For all its shortcomings towards the end of its run, xxxHOLiC still holds a special place in my heart.
If you’re not familiar with it, xxxHOLiC is a manga series written
and illustrated by CLAMP, a prolific, all-female group of Japanese manga
artists who have been creating since the mid-eighties. (Their body of work
includes classics such as Magic Knight Rayearth, Angelic Layer, Cardcaptor
Sakura, and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle.)
The story follows Watanuki Kimihiro, a high school student
who strikes a deal with a witch. If he becomes her assistant, she’ll take away
the power that leaves him plagued with visions of ghosts and monsters. But
because it’s such a big wish, he’ll have to work for her for…a while. Maybe
forever. So he becomes the witch’s cook, maid, and errand-boy, all wrapped up
Although it runs parallel to and intersects with other CLAMP stories, xxxHOLiC stands fully on its own as a horror story about desire and
addiction. The series consists of short arcs and one-shots, each centering on a particular customer – both average humans and fantastic spirits. Like Watanuki, each
has a wish. Like Watanuki, each must pay a price. Sometimes the cost is as simple as a lock of hair, but other times it wreaks catastrophe on the rest of their life. Thus each customer’s story
becomes an exploration of different aspects of desire – addiction to social
media, academic ambitions, the desire to see a loved one again – and the
effects it can have on one’s life.
There are many lovely
things about this manga: the gorgeous art style, Watanuki’s temper tantrums,
the pervasive creepiness. But the
best part is the witch, Yuuko. Not only is she a total troll with a wicked
sense of style, she is constantly dropping truth bombs:
Winteriron. Both of them
in one please Soulmates - First Words 13. “You don’t happen to have a knife on
you, do you?” Action 17. “This isn’t my first kidnapping, buddy.” (sorry I forgot who requested this)
This was the first
mission Bucky was on as an Avenger.
Granted, he wasn’t
officially on the team yet. In fact, this was his first day. This was the day he
was supposed to be introduced to everyone at Stark Tower. He and Steve both had
been in the Quinjet when they’d gotten the call.
The fact that Saboo is played by Richard Ayoade might be enough to automatically place at the top of the list as my favorite shaman, but there’s so much more to recommend him, too. There’s his wicked style sense (he rocks feathers and eyeliner with sexy aplomb), for starters, and then you might consider that he IS an expert when it comes to The Crunch. His skills are many and legendary (as he’ll no doubt be happy to tell you at length), his music taste and DJing skills are spot on, he’s smarter than everybody in the room–and he’s not shy about letting you know it. Saboo is the king of stinging sarcasm and bitchy put-downs; his bottomless, withering contempt for everybody who isn’t him and his insult-riddled, hate-grudgingly tolerate relationship with Tony Harrison steal the show every time he’s on the screen (or the page). All that, AND he has great legs!
Is Saboo actually perfect? Well, as you might have heard: he’s pretty good.