XXXHolic Kei works as the continuation of the fisrt season. It spreads on 13 episodes instead of 24 like it's predecesor. It develops manga chapters from volume 8 to 13. And again, like the first season before it, it completely put aside the links with Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. In the paper version, both series have important links to each other. It is startling that in the anime version you do not feel at all this important aspect of the original material.
The story continues right after the conclusion of he first season. It continues with the same developpement, same characters and aura. Once again, the manga chapters were well used. But, in terms of writing the series is not as brilliant XXXHolic. The first few episodes and last episodes were utterly brilliant but I can't say the same about half-series episodes who just felt down. let me say that the end of the Kohane ark was disapointing. It was a lame end compared to the one in the manga related to the Tsubasa universe. I just felt the director hadn't thought this well and presented this to close the ark. A bit lame.
The animation here is not surprising. Still, it manages to be WAY better than the lame animation of the first season. It was a surprise here. Still, it is not perfect. It is still way to go before eye candy but an improvement is an improvement no less.
Sound is top notch as in the first season. No point to add. Nakai Kazuya voices here a second character, Doumeki's grandfather and he did perfectly well. It contrasts with the actual Doumeki and the way their attitude is completely different (a chiery and talkative Haruka with a silent Shizuka). Other voices actors were good. The main two characters were terrific as figured.
Opening section: Another song by Shikao Suga. In exactly the same way of thinking than 19 sai, the song fit perfectly well with the series atmosphere.
Ending section: A random J-Pop song with a random slideshow. Disapointed.
The soundtrack was good. I think it is the same one than the first season with few improved tracks.
The characters were already developped in the first season. It added almost nothing to their chemistry. The end though with Himawari's revelation added the last touch of salt. A well- thought move.
Overall, if you liked the first season then I suggest to watch this second season. It is slightly the same quality so you won't be startled. In my part, I thought the first season was a bit better. It was bolder than this one. Still, I enjoyed it a lot and I still think is it one excellent adaptation. The animation got better but the scenario slightly fell back.
Score: 4.1/5. I can't give it higher than the first season because I felt something XXXHolic had that Kei didn't. Really good in the image of it's predecessor.
NOTE: It is sad that Funimation didn't license this one out. Truly a shame.
Next! XXXHolic Rou and Rou Adayume along with Darker than Black
I'm not good with reviews, so pardon if this sounds bad, but I hope to be capable of conveying my opinion about it this way, so here we go:
xxxHolic Kei is full of likeable and unique characters, both human and not.
The animal-ey Mokona, kind foxes. Shy Zashikiwarashi and somewhat bold Amewarashi. Wise and mysterious Yuuko, stoic Doumeki and his mysterious grandfather, adorable but powerful pipe fox, cute Maru and Moro and more. I think only Baccano! had this much memorable characters.
Story was pretty loose and more of a background for the characters and their interactions, but nonetheless interesting and full of supernatural and mysterious occurences.
I'd recommend this anime to anyone. While personally I do not believe in paranormal stuff, xxxHolic is very romantic and true to it's motto(I guess you could call the most used phrase in the whole show so): "There are no coincidences in this world.", and indeed. Every word spoken, every action and detail can lead to interesting and very fascinating results.
Considering I barely made it through the first half of season one the fact that I enjoyed season two so much is saying a lot. Somehow things finally came together and I'm now hoping that we get a third installment!
Positives: Finally we've managed to develop the characters and world enough that the mysteries and relationships are all starting to come together. xxxHOLic has always been about enjoying the exploration into CLAMP's world together with the characters, but at last I'm feeling like there's more reward for the time being invested.
The art has always been fun to watch, but more importantly the characters are really coming to life in this season. The relations between the main characters and the sub characters all grow significantly in this season to the point where the characters are becoming dear. It's also fun to see that within this anime that there are actual consequences for your actions. I'm not all about super realism in my anime, but I do get tired of there being nothing but silver linings at the end of every story.
You'll get in this batch a healthy dose of fun story arcs and with each conclusion you'll find yourself eager to find out what Watanuki decides to drag himself into next.
Of special note I really enjoy a few of the characters, namely the pipe fox, and his secondary love interest who's name I can't seem to recall right now.
Negatives: Overall this season was a pleasure to watch. With the first I'd had a few issues, but most of those have been washed away. If I had to come up with something I would say that a few of the plots were regurgitated stories we've all heard before. I suppose this isn't a big deal since what we're dealing with is traditional japanese supernature, but I was a bit disappointed to be watching a show about the monkey's paw, for example.
All in all a good series and a solid follow up to a decent first season. If we get a third and it's as good as the second I'll be first on board!