Posted by psgels on 27 June 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, xxxHolic


xxxHolic Kei is the second season of the anime-adaptation of Clamp’s manga about modern Japanese folklore. In contrast to its predecessor, there are only 13 episodes, but to make up for it, the creators have put into these episodes the rumoured best chapters in the manga. The result is a second season that surpasses its first season in quite a few areas; not only in terms of manga, but also the anime staff learned some new tricks.

Without a doubt, the highlights of the second season are the first three and the final three episodes. Both contain rock-solid chapters, where the main characters Watanuki, Doumeki and Himawari (who have already been fleshed out really well by the first 24 episodes of the first season) really come together and get some major character development. The final episode is surprisingly light-hearted, but it does provide a perfect closure for the series.

The rest of the series is filled with stories, more reminiscent of the first season. They range from Yuuko, teasing Watanuki for the umpth time to some really effective standalone horror-stories. What’s interesting is how compared to the first season, the creators make use of much, much more foreshadowing. The stories in the first season always didn’t feel like a part of a whole, and this is fixed really nicely by the second season, which constantly drops hints and characters of stories that are still to come, which brings an interesting sort of unity to a series that consists out of random stories.

The animation has also improved a lot. You can see that the creators got a bigger budget for the second season, which makes especially Watanuki’s ramblings into some great visual comedy. Unfortunately, the animation dulls a bit in the less important episodes. The creators made good use of their CG to support the supernatural aspects of this series, and also the sound department is better than ever, although some tracks may have been played a few too many times.

Unfortunately, I can’t call the second season better than the first season. There’s something that holds it back from doing this, and it’s not just the length. In the second half of the series, there’s one particular multi-episode arc that breaks the flow of this series: the Kohane-arc. The only purpose of this arc is to show a mistreated little girl, and nothing else. Nothing really new gets introduced, and the way this girl gets abused despite her awesome powers have a good chance of breaking your suspense of disbelief. Especially for a 13 episode-series, if two episodes disappoint, it will be much more noticeable than if there were 24 episodes.

Still, xxxHolic Kei definitely carries the highlights of xxxHolic. It’s less consistent than the first season, due to the disappointing Kohane-arc, but to make up for that, it features the Spider Queen and Himawari-arc, along with a number of successful standalone episodes. The art has become better, and the characters also make use of the time that was spent on fleshing them out, so this series has been just as enjoyable as the first season for me.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10

7 Responses

  1. Wind says:

    w00000000000t !!!

  2. Choux says:

    Sigh*, the anime version of Kohane didn’t really fit in my opnion either… Still, I consider this to be better than the first season.

  3. miden says:

    well imho, i think the 2nd season is much better than the first XD! what a grea tending it was though/

  4. BlueYoshi says:

    Nice review.

    But dear god…I’m starting the Kohane arc today. Yes, I’m THAT behind.

  5. cody says:

    Nice review and I whole heartedly agree on the final and first 3 episodes being the best ones.

    I do disagree on the Kohane arc though. This arc is very fitting of today’s society and fits in well with the nature of some of the episodes, which is to teach or show the viewers some lesson or show people some things that are occurring in our own world.

    The Kohane arc shows some interesting things that occur in our society today.

    – New things (Kohane herself) getting popularized and then dieing off (though it happened in a bit of an extreme fashion in the show)

    – How people’s opinions can be changed in a heartbeat and how the “mob” mentality effects everyone (malice toward Kohane)

    – Parents going to the extreme (think over-zealous parents trying to push their kids to pro-sports.)

    Probably some more issues too but I can’t recall them. I know in one of the episodes in the part of that arc there was a VERY good quote that had the word malice in it….I might rewatch that arc to find it because it also fits in very well with what goes on today. ESPECIALLY on internet boards.

    An example of that is “trolling” or people just dissidenting (I don’t think this word works this way btw 0_0) against popular beliefs and then harsh and inarticulate jargon being spouted by both sides (think of when FF12 was announced for the 360, and how message boards started ramparting with colossal idiots thinking multi platforming was bad).

    Anyways sorry I am getting a bit offtopic here but I really think the Kohane arc was fine. It brought in a new character that could show up again, brought up interesting trends in today’s society and had a warm ending.

  6. summerberries says:

    xxxholic series, I expect a very diverse rating. I agree on your rating 90/100 as it falls under my favorite genre. I believe average people will rate it 80/100.

    It is excellent series for occult lovers. Don’t expect horror or bloody series. The xxx also doesn’t mean R18 show. There is hardly any love story. It’s one of my favorite occult series that I can watch many times.

  7. nalani says:

    Poor Kohane got the short end of the stick, although granted at the time, the manga hadn’t completed her story so the animators HAD to end it somehow. Honestly, the true ending for her makes more sense and is more satisfying.

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  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 04:02 PM)
    Now if someone wants to have a calm discussion about it I’m more than willing to partake. But if you hate the show then that’s fine, just let it be.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 04:00 PM)
    That’s the end of my rant. I know I won’t change any minds that have already been set, but K-off wanted to know what I found appealing about the series, and I gave my honest opinion.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 03:32 PM)
    An anime original that wasn’t an adaptation of some manga, LN or VN gave it a certain charm and unpredictability, which is absolutely a welcomed addition. Now I’m not gonna deny its plateura of problems, but it’s hard to sit back and hear people call Casablanca shit because it doesn’t have the flair and optimism of Age of Ultron.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 03:29 PM)
    Misanthropy in anime is old, cliched and boring. But that wasn’t the case when Eva did it. Plus it features characters like Misato and Kaji that are very hopeful for the future, going as far as planning to filter the ocean and regrow vegetation for society. There is definitely a bigger focus on misery, but as explained that was a mirror to Anno’s deteriorating mental health, which in itself added an angle of intrigue to the show.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 03:22 PM)
    Now does it look old? Does it seem overdone and unoriginal? Absolutely. But that’s no th fault of the series for not accounting for viewers who are watching it 20 years later, after getting exposed first to all the stuff that have heavily borrowed from it.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 03:19 PM)
    It also perfectly explained what the instrumentality looked like for people that were in the process of assimilation, so it was a fitting end; albeit admittedly a weird one. Episodes 25 and 26 just chose to show the stream of consciousness of how the process was perceived by someone inside the sea of LCL. It made sense if you cared to pay attention along the way, so to call it completely nonsensical is unfair and entirely reliant on personal misinterpretation.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 03:14 PM)
    Also End of Evangelion is a masterstroke of the animated medium. That’s not just my opinion as a fan, but an opinion that’s been echoed in the circle of critics, many of whom don’t even care about anime. Even the classical conservative critics on IMDB gave it an average of 8.3, that is far from shabby.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 03:05 PM)
    Discounting the influence of a show is an arbitrary parameter that you’ve just come up with to undermine the series- nobody agrees with such restriction. And again, the genre deconstruction, the great cinematography, the slick character design, the music, the unconventional plot and creative ending, are all points that stand on their own regardless of how influential Eva was or wasn’t.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 02:58 PM)
    And no, Archer hated Shirou’s childish ideology, and he heartheadedly stuck to it, knowing we’ll what suffering he has gone people (including the future version of himself) thru. A World where nobody cries is an absurd goal, that is as illogical as it is unattainable.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 02:56 PM)
    @Aidan: nothing exists in a vacuum. The year the show got released is an extremely important factor, and a horrible show would never leave such a mark on the industry.
    Plus I spoke plenty about the reconstructive elements of Eva, that has nothing to do with its influence. Everything from SAO to Fate has copied exact scene compositions from Eva; just Google it.

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