When one thinks of the holiday season, it tends to be of being merry, giving gifts, and celebrating the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. But the holiday season also has a history of ghostly stories and ghoulish things. Here are two Del Rey Manga titles that try to fit into the Comeuppance Theater genre, but just don’t quite make the grade.
By Mia Ikumi ♦ Del Rey Manga ♦ Teen ♦ Horror ♦ $10.99
There is an urban legend, that if you find the secret text address, you can send a text and an angel will call you and grant you any one wish. Just be careful what you wish for. The premise of this one shot sounds like Hell Girl with cellphones instead of the web, and it does start off that way. The first story, about three friends, who make a wish with the angel for one of them to be with her crush. But jealousy takes over, and they start turning on each other. The other three stories move away from the darker elements, and become about finding your love/soul mate or learning to let go.
I tend to enjoy titles like Hell Girl and Pet Shop of Horrors, so I did like Only One Wish, but there isn’t anything remarkable about it. I liked the idea that the Dark Angel can be a force for both good and ill, and the last story really brought home the point about not relying on others to makes your wishes come true, but the over all execution of this theme, if it was indeed meant to be the point of the title, wasn’t done very well. Elements of the story changed from the first chapter, such as going from finding the text address in a mirror on a non-existent floor of the school at midnight, to the Dark Angel tossing out a cellphone with her address already in it. The inconsistencies bring down what’s already just an average read. If a consistent theme was stated and held throughout, this title wouldn’t be so bad. The bonus story at the end with the Tokyo Mew Mew characters was cute, and you don’t really need to know who they are to enjoy the story, though as always, it’s probably more enjoyable it you do. If you are a fan of Ikumi, you’ll probably enjoy Only One Wish. If you’re looking for a title to give you thrills and chills, then keep looking.
By CLAMP ♦ Del Rey Manga ♦ Teen ♦ Supernatural ♦ $10.99
Kimihiro Watanuki can not only see ghosts and spirits, but he is plagued by them. While trying to escape a nasty looking one, he stumbles upon a shop where he is literally dragged in by some unknown force. There he meets the owner of the shop, Yûko, who claims to be a witch, and to be able to grant wishes. She even claims to be able to help Watanuki with his problem; for a price.
The premise of xxxHolic makes it sound like another “comeuppance theater” title, with the whole “wishes for a price”, but that isn’t the way this first volume plays out. It’s very much a setup for the series, with the introduction of the plot and main characters. There are essentially two stories with customers. The first features a girl who can’t move her little pinkie, and the second is a woman who needs help breaking her addiction to the computer. Neither story has a “comeuppance” feel, and actually feel more like the stories in Only One Wish, where the moral is that no amount of wishing can change your life. Only you can.
This was my first CLAMP story, and a lot of people recommended it to me, but I really didn’t care much for it. Neither Watanuki nor Yûko made any sort of impression on me, and Yûko’s use of Watanuki seemed more cliche than amusing. I liked the first moral story, but was sort of ‘meh’ for the second. I did enjoy the art. There’s no disputing CLAMP’s beautiful renderings, and I love the long leggy-ness of the characters. Readings of others reviews indicates that the series gets better a few volumes in, but based on this first volume it’s not a series I really want to invest in. If it was available digitally, where it wouldn’t take up shelf space, then I’d be more willing to give it a chance. As it stands now, xxxHolic is a decent read, but not a gripping one.