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xxxHOLiC Vol. 6

Kimihiro Watanuki takes a welcome break from his grueling service to the time-space witch, Yûko Ishihara, only to find himself mixed up in the strangest parade of the Japanese magical world. But a slipup reveals that Kimihiro is a powerless human! How can he survive the festival without being eaten by its dangerous participants?
Then Kimihiro meets a woman grieving for her lost son. Since Kimihiro is an orphan, the two form an immediate bond. But what will Kimihiro do when he realizes that his wonderful new friendship may very well kill him?

xxxHOLiC crosses over with Tsubasa, also by CLAMP. Don’t miss it!

Includes special extras after the story!
• Includes four special full-color pages
• Extensive translation notes

• Paperback: 188 pages
• Publisher: Del Rey
• Release Date: October, 25, 2005
• Price: $10.95 ( Canada $15.95)

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INTRODUCTION:
The last volume of xxxHOLiC presented a lot of development in the way of the plot, with Yûko facing an unknown adversary. This volume, however, returns to the more episodic nature as seen in previous volumes with great emphasis and characterization between Watanuki and Dômeki.

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PRESENTATION: 9 (out of 10)
xxxHOLiC Volume 6 is presented with its original cover, which features a great wrap-around image with Yûko and Watanuki in stylish garbs emblazoned with peacock feathers (much like the design to the Tsubasa volume 7 cover which was released in Japan around the same time.) It opens to four attractive color pages that start off the story.

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TRANSLATION: 10 (out of 10)
Del Rey has done a faithful translation, keeping everything as it would be in the Japanese version. The language used by the characters all flows well and doesn’t seem to be out of place, and there is no unnecessary use of colloquialisms in the speech. All of the handwritten text and sound effects are left as they were in the Japanese version with English translations carefully placed near them. There is also a section of Translation Notes, which is really helpful into understanding some of the cultural aspects within the story.

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ARTWORK: 8(out of 10)
With a style all its own, xxxHOLiC is one of CLAMP’s most captivating series. All of the artwork is quite nice in this volume, especially the detailed monochromatic scenes, a lot of sweeping two-page spreads, amazing action, cool creatures, and of course all of Yûko’s extensive and flamboyant wardrobe. I for one am in love with the artwork from this series.

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STORY: 7(out of 10)
Watanuki is doing chores as usual around Yûko’s shop, when all of a sudden a picture of a cat wearing a kimono comes to life! Obviously, Watanuki is taken aback, however, Yûko is excited with her guest’s appearance, and the two break into deep conversation with Watanuki left in confusion and surprise. Before departing, the cat hands Watanuki a hôzuki, or a lantern plant. He finds out that the hôzuki will allow him to participate in a special event, of which he hopes to attend with Himawari-chan. However, things don’t go Watanuki’s way, and he ends up being accompanied by Dômeki instead! From here, we see the start of a growth in Watanuki and Dômeki’s relationship from more than just bickering foes; as they are both forced to humorously hold the hôzuki “in much the same way a newlywed couple would hold the knife to cut the wedding cake” as Yûko put it.
The lantern plant magically transports the pair to a dark world crawling with strange creatures, all holding a hôzuki as well. Soon enough, they figure out that they are in the Hyakki Yakô, the night parade of demons that occurs only once a year. Still holding the plant together, Dômeki expresses his concern for Watanuki’s ability to sense good and bad spirits, but Watanuki doesn’t feel any reason to worry. However, when Watanuki trips and lets go of the hôzuki, the seemingly harmless creatures realize what he really is, a human partaking in an ancient and secret ritual. Right before the monsters are about to rear down on the humans, a small fox spirit intervenes, the same fox spirit Watanuki helped out in the previous volume. So after some convincing from the fox spirit to the demons, Watanuki and Dômeki are left alone to participate in the parade, and they reach the end of the line, a giant flowering tree. From here, the lantern plant is filled with sweet nectar called moon-viewing sake and the pair is swept back to their own world.
The minute the pair come back Yûko is there to greet them, and tell thank them for letting her use them to get this precious alcohol (the one thing on Yûko’s mind!) Here, the conversation between Dômeki and Yûko reveals much about the story, as Yûko doesn’t want Dômeki entering her store and that Watanuki only entered it because he needed to. Yûko’s shop is practice for what the future will bring.
The next story revolves around Watanuki’s encounter with an older woman. While doing yard work at the shop, Watanuki meets passerby that he eventually keeps running into. They start to develop a close relationship as Watanuki learns that the woman is grieving for her lost son, as Watanuki can very much so relate to her because he is an orphan. From here, the two meet up practically every day, and Dômeki expresses his concern for Watanuki’s safety as Yûko is out of town for an indefinite amount of time on a mission. Watanuki writes this off however, despite the fact that his health seems to be getting worse by the day with frequent tiredness, coughs, and fainting. Soon enough Dômeki is caring for Watanuki at his sick bed as with every meeting with that woman seems to drain Watanuki of his health. Watanuki can’t help himself from seeing her despite Dômeki’s demands as Watanuki doesn’t wan the woman to be lonely anymore. However, this proves to be his last meeting with her, as Dômeki follows him to her and confronts the woman who is actually transparent and sapping Watanuki’s health right out of him. With one swift shot from his bow, Dômeki saved Watanuki’s life by ridding him of his beloved companion.
Later when Watanuki wakes from his sleep Yûko briefs him on what has happened and tells him that he is going to have to confront his relationship with Dômeki, as he needs to decide how to treat him now. The next day Watanuki brings lunch for himself and Himawari-chan and as they pass Dômeki, Watanuki exclaims he can come along and soon enough their bickering starts.

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EXTRAS: 7(out of 10)
Volume 6 includes four special full-color pages and extensive translation notes. The Translator’s Notes gives some interesting and insightful information on the references made in the story, included with page numbers for easy referencing. No preview of the upcoming volume though, so these extras are very nice as always, just a little lacking in comparison to earlier volumes.
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OVERALL: 8(out of 10)
With very interesting and intriguing stories involving the folklore of traditions combined with the modern Japan of the flamboyant and very likeable characters of Yûko, Watanuki, and friends, xxxHOLiC continues to impress and provide for a great read!