Posted by psgels on 28 May 2006 with categories: xxxHolic



It’s just as I hoped: xxxHolic continues to get better and better. I guess I’m really into shows which tell a different story for each episode, as I just totally loved Mushishi and Jigoku Shoujo as well. Okay, there are no such things as cliffhangers, the endings of the episode don’t make you feel curious about what is going to happen afterwards. But still, I find myself wondering about the next story to be told at each of these anime I mentioned. This works just as strong as cliffhangers, maybe even stronger. Especially if you consider that a cliffhanger’s power mostly lies in the moment it happens. The minute the story continues takes its power away again, in most cases. When you have shows like xxxHolic, Mushishi and Jigoku Shoujo, this power doesn’t get taken away at all.

This episode probably was the best xxxHolic episode yet. It already starts with great references, both to Tsubasa Chronicle and the xxxHolic movie. Watanuki is bringing all of Yuuko’s stuff outside, in order to thoroughly clean them, just like in the movie. He encounters Mokona again, this time not in a box, but disguised as a stranded pillow. Maru and Moro are meanwhile hitting a rug, stitched with a couple of butterflies. Maru uses a bat (if I do recall it correctly, it’s the same bad as the one Yuuko bought in the sixth episode, after which she labeled it as a sword), while Moro uses Fye’s staff. To make things even better, The butterflies on the rug seem to be avoiding the bat and the staff. This truly was one greatly excecuted scene. So many things happen at once and Watanuki’s reaction was just perfect.

Then, the real story of the episode begins. It’s about a woman who’s collecting all kinds of rare and ancient stuff. She then notices a closed, cillindric, ceramic box-like thingy, and she asks Yuuko if she can have it. Yuuko warns her not to open it at all costs, and she gets pretty serious when she does this. The woman eventually gets to have the box, though I wonder what she had to give Yuuko in order to get it. I think that Yuuko’s advice was enough of a price, as the rest of the episode shows.

The woman appears to be a new teacher on Watanuki’s school. This means that Domeki and Himawari also are a bit involved in the case. The woman immediately recognizes Watanuki when she sees him, along with Domeki and Himawari. Then, Himawari accidentally opens the box, and a sealed monkey-pawn shows up. The woman tests this out by asking for a day of rain. She hears a loud “knack”, and the rain starts. The next morning, it appears that in order to make it rain, the monkey pawn took all of the water from the school pool.

What follows is a beautiful story about the woman who begins to lose herself more and more. She first wishes for a mirror she wanted to have for a long time. This mirror is probably the most valuable mirror in whole Japan, so once she wishes for it, the monkey pawn goes to steal it for her and brings it to her. She then notices that every time she makes a wish, one finger of the pawn breaks. She makes her next wish when she’s in a writer’s block, and wishes for a great paper for her to turn in. Of course, the pawn steals this from another brilliant student. In the meantime, she happily tells Watanuki, Domeki and Himawari about what she did, and doesn’t even realize she’s going into the wrong direction. Watanuki gets more concerned by the minute, as well as Domeki, although he shows less signs of it. Himawari doesn’t notice anything, while Yuuko remains as serious as she was when she handed the pawn to the woman.

Then, she misses her train, and just like all ordinary people, she wishes for an accident to happen. She really breaks when she sees a person getting ran over by a train, right in front of her eyes. To top this, she gets to pay the price of plagiarizing, and this makes her think that she’ll also be accused of the person being ran over, and she begs the pawn to undo all the things she did. Then, it strangles her, leaving no trace of her, it returns everything like it was before, and so it comes back to Yuuko. I so loved this story. Especially when she saw the person being ran over. Even though it was just a colorless figure, it did make an impact.

I’m also beginning to love the art more and more. Okay, so what if the long limbs aren’t natural. You never hear anyone talk like that about chibi-characters, do you? The facts that the art is messy and illogical are really starting to grow on me, and I’m really beginning to like the character designs more and more. Even normally dull-looking characters like Watanuki and Domeki look more interesting by the minute, and Himawari looks less annoying after every episode passes. And yes indeed, the “extras” aren’t even bothered to being colored, or given a face in the first place. Still, it’s better than method that most anime attempt: every “extra” has the blandest clothing, the most common face ever, and an extremely dull haircut, while the main characters suddenly have hair in the wildest colors, in huge amounts, and each have something unique. Though they still try to simulate some realism while trying to be as natural as possible while spending as little budget on it as possible. xxxHolic at least recognizes that the anime isn’t about these unimportant extras, and just gives them a quick outline and places a number of these on the scenery, in order to fill the screen a bit. In fact, this works so much better than those cheap attempts at realism.

2 Responses

  1. BlueYoshi says:

    Your praise for xxxHOLIC pleases me. 8 episodes in, and I’m quite hooked. I really wished that I watched this show sooner.

  2. Just a passer by says:

    The anime’s being a bit plain,bland,flat, or under-detailed, actually has to do with the original manga. CLAMP(the manga’s artist, a team of four women who each have very specific jobs) sports a very unique art style for xxxHolic. Most works of manga utilize “dot papers” of some kind to achieve different “shades of gray,” or given such an impression. However, CLAMP does none of that. The xxxHolic manga has a very unique style in that everything is purely black-and-white. The only kind of “shading” CLAMP uses is to fill in with closely spaced straight lines. The extra lanky bodies of the characters is also part of the stylized look.

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  • BrendanVGC
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 06:22 PM)
    Hey guys, any good seinen manga you can recommend me? Im not talking about crap like Death Note or anything like Gantz.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 11:46 AM)
    Wait, wait scratch that, that was an old article/rumour…feck…
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 11:39 AM)
    @Bam: I was quite fond of Gillian Andersons character.
    Apparently Laurence Fishburne wants to quit the show =<
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 10:44 AM)
    I really enjoyed Alana Bloom’s shadow transformation during the season two hypnotherapy sessions. I thought was visually stunning and thematically relevant. Bryan Fuller has managed to gather quite a bit of talent around himself in the recent years, but Mads is undeniably both the egg that holds this cake together as well the cherry that’s sitting on the top.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 10:37 AM)
    Word of mouth and good reception managed to raise the viewership near the tail end of the 2nd season, that and the aforementioned cosponsorship managed to pull a hallelujah and bring the show back from the verge of death. And I’m glad tha happened.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 10:32 AM)
    I also always felt that their screen chemistry was mesmerizing and am very surprised that some critics found that it was lacking in that very same department, but to each his own I guess. The budget is not all that low actually, and the reason the 3rd season was greenlit was in part due to a dedicated fanbase, as well as the fact that this is a joint effort between NBC and a European studio who undertakes portions of the expenses.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 10:08 AM)
    There is this…certain chemistry between Dancy and Mikelson in that show too.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 10:01 AM)
    *their
    As much as I love the inventiveness and creativity of the death/crime scenes I can see how someone would find them silly.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 09:54 AM)
    @Bam: I had heard there were alot of cancellation risks but that there series was cheap to make, if its true the budget is low, then they’ve worked around it effectively.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 28. 2015 09:27 AM)
    But everyone knows that this is Mads Mikkelsen’s show, and it’s really his magnetic charm and the series’ strong cinematography that sells the experience. I also think that the special effects are very well handled, and the whole show has a seriously disturbing edge while still managing to stay classy. Quite sophisticated if nothing else.

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