A pet peeve of mine is the depiction of magic in popular media. Too often magic isn’t portrayed as, well, magical. Magic is a thing of shadows and dreams, of mystery and awe and drunken midnight dances; it’s not simply there, in an obvious and mechanistic way like X-men superpowers; simply throwing fireballs around isn’t very magical. (Compare e.g. the Lord of the Rings books to the movies.)
CLAMP is a creator-team who definitely Gets It. XxxHolic would be the obvious choice to show you guys, but for the One Perfect Moment week I'd like to draw one early example that stayed with me all these years (I hope it counts for the theme!). It’s from 1992’s Tokyo Babylon.
One-paragraph plot summary: The story is about Sumeragi Subaru, a professional (and very stylish) teenage occultist from a traditional house of onmyōji sorcerers, who solves spiritual problems that afflict Tokyo residents. He’s helped by his twin sister, Hokuto, and an adult friend called Sakurazuka Seishirō, who quickly grows to be his love interest. Seishirō appears to be a gentle veterinarian, but he’s secretly an onmyōji assassin from a rival house.
Earlier we had seen Subaru pursuing a mysterious familiar (a shikigami) who took the form of a black bird, but Subaru trips on his own feet and loses it. In the present story (from volume #2), Subaru is battling the bad dreams of some victim but won’t fight them for fear of hurting her mind. Cut to Seishirō smoking, and we learn where those shikigami are coming from (read right to left):
“My, Subaru is so kind.”
“Please go and help Subaru.”
“[And to think that] even today there are still such things as ‘a kindness that will cost one’s life’.”
See? A thing of shadows and dreams, there and not there.
(Come to think of, list of occultists who are prominent smokers: Seishirō, Ichihara Yūko (and, later, Watanuki), Ginko, John Constantine, Jesse Custer, Gandalf, Hellboy).