Japanator Recommends: xxxHolic


I've been a fan of CLAMP since way back in the Chobits days, and my love for that series has fueled me to keep an eye on their work. Of course, I'm a sucker for supernatural themes as well, so it's no surprise I found myself strongly drawn to xxxHolic, which originated as a manga back in 2003 and was adapted into anime form by Production I.G. back in 2006.

The series crosses over with other popular CLAMP stories, including references to Cardcaptor Sakura and Tsubasa Chronicle in the manga and even a few nods to Chobits in the anime.  The Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle references have actually been removed for the anime series (although you can still catch them if you read the manga), but there's still plenty of substance to tide you over -- besides the jaw-droppingly beautiful art, that is. Hit the jump to check out a preview of FUNimation's complete box set of xxxHolic.

xxxHolic (Season one box set)
Based on: CLAMP's original manga of the same name
Opening theme: "19sai" by Shikao Suga

Release date: July 28th, 2009
MSRP: $69.97

I was originally drawn to xxxHolic because I thought the story sounded intriguing right off the bat. It centers around Kimihiro Watanuki, a high school student with the slightly annoying problem that he is able to see spirits (and the majority of them seem to want to wrap around him and hover in a rather uncomfortable way). In the first episode, he finds himself compelled to enter a shop and meets a beautiful and mysterious woman named Yuuko, who says she is in the business of granting wishes. Naturally, there's a price to pay for such a service, and Watanuki is bound to pay it if he wants to be rid of his ghosts.

Yuuko is a powerful witch (and better known as the Dimensional Witch if you've seen Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles), and it isn't long before she's coerced Watanuki into working for her part time in exchange for freeing him from the evil spirits he sees. Of course, by doing so, he also meets her other "customers", and soon he finds himself seeing a world of  complexity he suspected but never fully grasped before.

xxxHolic does an elegant job of only introducing you to a few major characters and focusing on their development throughout the anime, rather than going with a huge cast. You'll meet Maru and Moro, Yuuko's assistants, and Mokona, who you may also remember from Tsubasa. In addition, you'll meet Watanauki's love interest, Himawari Kinogi, and his rival/friend Shizuka Domeki, who will occasionally assist him with his work at Yuuko's shop.

xxxHolic also knows how to juggle tones, mixing the world of the supernatural with enough well-placed humor  to make the show a good choice when you're in the mood for something between light and deadly serious. Each episode presents a standalone story and that format continues for the entirety of the first season. While the show does attempt to follow the manga and succeeds for the most part, it is worth mentioning that there are some differences.

The dubs are not bad here, with Colleen Clinkerbeard voicing Yuuko (and capturing that same smoky  feel as  Sayaka Ohara's Yuuko) and Todd Haberkorn doing Watanuki. I personally prefer the show in Japanese with subtitles, but it's a least good to know that if you choose dubs they are perfectly passable. Also of note is the opening theme, 19sai by Shikao Suga (see video below), which I never got tired of listening to.

Whether you've been a fan of CLAMP for a long time or xxxHolic is your first experience with their work,  you'll no doubt notice right off the bat that this show sports a distinctive style. The art is very expressive and reminds me a bit of the long-limbed characters of Erte paintings. While some might not care for it, it was the first thing that captured my attention about the show, and I feel it perfectly suits the darker themes of the story. Japanator certainly recommends this show, especially if you are a fan of supernatural storylines -- but don't blame us if you find yourself desperately craving a copy of the Official xxxHolic Guide afterwards!

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reviewed by Colette Bennett


Colette Bennett
Colette Bennett   gamer profile



Filed under... #anime #clamp #Japanator Recommends #reviews



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