Watanuki is a high school boy with a lot on his mind. He lives alone, after the death of his parents, doing all of the cooking and cleaning, in addition to his schoolwork. Plus, there’s the problem of the spirits that follow him around all the time. His only wish is to get rid of them, which leads him into a shop run by the mysterious Yuko. She claims that she can grant his wish if he works for her.
xxxHolic is probably my favorite CLAMP series. It manages to be both mysterious and hilariously funny. Yuko, Mokona, Moru, and Maru, the workers in the wish-granting shop, are kind to Watanuki, yet exploit his cooking and gullibility at every turn. Watanuki is likely to overreact to these requests, but still gives in — cooking elaborate meals and performing ridiculous tasks, such as traveling across town just to buy a red bat when there is a sporting goods store down the street. Yuko is often drunk and often melodramatic about her needs, but is surprisingly wise and responsible when the occasion calls for it.
Watanuki’s two school friends are also a big part of the show. Himawari is the girl Watanuki is in love with, although she is pretty clueless. Domeki is Watanuki’s counterpart – he cannot see spirits, but something in him repels them. He helps Watanuki out of a lot of jams, much to Watanuki’s chagrin. Watanuki claims to hate Domeki, but clearly cares about him.
The cast of characters is well-developed, with the exception of Himawari, who seems very one-dimensional to me. She never notices that Watanuki likes her or that he yells at Domeki because of her. She thinks they are play fighting to entertain her. It was a little over-done, but still added a comedic element. Also, the actors cast to voice the characters were chosen well. Each actor was so well-suited — Watanuki was overly energetic and whiny, but could sound very cool and calm when the situation called for it. Yuko’s voice was husky and lazy, with a wise quality to it, just as I imagined her from the manga.
Each episode provides a new and interesting adventure. Between helping someone to stop using her computer, eating stew made by foxes, and freeing ghosts, the episodes are never boring and never repetitive. Many times there is a moral to be learned, but the show is never obnoxious about it.
The opening and closing songs are catchy and fun, and I found myself singing along to the Japanese, despite not understanding the words. The ending credits include a dance by Mokona that had me giggling every time I saw it. It was surprising how well the show balanced the silly with the mysterious.
My only real complaint was the way the show wrapped up. The manga series is still ongoing, so, of course, it couldn’t match with the books, but it seemed as if the show did not know how to wrap up. I expected something bigger and more personal to occur to Watanuki and Yuko, but it seemed just like a normal episode. It seems like Funimation has only bought the rights to season 1 so far. Here’s hoping they bring over more seasons.
The artwork for the show was, as usual for CLAMP, stunning. Flowing and swirling dark lines, gorgeous background details, and a romantic, somewhat gothic style really work for xxxHolic, which is a mystical, dreamy series. This show managed to bring a lot of elements together in a way that works. It manages to be fun and funny, but also, at times, creepy and very intelligent. This is definitely an excellent addition to any YA anime collection.