What They Say
Kimihiro Watanuki is the indentured servant of Yuko, the beautiful but completely unpredictable Space-Time Witch. He must work at her bizarre wish-granting shop until he can pay off his own wish: to be free of the spirits that haunt him. Yuko’s latest customer is a rain spirit who wants Kimihiro dispatched on a rescue mission. Little does Kimihiro know that this mission will take him to death’s door!
Kimihiro has another problem. A cute spirit has given him a Valentine’s Day present, which means he’s obligated by Japanese custom to return the favor. What do you get a girl who may not even exist in this world?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Because of Watanuki’s ability to interact with spirits, he’s sought out by a Rain Maker spirit in the form of a very cute, yet impetuous girl. The Rain Maker wants him to go on a rescue mission near some enormous hydrangeas, where he’s dragged into the spirit world. Inside, Watanuki finds a little girl trapped in a black world of nothingness. She desperately wants him to travel to another realm with her, which would effectively cut him off from his own world forever. Luckily, Watanuki figures this out and finds his way back to his world where he discovers the girls’ spirit was trapped in the other world because she had been killed and buried under the hydrangeas. It was sad to discover someone had killed the girl, but even more sobering to learn the Rain Maker wanted to rescue the hydrangeas from being polluted by the girl and not the other way around.
With the Rain Maker satisfied, Watanuki has to figure out how to find the Zashiki-Warashi to return her Valentine’s Day favor. But before he can come up with a plan, he notices a female classmate with wings growing from her back. The girl acts really belligerent whenever Watanuki encounters her. Yuko, in her usual mysterious manner, warns Watanuki to beware of the girl. Her warning becomes well placed when the schoolgirls’ wings turn out to be an evil spirit, which leaves her body and attacks Watanuki. Once again someone rushes in to save him, but this time it’s his new spirit companion and not Domeki. I won’t ruin the surprise for you, but I will say his spirit companion comes in two sizes, small and furry and extra-large with nine tails.
This portion of the story is one more example of how Watanuki’s interactions with others highlight his own personality flaws. Because the girl was prone to outbursts, like Watanuki, she was a perfect vessel for the type of evil spirit that possessed her and eventually stole her soul and left her in a catatonic state. Yuko also warns that even when a person feels love for someone, if not dealt with properly, that love can turn to violence against that person. Which has an eerie similarity to Watanuki’s inability to tell Himawari how he feels about her.
Yuko explains the evil spirit was a soul harvester, Ko, and was doing someone’s bidding. She tries to follow another one of the Ko to its’ master but fails to discover who is harvesting the souls and for what purpose. In the meantime, Watanuki visits a beautifully rendered spirit realm where he hopes to find the Zashiki-Warashi who gave him a Valentine’s Day gift.
Who’s harvesting souls in Watanuki’s world, and what could they want with them? Will Watanuki find the Zashiki-Warashi and repay is Valentines debt? Will his new spirit companion ever leave him alone?
I still laugh at how competitive Watanuki is with Domeki and how he flies off the handle at the smallest things when the two are around each other, although it is nice to see them using their different abilities to help each other achieve a common goal. Character development moves forward some in this volume, especially when we get the first glimpse of Watanuki at war with his own feelings over Domeki. Up until now, we’ve only seen Watanuki aggressively fight against being teamed up with Domeki and the fear that Himawari may choose Domeki over him. But now Watanuki has to admit that Domeki is quick to act in his defense and has saved Watanuki’s life on more than one occasion, but that doesn’t change the fact that deep down Watanuki is still jealous of him.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B-
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: Teen 16+
Released By: Del Rey Manga
Release Date: May 30th, 2005