One of the great things about anime is the number of genres that exist within, from an American perspective. Even though action, comedy, and romance, may be ones the uninitiated may be aware of there are some that are difficult at times to describe. There are times when anime can be the means by which a story is delivered, and some of these stories can provide a deep and rich story that rewards those who revisit. Such a case is the series xxxholic created by the manga group known as CLAMP. For those who may have avoided it due to the xxx prefix, understand that this is a stylization as the xxx could be seen as a blank. While there are several parts to the xxxHolic series this review centers on the first anime series, which was dubbed and released by Funimation in the United States.
The core of the story is about Kimihiro Watanuki who can see and is haunted by supernatural spirits. When trying to outrun a particularly unruly group of dark spirits, who look like collected shadows of all shapes and sizes, he stumbles upon and is compelled to enter a strange building hidden down an alleyway. This building that he is forced to enter by some invisible power is Yūko Ichihara’s “shop” as she says. Watanuki comes to find that Yūko is some kind of witch who can grant wishes, for a price. The price is not always of monetary value, as she explains, “The payment must be of equal value to the service. It can be neither too much, nor too little. There can be no deficiency or excess. Only perfect balance and equivalence, or harm will be done.” In return for keeping away the evil that follows Watanuki, he agrees to reluctantly become her part-time assistant. This normally means that he becomes more of a house keeper, but at times he helps in granting other wishes. Most of the wishes granted are those that all have something to do with an individual’s addiction to what would otherwise be considered a regular habit. The unhealthiness of the various addictions is represented by supernatural spirits. At times, when an individual tries to find help, it can create issues with moral obligations. There are many ways to interpret some of the various demons and addictions shown in this story; especially when comes to the main characters. Depending on how an individual views each episode, there are many different conclusions that can be reached.
The art is beautifully done and shows the depth of CLAMP’s talent. It is also good to note that this particular series does cross over with another called Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. Yūko is a character that appears, but one that might be the most recognizable is Mokona. When Watanuki is told by Yūko to get Mokona for their party, he asks what a Mokona is, to which she responds, “Mokona is Mokona. You would count them, one Mokona, two Mokona, and then you would stop because there’s only two.” The one in xxxHolic is black and the one from Tsubasa is white. Mokona helps provide an element of comic relief in this series. There are also some comedic elements in Watanuki’s relationships with Himawari, a girl he has a romantic interest in, and Dōmeki, a classmate he can’t stand but must work with at the behest of Yūko.