On the technical side of things, I have many bones to pick with the art and animation here. Actually there are too many bones to pick out on these spaghetti people, who I feel like I could easily snap across my thumb if I ever pat them on the back, even the supernaturally voluptuous Yuuko. Seriously, that woman should have SPINAL PROBLEMS with a rack of that magnitude on that beanpole, and throughout the entire series’ run, I never got used to the tiny-headed, long-bodied creatures they call people in this show, or the way they move either. Really fluid animation could have compensated for
this bizarre art style, maybe even made it really cool, but the animation here is middling at best, and oftentimes slips into shaky and poor. It’s just unsettling.
The music is wickedly haunting and appropriate, and compensates for the limited animation well in some episodes where it’s dearly needed. Actually, the music is pretty top-tier, especially when the mood calls for SCARY!
The dub is actually easier on the ears than the original Japanese and this is mostly due to the soothing liquidity in Yuuko and Doumeki’s voicework. It was wise of them to play their characters so rich and low, because Watanuki is the most incredibly annoying little goober I’ve ever heard. I’m not saying the acting is bad, because Watanuki’s clearly supposed to reach that ungodly level of spastic that he does and sometimes it’s really funny, but MORE often, oh gosh, I just want to send him to that little internment camp in Japan where they keep all the School Rumble characters so they can whip him into shape. Still, there’s no big difference between the language tracks, so preferences will just split where they always do. Oh, one of these days I’ll get to slam some bad voice acting…but not yet.
This series really isn’t bad for wasting time on, but the fact that I have to use the word “wasting” probably indicates how original or striking it is. Most of the adventures of Yuuko and company are underwhelming and talky enough to turn a two minute neat idea into a twenty minute “what the heck was that?” Let’s just say that Yuuko has a very particular way of looking at the world, and her routine cautionary speeches can become grating at best, and childishly elementary or just plain stupid in a pretty package at worst. Occasionally, Yuuko would state some grand moral that REALLY rubbed me the wrong way, and given how much she has to say, I imagine that this will be the case for most viewers at one point or another.
Mixed in with all these middling ideas, there are a few glowing gems, though, I can’t deny that. Episodes involving a snowball fight where the snowmen do the battling, and a shoutout episode to the famous short story, “The Monkey’s Paw,” are a few among them. Still, I’m talking roughly an eighth of the episodes are really memorable. xxxHolic relies far too much on these tired platitudes and more tired running gags like Yuuko always being drunk and/or hung over and Watanuki going off on Doumeki like a pasty-white cherry bomb.
It’s a shame because we really want to know more about Watanuki’s gift and what it has to do with the death of his parents, his friendship with Doumeki, and most importantly, his “destined” servitude to Yuuko. It’s something that is constantly foreshadowed but never revealed to even the smallest extent, in favor of more Hogwarts-esque hijinks. Sometimes all an episode will have going for it is a fun little reference to one of CLAMP’s many other series, and if that’s a draw, you know you’re in trouble story-wise.
So, while there’s fun to be had, the basic fact is that everything xxxHolic attempts, the style and the spirit, or spirits, if you wanna get all punny, has been done much better in different shows with higher budgets. (Kino’s Journey, Mushi-Shi, Galaxy Express 999) As such, while not at all bad, this is the first show I’ve reviewed that I can’t honestly recommend. It’s tearfully AVERAGE in every way possible. A ghost, if you will, of what it seems to promise.
All in all, xxxHolic leaps out as visually strange and narratively exciting, but it’s a hollow façade hiding a frequently boring show.
*THIS IS A PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT OF MY VIDEO REVIEW WHICH CAN BE FOUND HERE:
Funny, creepy, dark, interesting and clever. Those would be the words that could describe this anime.
It’s funny – thanks to Watanuki’s wild antics as well as Mokona’s drunkenness. Creepy – mostly because it scared the heck out of me sometimes (especially episode 10, 12 and 24). Dark, because it presents the world in a way that people rarely see. It’s interesting – you get hooked into it and you actually become an xxxHOLIC-holic. Finally, it’s clever because it doesn’t take the viewers for fools.
The characters are just great. Doumeki and Watanuki are yin and yang. They always seem to have this love-hate comedy routine wherein
Doumeki says one thing then it annoys Watanuki right off the bat, then Himawari comments on how close they are. I also like Yuuko. I am always amazed by her wisdom and how she takes on her job. I think the concept of just compensation in something other than money is very clever. I like her here more, instead of the Yuuko from TRC. The black Mokona cracks me up as well even though I’m a tad bothered that he’s not as well mannered as the white Mokona.
Production IG’s work was a bit interesting. The visuals seemed off to me sometimes, but there’s something about it that keeps me watching. I didn’t like the colors though, since most of it was concentrated on the main characters/elements. The background elements seemed a bit dull sometimes. I did like the demon parade episode, because the scenes were more vivid than usual. As expected of CLAMP, the characters have slightly deformed body types and tall and stringy characters. I guess it’s what separates them from others.
I’m not familiar too with the three main seiyuu, but I think they did a splendid job. Jun Fukuyama was very entertaining as Watanuki. Sayaka Ohara’s mature, sultry and womanly voice fit Yuuko’s personality really well and Kazuya Nakai’s voice was also well suited to Doumeki’s character. Of course, Mika Kikuchi was very entertaining as Mokona as well.
The music was very much like the plot – a bit dark, but contemporary. I like the catchy opening theme (19sai), the cutesy first ending theme (Reason), and the j-rock second ending theme (Kagerou). The BGM really helped in making things a lot more creepier too.
I’m really glad that I found the time to watch the series. I have to say that this is my favorite CLAMP series by far – mostly because the CLAMP series I’ve seen haven’t impressed me as much as xxxHOLIC. I’ll end this review with Yuuko’s words that resonated throughout the series – There is no such thing as coincidence in this world. There is only the inevitable.
Prepare to be taken on a tour de force through the world of the supernatural. Or maybe just a regular tour. I wouldn't know. Having only recently experienced the genre of "supernatural" anime, xxxHOLiC (hereby referred to as simply "Holic") was a breath of fresh air from my usual action/fantasy fare.
The story behind Holic is intriguing and interesting, revolving around spirits, ghosts, and the very strange. Geared towards an older and more sophisticated audience, there's little action, but loads of thought-provoking and amazingly insightful dialogue. Holic is the kind of anime that gets your mind pumping about topics such as fate, destiny, and one's purpose
in life. Plus, there's a side to it that makes statements about how people live and society in general. Not to mention that it's educational as well. Holic offers an insight into a part of Japanese culture that most people rarely see.
Concerning the plot, however, Holic is another anime that is driven by episodic events. There seems to be no real overall direction for the story. Normally, this would leave me feeling slightly cheated and unsatisfied, but after surviving through the likes of Ouran and the Wallflower, I've come to accept that the episodic plot system is a genre on its own and it's here to stay.
Unfortunately, a plot that doesn't know where it's going hurts any character development. The characters are well made, with their own distinct personalities, but stay relatively the same throughout the course of the plot. No one shows very much significant growth. Granted, everyone is wiser and better, having learned the lessons distributed throughout 24 episodes of madness. Perhaps that's the elusive character growth that I've been looking for?
In terms of artwork, the artistic foundations were laid down in the manga by the increasingly popular mangaka group CLAMP. And they've done a very good job. Yuuko's wardrobe is definitely something to pay attention to (ahem), and though everyone has ridiculously long arms, legs, and necks, it actually provides a sense of levity in a serious setting (that, and the alcoholism). Alas, there's a slight issue with the fact that only the characters important to the plot are actually drawn in. Any bodies that are only required to be "fillers" (like a bunch of random people at a supermarket) are not colored and lack faces. In my opinion, it has symbolic meaning, but it could also be attributed to pure laziness. Dunno which to choose.
Oh, and speaking of laziness, the sound was great. Loved the opening theme, but didn't really pay attention to the background music. Voice-acting was top notch, especially with all the high pitched and slightly unique voices coming from characters like Mokona, Maru, and Moro. That is all.
In the enjoyment section: I finished Holic in the space of a week, and indeed, I was completely hooked. I savored every bit of supernatural strangeness, and I'll be looking for more with the second season.
Finally, Holic certainly isn't unique, for there seems to be an ever-growing list of anime that deal with the supernatural, the occult, and just really weird stuff in general. But as a starter series for the newly-converted, it's definitely worth watching.
Surprisingly enough, xxxHolic is the first request I've had for a Clamp review. For those of you who aren't familiar with the group, they're an all female group who started out writing doujinshi before moving on to professional work in 1987. They've been fairly prolific, but their end products tend to range considerably in quality. Some being spectacular, others being terrible. xxxHolic leans toward the latter.
xxxHolic is an anime that doesn't have an underlying plot so much as a series of loosely connected episodes that are all based off of Japanese folk lore. A young man named Watanuki can see spirits. He finds a shop
that grants wishes and ends up working there part time. Shenanigans ensue. Most of the episodes have only very loose connections to each other. An anime can be setup like this and still be well done, but xxxholic isn't. One major issue that pops up multiple times is that serious moments, which should have some impact on the characters or the plots to come, are dropped and never mentioned again instead. Another issue is that the episodes don't really do anything interesting with the folklore. Instead it just throws the reference at you, follows up with some faux intellectual statement to wrap things up and moves on to the next thing. The comedic aspect is another area where it fails since there are very few moments that are actually funny. Most of the humour is based on Watanuki having really over the top reactions to what's going on and it's not particularly funny when they do it the first time. So doing it multiple times every bloody episode just gets repetitive and really boring. The semi-serious moments they try to have are also ruined by them always reverting to "comedy" quickly after those moments end.
The characters certainly don't make up for the largely absent plot. Each one has one or two exaggerated personality traits that define them. Watanuki over-reacts to things and is a tool. Doumeki helps Watanuki and has no visible reaction to anything. Himawari either doesn't understand the obvious or toys with Watanuki for fun. Yuuko always knows what's happening but only deals with issues personally when she has too. She also drinks a lot. And I just described the four major characters completely with a few adjectives. I could do the same for the secondary characters, but that would take a while. One other issue with the characters is that there are several plot lines involving individual characters that seem like they could potentially lead to development, but they either get dropped or go unresolved in favour of keeping the status quo.
The art is terrible. I'm used to borked proportions in anime, but xxxHolic just takes it too far. The characters have ludicrously long and slim limbs and bodies with tiny little heads. This makes them look more like models made out of string cheese than actual people. The backgrounds are generally sparse and the supernatural beings don't have much impact. They just look bland most of the time.
The voice work is difficult to judge. There are a lot of really talented voice actors working on this such as Nakai Kazuya, Ohara Sayaka, Itou Shizuka and Fukuyama Jun but they all adopt these really exaggerated voices which add to the lack of depth for their characters. I blame the direction since I know that all of them can do roles with depth. The music ranges from bad to generic.
The yuri factor is a 2.4/10. Simply because Yuuko gets really touchy with some of the other female characters and it comes off as a bit homoerotic.
My final rating for xxxHolic is a 3/10. The art is bad. The characters have no depth. It's not funny and what little story there is lacks interesting content. If you want a good anime grounded in Japanese myths there are far better options like Mushishi or Kino's Journey. If you want something by Clamp specifically there are still better anime, like Magic Knight Rayearth or Cardcaptor Sakura. As for xxxHolic, you can skip it.
There are many things we don’t understand about the world. But as much as we are stupefied by the unknown, we often take everyday human behavior for granted. And with a show centered on the supernatural, we’d think that the supernatural are the enigma, when in reality, humanity and society are the real mystery.
Enter xxxHOLiC, a show that explores the irrationality of human behavior in a supernatural context. I admit, this show wasn’t too high on my priority list. Though after my cousin watched and expressed his love for it, I decided to give it a shot and boy, was
I in for an unexpected treat; a treat that spawned a second season, four OVAs, and a movie. Note that this review will only be about the first season, but rest assured that I will get to the other installments.
STORY - 7
xxxHOLiC is the story of a high school boy’s encounters with the supernatural after being taken in as an apprentice by a rather odd employer who claims to grant wishes. That pretty much sums it up. Nothing more, nothing less.
Pacing-wise, this is where xxxHOLiC shines.
Episodic shows are a double-edged blade. On one hand, they excel stylistically by putting the characters in various scenarios of differing themes, thus granting an expansion of premise and necessary character development. On the other, each episode has an individual story which allows little room to move the overarching plot along. It isn’t one unified narrative, but a collection of short stories; each with their own style, conflict, and lesson. For the first season at least, xxxHOLiC may not have a sense of plot direction yet but it takes full advantage of its pacing in displaying its brand of weird charm, unsettling atmosphere, and surprising insight. You get goosebumps on one episode, ponder on another, and smile after the next. The episodic pacing in this show makes it seem like a slice-of-life show more than anything, incorporating elements of supernatural, horror, suspense, comedy, and romance along the way.
ART - 8
Two words: Character design.
When you have characters that have the average height of a professional basketball player, hands as big as their head, arms as long as their legs, and virtually no muscle, you know people will love it or hate it. Fortunately, I belong to the former.
I commend Clamp for a job well done on the zany, slenderman-like character designs. Though anatomically incorrect and disproportionate, it intensifies both wacky and tense scenes by emphasizing body movement, and exudes an exotic vibe that complements the show’s eerie and mystical setting. Seeing the fleshed-out stick figure look is also reminiscent to the flat, gritty, and edgy cartoon style of the 90’s which are a refreshing departure from today’s smooth, vibrant, and meaty designs.
The animation, provided by Production I.G., is standard for a show aired on 2006. Colors are dull and faded, supernatural set pieces are smoky and oriental, lighting is dim and claustrophobic, and cinematography is still and calm. In general, the animation is… subtly off, and it works in the show’s favor surprisingly well.
SOUND - 9
For xxxHOLiC’s sound, I’ve taken into account the OP/EDs, BGM, ambient sounds, and voice acting, because all of these are worth the mention.
For your information, I have never skipped this show’s openings and two ending songs. Not even once. I might even go as far as to say that this show’s OP and first ED are one of the best I’ve heard in a while. Each episode starts with an infectious funk song of quirky synthesizers, hypnotic guitars, and groovy basslines riddled with dissonant angst and regret. “19sai” (19 Years Old) by Shikao Suga perfectly encapsulates what xxxHOLiC is all about: an otherworldly coming-of-age story in a strange and wonderful world full of temptation and misunderstanding where everyone just wants to break free and find peace of mind. All of that is neatly wrapped in a nice little bow by the end of each episode with Fonogenico’s “Reason,” a cute and light piece of keyboard and guitar pop which resonates with the show’s motif of inevitabilities; in that everything happens for a reason and embracing what has happened and what will happen is the only way to go. By the second half of the show, the show ends with Buck-Tick’s “Kagerou” (Shimmering Air), a straightforward rock song of wailing guitars and yearning vocals dominated with themes of dire escapism and obsessive attachment which fits the more serious tone of the latter half of the series.
The BGM did an exemplary job in covering a wide array of moods while being consistent with the show’s supernatural backdrop due to the songs’ dreamlike quality. The instrumentation ranged from hair-raising ambient scores of distant howls, sinister chords, and violent percussions to playfully halloweenish or heartfelt synthesizer, string, and piano pieces. It became integral in defining xxxHOLiC’s hauntingly eccentric yet down-to-earth nature.
It’s common sense that ambient sounds are supposed to match a given atmosphere. So in this case, there will be two instances when I mention ambient sound engineering; either when it stands out in a bad or good way. In xxxHOLiC, ambient sounds surprisingly affect a scene’s inflection in such a way that it disconcerts the viewer even in the most mundane of scenes. The ambience rides along with the show’s animation by exhibiting a nuance that there’s always something wrong, despite a given context being normal and safe. xxxHOLiC gains this added horror/suspense edge even if that isn’t necessarily what the show is all about. But like the BGM, it immensely aids in immersion and made the setting darker without feeling unnatural to the show’s premise. Because let’s face it, what you don’t understand scares you. And the sound department did a great job of capturing the fear and awe of the supernatural experience. xxxHOLiC knows when to use silence, cut off sound, modulate voices, and mix in subtle noises, whispers, and sounds to enhance the profound yet dubious undertone lying beneath the show’s innocent exterior.
The voice acting expressed each character’s key trait very well. The lovably annoying Watanuki gets an incessant high-pitched voice that hushes down on the show’s more solemn moments. Deadpan Doumeki remains a deep and monotone pitch all throughout but can give off a softer vibe while still keeping his cool. Yuuko’s voice completely captivates the ears; shifting from immature exuberance to alluring sultriness while maintaining a neutral and elusive stance. Maru, Moro, and Mokona keep up with the playful high-pitched voice to even out the show’s somber tendencies. Himawari’s typical schoolgirl voice is cute and unassuming. Let’s just leave it at that. The characters often change in every episode with these being the main recurring characters with ample screen time.
P.S. The dub wasn’t really my cup of tea. Todd Haberkorn’s Watanuki turned the lovably annoying character into a whining wuss.
CHARACTERS - 7
The characters in xxxHOLiC are similar to that of a fairy tale. They are very distinct from one another and portray a striking personality all throughout the series to fulfill each of their respective roles.
Watanuki is the ceaselessly complaining and hardworking nice guy we all know and love. Doumeki is the dull and straightforward jock as well as Watanuki’s polar opposite and comic foil. Together, they banter their way into their own supernatural misadventures under the watchful eye of Yuuko. Occasionally joining them in their struggle to address Yuuko’s customers (if they aren’t doing various odd jobs), we have:
Maru and Moro, a jolly pair of kids serving Yuuko. Mokona, Clamp’s bunny-like mascot that serves as Yuuko’s mischievous friend and drinking buddy. And Himawari, Watanuki’s ditzy and innocent love interest.
The rest are either the shop’s customers or supernatural entities involved.
Interactions between the main cast can get formulaic and most of the character development can only be credited to Watanuki. His character development was more personal than substantial. It wasn’t a noticeable growth spurt nor a radical shift in ideals. It was more of a hushed voice within the character telling him that he learned something that he still can’t fully comprehend. Though lacking well-roundedness and middle ground, the characters were all lovable and relatable, with both the humans and the supernatural having independent and realistic ideals. The huge cast of episode-specific characters also left a memorable impact which made up for their static personality.
ENJOYMENT - 9
As you can already tell, I love this show. It was like watching a more light-hearted yet more sinister version of The Addams Family with all the grim and whimsical energy evident in the show’s production. With constant references to superstition and common social stigma, it provided enough realism to make it accessible and understandable compared to most supernatural lore. What it lacked in plot direction, it made up for in style, immersion, and groundedness. But what really left a lasting impression on me was the insight.
xxxHOLiC tells us how little we understand life, society, and ourselves. How learning, growing and transforming into something better means going outside our comfort zone and exploring the world. How meeting different people with various problems helps us understand that there is nothing good or evil. How inherently selfish and fickle we are.
Ultimately, how strange it is to be human.
We are riddled with inconsistencies and flaws which drive us to suffering and bitter realization. And in those moments when we are most vulnerable, we understand how beautiful it is to feel pain and embrace reality. We bask in our imperfection and eccentricity because it is what defines us.
OVERALL - 8
xxxHOLiC is a wondrous, uncanny, frisky, and sentimental ride through the life and times of Watanuki, a highschool boy blessed and cursed with the blood that attracts spirits. It deserves praise, not for overwhelming the viewer with something revolutionary, but for telling a story that says something about ourselves. Maybe I’m just putting too much thought into this. Overall, the show was simple, yet clever in its execution to deliver the full force of its content. As for where that content is going, I’m eager to find out in the next season.
xxxHOLiC, is a project of the famed group CLAMP. Let's begin the reviews ne
- xxxHOLiC is about the daily lives of Watanuki and Yuuko. Two characters whos fate has intertwined. xxxHOLiC is a collection of different strange yet interesting stories which happens to produce a happy ending on every episode. One particular viewer would learn something from the episodes of xxxHOLiC. It's about the mistake of humans and the solution to them were given by the main character "Yuuko". I'd say that some episodes were mediocre but interesting enough.
- Production IG was involved, judging the fact that this anime were made in the
year 2006, I'd say that the animation is somewhat outdated. I'm not saying that it is that bad, it's just that there's nothing special about the animation. The characters stays on their intentionally deformed shape. It's not that bad really.
- I like the BGM used in this anime. It is ingeniously used in every episode and fits the whole episode inside out. The group behind the BGM is SENS project and they're really good. They really did portray the word "Mysterious" in their works and it is really notable. Some scores were relaxing, one track I liked is shizuka na hibi. The OP is good and the ED "Reason" is love XDD. Everyone would enjoy listening to the music used in xxxHOLiC.
-There are different characters with different situations. Most of the characters bears different sins and after they consult Yuuko, they seem to vanish for Yuuko grants their wish to cleanse their sins and live normally. One would relate to one or two characters or even more in xxxHOLiC. In short, xxxHOLiC portrays the problems of today and how to solve them, this is one factor that I've noticed and cherished most. That's why I gave it this score.
-It's enjoyable and relaxing. Although there are some scary episodes, it's not like you'll brood and will never sleep about it, the scare factor here is mild don't worry. This anime will relax you and you'll learn different lessons about life, sins and the pain they bring.
-The second season is coming out, what are you waiting for? grab xxxHOLiC. It's worth your time and I hope you will enjoy this anime just like I did.
Going into xxxHolic I had high hopes because the description and reviews of the anime gave the impression that it would be dark and creepy. What a disappointment! None of the "scary" stories would ever cause one to think twice about how ominous they are, let alone keep one up at night. The characters are so annoying and they say the same thing over and over, so many times in each episode that it will start to bother you. In my opinion the art design is lacking. WORST of all, after watching xxxHOLiC Kei, Rou, and Shunmuki there is no plot at all. I am
not a fan of this series; for why check out the spoilers below.
1. The main characters have so many issues
-Yuuko never explains things 100%, she keeps things very vague
-Watanuki mistreats the person who is suppose to be his best friend like trash even after saving his life he cant even say thank you
-The girl he is in love with says the same BS every time......"you and (IDK what his name is and i am not going to bother to look it up even) are really alike"
-The love triangle comedy that comes up like 3 times every episode is so annoying and bland
2. The whole story has no plot
-The series starts with Yuuko saying I will help cure you of seeing spirits
-She never tells him how to do it, she just uses him like a maid
-In the end she ends up disappearing on Watanuki without giving him his wish
3. Every episode is about food, sake and celebration; I thought it was suppose to be a dark anime?! WTF
It combines fun and adventures, but it also has an aura of seruisness around every episode.
I never saw an anime that had a better script than this one, and there wasen't even a second that I thought of anything else while watching this anime.
The art isen't the level you would expect for an anime of this rank to be, but even though it lookes kind of chieldish, I would like to see you find an anime that can give such a story with such an atmosphere with this art.
Oh CLAMP! I’ve always loved their works; there is (albeit, sometimes misguided) sincerity in their stories that many other anime/manga can’t quite manage. An example of this is in the second episode that revolved around a girl with a pinky problem. It is revealed that it’s not mere limb stiffness, because to Yuuko and Watanuki, they see that she has a trail of black smoke coming out from her finger. The episode goes to reveal what the black smoke is about and the type of life this girl leads. There is obvious social commentary going on, and in a very CLAMP-esque way, rather than any
form of judgement, it is simply an observation into human behaviour and how people cope with living.
The art style was something I had to get used to. Everyone in xxxHOLiC has tremendously long limbs, which makes them really tall. I guess it makes it stand out compared to other more glossy, better-proportioned anime series out there. It’s pretty amusing how bosomy Yuuko is and how some of her many costumes shows it off off quite unabashedly. :P
As for characters, I really don’t care for Watanuki too much. He’s always so neurotic and prone to making a ruckus over the smallest things. However, as the main character, he gets the most character development, so that does make him difficult to hate. The other characters are prone to be kind of one-dimensional and can be summed up with a sentence. Watanuki’s love interest is cute, pretty and sweet and his rival/friend is stoic, dependable and more silent than not. I guess my favourite character is definitely Yuuko. While she doesn’t vary much from polarising from being mysterious and thoughtful, to being a spontaneous drunk, the former quality makes her very interesting. Character exploration is not too big in xxxHOLiC, but if you don’t mind the existing, albeit archetypal, character types, then it shouldn’t be a problem.
CLAMP’s attempt at humour works at times but it’s not a consistent thing. I personally don’t find it very funny whenever Watanuki gets all slapstickishly angry about something, but at times it does surprise me with how funny and adorable some of the characters are at times. But if you’re looking for consistent humour, this anime probably would not fit the bill.
xxxHOLiC is great if you want a well-paced, episodic anime that has somewhat of a focus on exploring social phenomena and human behaviour through a fate/destiny, supernatural light. Sometimes touching, often spooky, kooky and clever. Each episode, while it may not be gripping plot-wise, is one that leaves you wondering what the next episode would be about.
A misleading title is one of my only qualms with this series. Far from being some sort of ecchi comedy, xxxHolic was one of the most thought provoking, moving, and beautiful animes I've had the pleasure of viewing.
The roots of the show are set deep in the grounds of Japanese folklore. Fans of the animated movie Spirited Away or of animes like Natsume Yuujinchou are sure to love the world of spirits and mysteries crafted in xxxHolic.
The story is mostly episodic with numerous different stories taking palce over 1 or 2 episodes each. While I usually prefer serial animes with longer arcs, xxxHolic
succeeds in connecting many of its episodes together. Instead of 20+ independant, stand-alone stories, we instead get what are more like snapshots of the characters life. Each 'picture' is different, yet all are connected and make up a larger story. Not only is this an excellent way to present a series, but each of the 20+ stories are masterpieces in and of themselves. Story earns a 9/10
The art in xxxHolic is, in my experience, unique. I personally found the original style to be completely beautiful, but not all will agree. Many find the slightly off human proprtions to be odd, and some find fault with over the top character movements. However most can agree that many of the backrounds, stories, and characters in xxxHolic are simply breathtaking. Scenic landscapes, a lantern parade of 1000 spirits, and an ever mysterious fortune teller's shop are just a handful of the many original and gorgeous scenes crafted by the show's masterful artwork. A deserved 10/10 for art in my most humble opinion.
Sound was also impressive. I, like most, don't often notice a soundtrack unless I'm listening for it. Yet the oftentimes powerful, and beautiful music of xxxHolic perfectly meshed with the art and story to create some truely moving moments. Character voicing was superb, from the exasperated voice of the protagonist to the lofty, confident tone of a fortune teller, the actors of the show did a fabulous job bringing the characters to life. And lastly, a catchy opener, and two decent endings left me smiling. Sound earns a 9/10
Many characters in xxxHolic are familiar arcetypes. Yet even though I'd seen every character's personality and mannerisms before, I hadn't always seen depth in those characters. Specifically the protagonist who, albeit slowly and more towards the end of the series, reveals himself as a person. Meanwhile a relationship forms seamlessly with his mysterious employer, a relationship that by the end of the series becomes a real, and believable bond between the two. Characters are by no means perfect however. A few cross the line from being 'familiar' to full blown cliche, and at times, the main character can be somewhat of a brat. Overall however the cast in xxxHolic carry the story well. An 8/10 for character.
I loved the series from start to finish. The beautiful stories, the sporadic, but no less enjoyable humor, and the overall depth of the show were simply incredible, and a joy to watch. Enjoyment earns a solid 10/10
Overall xxxHolic earns a 9/10 and my eager reccomendation. Beautiful art and stories that range from scary, to hilarious, to proverbial combined with solid characters and sound make this an anime well worth looking into.
There are no coincidences in this world. There is only inevitability. If you find Yuko's shop, then that too was fate. It means you have a wish that can be granted. For a price of course. This is the simple premise for xxxHolic, a stylish and magical anime and manga series by CLAMP.
xxxHolic is a show that tries to stimulate the viewer in many different ways. There's adventure, philosophy, plenty of comedy, and sometimes action, all with a distinctly CLAMPy flair. The routine nature of Watanuki's life between school and the shop allows for episodes to be largely interchangeable with no heavy storyline that covers
all or even most of the season. Truth be told, Watanuki's wish to stop seeing spirits is rarely mentioned after the first episode, and it's basically just an excuse to have him start working at the shop. That's not necessarily a complaint though, because the individual stories or mini-arcs that make up the show are wholly fulfilling on their own.
Although Watanuki is the protagonist, Yuko is the real star of the series and undeniably magnetic. Although her origins remain a mystery, she has enough charm and personality to keep one watching in any situation. On the surface, she playfully teases and bosses Watanuki around but seems to genuinely care about him even though she never explicitly states her feelings about... well, anything. Because Yuko is so attuned to the absolution of fate, she never gets emotional. Because Yuko is a wish granter, she doesn't help other people until they ask for and purchase her help. Even if she wanted to do otherwise, it would create an imbalance. Yet she never comes across as cold. She can be playful, aloof, serious, motherly, childish, sexy, and spontaneous.
The strength of xxxHolic is the way it uses colorful and whimsical events to illustrate the hidden side of human nature. Everyone who comes into the shop has a wish. It's never a shallow wish, and it's often something that is unusual or shameful. Watanuki is often confused by the problem or the solution, but Yuko explains to him many truths to life. The unspoken plot of xxxHolic is Yuko's role as a teacher to Watanuki, in result making him more of an adult. Aside from the philosophy, just being able to witness the wonderful mystical scenes of the spirit world for the first time with Watanuki is a treat.
If there's a downside to xxxHolic, it is probably the comedy, which comes across as cliched. Plus, they run the same gags into the ground again and again. One can't help but notice how Watanuki happily spazzes out every time the girl he has a crush on, Himawari, smiles at him. Then, his rival/friend Doumeki shows up, says one or two words, and Watanuki spazzes angrily with cartoonish exuberance. This is a scene you'll find in almost every episode of xxxHolic through both seasons. It's unfortunate that such a large amount of the show is comedy, because those parts are very run-of-the-mill.
The artwork is largely what you might expect from CLAMP, which is good to me, but everyone has REALLY long and skinny arms, legs, and torsos, to the point where Watanuki looks like a spider when he bends his legs. So while I wouldn't call most of the characters attractive, the style fits the show. The animation is minimized in a lot of scenes and episodes, and it's easy to see that when you contrast the first season to the second season which has improved production values. But it absolutely doesn't hurt the show very much.
For me, the complete attraction to xxxHolic is hard to summarize. It's a stylish feel, a mood, a charisma that the entire show gives off that kept me watching from beginning to end. It's the tension when Yuko shares a cup of tea with her new client. It's the relaxed feeling when Doumeki and Watanuki participate in the annual monster procession. It's the creeping madness of the owner of a monkey's paw. While not a perfect show by any means, it's a worthy addition to any library.
Where do I begin with this amazing anime? I suppose I'll start with the lowest rated category: Story. The reason this is so low, is well, bluntly, there isn't much of a story. The first episode segways into the rest of the show, and is more of an excuse than anything to at least make sense of the series. There's very little persistence throughout the story, other than tiny character progression. Each episode is typically unrelated to the previous one. Now, although there isn't plot, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Each episode is unique from one another, aside from the typical antics of Watanuki
and Domoki. Seemingly, in every episode, there's a philosophical idea behind it. I feel like, with each episode, a life lesson is taught. The dialogue is superb, and it feels like each word spoken actually means something. Many of Yuukos teachings to Watanuki are applicable to real life, and if you truly think about them, can change your life. The final episode might leave you wanting more, but you have to realize what this anime is. It's not about the destination, it's about the journey, and what you've taken away from it. Sure, you could watch this anime for pure entertainment purposes, Watanuki, Mocona, Domoki, all the characters are hilarious! But, the mature themes this anime addresses in such a light hearted tone is truly a work of art.
Speaking of art, there's not much to talk about. The character's extremities are blown way out of proportion. It is what it is, I suppose it adds a unique spin on the quite regular locations where the anime takes place. The one really interesting thing about the artwork though, is that any non-essential character to the episode isn't colored, and isn't detailed. They have no face, no distinguishable clothes from each other(as in variety) , or any vibrance to them whatsoever. Now, this may be seen from a lack of funding/laziness perspective, but to me it really adds to the whole feel of the philosophical side. They don't change the anime in any way, so it doesn't matter what they look like, or what they wear. Very much so like in real life. There is really only one complaint you can have about this series, and that would be the actual animation. It can be choppy at times, but truly doesn't count as a negative in my opinion. It's not a fast paced anime, there's practically never any action, so higher framerate animations wouldn't add much to the series. Just my 2 cents.
Onto the sound, fantastic. Numerous times throughout the anime characters will be walking around in a crowded area, like a mall or courtyard. The ambient chatter and conversations are always present when you'd expect them. Footsteps aplenty, making the environment always feel real. I guess voice acting would fall under this category, so I must say, it was superb. Honestly, top notch voice acting on Watanuki. The first episode had me crying from laughter at the sincerity with which the voice actor portrayed in his voice. You can tell the emotion is there, from Himawari's schoolgirl innocent-esque, to Yuuko's deep, sophisticated delivery. These voice actors absolutely nailed their parts, and made the characters extremely life like, and made the world entirely believable.
The characters themselves are well thought out, though interaction between them can be muddy at times (Watanuki's seemingly irrational hate for Domoki). This can easily be forgotten though, as it is hyperbole for the sake of comedy. Each individual character though, is different from the others, and contrast with the others very well. Each one of them has a distinct characteristic that makes them unique, Domoki's indifference, Watanuki's passion, Yuuko's intelligence, and Himowari's innocence. I suppose each one represent's an element of human behavior, and the relations between them show how we have conflicting emotions within us at all times. I'm no philosopher, so enough about that.
My overall enjoyment of xxxHOLiC was through the roof. I honestly was ecstatic when I found out xxxHOLic Kei was the sequel, because I can't get enough of this series. From Watanuki's always present sarcastic remarks, to the intelligent philosophical intrigues from Yuuko, this whole series amazed me. I honestly don't understand how you can pack so much into just one anime. It has the perfect blend of comedy, and brilliance, which don't typically go hand in hand, at least not very well. I felt like each episode taught me something new about myself, and left me pondering life with the questions Yuuko arose many times throughout the series.
Overall, if you're looking for a clever plot with thought-out character progression, look elsewhere, because there's little to none in xxxHOLiC. But, if you are looking for a mature anime, that's extremely entertaining, look no further.
Music: Excellent, the background music was perfect at all times and I loved the theme songs. The Credits song was okay, but the intro won out :)
Art_ I loved the artwork, it could have been touched up or more vibrant, but for this anime it definitely suited the dark atmosphere. The detailed kimonas, the cat like eyes, everything was perfectly in place. The way they did Yuuko's hair so beautifully.
The Subject: Most then anything I enjoyed the offbeat plot. Most of the themes in this series revolved around bad vices and good vices and what control we really have over them. All in all
it's the type of story that makes you think and has in impact whether you take it lightly or not. There can be a deeper meaning. For those who like to delve into the darker side of the human psyche this would be a perfect anime for you watch. Wise tales can be told in fiction..
Watanuki Kimihiro: is a typical high-school student living on his own because his parents were lost at a young age. He is down-to-earth and selfless, however some what of a loner. Also since he was a small he has has the ability to see and hear spirits.
The story seems to jump write into the plot line within the first few minutes. At once it is a typical scholastic student heading home from school when suddenly he is surrounded by demons, unknown to the casual observer; he becomes weighed down in all this supernatural power. Some how he manages to find refuge in a strange shop he hadn't noticed before. Inside the shop is a beautiful but almost devilish woman who tell that she can grant his with to make the spirits disappear.
Of course with some compensation.
Yuuko Ichiharais: a very powerful witch, mostly known for her ability to send people to other dimensions and times (sometimes called "The Dimensional Witch" reference from Card Captor and Tsubasa Chronicles), and for her ability to grant any wish in exchange for an equal cost. Despite her seemingly immature and free-spirited attitude, Yuuko is also sage-like and serious when the time calls for it.
During is part time work at her shop Yuku inadvertently helps Watanuki in daily trials and dealing with his gifts. Watanuki also finds friends who accept his strange gifts. Along the way he befriends a Shinto Priest in training who helps ward off the demons that Watanuki seems to attract.
Shizuka Dōmeki: is Watanuki's classmate and one-sided rival. He is part of the school's archery club and often participates in school competitions. He lives in a shrine owned by his late grandfather. Dōmeki's personality sharply contrasts with Watanuki's, as he is calm and often sarcastic. Dōmeki has the ability to rid evil spirits and is immune to most curses, mostly due to his ancestry and his upbringing in his grandfather's temple.
Watanuki at first disdains Domeki kun but eventually appreciates his presence in most things unless he tries in interferer with his love interest that is...
Himawari Kunogi: Watanuki's main love interest. She is a kind and caring girl, but inadvertently brings bad luck to everyone she comes into contact with, with the exception of her parents and Dōmeki.
Music: Excellent, the background music was perfect at all time and I loved the theme songs. The Credits song was okay, but the intro won out :)
Art: I loved the artwork, it could have been touched up or more vibrant, but for this anime it definitely suited the dark atmosphere. The detailed kimonas, the cat like eyes, everything was perfectly in place. I loved the anime.
Art & Character: 1
The characters are poorly designed. The characters are too tall, and their body parts are not proportional. For example, the upper body (such as the chest area) is too large. The length of the body parts (such as the arms and legs) are too elongated. Therefore, the art is poorly made. I am a digital artist. So I noticed how the size of the characters' arms and legs are not realistic. Most of the characters have black hair. However, the art is poorly designed compared to the typical colorful anime.
The artwork is very
simple. An amateur can draw the characters. There is no lighting on the character's hair. The hair is drawn with a single color. Therefore, the art lacks details.
The main character (Watanuki Kimihiro) is very argumentative. So it's difficult to watch the anime without witnessing the quarrels, and fights. Yuko can be very vague when Watanuki asks her for help.
This anime can be dark and gloomy because it focuses on the occult (ghosts, spirits, etc.) It focuses on encounters with the supernatural.
If I could attribute one state of mind to the show xxxHolic, it would be boredom. It seems whenever I try to watch this show, I tend to fall asleep. I even showed this show to my friend, who also FELL ASLEEP. What is it about this show that is so dreadful, well...
The story revolves around a boy named Watanuki who has the uncanny ability see generic, uninspired spirits. He runs into Yuuko who runs a stupid and useless store, in which I have no idea how she would be able to obtain any sort of decent revenue. Maybe she sells drugs as a side
job? From there, there really isn't even a story, just a mash of random and uninteresting events.
The art in xxxholic is hideous. All the characters are extremely lanky and pencil thin to the point that they are unattractive to look at. The main character, Watanuki is one of the worst characters ever conceived and is an extremely annoying protagonist who easily gets on my nerves.
Overall, I don't recommend xxxHolic to anyone. It is a bland unimaginative show that needs to be thrown in the trash. The only reason to watch xxxHolic, is if you are having trouble sleeping.
NOTICE: This review covers the whole franchise; not just the first season. No need to make different reviews for the exact same show.
- Animated by Production I.G. which means it will have a good budget but the characters will behave like robots, or in this case like string puppets.
- Directed by Mizushima Tsutome, who has some fame for his fondness of making comedies with cute chibi girls who act all erotic and/or violent (Hare+Guu, Dokuro-chan, Punie-chan, Squid Girl). Other than that, he is not good in anything else he was part of (especially with the crap he did in Blood-C and Another) and since
this show is not about chibi girls it is not one of his better works.
- Based on the manga by CLAMP, one of the most famous team of mangaka in the 90’s. Most of their numerous works have been adapted to anime and most of them were a hit in airing shares and sales. They have a style that combines the cute with the dark and know how to create spicy premises and hot romantic pairings. Sadly their stories are good only as far as premises go; their plots always fall apart under the lack of proper handling of their themes. You end up reading or watching just for the kinky situations and give up on the story. A note must be said here that they primarily make shoujo shows with lots of action and romance that ends up appealing to both genders. But since the shoujo is their base template, it is expected to focus almost entirely on character chemistry and visual aesthetics than… well, anything else.
It is an almost entirely episodic show about Watanuki, a high school boy with a curse, working for Yuuko, an eccentric witch, in order to remove it and together dealing with supernatural cases concerning ghosts and demons. There is very little to write about the story; you can read the description of the premise and this is as far as the whole thing goes. There are some episodes in the second season that offer development to the main characters but it is still close to zero. And there is an OVA that exists purely to have a cross over with Tsubasa Chronicles, another CLAMP title that was nothing but a parade of cameos.
Because of the episodic nature there is very little character development throughout the seasons. Watanuki is just a typical hyperactive high school boy, and Yuuko is just an enchanting witch that loves to change clothes every episode. Just like in all CLAMP works, you mostly like them for their simple-minded personality and eccentric clothes. You tolerate everything just to see the sexual tension of Watanuki building up slowly next to the super hot Yuuki and you just wait for some spicy romance to occur… slow as always. There are some other interesting secondary characters from time to time but the show barely tries to offer backdrop stories for most of them, so they too have close to nothing as far as fleshing out goes.
The artwork is very good as far as cinematics, clothes, and decorations goes. There is a lot of detail given to make everything dark and plethoric as means to attract your attention. It is average to bad when it comes to animation, backgrounds, or character designs, since there is little actual motion, the sceneries are simplistic, and the characters look damn skinny and simplistically drawn.
There is nothing overall great regarding the music part. The first opening is somewhat good and there are some famous and professional voice actors in the cast but in all there is nothing I found above average or memorable. Most dialogues are dull, most BGM is passable.
Having close to no on-going plot and mostly style than substance is of course nothing new in the genre but it definitely looks less interesting than its cousin shows.
- Mushishi is far better in atmosphere and philosophy.
- Mononoke is far better in aesthetics and fleshing out the characters.
- Bakemonogatari is far better in cinematics and fan service.
- Natsume Yuujinchou is just… cuter with those cats.
So in all, it is a boring and passable anime.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 6/10
Analysis: General Artwork 1/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 2/2
To begin with, xxxHolic is what you could call "once in a lifetime ANIME"....
Everything about it, the story, the art, sound, characters, even the enjoyment were simply SPECTACULAR... I might be exaggerating, but really, its 'that' amazing! Though I haven't finished reading the manga, i swear the anime was good enough that i almost cried the hell out after I finished watching it.
Yuuko Ichihara really has her own way to touch my soul,, everything she says, every deliberate acts she do, it is as if she knew everything since the very beginning. (Indeed, she do!)
What she says, it
seems she feels the same way... it seems she could actually read one's soul. She sees right through you, she feels right through you... and every time i watched it, it makes me think, do such person exist? I mean, she's way beyond an existence, and for the first time in my life, after i learned about her, i realize how ignorant i am in this damn cruel world. I hate to admit this, but she sure was the one who enlightens me. She was the one that makes me see the world otherwise.
Even with Watanuki Kimihiro, though he is clumsy in some way (every way), he has this certain 'charisma' that makes me love him. He's one hell of a friend, a perfect friend you would want to have in your locker. (Though he didn't notice it himself). The 'bad' part about him was he was willing to sacrifice even his own self for the sake of others... but i still like him anyway...
Oh great... to put it simply, xxxHolic is GREAT!
"There is no such thing as a coincidence in this world, there is only the inevitable" (as miss Yuuko Ichihara would say, this containing the essence of the anime and personally my favourite quote)
If you are into supernatural and think that there is more to the world that meets the eye and are looking for interesting characters than definetely this is you kind of anime.
I first found out about this amazing work through manga and then started watching the series but it also works the other way around- you can start watching the anime and then continue with the manga- which is actually better.
Shortly said, you can say that the anime revolves around a shop that grants wishes, or better said around it's "owner" miss Yuuko Ichihara and the "trials" that Watanuki must go through in order to grant his wish and the wishes of others.
The story isn't continuous as it is formed from other smaller stories each of them very interesting to watch because in the end you realize that the vast majority of supernatural problems (unexplained accidents, ghosts, spirits) are caused from the inside out (strong feelings that ar not shared, deep sadness, etc). Captivating and with unexpected rezolve, the most interesting thing being the fact that if you wish to grant your wish you must give something of equal value (and I'm not talking about money).
Not very much action, but still a pretty nice complex story.
Artwork - The artwork at first seems simple, but as you continue to watch you get the feeling that it's like an ukyo-e (art of the fleeting world) especialy when inside the spirit world or the shop (the way the smoke is drawn, the symbol of the moon, yuuko's clothes (which I absolutely adore) (although not all of them, some being vicotian, modern, a lot of styles(you can see it better in the manga)
I also enjoyed the butterfly symbol how it was drawn and its segnificance.
Sound- openings definetely loved them, endings not so much and also "Lost memory"(very sand and beautiful from the ost)
Character- At first you think that the characters aren't so complex, but as the story goes on and you discover more about each of them, you begin to realise that each of them were created with a purpose.
My favourite character would definetely be miss Yuuko Ichihara because of her dual personality, or maybe she has that misterious, serious and all knowing gaze all the time and the fooling around laughing and getting drunk part is only for show. Who knows? But she is definetely very interesting and would never get you bored.
Overall, this show is definetelly worth watching, as it opens up your mind, makes you thing about life and everything that surrounds you and also teaches about some of the japanese folklore. It's an anime you won't forget!
"Coincidence is nothing but an illusion", such are the words of Yuuko that influenced my life choices since I've watched this CLAMP masterpiece.
Xxxholic is a slice of life anime that showcases several supernatural settings that is in one way or another, very similar to real life situations. It shows how greed brings loss, lies can be fatal and how love andfriendship can save.
The story is about extra-ordinary events in Watanuki's life such as meeting creatures seen from folk and fairy tales and exploring different grounds known only from myth books, while working as a part-timer in a mysterious shop of Ichihara Yuuko, the witch that
grants wishes for a price.
If you noticed how I emphasized this anime as a masterpiece, it's because I've never seen an anime done a marvelous job in connecting fantasy and reality than this one.
Regarding it's art and character, the design was good especially in creating Ichihara Yuuko (my favorite CLAMP character), the CLAMP expressed well how an Elegant Witch would be.
What I enjoyed the most is how every conflict was ended by a conclusion from Yuuko. In such ways, these words will be treasures not only br Watanuki but also by viewers on how they value the elements of life.
Every Slice of Life fan will surely love Xxxholic.
Ak: Hey! Wait, issat xxxHolic? I thought you already watched it?
NK: Yep. We're watching it in anime club now.
Ak: Is it good?
NK: I enjoyed it the first time around. Now that I'm rewatching it, I'm noticing some parts are still pretty funny, and others aren't as funny as I remember them.
Ak: But, this is in Japanese, right?
NK: Yeah. The first time I watched it in English, so it's interesting to compare the two.
Ak: Whaddya think of the voices so far?
NK: Hmm...I liked a lot of the English voices better because they brought out more of the character. Yuuko's especially.
The lines in the Japanese version seem to be a bit funnier, though.
Ak: Did that change your favorite character?
NK: Nope. I never really had a single favorite character to begin with. The interactions between the characters is better than each character individually. Mokona and Yuuko especially.
Ak: You like the art?
NK: I'm not especially fond of the art. The characters look...strange, to say the least. Even Mokona looks weird when it opens its eyes. Kinda creepy, actually.
Ak: What about the music?
NK: Never really paid attention to the music the first time. It's actually pretty good. I like the theme now that I've listened to it a few times.
Ak: You think I would like it?
NK: Not sure. It has a lot of dark moments amongst the funny ones, being a story about the supernatural and all. Plus, it explains a lot of things in a very strange way that just leaves more questions unanswered. It's still a good series, and even if you watch it for the funny moments, there's enough there to keep you humored.
Ak: Wait, why'd you watch it in the first place? It doesn't sound like something you'd normally watch...
NK: The story's by CLAMP, the same group that did Cardcaptor Sakura, Chobits, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. It's a pretty long story as to why I actually started watching it, but I'm sure I'll explain it to you eventually.
Ak: If it's CLAMP, then why doesn't it look the same?
NK: That's because xxxHolic has a different artist, even though it's the same group of people. The interesting thing is that there are a lot of objects littered throughout Yuuko's shop from other CLAMP series. Fai's staff makes an appearance, and I believe you see Kinomoto Sakura's staff at one point as well. The headphones Watanuki uses in episode 3 should also look quite familiar to CLAMP fans.
Ak: Should I watch those other series then?
NK: You don't have to, though technically xxxHolic runs parallel to Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. It never directly references TRC, though. Just a few random objects here and there.
Ak: Where do you rank it? Is it your favorite?
NK: Not by a long shot. I enjoyed it, but not on the level of a 9 or a 10. It's one of those good-not-great series. Some people will like it, some people won't. I'm one of the ones that does like it.