lord Ballister Blackheart, a supervillain whose plans are always being foiled by his arch-nemesis Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. (The two men share a history together and deeply care about each other.) Nimona does manage to convince Blackheart to allow her to join his team, but finds his strict code of ethics frustrating to deal with. Likewise, he often frowns upon her excessively wild nature and propensity towards violence. Despite their differences, over time the two of them grow very close to each other. Nimona is an incredibly delightful and charming comic. I look forward to reading more of Stevenson’s work in the future.

Noragami: Stray God, Volume 4Noragami: Stray God, Volume 4 by Adachitoka. Even though Noragami seems to have been doing fairly well for Kodansha Comics, I haven’t really heard many people talking about the series. Initially I thought that Noragami was primarily going to be a comedy but the last few volumes, though they have their moments of levity, have actually been pretty serious. The fourth volume largely focuses on the plight of Bishamonten, a warrior god (technically goddess in Noragami). Though outwardly very strong and aggressive, she is having difficulty controlling and supporting the numerous shinki under her care. This does strike me as a little strange since Tenjin also has a large number of shinki without there seeming to be any negative consequences, but perhaps Bishamonten’s group is significantly bigger. It is interesting to see the differences in the relationships between the shinki and their respective gods in Noragami. After some strife in the last couple of volumes, Yato and Yuki have managed to forge an impressive partnership. Probably most importantly, they are at a point in their relationship where they can be honest with each other, airing their grievances and sharing their pain. The same cannot be said of Bishamonten and her shinki, which may be the source of their problems. Even though it is out of concern, hiding their true feelings is actually more damaging in the long run.

xxxHolic, Omnibus 5xxxHolic, Omnibus 5 (equivalent to Volumes 13-15) by CLAMP. I’ve come to the realization that I much prefer xxxHolic when it isn’t being tied down with its association toTsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles. Fortunately, even though its connection to the other series continues to solidify in this omnibus, for the most part this portion of xxxHolic remains its own story without too much interference. Oddly enough, it even becomes a food manga of sorts, which I really wasn’t anticipating. Perhaps it’s not so surprising, though. Throughout xxHOlic Watanuki has always been shown to be cooking, making bento and snacks for the people who are important to him. But in the fifth omnibus of xxxHolic the cooking becomes critical to the story itself rather than just being a part of his character. (CLAMP also has a way of making the most mundane thing extraordinarily melodramatic to such an extent that a character’s very life seems to hang by a thread from it.) Watanuki teaches Kohane to cook because he wants to, but then he is hired out to fulfill the wish of one of the shop’s clients by providing instruction to her, too. Though at first he halfheartedly puts up a fight, he takes this task very seriously, eventually uncovering the woman’s true fears and desires. (All through the power of food!) There is also a sense of ominous foreboding in this volume as the series prepares for its finale.

You & Me, Etc.You & Me, Etc. by Kyugo. After I finished reading You & Me, Etc., I was extremely surprised to note that the boys’ love manga had been rated mature by the publisher. Honestly, nothing more than a few kisses and perhaps a little bit of cuddling happen in the manga. (The fact that it’s between men shouldn’t make a difference.) I believe You & Me, Etc. is the only manga by Kyugo to have been released in English. You & Me, Etc. is not an especially memorable collection of short boys’ love manga—none of the selections really have any sort of “hook” per se—but the stories are executed very well and it’s a very enjoyable volume. The stories included are quieter with a strong focus on the characters’ relationships and interactions. Some of those relationships aren’t even particularly romantic in nature (which will likely disappoint readers expecting or hoping for something a little steamier from a manga with an “M” rating), but nonetheless they are still very important and most often deal with some sort of love or affection. The volume features three couples (broadly defined) who must navigate and develop their relationships in the face of difficult circumstances, whether it be a life-changing accident, a shared secret, or a death in the family. Based on the volume’s strengths, I would certainly be interested in reading more of Kyugo’s work.

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.