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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  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 29. 2015 05:18 AM)
    Oh, awesome, dark horse is releasing volume 10 of black lagoon in April, its been nearly five years since the last complete volume…
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 29. 2015 03:56 AM)
    @Aidan: I think theres something seriously wrong when theres the actually possibility of there being a good PA works anime but we all have our opinions =P
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Mar 29. 2015 03:13 AM)
    @Raggers, I will go into detail when I review it. But I think something is seriously wrong when I get a far more satisfying ending out of shirobako than Death parade.
    Looking forward to writing a review of shirobako too.
  • Raggers
    (Sunday, Mar 29. 2015 02:56 AM)
    @Aidan: it wasn’t bad though. I think it suffered from too high expectations and lack of focus (or overreaching).
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Mar 29. 2015 02:29 AM)
    Well. Death parades ending was quite underwhelming.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Mar 28. 2015 11:21 PM)
    Waiting between releases for this will be a good thing, its the sort of manga you pick up and put down, then go back to with breaks in between.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Mar 28. 2015 11:13 PM)
    13 volumes into dorohedero, I’ve found it good enough to buy now that I’ve caught up with the official English releases. While the plot meaders and is kind of messy, isn’t up to much, I love how crazy the gory action is, the gritty artstyle/world and the black comedy more than well make up for it. It works best when focused on those masked gangster magician guys and also the main character, the others are only alright.
  • Raggers
    (Saturday, Mar 28. 2015 02:19 AM)
    @Aidan: true, but I don’t think the level is anywhere close to a true shounen. And once the basic rules are established it’s strategising and straight out fighting.
    I’d be more inclined to call it seinen with shounen elements than actually shounen.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 09:59 PM)
    Good all action finale to cap off Garo there, went out with a bang, though thing is I have no idea where their going to go with this when the movie, second season comes along, this seems like a pretty good point to finish.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:35 PM)
    I think that just about all the manga serialized in ultra jump feel less seinen than those serialized in other seinen magazines.

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