Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: xxxHOLic (2006-2011)

xxxHOLic (2006) is a Japanese horror anime based in contemporary Japan. It include 24 episodes and three original animated videos (OAVs): Shunmuki, Ro, and Adayume. It also takes place in the same universe as Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE.

The plot focuses on Kimihiro Watanuki, a high school student with a cursed gift: he has the ability to see evil spirits (yokai and ayakashi). In addition, these spirits are invisible to others and have a strong attachment to him. One day, he stumbles upon a shop that grants wishes. He meets a mysterious witch named Ichihara Yuuko, and requests to have his ability to see spirits removed. She claims to have the means to end his torment, but she never works for free. The price, according to Yuko, must be of equal value. Therefore, as payment, he temporarily becomes Yuko's part-time employee, doing small errands and household chores.

Meanwhile, Himawari Kunogi, Watanuki's love interest, and Shizuka Domeki, a classmate who Watanuki detests, occasionally join him in his work as per Yuko's request. The three become increasingly close despite Watanuki's annoyance with Dōomeki. Although Watanuki becomes happy with the new friendships he makes, he becomes concerned about Yuko, promising he will try to grant her wish. As the series continues, Watanuki becomes more adept with the spiritual world during each supernatural encounter.

Later in the show, there is a crossing plotline with the concurrent series, Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE. It is revealed that Yuko was accidentally frozen by a powerful wizard, Clow Reed. As the magic binding her immortality begins to fade, Yuko also loses her ability to maintain the shop's magical existence. Before she dies, she tells Watanuki that he will no longer have to see demons. However, he chooses to retain his ability with his now fully-grown magical powers and becomes the shop's new owner.

If you are a fan of the Japanese manga artist group, Clamp, xxxHOLic (pronounced "Holic") is a good supernatural anime to watch with its balance of light and dark moments. With a mixture of horror and comedy, the plot is very imaginative and mind-blowing. After the first season, the anime becomes inspiring, beautiful, and heartbreaking when Yuko's ultimate fate is revealed. The Clamp illustrations are memorable due to their striking designs: patterns built into the images, highly detailed hair, heavily stylized eyes, elongated limbs, and elaborate clothing. It may seem slow in the beginning, but it becomes entertaining after several episodes. I highly recommend the anime. It should be available to rent and buy on DVD.

Opening Song: "19sai" by Shikao Suga

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