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Review: xxxHolic

xxHolic-1Brought to you by the women who wrote the adorable series Cardcaptor Sakura and Tokyo Revelations, CLAMP now presents an interesting story line with… Very noodle inspired people. I’ve referenced this series before, in terms of art execution, often in a negative light, but you all should know that actually the series itself is quite good, if not a bit complicated and possibly convoluted. It’s a series that actually goes hand in hand with another series by CLAMP that was being published at the same time Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles. I’m not really sure that if this series ever quite got the popularity other works by Clamp did, but I do think it was quite deserving of it, to a point. It is still currently ongoing, though its companion piece has come to an end. Now CLAMP has been doing work for a very long time and are quite well known for not only heart wrenching stories, but also for their love of usually forbidden romances.

So our main protagonist is Kimihiro Watanuki, a high school student who can see spirits, much to his discomfort. As typical stories like this go, he just wants to be normal. This goes about as well as expected. He, by magic force, is taken to a wish granting shop owned by the mysterious Yuuko, who promises to grant his wish if he works for her. Of course, begrudgingly, he says yes, and the adventures begin. With his friends and new employer he begins to see the world of humans and ghosts around him in a new light. It’s mostly a series of one-shot adventures that all later add up to the bigger picture which coincides with its sister manga, though later chapters are sort of an offshoot from that storyline.

As stated above, our main character is Watanuki, who is excitable to the point of screaming and screaming and… Listen, he screams a lot, he’s very excitable, and its fits with his personality and how he deals with what happens to him. Like that’s a majority of his dialogue, screaming things because he’s upset or happy. It’s… I guess endearing. He’s an orphan who is very… ‘Mature’ for his age. He’s good at cooking and not so good at making friends, despite have two very good friends. He’s able to see ghosts and it’s plagued him for most of his life, as he often is unable to stop himself from looking strange in front of people. He realizes this and wants it to stop, even if it means doing things that he doesn’t really feel comfortable doing. He grows a lot over the course of the story.

Next is the time witch Yuuko, who is able to grant wishes. That is for a price. It’s sort of like an equivalent exchange type of situation, but often for the betterment of others rather than stealing a limb from them for a faulty thing that has never worked. She solves many a problems under the fact that one must want their wish to come true for them to become better, she is unable to act directly, and she tries to teach that lesson. She is a voice of reason for people who normally are unable to really change who they are. She sort of is like a big sister and mother to Watanuki, but doesn’t coddle him, rather prepares him for what she knows is coming but the reader and Watanuki don’t.

Shizuka Doumeki is a fellow high school student alongside Watanuki, sort of becoming a best friend/confidant. He appears as our straight man who is there to contrast against the loudness of his friend. He is popular whereas Watanuki struggles to connect, which is hilarious as Doumeki is practically emotionless when it comes to connecting with people. Archery star and raised in a shrine, Doumeki is there, unable to see spirits, but able to help Watanuki despite the latter’s grumbling. He also is able to do something very specific that makes him quite useful to his friend.

There is a whole slew of other characters who play an important role in the story of Watanuki, but there’s a lot of story with each that can lead to confusion for later chapters and the ultimate storyline. So for now we will go onto the art style.

If you couldn’t tell, I have a certain history and set of feelings for the art style in this series, and it’s both admiration and pure rage. CLAMP has its very developed style over the years and are often celebrated, this however doesn’t disregarded the fact that the anatomy is a whole level of its own hell. Part of me wants to say it’s for the style of the story, but another part of me doesn’t believe that. I’m willing to forgive though, as in the long run it’s more amusing than anything else, well… Depending on who you ask. However, it works in the long run for the manga. The anime was produced by Production I.G, better known for Psycho-Pass and Ghost in the Shell. There’s also a live action TV series that ran for 8 episodes, I don’t know too much about it, but if you want to check it out no one’s going to fault you.

Sound wise, this series is actually quiet pleasing despite the constant screaming of Watanuki’s character. In the dub, done by Funimation, we have Todd Haberkorn as the lead and Colleen Clinkenbeard as Yuuko. Both are well known voice actors, both working in multiple big series, such as Ouran Highschool Host Club for Todd and Ghost in the Shell for Colleen. The opening theme of the first series is 19Sai by Skikao Suga, who is known for his work in Boogiepop Phantom. The second series was never dubbed, though the movie A Midsummer’s Night Dream did reach American audiences. It’s a series that you can watch in English or Japanese, though if you dislike a lot of screaming… Maybe stay away from the anime and stick to the manga? Which may be best considering the anime only covered maybe 40% of the actual story. The manga also is still going with a few offshoots.

The series, despite my back talking, is enjoyable. It’s a supernatural ride that takes you as a viewer all over and CLAMP clearly loves the series. It shows in the way they continue it and keep presenting new things with the characters and storyline to keep it relatively fresh. The unfortunate downside is that with this story is that you’re going to probably have to read Tsubasa, its sister manga, to get the full effect and feel for it. It may also not be for people who don’t like episodic adventures, because that’s what makes up a majority of the anime. Still, I think this is a series many should like or at least a group of creators’ people should look into.

xxxHolic: 7/10

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