August 27, 2009
CLAMP seems to have two sides to them: the dark, bloody, kill-everything-you-see side, and the disgustingly cute, fluffy, this’ll-give-you-diabetes side. This would definitely be the latter.
STORY – As it’s only four volumes long, Wish has a rather simple story. As a reward for saving her, Kohaku, an angel, will stay with Shuichiro until he knows what wish he wants granted. What follows is a kind-of slice-of-life adventure that explores the depths of these characters and the relationship between them and others. As well, there are a number of subplots involving God, the Devil, and the conflict between Heaven and Hell, but ultimately, it’s about Kohaku’s dedication and growing love for her savior. And it’s cute, dammit. Wish really manages to tug on your heartstrings because the characters really make the story seem like it’s a lot more complicated than it actually is. The side stories are all relevant enough too, contributing in one way or another to characters’ backgrounds and, consequently, their personalities.
It’s all wrapped up in an enjoyable package, and if you’re looking for a touching little love story, then you’ve definitely found it.
CHARACTER – Given the simple story, the strength of this series lies in its characters. I’m usually not a fan of 100% “good” characters with seemingly no moral flaws, and at first glance, Kohaku would fall into that category. Maybe she won my favor by not falling in love at first sight, as would usually be the case with these kinds of stories. Maybe it’s because, gradually, as she realizes her feelings, she does become a little selfish. You come to realize that she isn’t as flat a character as she might appear. The amount of time it takes for her to realize her feelings makes them more real; her naiveté and innocence make her selfishness more realistic, and in the end, she graduates as a wonderfully developed character. This is great then, because despite the fluffiness of her love, she still has internal struggles to wrestle with, and that slightly darker side of things really enhances the entire story.
The rest of the cast… not quite so impressive, but they do have enough personality and quirk to them to make them interesting. Shuichiro is not a very exciting character, possibly because we see less of his point of view, but it’s intriguing to see his feelings manifest overtime in contrast with Kohaku’s. Koryu, for a long time, seems to serve no real purpose other than comic relief, but now and again, in his conversations with the Devil’s son and at his final indignation on Kohaku’s behalf, he reveals that there’s at least a bit more to him than tormenting people. This doesn’t make him deep necessarily, but at least he isn’t completely generic.
ART – Artwise, Wish is very typically CLAMP. Men have very triangular heads adorned on shoulders that are far too wide and stand on legs that are probably twice as long as they should be. Canonically, though they still use male and female pronouns, they declare that angels and demons are actually genderless — this allows them to give them all similarly feminine proportions (except the Devil’s son) and to mess with your minds more with gender ambiguity. Fun stuff. Despite their usual anatomical atrocities and disregard for genders, CLAMP always seems to be able to pull off a very aesthetically pleasing style that’s fun to look at. I like it, anyway.
OTHER – I read the official TOKYOPOP English version of Wish, and while I have no scanlations to compare it to, I must say I’m rather pleased with how they handled it. The translations read fluidly and nothing seemed particularly awkward or out of place. Best of all, I love how they handled the tiny little side comments by the birds, and other random creatures. They are wonderfully hilarious and I feel as if the mood and reaction they draw from the reader is exactly what the original intended. It seems like it’s in those little, almost irrelevant things that words have the most power, and I’m really happy with the job TOKYOPOP has done to adapt things to an American audience.
OVERALL – I’m not a big fan of shoujo in general, least of all the romance, but this series is just too cute. The characters are fun and play their parts well, but most of all, the portrayal of Kohaku’s feelings and struggles was very believable and touching, and that probably made all the difference.