With White Day come and gone, Yuko is obsessing over how Syaoran and friends haven’t yet sent her otherworldly goodies as payback. Watanuki has his own obligations to worry about – he has no idea how he’ll hunt down the Zashiki Warashi spirit.
In the meantime, an ame-warashi (a rain maker) asks Watanuki for help on a rescue mission by some unnaturally bright red hydrangers. The mission sucks Watanuki into the spirit world where he meets a lonely little girl who tries to convince him to come with her into the underworld, effectively killing him. With some help from the hydrangers and a dedicated 10-hour stand by Domeki, Watanuki eventually finds his way back to the living.
The story arc provides some great tidbits of Japanese lore on the afterlife while offering a harsh criticism of how humans aren’t the only (or most important) living beings in the world. Being human, Watanuki is thankful he was able to help the little girl, while helping the girl was the last thing the ame-warashi wanted. However, their end goals were the same so her rescue mission was accomplished.
Watanuki doesn’t have much time before his next adventure begins. A girl in his class has started sprouting wings. As her wings grow, she becomes more irate and Watanuki quickly becomes her prey, despite Yuko’s cryptic warning that he be careful around her. Luckily, Watanuki has made friends in the spirit world, including a pipe fox spirit (a gift form the ame-warashi) which has taken a liking to him and the spirit comes to his rescue before the girl can do much harm.
Watanuki is beginning to become more appreciative and respectful of Domeki’s help, though he still sees Domeki as his rival for Himawari’s affections. Their comedic banter is hysterical. Domeki is a master of the deadpan sarcastic comment, which annoys Watanuki to no end. Though he’s growing, Watanuki is still blind to his major flaws, something Yuki tries to point out when she explains he’s not so different from the girl with wings and alludes to his relationship with Himawari. The volume closes with a cute opportunity for Watanuki to present a White Day present to the Zashiki Warashi spirit.
I’m really enjoying how xxxHolic includes just the right amount of seriousness, comedy, and philosophy in each of its volumes. These story arcs tackle the weighty issues of death and self restraint yet leave you with a lighthearted, feel-good ending. Yuko continues to impress me. Sure, she’s a hard bargainer with her own best interests in mind, but she genuinely seems to care for Watanuki’s best interests. I’m so curious how he fits into the overall plan she’s set up – and what relationship he might have with Clow.
Category: Manga Reviews