Manga/Anime Review- xXxHolic

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of dual reviews of both the manga and anime counterpart of a particular title. Consider these reviews to stand individually, although I do compare one against the other to an extent.

Manga (volumes 1-12): This isn’t an all encompassing review because the end of the manga has not yet come; my NA reading is up to volume 12 and we are definitely approaching the end (hurry up, volume 13!!!). xXxHolic (frequently referred to simply as Holic) is categorized as a seinen manga, but as far as titles in my collection go this is way toward the tame side- a classic 13+.

Kimihiro Watanuki is plagued by spirits- he has been for as long as he can remember. One day, he happens upon a shop he never noticed before; it’s proprietor, Yuko, says that she can grant any wish. In exchange for handling his spirit burden, Watanuki agrees to work part time at her shop cleaning, preparing food, and other such odd jobs. He comes to find out that Yuko’s shop can only be seen by someone with a need for her services; needless to say he ends up meeting some very interesting characters, some of whom are from another dimension. From time to time Watanuki himself ends up helping the customers, frequently with assistance from his classmate, Doumeki (who Watanuki kind of hates but also needs). Watanuki learns a lot about himself, his spiritual burden, and the connection between him, Doumeki, and Himawari, his love interest who has issues of her own.

Although this is loosely classed a seinen, as bad as it gets is Yuko’s heavy drinking and major cleavage. It is frequently dialog heavy and may not hold the interest of very young readers who are not into the supernatural. The story also crosses over with Tsubasa, another long running manga series by CLAMP- however, you do not have to read Tsubasa to enjoy Holic. There is a ton of Japanese culture in this series, and the volumes are peppered with foot and end notes to explain things- this would make a great discussion title for an anime club that’s into Japanese culture. Thoroughly enjoyable with well-defined characters and a unique art style that I fell in love with.

Anime (season 1)– Again, somewhat incomplete! The second season of Holic aired in 2008 but has not yet been released in NA. This review encompases the first 24 episode season which wrapped up in 2006 in Japan but is more current in the US. The anime follows the same story as the manga, focusing on Watanuki and his work at Yuko’s shop. It roughly follows the same timeline as the manga, but skips over any mention of Tsubasa or Watanuki’s backstory. The only part of Watanuki’s individual story that is presented is one childhood memory and his supernatural love interest (who was also essential to several individual episodes). It is highly episodic with only one two-parter towards the end. As such, it doesn’t hold as much appeal as the manga (I am told that season 2 focuses on what was missed in these first 24 episodes and will be sure to review as soon as I can get a hold of it).

Nonetheless, this anime is well worth the viewing. Since it is episodic, it is easier to break up into small chunks (works well for multi sessions of an anime club!). The unique art style of the manga is preserved- you may not fully appreciate this if you haven’t read the manga (elongated limbs and super skinny Watanuki may come off as odd) but it really lends itself to the style and I love that they didn’t change it. Again, there is nothing over the top here- Yuko gets drunk a lot, and yes she is chesty, but in my opinion the drawings are far more mild than what we see in other popular shonen like Bleach. However, the lack of action does lend itself to a slightly older audience who can focus on the story. It’s a beautiful animation with a ton of folklore and culture to discuss!

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3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    D said,

    Yay for XxxHolic! I’ve been reading it since it came out and do I like it! I like the slower pace myself…

  2. 2

    […] Reviews) Lissa Pattillo on vol. 1 of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei (Kuriousity) Otaku Librarian on xxxHolic (The Otaku Librarian) Erica Friedman on vol. 15 of Yuri Hime […]

  3. 3

    I liked xxxHOLiC all along, but I did start to wish for a more epic storyline. The last few volumes delivered on that, and vol. 13 is on its way to me as we speak. And/or type.


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