xxxHOLiC is the story of Kimihiro Watanuki, a high-school student who can see spirits (and they are generally interested in him). One day, he finds himself in the shop of Yûko Ichihara, who grants wishes for a price. She agrees to take this ability away from him once he has paid the price; Watanuki ends up as her housekeeper/cook/assistant. Also in the shop are Maru and Moro; I’m not sure what they are, but they look like young teenagers, maybe. There is also the black Mokona, which is a created being, stuffed animal size (and was originally the annoying cute animal sidekick in Magic Knight Rayearth, though this one can speak). Watanuki has a crush on his (female) classmate Himawari, and sees his (male) classmate Dômeki as something of a rival and friend (though he would never admit to it). There is something strange about Himawari, and Dômeki lives in a temple, has strong spiritual power, but cannot see spirits, and is fairly immune to most of spiritual weirdness.
It is often episodic, with Watanuki running errands for Yûko (sometimes with Yûko or Mokona or Dômeki), but there are occasionally hints of an overall plot, and characters or items from the past often show up again in the future. Sometimes the stories involve normal people; sometimes they involve various spirits; most of them start with someone needing a wish granted and end up with Watanuki doing the work, with Yûko demanding food and drink in the background.
It also crosses over with CLAMP’s other current series Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle; Yûko gives the group the white Mokona, who has the power to detect Sakura’s feathers and to transfer them between worlds; it is also capable of communication with the black Mokona at the shop, and does so every once in a while. Yûko also occasionally is in the background manipulating events (for a price, of course) and talking with or about the shadowy background figures.
This is one of my favorite series; I love the artwork, and I am very glad that Del Rey is printing the color pages at the beginning of the volumes. I wish there was a way to scan the two-page color pictures at the front of each volume without ruining the book itself. Watanuki is occasionally annoying; he is the type of person who often freaks out and runs around flailing his arms and screaming (very annoying in the anime, but tolerable in manga form). Yûko appears to be self-centered (seems to be more concerned with her meals and drinks than anything around her) and occasionally is cryptic for the hell of it (which is something that always annoys me); she is more serious when Watanuki is not around, and clearly feels that she is acting in his best interests. Himawari doesn’t have much character; she seems nice (but a little distant) and is friends with Watanuki and Dômeki, but doesn’t seem to prefer either of them and finds there interaction amusing. Dômeki is the strong, silent type; he often acts as Watanuki’s protector (much to Watanuki’s dismay), and is also often cryptic (sometimes for the hell of it, sometimes to provoke Watanuki.
This series is currently running in Japan. As of the end of September, 2007, there are ten volumes available in English (Del Rey, volume 11 currently scheduled for February 2008), and eleven in Japanese (Kodansha, volume 12 currently scheduled for October 2007).