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Sunday, March 9, 2003


[ DRAWN & QUARTERED ]
Graphic Arts As Literature



‘Wish’ really flies
when not being typical

Strip Show


By Wilma Jandoc
wjandoc@starbulletin.com

If you read enough Japanese comics or watch enough Japanese animation, all the story lines start to seem familiar.


art

That's what CLAMP's manga "Wish" seems like at first. There's only so much one can take of the artist group's usual same old same old cute style and air-headed tone before it REALLY starts feeling like the -- well, "same old same old."

"Wish" uses the oft-used premise of supernatural beings getting involved in mortals' lives. The story starts with the angel Kohaku on a mission to find the angel master Hisui, who has disappeared from heaven. As an angel in training, Kohaku doesn't have full use of her powers. Angels draw energy from the sun, and to save energy at night, Kohaku turns into a miniature version of herself.

The angel is dogged by Koryu, an underworld denizen who loves making trouble for Kohaku in particular. Devils are stronger at night, and novice ones grow smaller during the day.

Koryu attacks Kohaku one night, but a mortal, Shuichiro, saves her. In gratitude, the angel will grant him one wish. Shuichiro refuses, preferring hard work rather than luck as the path to success.

But Kohaku isn't easily put off, so she insists on staying with him until he can decide. As the angel tells him, "There are some wishes that cannot be fulfilled by oneself."

Maybe it's just Kohaku's bubble-headedness that makes the first volume of "Wish" feel like you're being tortured by the flames of hell. Coupled with her stubbornness and naiveté, and accentuated by her uber-cuteness as drawn by CLAMP, she's the type you feel like throttling.

But the story grows wings in the second volume, which explores Shuichiro's past, and really gets flying by Volume 3. The new characters are more fleshed out, and the complications between angel and devil, mortal and immortal, become more of a driving force. Even Koryu has a bit of a mental setback as he and Kohaku delve into Shuichiro's past.

The tension between Shuichiro and Kohaku is more evident as the angel keeps trying to help but messes up, or, more often, the stoic Shuichiro's expression never changes whether Kohaku actually does something helpful.

Unlike what might be expected given the nature of the main characters, good and evil don't play their usual role. Instead, they serve as opposites in a classic tale of "opposites attract," pitting Kohaku's open, overflowing kindness against Shuichiro's closed, matter-of-fact manner. Even Koryu's deeds are more on the side of mischievousness.

And also in the usual CLAMP style, "Wish" includes a lot of humor in that the characters simply are the way they are. Be sure to read all the tiny print.

Kohaku is in the center, as everyone else's actions have a direct effect on her, and we watch as her innocence changes from ditzy to the dizzy, topsy-turvy seriousness of love.

"Wish" is a tale of sacrifice as angel master Hisui's secret is discovered and the relationship between Kohaku and Shuichiro deepens with dire consequences that, ultimately, even the almighty is powerless to prevent.

The manga consists of four volumes and is published by Tokyo Pop in the original right-to-left format.


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Artists are invited to submit comic strips that reflect life in Hawaii for publication in "Strip Show." Send work to Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail bburlingame@starbulletin.com



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