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xxxHolic – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

August 1, 2009 by  



“Hauntingly cool!  Featuring unique character designs and a fresh, supernatural storyline with each episode. ‘xxxHolic’ is unique, dark, sexy and fun!  Definitely a series worth recommending!”

 

DVD TITLE: xxxHolic – The Complete Series

DURATION: 24 Episodes on 4 DVD’s (600 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: English 5.1 Surround Sound, Japanese Stereo, English subtitles, 16:9

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: July 28, 2009

Originally created by CLAMP

Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima

Series Composition by Ageha Ohkawa and Michiko Yokote

Music by S.E.N.S.

Character Designs by Kazuchika Kise

Art Director: Hiromasa Ogura

Animation Production by Production I.G.

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama/Todd Haberkorn as Kimihiro Watanuki

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Yuuko Ichihara

Kazuya Nakai/J. Michael Tatum as Shizuka Doumeki

Shizuka Itou as Himawari Kunogi

Hisayo Mochizuki/Brina Palencia as Moro

Kazuko Kojima/Leah Clark as Maru

Mika Kikuchi/Carrie Savage as Mokona

There is no such thing as coincidence, there is only the inevitable…

Watanuki has been haunted by dark spirits his entire life, a curse flowing through his bloodline preventing peace.  When his incessant demons drag him to the ornate door of the Dimensional Witch Yuko, he meets a mystical woman of insight and luxury, quick to help those in a bind… For a fee!  One might very well end up paying with their soul!  To be free of his visions, Watanuki will work in her shop of dreams and wishes.  There is always a price to pay…

In 2003, “xxxHolic” charged onto the Seinen manga scene on Weekly Young Magazine and is still ongoing today.  The manga which is originally created by the popular mangaka group known as CLAMP (Nanase Ohkawa, Mokona, Tsubaki Nekoi and Satsuki Igarashi) who have created series such as “X”, “Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle”, “Angelic Layer”, “Magic Knight Rayearth”, “Chobits” and many other titles.

“xxxHolic” was first released as a film titled “xxxHolic: A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 2005.  A 24-episode television series followed in 2006 in Japan and a seconds season featuring 13-episodes thereafter.   “xxxHolic” made its North American debut with the first season airing on the FUNimation Channel in January 2009.  Now all episodes of the first season are collected in a four DVD complete series and is currently available now.

The series is known for its unique character designs in which the hands, arms, legs and bodies of the main characters are quite long.  The series was directed by Tsutomu Mizushima (director of anime such as “Genshiken”, “Kujibiki Unbalance” and various “Crayon Shin-Chan” films) and character designs by Kazuchika Kise (who has worked on anime such as the “Patlabor” and “Ghost in the Shell” films).

The anime revolves around the character Kimihiro Watanuki.  A teenager who attends school and is somewhat a student with not many friends and also a lone child (his parents are no longer living).   He’s also a great cook but his emotions are always high and tends to over-react at things.

Ever since he was younger, he has attracted ghosts (because of his blood) who have been after him and it’s come to the point that it has gotten worse.  One day while escaping from the ghosts, he learns that home/shop somehow banished the monsters.  Drawn to come inside the home, Watanuki meets the owner Yuuko Ichihara.

Yuuko is a mysterious woman who offers to stop the ghosts from following Watanuki but in return, she will need payment.  Watanuki agrees and now his bounded by an agreement to cook for Yuuko everyday.

Watanuki is somewhat bound by his rival, Shizuka Doumeki.  The cool archer who is calm and sarcastic.  Having grown up in a Shinto shrine, Domeki has the ability to exorcise ghosts.  So, Watanuki can see them and attracts them, while Doumeki is unable to see them but his presence scares or exorcises them.

So, in a way, the partnership is a must for both individuals and despite how many times Domeki saves Watanuki, because Watanuki is hard headed and can’t stand Doumeki, he knows that he needs Doumeki.

Part of their rivalry is due to the fact that Watanuki is in love with his classmate Himawari Kunogi.   She shows compassion to both Watanuki and Doumeki.  And each time Watanuki tries to get closer to her by cooking her a meal or trying to take her out to a restaurant, Doumeki is always there and this frustrates Watanuki.

Other characters in the series are twin female artificial beings known as Maru and Moro that work at Yuuko’s shop (and are kept alive if they stay within the gates of the shop) and are cheerful servants willing to be there for both Yuuko and help out Watanuki.  Also, featured is Mokona.  A black rabit looking creature that talks and often makes fun of Watanuki.

In the manga series, “xxxHolic” is tied with two CLAMP manga series “Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle” and “Cardcaptor Sakura” but due to complicated licensing in Japan, references were removed.  But for the most part, the anime series does follow the manga series.

Here is an spoiler-less summary of what is included on the complete set:

DISC 1

  • EPISODE 1: The Inevitable – Watanuki meets Yuuko for the first time and a deal is made.
  • EPISODE 2: Falsehood – A Client has a problem with her finger. Meanwhile, we are introduced to both Doumeki and Himawari.
  • EPISODE 3: Angel – Watanuki and Doumeki must work for the first time.
  • EPISODE 4: Fortune Telling – Watanuki learns about Yuuko’s powers.
  • EPISODE 5: Game of Letters – Watanuki must help a fox family.
  • EPISODE 6: Indulgence – Yuuko and Watanuki try to help a client who is addicted to the Internet

DISC 2

  • EPISODE 7: Hydrangea – A rain sprite  named Ame-warashi seeks Yuuko’s help.
  • EPISODE 8: Contract – A teacher at Watanuki’s school borrows an item from Yuuko’s shop but is warned to not open it.  But of course, she does…
  • EPISODE 9: Pinky Promise – Yuuko receives a Pipe Fox as payment from Ame-warashi which seems to bond with Watanuki.
  • EPISODE 10: Lamplight – Yuuko has a scary story sleepover with Watanuki, Doumeki and Himawari.
  • EPISODE 11: Confession – A Zashiki-warashi accidentally steals Doumeki’s soul.
  • EPISODE 12: Summer Shade – The group heads out to the beach.

DISC 3

  • EPISODE 13: Transfiguration – Watanuki observes a classmate who seems to be growing wings and starting to exhibit bad behavior.
  • EPISODE 14: Seal – Watanuki and Doumeki meet twin sisters and go out on a double date.
  • EPISODE 15: Release – The second part of Watanuki and Doumeki’s double date with the twin sisters.
  • EPISODE 16: Reunion – The Pipe Fox is too big and Yuuko sends Watanuki to purify it and return him to his original state by going to the mystical mountain.
  • EPISODE 17: Self-Mutilation – Watanuki brings a woman to the shop who makes things complicated with her decisions.
  • EPISODE 18: Ground Cherry – Yuuko sends Watanuki and Doumeki on a mission to carry a ground cherry together.

DISC 4

  • EPISODE 19: Unreasonable – Watanuki and friends along with Zashiki-warashi and Ame-warashi have a competition with Yuuko in a snowball fight.
  • EPISODE 20: Atonement – A customer goes to Yuuko to dispose of a photograph.
  • EPISODE 21: Nail Clippers – Watanuki doesn’t believe in superstitions and Yuuko tries to teach him a lesson that there are meanings to superstitions.
  • EPISODE 22: Temptation – Watanuki meets a woman who is lonely because she lost her son and both bond as the woman reminds him of his parents.
  • EPISODE 23: Choice – The second part of the last episode, Watanuki’s associate with the woman can lead to his own demise.
  • EPISODE 24: Sidestory – Reminiscence – We see a story from Watanuki’s childhood when he was chased by ghosts.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“xxxHolic” is presented in 16:9 and its an interesting kind of anime due to its unique character designs. As characters are drawn with long proportions.  If anything, the anime focuses more on the main characters and artistic backgrounds and surrounding characters are not as prominent throughout the anime.    You’ll notice that for the most part, Yuuko is seen in different fashionable outfits while Watanuki and Doumeki are typically in their school uniforms and in Watanuki’s case, his servant uniform.  But overall, it’s a style of animation that is fresh, unique and works quite well with “xxxHolic”.

It’s important to note that anime television series typically don’t have the same detail as with films or OVA’s.  For “xxxHolic”, the series is quite different with its unique character designs but also in scenes with crowds, the characters outside of the primary characters are drawn in white and a black outline.  The anime is not known for a lot of detail in fact, Doumeki is quite calm and collected, as with Yuuko but it is fun to see the overreactions from Watanuki and overall his body language.  But as for art backgrounds, some episodes that utilize multiple scene locations such as episode 14-15 in which Watanuki and Doumeki go out on a double date with twin sisters are episodes that do showcase numerous artistic backgrounds because they visit quite a number of places.

But for the most part, the animation for “xxxHolic” does not sport a lot of detail but the way the character designs are presented, it’s quite unique and makes “xxxHolic” standout from other anime series.

As for audio, you get the English dub in 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound and the Japanese in Stereo.  As I typically enjoy watching my anime in Japanese, I felt the casting for the English dub was well done.   And ended up watching the majority of the series in English but it helps that the English version was in 5.1 and sounds much better through my home theater system.  But for the most part, the anime is front and center channel driven. It’s a dialogue-driven anime and for the most part, “xxxHolic” is not an action-based anime.  But there are certain scenes that utilize the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The special features featured on the “FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: PREMIUM OVA COLLECTION” DVD include the following:

  • Original Japanese TV commercial (with English subtitles) – (:41) The Japanese TV commercial for “Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa”.
  • Textless ending theme – (4:03) The ending theme for the anime shorts and video clips of Universal Studios Japan.  Also, optional romanized and translated subtitles for the ending theme song.
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming FUNimation Entertainment releases

I found “xxxHolic” to be an entertaining series.  If anything, the majority of most episodes included in the first season are self-contained episodes of Watanuki learning from Yuuko dealing with the supernatural or learning about human instinct.  With “xxxHolic” still ongoing and not yet finished, so there really isn’t an ending.   But throughout the sereis, we do see Watanuki start to grow as a person and a guy who was a loner, we see him slowly start to let people into his life and we start to see that although he looks weak, he has a strong heart and a type or persistence, positive qualities that Yuuko sees in him.

For the most part, the series could have been storylines that are full of cliches and redundant “ghost hunting” type of storylines but its not.  Each episode was quite intriguing and for the most part, quite enjoyable.  If there is one thing you can expect to see a lot of, that is a lot of humor with each episode.  For those wondering if it’s a sick or disgusting dark anime, the answer is no.  There are scenes where there is blood and some storylines that are quite dark but this is not a horror anime and nor is it scary by any means.

As mentioned, the unique character designs definitely brings a fresh look for this anime series and although not full of detail, its character designs and its storyline makes the series standout and thus, for those who want an original type of series, “xxxHolic” is that kind of anime series.

“xxxHolic” is unique, dark, sexy and fun!  Definitely a series worth recommending!

 






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