CLAMP (Writers and Artists)
Dark Horse Comics
30 January, 2019
Shuichiro Kudo is a successful doctor and a stoic man, often viewed as unapproachable and unflappable. After a long day in the operation theatre, Shuichiro sees something in a tree. The being is small, like an infant, but with a large head, and what looks to be a pair of wings attached to its back. Shuichiro saves the creature from a bird attack, following which it professes to be an angel, called Kohaku, from Heaven. As an angel, Kohaku must reward Shuichiro’s kindness by granting him one wish.
However, Shuichiro has no need for a wish. He has everything he has ever wanted in his life. But the angel is too small and defenseless to be sent on their way, so Shuichiro lets them stay in his house. In the daytime, Kohaku takes on a different, more adult form. With no wish to grant, Kohaku makes themselves useful around the house, or at least tries to. Unfortunately, Kohaku is a bit of a klutz. Everything they do goes wrong, but Shuichiro never seems to mind, and Kohaku ends up staying on, blissfully enjoying life on Earth.
That joy is about to come to an abrupt end with the arrival of the demon Koryu, along with their cat-cohorts Ruri and Hari. Koryu has a long history of bullying Kohaku, and they continue tormenting the angel even on Earth. However, this rivalry will soon have to be set aside when news of an angel and a demon going missing portends the start of a war between Heaven and Hell. If Shuichiro doesn’t hurry up and ask for his wish, he may never get the chance.
This collection of CLAMP’s popular manga, Wish, is a mega-read. However, despite being over 800 pages, this tome flows surprisingly quickly. You can dedicate half a day to it and the book will be over; it packs in so much in the way of world-building and character development that you will find yourself going through the pages at great speed. But it’s the dialogue that really makes Wish such an enjoyable read.
I love the sparse dialogue in this book, all of which seemed completely believable, not to mention hilarious. I did not care for the fat jokes that peppered the earlier sections of the book, but otherwise, there’s an underlying wittiness to all the characters that I thoroughly enjoyed. The dialogue also progressed the story without ever filling the page with exposition, something I appreciated because there’s a lot to take in with this book.
For instance, the cast of characters keeps growing. We start off with Shuichiro and Kohaku, but then they are joined by Koryu, Ruri and Hari, then by recurring characters Hisui and Kokuyo. Shuichiro’s grandfather Shinchiro makes occasional appearances as well, and when we get glimpses of life in Heaven, we meet the master angels, Ryuki, Touki, and Ransho.
This isn’t a huge cast, but there are a number of characters who look identical. Particularly, the master angels, who all look almost exactly alike, and despite their differing personalities and facial expressions, I struggled to differentiate between them. Kohaku, in their adult form, and Hisui also tend to look fairly similar in some panels, which was also confusing.
I am also unsure what the reasoning behind Kokuyo and Shuichiro looking alike was. I expected there to be some explanation, but it’s a plot point that’s never addressed, and I wonder whether the creators simply forgot about it or changed direction partway through writing the story, thus inadvertently leaving that conclusion on the cutting room floor. I have to say, that left me disappointed, because the uncanny resemblance between Shuichiro and the son of Satan would have made for a very interesting plot development.
I understand CLAMP struggled with getting the characterisations just the way they wanted it. There are interludes between the different parts of the book where CLAMP insert themselves into the story, spending time with the characters and explaining the creative process behind making Wish. I thought this interlude quite a quirky idea, but it did take me out of the story. I would have much preferred if this breaking of the fourth wall had been included as a separate chapter at the end of the comic instead of in-between.
The art is beautiful nonetheless and the characters are all stunning to look at, while the cherubic forms of the angels are positively adorable. I love that the angels and demons appear to have no gender and no obvious sexual characteristics; this gives their sexuality a fluidity which was intriguing. This fluidity was most obvious with Koryu, who seems to flirt with everyone. Unfortunately, Koryu’s relationships, if you can call them that, have relatively little impact on the story and, in fact, contribute to another plot hole, so I’m wondering whether it was necessary to include it at all.
It’s hard for me to talk about the actual plot without giving anything away. There isn’t much action in this story; there is no need for anything to happen, because it’s about a group of people discovering their feelings. However, there is some minor political intrigue that keeps the reader riveted, but for the most part, this is a character study more than anything else.
That is not to discount how original some of the ideas in this book are. For instance, the angels are powered by sunlight, so that’s when they grow to full size, but return to being cherubs at night. Conversely, demons are powered by moonlight, so that’s when they’re at their strongest, which I thought was an interesting dichotomy.
There are other wonderfully imaginative moments here—the way angels are birthed in this world, the history of Shuichiro’s mother, and Kokuyo’s sacrifice to be with their beloved—that you can’t help but love this world you get to inhabit for a while. At one point, a cat with dual-personality asks an angel to marry him. How many places have you read that one before?
There are holes in the plot of Wish and other points that are never developed, but nothing can change the fact that this is a wildly imaginative, extremely enjoyable, often hilarious, and deeply romantic story. Coupled with gorgeous art and characters who hook you with one look, this is a book that you’re going to want to own. Now to find some more of CLAMP’s manga!