Type: TV (24 episodes)
Watanuki is a high school student with an unusual problem: spirits both good and bad which only he can see, seem to follow him all the time. His fortunes seemed like they might take a turn for the better after meeting the rather unusual spiritualist Yuko. Yuko is in the business of granting wishes, and tells Watanuki that she can grant his wish of never being bothered by spirits again. But every wish also comes with a price. And this time Yuko's fee is that Watanuki will work for her at the shop.
Working didn't seem like a bad exchange for a wish, but Watanuki found it closer to Yuko's servant, and made worse by her eccentric tastes and demands. As time passed he found that he enjoys his time with Yuko, as each new client is another lesson to learn from. While he previously had only been concerned with winning the affections of his crush Himowari and besting his friend/rival Domeki, it seems like Watanuki is growing into his own person and destined for more.
xxxHolic: surprisingly not an anime about porn addiction. Artistically I've always been a fan of Clamp stuff, so trying this series out wasn't a hard decision for me. Again I'm impressed by Clamp's ability to balance both shoujo and shonin elements in an appealing package, and there honestly seems to be something for everyone in this title.
The guts of xxxHolic mainly revolve around the characters, which are very likable. It's hard not to especially like Yuko, the wise spiritualist who's always up for a good time. Watanuki is the main character who is probably a bit over animated, but his interactions with Domeki contrast and balance things well. The third of their group Himowari also seems to be the weakest character, coming off as friendly but lacking substance. There is a reason behind her detachment, but isn't revealed in the anime. Even Makona was pretty cool, which is a far cry from it's incarnation in Magic Knight Rayearth. There's actually a lot of odd ball gags from other Clamp titles in this series.
The story wasn't any sort of revelation, but instead kept to a simple occult mystery of the week format which works quite well for the title. If you're seeking something deeper, than there is that element in xxxHolic, just not in the anime. The manga source xxxHolic is based off of is ongoing, and the anime decided to stick to the more simplistic core of the series instead of trying to weave in a major plot that is only half finished and invent it's own ending - which nearly always ends in disaster.
As an aside I'd like to say that while the dubbing was quite good, Yuko's voice actress, Colleen Clinkenbeard; was exceptional. In particular she's the only western voice actress who has achieved a perfect 10 in the 'evil woman laugh' in the episode "Unreasonable".
Overall I really enjoyed xxxHolic. It's a good mix of mystery and occult adventure wrapped up in a charming and fun package. Artistically, xxxHolic delivers with very good character designs, however some of the backdrops and most of the animation were struggling. For a budget trade off I think that worked out well since you concentrate on the main characters anyhow, and most of the shortcuts weren't a big deal. I found stories of xxxHolic interesting yet not overbearing. It is not however all that deep, so if you're looking for some sort of revelation from an anime series, this is not it. This strikes me as one of the better titles I've seen more recently, not in the way of being some revolutionary approach, but in it's imaginary concepts. A decent watch.
Watanuki: Thanks to this little guy, no one lost any appendages.
Yuko: Too bad. All the best love stories involve amputation.
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