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Friday, October 29, 2010

xXxHoLic Rating and Review

Series: xXxHoLic
Animation Studio: Production I.G
Original Run: 41 Episodes (24 eps in first season + 13 eps in second season + 4 OVA eps)
English Licensor: Funimation Entertainment
Adaptation of: CLAMP's manga "xXxHoLic"

Summary: Wouldn't life be great if you could just walk into a store to have your wishes granted? Of course it wouldn't! Well maybe it would, but not in Kimihiro Watanuki's case. Watanuki is your average everyday high school student who just happens to have been born with the burden of attracting spirits and the paranormal. He is constantly bombarded by spirits and can't seem to get a break, that is until he came across a mysterious wishing shop. The shop literally dragged Watanuki onto the premises and before he knew it, he found himself before the elusive shopkeeper, Yuko Ichihara. With her cryptic language and spiritual powers, she asks him if he wants her to make his spirit attraction to disappear. He hesitantly agrees and an agreement is formed, but as a price he has to work for her. He objects and grumbles at first but goes through with it as she does not take refunds.

From here the main plot begins. Yuko simply has Watanuki cook, clean, and perform certain tasks she is asked from various clients that come to her shop. One would think that a wishing shop would be all the rage but it doesn't work that way. Most of the customers that come to her shop feel drawn to it and later it is revealed that only those that really need something resolved will be able to see the shop. Her clients don't have petty problems like, "I want a puppy," but rather have problems/habits that have consumed them. In other words, they can be called "holics". Watanuki deals with the majority of physical labor and Yuko usually jumps in with the paranormal and mystical aspects of the job. The requests range from disturbing to just plain weird, and with Watanuki's sensitivity to spirits, the jobs are usually not pleasant.

But not to worry, he has a companion, Shizuka Doumeki. Doumeki is Watanuki's stoic and emotionless classmate, who simply loves to eat Watanuki's home cooking. Yuko usually has the two team up as Doumeki has a strong purifying energy that repels spirits and thus Watanuki's problem can be controlled to an extent. Not to mention, he can shoot both normal and purifying arrows (as he is part of the archery club and lives on temple grounds). The only problem is Watanuki can't stand Doumeki, but he tolerates him when his crush, Himawari Kunogi, cheerfully comments on how well the two seem to get along. Also, along with Doumeki, Watanuki has another "partner" named, Mokona. Mokona is a sarcastic bunny like creature with odd spiritual powers, that can talk, and enjoys drinking alcohol with Yuko. Watanuki is constantly teased and annoyed by Yuko, Doumeki, and Mokona, but he does form a very strong bond with each of them.

The series has lots of comedic elements to it but it also has some pretty chilling stories to it as well. "xXxHoLic" is a great series and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in Japanese folklore, or is simply looking for a surreal and interesting series.

 A.I.'s Rating:  9.5/10

A.I.'s Review: This really is one of the better series I've watched. The horror aspects of the series are more "creepy" as opposed to "nightmare inducing". What makes it so different is that it did not solely focus on spirits and the supernatural, but it also attacked human nature and the ticking insanity inside the human mind. I felt that it was one of those series that made you think and somewhat makes you question some bad habits you have. Some examples would be lying, cheating, and relying on lucky charms and voodoo. Also,unlike most "horror" genre series, this one has a lot of comedy to it as well. Watanuki is pretty animated and hilarious throughout the majority of the series (his "happy-go-lucky" character changes in the OVAs), and added great comic relief, especially when he was paired with his calm counterpart, Doumeki. Yuko on the other hand, was a very wise, mysterious, elusive character but she did have a childish side to her. 

I gave this series a high score because of how clever the series is, but I marked down points since it did get confusing at times and the art sometimes got awkward. Many consider the art of the series to be terrible as the people are so long, and stringy. But in its defense, I thought that the art matched the overall atmosphere of the anime as it added to that "peculiar" aspect of it. It is a wonderful series originally created by the brilliant minds of CLAMP and I applaud both the creators and the production studio for doing a great job. Production I.G usually comes out with stellar work so I wasn't surprised at the quality of the series. So I hope you take a jab at this one and have a Happy Halloween!  

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