About The Creators:
The relevant links are available above.
About The Book:
Unable to understand spirits’ attraction towards him nor the names of his own parents, Kimihiro is an enigma even to himself. His boss, the dimension witch Yuko, may hold the answers Kimihiro seeks. However, his missing past has a price. Kimihiro must uncover his memories to continue moving forward, but his future under Yuko’s tutelage grows uncertain. The secrets of Kimihiro’s existence are revealed, while the mysteries that surround Yuko’s continue to grow.
Yarr! Thar Be Spoilers Ahead. Ye Have Have Been Warned.
Things I Enjoyed:
~Character Development – Watanuki: Watanuki is no longer just “The Help” lurking in the background. Watanuki is actively trying to protect others, like Kohane, from harm and is deciding and accepting payment for services rendered on Yuuko’s behalf. Watanuki has come so far from where he started. It was bittersweet to see the apprentice become the mentor.
Now, there’s a super confusing aspect of this novel that I still haven’t quite been able to wrap my head around it, so you’ll have to bear with me. I don’t know how or why, and knowing CLAMP as I do I suspect there’s a possibility that I might never know for sure, however I certain in my suspicion that Sakura and Syaoran from Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE are Watanuki’s dead parents.
Yuuko keeps saying things that imply that Sakura and Syaoran are his parents, however, at this point in the narrative, it doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m not saying it’s impossible, however, it requires a metric shit-ton of explanation and I don’t know how CLAMP is going to pull that off.
~Character Development – Kohane: I’m super glad that the toxic situation with Kohane and her mother was finally resolved. I glad that Kohane is in a place where she is mentally and physically safe and appreciated for her gift, instead of her gift being used an exploitive means of making money.
The situation was already highly concerning and/or abusive. It’s frustrating in manga how common it is for parental abuse to be waved aside so easily. Doumeki is one of those few people who can see the situation for what it is and calls Watanuki out for allowing Kohane’s mother to behave the way she does.
Things I Did Not Enjoy:
~Show Don’t Tell + Mystical Vagueness: In typical CLAMP fashion, there are no direct or concrete answers, rather there are vague implications, and the reader has to make an educated guess. This process is apparent in every aspect of the XXXHolic series, however, this volume has an especially high concentration of Mystical Vagueness. it’s extremely frustrating given what happens in this volume.
A lot of relies on Yuuko talking aloud to herself, musing on the current situation, and Reader has to take Yuuko’s word for it. For all I know, this is just Yuuko’s interpretation of events, and not how things have actually occurred. Yuuko could be wrong or an unreliable narrator.
I also don’t to be told why Watanuki can’t remember his parents. I want to be shown why Watanuki can’t remember.
~Character and Plot Development – Yuuko: Over the course of Volume 4 and Volume 5, it’s implied that Yuuko has been distancing herself from Watanuki. Maru and Momo haven’t been seen in months, there’s been no explanation as to what is going on those two, although it’s implied that Maru and Momo still exist (in some way) inside the shop.
Over the course of Volume 4 and Volume 5, it’s been implied that Time and Space has been collapsing. Because the way Time and Space is supposedly collapsing, payment for Wishes performed isn’t being paid in the correct order of Time and Space. This would elicit a stronger reaction if CLAMP was better at World-building.
The Store has never been fully explained, it’s simply a place that grants wishes, and you can only see and/or enter The Store if you have a Wish that needs to be granted. The impression that I got throughout the series is that The Store works a lot like the TARDIS.
It’s bigger on the inside, it’s connected to all of Time and Space, possibly connected to multiple dimensions or universes, however, unlike the TARDIS, I always got the impression that it operated in this Neutral-Zone of Time and Space, or that it existed outside of Time and Space, and that entry to The Store could only be created due to a great need/desire of a Wish.
So far, and this is 15 books into a series, there has been no explanation as to who created The Store, why it exists, or why Yuuko is inside The Store in the first place.
Was Yuuko meant to be a Store Attendant? Or did it happen by accident?
Is Yuuko some kind of Eldritch Abomination and The Store acts as a Mystical Prison?
Is Fei-Wang Reed trying to destroy The Store? Or was this an unintended side effect?
I Don’t Know.
But what I do know is that Yuuko is gone. Yuuko is gone and it doesn’t make sense. Yuuko is gone and I am angry and confused. While Watanuki has completed some of his Mystical Apprenticeship, Watanuki changed so much for the better, the reality is that Watanuki cannot replace Yuuko. No one can.
To me, this is CLAMP attempting Mystical Vagueness, however, it comes across as a serious Arse-Pull. This implies that CLAMP has no idea what they’re doing. I genuinely hope that this isn’t the case but I have no evidence to the contrary.
All in all, a vitally important volume in the series that I think should have been handled better, and volume 4 and volume 5 may require multiple re-reads for it all to sink in.