Simultaneously released with Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles, xxxHolic is nonetheless a very different series. While the folks in Tsubasa are jetting from dimension to dimension searching a princesses’ lost memories, xxxHolic focuses in on a few characters staying very much in the same place. The drama comes from the characters and their, shall I say, dubious profession.
xxxHolic, not at all pornographic despite the title, follows the professional trade of Yuko, a space-time witch whose general purpose in life is to trade in wishes. She provides all manner of magical gifts and objects to those in need for a price. She also firmly believes in the idea of “hitsuen”, or destiny, and follows her steps in the world as foreordained. Yuka has the uncanny ability to know what each customer wants and desires, and though she may give them the means to find their dreams, she may just as likely indulge their fantasies and thus lead them to, in her opinion, a just end. Her relatively ordinary helper, Watanuki Kimihiro, struggles to fulfill her every whim in the hopes that she can help him solve his own “gift”– the ability to attract all manner of grisly ghosts and spirits. He knows he shouldn’t be able to see them, but he cannot turn them away and they seem to have no understanding that he’d rather not be chased around by spirits.
As with its linked series, Tsubasa, xxxHolic shows a new simplicity of form in CLAMP’s work that doesn’t decrease the beauty or complexity of their layout and characters. Yuka is always impressive but also easily makes the shift to goofball antics, and the atmosphere, from flowing incense smoke to magic spells, is always appropriately spooky and insinuating to reflect our tale’s shifting nature.