xxxHOLiC Rei Volume 1
I was glad, then, that this relaunch (“rei”, we’re told, means “return”) was comprehensible to the new-ish reader. Sure, if you read previous volumes, there are subtleties between the characters that you’ll notice, but the overall setup — mysterious witch Yuko takes clients and torments the nice young boy Watanuki who cooks for and takes care of her — is understandable enough.
More importantly, the design elements, particularly the glamour panels of Yuko, with her bangs, long black hair, and slinky gowns, are still in place. It’s amusing to watch Watanuki and Domeki spat, and I enjoy envisioning Yuko’s meals, with her love of cheesecake and champagne.
The client, this time, is a pair of working women with matching mascot cellphone charms. They each, visiting individually, claim the other is their best friend — but we know that can’t be the case, because something’s got to be wrong. The spooky atmosphere is a hallmark of CLAMP’s work, and they do it well, building apprehension with the smallest of hints. (And the charms allow them to draw cute little creatures as a counterpoint.) There’s an interesting undertone about being patient, waiting for people to do what they need to do, that struck me as more Japanese than American.
The second half is more of a monster story, with Yuko setting up Watanuki to hear a bizarre, grasping ghost. That leaves us with hints of more to come, necessary as a reminder that this is a continuing series with a bigger underlying story. If you’d like to know more about how this revamp relates to the original series, I recommend Sean Gaffney. (The publisher provided a review copy.)