CLAMP. Known for its crossovers, varied art styles, and underlying themes of fate, love and inevitability. While xxxHolic is infamous for its tie-ins with Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, this first instalment of the former’s anime franchise requires no previous knowledge of the escapades of Sakura and Syaoran. Instead, this twenty-four episode series hones in on the day-to-day life of Kimihiro Watanuki, a young boy who can see spirits, and his fated encounter with a mysterious witch named Yuuko.
Though there is an underlying plot throughout, this remains an episodic series. Each individual story revolves around a chosen theme-of-the-week emanating from two central premises: moralistic parables and accounts of the supernatural or mysterious. The anime’s cautionary tales warn against bad habits or behaviour in a manner akin to Aesop’s fables, but with a twist. Instead of taking a more general approach to the karmic results of one’s wrongdoings, the payback Yuuko’s customers receive takes a much more personal toll. For example, where the original tale of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ sees a young shepherd’s retribution in the arrival of an actual wolf and the slaughter of his sheep, xxxHolic dishes out a more terrifying (and literally paralysing) punishment for its own pathological liar, which ultimately makes for more compelling viewing.
Luckily, while lecturing the viewer on how our sins will come back to haunt us is an intriguing enough concept, xxxHolic’s primary focus lies with the paranormal. From bringing various mythological creatures to life to divination and Hyakukaidan (hundred ghost stories), the series covers a large scope of supernatural themes. While the latter usually expose a darker side to the seemingly harmless spiritual activities such as ouija boards actually summoning evil spirits, the former often takes a more positive route. For instance, instead of portraying kitsune as sly and conniving, they are simply kind and friendly foxes that run a mouth-watering Oden stand. The anime personifies these various Japanese youkai in such a way that it almost makes them seem human and they ultimately become more likeable. This provides a nice balance between the affable and the malicious in a similar manner to that of yin and yang, and mirrors the learning curve upon which Watanuki finds himself.
While the series’ subject matter can be quite heavy and even dark at times, xxxHolic offers up a fair amount of humour to counteract the weight of its themes. This generally comes courtesy of Watanuki’s exchanges with the other cast members, whether Yuuko and Mokona are teasing him or he starts ranting at Doumeki. His lively and at times athletic performance provides a hearty dose of physical comedy that sometimes borders on the slapstick. Luckily, none of this goes too far or overshadows the central essence of the show, but instead works nicely with it to maintain a suitable equilibrium of the fun and the dramatic.
It is near impossible to discuss xxxHolic without first and foremost mentioning its infamous visual design. The elongated and skeletal frames of its protagonists have become the anime equivalent of Marmite: you either love it, or you hate it. I personally adore the style, since each character’s spider-like limbs add to the weird creepiness of the whole series while simultaneously enhancing Watanuki’s exaggerated movements to great comedic effect. Regrettably, while the concept works, some clumsy animation mars its execution resulting in occasionally awkward movement.
When it comes to the seiyuu, without a doubt the star of xxxHolic is Kazuya Nakai’s performance as Doumeki. His deadpan deliveries really make the exchanges between him and the animated Watanuki spring to life.
Now, anyone who has read any of my previous reviews may well be aware of my distaste for dubbed anime, however (as much as it pains me to admit it) xxxHolic’s US adaptation fares surprisingly well. While I still prefer Sayaka Ohara’s softer inflections to Colleen Clinkenbeard’s more School ma’am-ish tones – since that smoothness makes Yuuko seem a little more sinister – the American voice actress does a very good job of portraying the witch’s mysterious nature. My only actual gripe with the dub is that Mokona’s vocals transform from lively and teasing to sounding like some kind of reject Pokemon.
Anyone who doesn’t agree that Yuuko steals the show in pretty much every scene that she appears most likely requires a lobotomy. The contrasting elements of her fun loving yet dark and mysterious personality, work well to mirror xxxHolic’s overall mood. While her carefree nature, hefty drinking habit, and slave driver attitude towards Watanuki contributes a reasonable amount of the show’s comedy. Meanwhile, when she takes on a more serious role, Yuuko becomes all the more ominous – particularly in episodes twenty-two and twenty-three where her presence is restricted to a cautionary voice on a crackly telephone line. She is all knowing, but while that gives her the power to know exactly how situations will evolve, she frequently allows Watanuki to become emotionally involved with her customers and experience the full force of the world’s darker side. Yuuko remains an enigma throughout, but her inscrutability works well in the series’ favour by adding to its suspense.
As a central protagonist Watanuki fares well; he has a lonely past, a mysterious ability and kind heart that make him intriguing and likeable enough. However, his personality truly shines when he teams up with fellow classmate, Doumeki. His seemingly unreasonable hatred for the quiet teen, alongside Doumeki’s apparent enjoyment of irritating the megane, spawns a fun and entertaining tsukkomi and boke double act. While this comedy duo continues throughout, the development of their friendship ensures that the pair don’t get stuck in a rut or become stale. Seeing cracks appear in Doumeki’s indifferent demeanour that show he genuinely likes and cares for the welfare of his classmate coupled Watanuki’s begrudging, yet more frequent, gratitude toward the young archer certainly adds much more depth to their personalities than had they simply remained consistently distant throughout.
Though xxxHolic only scratches the surface of the manga’s plotline, it serves well as an introduction to this particular CLAMP universe and sets the scene for the more plot-based xxxHolic Kei. As a standalone entity, this episodic series proves an entertaining and at times dark experience, which is well worth a look for anyone with an interest in the supernatural.
<div dir="auto" data-role="message">*Subtle Hidden Gem! - a Classic of our Generation*
It is unfortunate when Amazing All Star series such as this do not receive
the recognition they need and deserve! Truthfully this is one of the
BEST series I have watched - CLAMP is superb in everything he releases.
The way xxxHolic is tied in with Tsubasa Chronicles and the
intermingling of the characters all within the same Universe... blew my
mind! It is all so fraking amazingly done I was literally astonished!
Anyone who passes either of these shows by is an absolute fool! xxxHolic will
go down as one of the generations great flicks! Children will study
about the groundbreaking works when our kids are going to school and
growing up, and will tell tales of it to their grand-kids!
I could not ask for a better series, even with the wussiness of our main
character Watanuki (;P) he has his strong points still ^^. The various
aspects/ genres injected into this series make for a lovely combination
which warmly welcomes the viewers to fade away into the world depicted
For the first time, I really felt a connection with the characters of this world and was strongly able to relate and feel the emotions the author had poured into his work. I was
Sad when the series ended, and felt a hole that could not be filled as
I did not have more episodes to watch. This all may sound silly to
some, but it is the best way I can describe the moving greatness of this
series. All together the works are an entirely engrossing experience which allow you to fade away and become immersed in the show to enjoy your experience!
MUST SEE SHOW!! Stop Reading and WATCH!! ^_-</div>
Oh hey. An xxxHolic review.. a positive one at that... coming from a (le gasp) CLAMP hater.
I don't hold back when I tell people how much I think CLAMP is greatly overrated and how most of their present productions (TRC, I'm pointing my finger at you) is just... ridiculous and not all that noteworthy. Earlier, I had lopped in xxxHolic along with the anime deserving of my CLAMP hate.
I'm sure everyone knows Holic by now. Watanuki, a poor boy who can see ghosts stumbles upon the shop of a mysterious lady named Yuuko who grants wishes. Along with his love interest Hiwatari and his eternal rival, Doumeki, Watanuki encounters the paranormal while working as a part time worker, yada yada ya..
It sounded like something I'd like to get into... and lo and behold, I did.
The characters are charming. (I find it's the cast that makes me like an anime. Strange. Anyway.) I've always been drawn to the Black Mokona and that's what brought me back to the series though I dropped it a year or so ago. Watanuki faces everything like a typical human being: ghosts scare him, his weirdass boss pisses the hell outta him and he goes ga ga over the cute girl he likes. Yuuko is... well... -cough- Let's leave what I think about Yuuko alone for a while. -nervous laughter- Suffice to say that she can grant my wishes anytime. Rawr.
The only disappointing thing about this entire trek was the animation. Sure, the designs are nice, sure, the animation's not that choppy but my GOD. The proportions. Yes, I know that they based it on Japanese woodblock prints (not evident from the anime, evident in the manga) and I know CLAMP really draws that way but... really. Are their necks really that long? The character proportions and lack of consistency were what drove me away in the first place.
My verdict: If you're a CLAMP fan, then the drawings won't turn you away. The series kind of gets confusing somewhere around there when the crossover with Tsubasa happens but... nothing that'll leave you in the dark. All in all, it's a fun little number and good to watch if you like myth.
I know I only watched for episode but that was enough to give me an opinion upon this anime.
Threw out those episode one thing rang out clear.. this was an utter Disappoint ment. I had heard that it was good, and I have seen many pictures advertising it. So I gave it a werl finally. But I must say I was not thrilled.
Upon watching it one thing rang out which usually never happens. Confusion. I have read over the plots a million times at various other places and yet I didn't catch much of it when I was watching. I did laugh when it came to something really funning, but that was rare. I found myself sort of drifting away from the show into something of more interest in my own mind than really paying attention to it. Another thing.. Boring. In other words it was rather disappointing. It would seem that it was more intent with discribing the consquences of telling the future, and about the actions of spirits. Nothing of a real plot in this.
My rating of the story is a 3, poor. I was disappointed, confused, and bored. Trust me, I am not the type to get like that easily, and when an anime does it.. its just not pleasant.
The animation.. another disappointment. What annoyed me about the animation was the background. I only ever seen the more important characters colored, and not the other people around. If you notice I pay a bit close to the background more because of the characters. Not only that but the bodies.. I will explain that on the characters. Also the coloring of the scenary seemed.. dull. Sure the clothing that Yoko wore was sort of beautiful and the animation of magic was alright, but really the background, eyes, and other things was so disappointing. I felt sad for the animation of it. 4 for descent. I only found the clothing and magic more of an interest that is what saved it.
Sound-.. Well I can honestly say that I hated the opening and ending songs. The moment I heard them I had to fastforward my dvd player just to avoid listening to something that wasn't very good. I don't really think it fit with the anime at all, but than again I only watched four episodes so I don't know what the other song choices sound like. But as I was saying the music wasn't very good in my opinion, and when I tried listening to it in textless songs I just coulding, once was enough.
Now as far as voice actors go.. I would say FUNimation did it again with the voice actors. I didn't like them... One actor seemed wincy, one was too dull, and another was way too innoscent.. 'blah' I think Yoko's voice actor seemed to slip more easily into the role but I could hear some flaws. Also the voices made me drip into my own mind to ignore it. I did find myself paying a bit more attention to the subs though.. but not much.
The Characters... I was pretty much just either bored with or felt like I was going to hit myself just to give me some entertainment. I didn't like them.. in fact it is odd to say that I only remember one of the characters names that would be Yoko. Lets see.. The main boy.. whatever his name is.. was more of a complainer than anything. I found his little rants somewhat humorous, but not by much. He also was very interested in that girl.. (can't remember her name either) like any other school boy. 'sighs' What a bore. Now the other boy.. was way too dull in my opinion, even the voice actor made him seem dull. I have seen placid boys like that before and I didn't enjoy them then either. No surprise as to why. The other girl.. well I don't really see her point other than a love obsession from one of the main characters, she was way too innoscent for my liking. The only one I seemed to like somewhat was Yoko. Though she was a sakei lover, I found her somewhat entertaining with how she love to teas, and her insight to those of the supernatural. I didn't mind her all that much. But the limbs.. now let me tell you about the limbs.. It was like looking at a more personal rubber stick man. The limbs were either to long for the body, the body not matching the head, the face not matching the body.. Oh god.. I nearly get a migrane with thinking about that.
Overall.. I give it a 4.3. I didn't find much interest in it, more of the word disappointed. I couldn't get into it within the few minutes the show started, and as I said I found myself more interested in what my mind came up with than it. 'sighs' Overall I think it deserves a rating of 4.3. Why.. the 4 for descentsy.. though I couldn't get into it easily, I found few things that caught my attention which earned it the four, but the rest.. was just poor so it earned a three. A four point three. Fair enough.
the best show i have seen yet love the Animation the sound was spot on and the Characters where great