Weekend reading

While John Jakala was playing “Just Imagine: Clamp” this weekend, I was reading actual Clamp. I had a coupon, and I’ve been meaning to read further into xxxHOLiC (Del Rey) to see if it clicks for me, because the first two volumes seemed to be right on the border between “oooh” and “eh.”

After reading the third and fourth volumes, the series is still straddling that damned border. The book is gorgeous, and I love the subject matter, but something is keeping me from loving it. It’s not the crossover elements with Tsubasa (also Del Rey), though my thoughts wander to grocery lists and scheduling an oil change when they come up. It’s not that I have yet to come up with a mnemonic device to remind me how to capitalize the title.

It’s that stupid Watanuki. He’s so whiny and shrill and emotionally tone deaf to the people around him. I’m sure he becomes less irritating as the series progresses, because he’d have to, but how much more can I endure before that happens? I’m torn between wanting Dômeki to just kiss him because it would shut Watanuki up, however briefly, and wanting much better for Dômeki.

I do love just about everything about Yûko – her impeccable fashion sense, her bottomless appetite for libations, her languid cruelty. Put simply, she rocks, and I can even forgive her for constantly creating new reasons for Watanuki to sputter and whine, because I suspect he’d do those things without any kind of external stimulus.

Okay, he’s not entirely obnoxious and ridiculous. There are brief moments when his behavior isn’t akin to fingernails on a chalkboard. But those moments are fleeting.

It’s strange, because I spent a good portion of the weekend wondering how Kazuya Minekura had made what should have been a repellant protagonist so fascinating in Wild Adapter, and I’d almost used my coupon on some early volumes of Saiyuki instead, but I didn’t. And now I’m forced to ponder how Clamp has managed to make what should have been a sympathetic protagonist so grating.

Or is it just me?

6 Responses to Weekend reading

  1. I think Watanuki matures as the series continues–the latest volume in particular has him making decisions that he wouldn’t have ever been able to own up to back in the first volume.

  2. Lilliandp says:

    I’m all for Doumeki kissing Watanuki, whether or not it shuts him up. Watanuki’s spazzes become slightly less frequent as the series progresses (and gets progressively more interesting), but the relationship between the two of them (whether you read it as platonic or otherwise) is by far the highlight of the story for me. Well, that, and Yuko’s outfits.

    Yay Wild Adapter! I can’t wait to read your review. 🙂 Saiyuki is a fabulous series as well, but it takes a few volumes to hit its stride (the first two books mostly succeed on the “cool” factor), whereas WA has intriguing things going on right from page one.

  3. davidpwelsh says:

    Greg: Thanks for doing the review of Breaking Up. I’ve been curious about it but was waiting to hear what people thought.

    Lillian: WA is the subject of this week’s Flipped, which should go up sometime today.

  4. Chloe says:

    I loved this series from the beginning, but the standalone nature of the volumes gets frustrating. The more recent volumes are well worth the schlog through yet another doomed sidecharacter anecdote, though.
    And I suppose Clamp will never let their protagonists actually kiss; it would break all that nifty homoerotic tension that keeps the fujoshi flipping pages…..

  5. Mely says:

    I would recommend trying xxxHolic volume 6 to see if you think the series is worth continuing; it’s got two fairly stand-alone stories, one a charming story of a parade of ghosts and spirits, and one a lovely, sad story about Watanuki and a ghost which finally offers some real insight into his character.

    I, too, find Watanuki’s spazz-outs unappetizing; what kept me on through the lackluster early volumes was the gorgeous, gorgeous art.

  6. davidpwelsh says:

    I might as well throw in #5 while I’m at it, and checking out Greg’s review of #8 did give me hope that Watanuki might actually have a mature response to misfortune in the not-so-distant future.

    Plus, pretty.

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