Posted on 14 March 2011 with categories: OVA Impressions, xxxHolic, xxxHolic Rou



For the fans of Gundam Unicorn who are complaining about slow release dates: the intervals between new xxxHolic episodes is a whole whopping year!

But dear god, was it worth the wait. Unlike what I previously expected, this episode doesn’t really aim to answer any question whatsoever. In fact, it doesn’t even address the cliff-hanger that the previous episode left us with, and no new news about Yuuko appears anywhere. The length of this OVA was about half an hour, and its purpose was completely different from the first xxxHolic Rou.

What this movie did do was incredibly heart-warming, though. It’s an entire episode full of subtle character-building on Watanuki and Doumeki. I mean, the changes that the first xxxHolic Rou episode brought forth were immense. This episode fleshes this out brilliantly by somehow doing the impossible and giving the characters even more depth than they already had. Yeah.

I mean seriously, xxxHolic already was by far my favourite Clamp series, and this episode only made it better. This episode was full of quiet discussions between Watanuki and other side-characters like Mokona, Doumeki and his grandfather. Doumeki’s grandfather is just about the only one who didn’t change significantly, and even he had a wonderful portrayal in this episode, worried about his grandson.

This episode also showed a few flashbacks to Watanuki’s past. And seriously, if there was any series in which such a small recap like that would would, it’s this one. For one thing, it was great to see Watanuki sigh at what a moron he used to be, but it also really reminded how it’s already been five years since I first started watching this series, and it reminded what kind of huge changes the characters went through. If you add all of the pieces of development together here, you really get an amazing cast of characters. And I really don’t hope that this was the last of the xxxHolic OVAs.
OVA Episode Rating: 8.75/10

Posted on 25 April 2010 with categories: xxxHolic, xxxHolic Rou



Before watching this OVA, I had heard from people that xxxHolic Rou would be very confusing. But Bloody Nora, I never thought that it’d be this extreme! The non-manga readers who have yet to see this episode: STAY AWAY FROM THIS POST! MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

Because of xxxHolic Shunmuki, I was expecting something Tsubasa-related as well. Instead, the Tsubasa-cast doesn’t make an appearance at all. Instead, we get a time-skip of who knows how many years, in which A TON has happened: Yuko is dead, and Watanuki has now taken her place. This episode asked a whole tidal wave of new questions: what the heck happened to Yuuko? What caused her to come back? Why did Doumeki’s name change? Why does it seem that Watanuki can’t leave the shop? And taht’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Even for xxxHolic’s standards, this episode was dark. Watanuki has changed a lot. The visual comedy around him and Doumeki is completely gone now. Instead, the jabs he takes to Watanuki are short and subtle. Also, this episode never left the shop: everything we see is from Watanuki’s perspective, who somehow doesn’t leave the shop. Doumeki also lost the wise-cracking part of him: he now really doesn’t fool with Watanuki anymore. He’s actually graduated university at this point.

I guess this episode was all about Yuuko’s… rebirth or something, but what got to me the most was that phone-call at the end of this episode. After all that build-up! After all that time that was spent on the relationship between Watanuki and Himawari to make them like the perfect couple… she actually ended up marrying someone different and the two have grown apart!

I must say, Clamp: you did it again. This episode really was amazing in its character-development. It’s such a stark contrast from what xxxHolic used to be. Including the time-skip was a brilliant idea.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 24 June 2009 with categories: xxxHolic, xxxHolic Shunmuki



Well, in case you haven’t heard yet: they’re planning to make the next xxxHolic OAD, to air in 2010. Aand I guess that this episode is the point where xxxHolic stops being xxxHolic, and starts becoming Tsubasa Chronicle’s back-up show (which I assume to have its next OVA announced soon as well). I expected this episode to deal too much with TC, but in the end there was only a small bit about Sakura, and thank goodness there was still lots of WatanukixDomekixHimawari.

The way in which Domeki kept waiting for Watanuki for about six hours was a bit repetitive, but on the other side we can finally see Himawari’s development kicking off. There is this unique triangle between the three of them, in which Himawari is finally ready to crawl out of her shell. The scene with Sakura was also surprisingly solidly done, and neatly answered some questions that Tsubasa Shunraiki left hanging.

But yeah, there were continuity issues as well. Was I the only one surprised at the Rain Sprite’s sudden change of hair-color, and nobody noticing it? That’s really the big problem with the xxxHolic and Tsubasa anime series: the really bad management. When the decision was made to animate these two series, nobody really bothered to look at the big picture. There was nobody who took charge and thought about how they could make this work best. Instead there were too many parties that took too much assumptions: Bee-Train assumed that CLAMP wouldn’t mind it if they went with their own story since the manga hadn’t finished yet, CLAMP assumed that Bee-Train would simply follow the manga’s storyline for three seasons, Production IG assumed that there were not going to be any Tsubasa Chronicle references, so they left all of those out. And so the continuity became a complete mess when they tried to recover these mistakes. For people who haven’t read the manga like myself, anyway.

In any case, I’m not in the mood of writing a review for all of these different series, OVAs, et cetera, but I will provide this list of my opinion on the various adaptations of the franchise:
– Tsubasa Series 1: solid manga-adaptation with strong characters, although it moved really slooow.
– Tsubasa Series 2: lots of fillers that were really fun to watch at times (my favourite being the chibi-episode), and just okay at others, but really ruined the continuity of the series, up to the point at which Clamp made Bee-Train return to one of the previous worlds to show that dead people can’t be brought back to life.
– Tsubasa Movie: for some reason I rated it really highly, but thinking back it was just a boring filler that really wasn’t anything special.
– Tsubasa Tokyo Revelations: Awesome visuals, though tried to cram a bit too much story in too little time.
– Tsubasa Shunraiki: blatantly skips two very important manga-arcs, making it impossible to follow for non-manga readers like myself, and the chapters that were animated were rather boring and hardly anything developed.
– xxxHolic Movie: awesome mystery-movie that even though it has nothing to do with the continuity, stands out with really imaginative visuals and very naturally evolves and lets the viewer guess what the heck is going on.
– xxxHolic Series 1: excellent series about modern folklore, discussing a wide range of thought-provoking topics.
– xxxHolic Kei: while still about modern folklore, the characters become much more central and this series was an awesome character-study of the three main leads.
– xxxHolic Shunmuki: the weakest part of xxxHolic to be honest, but that’s mostly because the others were simply that good. Mostly building up for future OVAs.

Rating: * (Good)
The plot didn’t really interest me, though I really liked Himawari’s growth.

Posted on 18 February 2009 with categories: xxxHolic, xxxHolic Shunmuki



Short Synopsis: Haruka gives a request to Watanuki, and Syaoran finally appears in xxxHolic.
Episode Rating: 8,5/10 (Awesome)
Am I glad to see this series back or what? This episode was also everything you could expect from this series, and I can only hope that many OVAs will follow after this one. What I especially loved in this series is the first half, which discussed the character-development between the cast, and especially the explanation why Domeki ended up staying with Watanuki in the first place.

In this episode, he claims that he really finds the guy to be annoying and a loudmouth, but the reason why he became friends with him was because he saw Watanuki one day with his deceased pet cat, mumbling about how he was destined to be alone. He still is a huge closed book at this point. To think that he still doesn’t say that he likes to be with Watanuki, like you’d expect after the two of them went through so much. The way he said it made it really sound like he’s just with Watanuki because of pity. It forms a huge contrast with his actions, and the sacrifices he’s willing to take for Watanuki.

And like expected: Syaoran finally makes his appearance. I believe that when the second season aired, the creators were still sorting out the licensing issues between Tsubasa Chronicle and therefore were unable to include the proper references. At this point, I really have no idea what to think of Tsubasa Chronicle. On one hand, it’s going to be very interesting to see the new arc animated, but on the other hand I’m very wary about the rumours that have been going on, that talk about the downright ridiculous plot twists that it has taken recently.

Posted 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
Posted on with categories: xxxHolic


Aww, such a sweet episode to close off this series. The decision to make the final parts of xxxHolic focus on the heart-warming, rather than the tension was a great one, as it’s provided a wonderful closure to the series. It’s clear that this is the end of the xxxHolic anime, and I’m glad to see that it left on such a positive note.

In this episode, it feels like every character who’s made an appearance in multiple stories returns, and along with that, we sometimes see characters from the stories in the first season return as random by-passers. On top of that, the animation was really good, and the best tracks of the soundtrack were played throughout the episode. Overall, the anime staff did an excellent job for the second season.

Overall, I must say that xxxHolic Kei has done a pretty good job in living up to my expectations. Obviously, my expectations for the second season have been a bit too high, which made the lesser points of this series stand out much more than usual. Despite this, though, the spider queen arc and Himawari-arc were especially worth it.

Posted on 20 June 2008 with categories: xxxHolic


Now this was an awesome episode! I’m glad to see that the creators were able to play with the manga chapters in such a way to save the best story for last. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if the Himawari-arc would close off the xxxHolic anime, because in this way, the series would leave you in the best way possible, instead of how the first season ended with a random side-story. It’s just like Mushishi: that one stayed episodic until the end, but it did save one of its best stories for last, with great effects.

I really expected this final arc to be even darker than the spider-arc, and what I got was an incredibly heart-warming episode. The bond between Watanuki, Himawari and Doumeki is really something special, and its wonderful to see everything the past thirty-five episodes have been building up for come together.

At this point, I really can say for sure that without taking the manga into account, xxxHolic has been Clamp’s best work for me. Clamp is far from perfect, Tsubasa Chronicle seems to be getting more ridiculous with every plot-twist, Chobits had a lot of boring moments and the character designs of Code Geass are more aimed to attract fangirls and fanboys than some creative masterpieces, but in a series like this one and Cardcaptor Sakura, you can see that they’ve shown their best sides.

Posted on 13 June 2008 with categories: xxxHolic


Ah, thankfully this episode managed to restore my faith in this series. The Kohane-arc just disappointed, but this episode was a terrific foreshadowing of the final two episodes of xxxHolic Kei.

The creators really know the key of good horror: build-up. During this build-up, the attention of the viewer is grabbed as much as possible, after which the major revelations and plot twists get unleashed. xxxHolic has also had the advantage of having spent many episodes already on fleshing out and developing its different characters, and the result worked perfectly.

The end of this episode also goes back to the major climax of the first season, where Watanuki met the woman. The guy is just so damn stubborn around the ones he loves, that he forgets all about himself.

I’m wondering: are there enough stories without Tsubasa Chronicle left in the manga for a third season, or does the manga basically become the back-up manga for TRS after this arc?

Posted on 6 June 2008 with categories: xxxHolic


After the previous episode destroyed my suspense of disbelief, I just have to wonder why Watanuki never thought about contacting some kind of child welfare agency. The media were also portrayed as a bunch of idiots who blatantly use their own opinion. Thankfully though, this episode was much better than the previous one, and after the introduction it focused more on the relationship between Kohane and her mother than it was about “feel sorry for this little girl!!”

Overall, it was a nice conclusion, even though I’d have liked to see a bit more about how Kohane and her mother changed, but I guess that that’s left up to the viewer’s imagination. What especially caught my attention was how strong Kohane actually was, and how easily Watanuki seemed to think that he could just take care of Kohane for the rest of her childhood.

Still, this has been the weakest arc of the second season of xxxHolic, unfortunately. I still can’t quite figure out the point it was trying to make. It never really introduced new stuff, nor was it as thought-provoking or fun as the other episodes of this series. Let’s hope that Himawari’s arc won’t disappoint, after all the hype it’s gotten.

Edit: I’ve read now that manga-readers are angry at this arc, because the creators completely changed it. I must say that the parts that were changed were ironically not the ones that disappointed me in this story, and in a way, it makes sense to portray Kohane as a strong girl, who just needed the courage to stand up to her mother, instead of making her go to Yuuko and just ask for help.

Posted on 30 May 2008 with categories: xxxHolic


Hmm, for the first time in the second season, an xxxHolic episode disappointed me a bit. It surprises me a bit, since this episode goes back to Kohane’s arc, but somehow this episode felt off and among the least interesting episodes of xxxHolic, along with the one about superstition.

I think my biggest problem was with how it just felt that Clamp tried to shove down it’s message through the viewer’s throat. The usual subtlety in this series was gone entirely, and instead we get an obvious story with an obvious message: “Here is Kohane! She’s hated and disliked by both her viewers, colleagues and mother! She receives death threats and gets beaten up! But she has special powers, and she’s always right! Now feel sorry for her!” Sorry, but I’m not buying it.

One series that I can think off that successfully dealt with the topic of psychics and the media was Ghost Hunt. Okay, Ghost Hunt had its own problems, but none of those lied in its themes and messages. The arc about the spoon-benders was really good at showing the relationships between kids who claim to bend spoons and the media, and the people who watch it.

I really hope that the next episode will offer a clever twists to the whole story, because I really know that the creators can do better than what they’ve shown here.

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  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Apr 28. 2015 04:10 AM)
    Now that things have slow down a bit and stil some time left till Witcher 3, I came up with the grand idea of getting around to finishing F/SN UBW route before the series ends so I can jump on the wagon as it rolls thru the last few episodes. I think that’d be kinda cool.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Apr 28. 2015 03:39 AM)
    Madhouse is still a very descent animation studio, and some of those older talents still remain with the company, but the market demands that they pander to the supposed “core” anime demographic. Although Masao Murayama did take a lot from Madhouse when he left to form studio MAPPA tho.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Apr 28. 2015 03:35 AM)
    Nagai was definitely imaginative and creative enough to come up with ideas and works that broke convention all in the name of entertainment, an tags why he was such a trend-setter in the manga/anime scene.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Apr 28. 2015 03:28 AM)
    It says something interesting though about me when I was younger though, as much as the rape put me off when I was a kid I was always switch back to get something out of the gore…how interesting that we seem so much more comfortable with violent content =P
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Apr 28. 2015 03:25 AM)
    @Bam: Violence Jack however I felt about it and however I feel about it now that I’m older, it was like a baptism for crazy for me.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Apr 28. 2015 03:20 AM)
    But theres stuff I so sorely miss, I mean come on anime you had a nazi doctor surfing on missiles in the sky, I can’t see that any more.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Apr 28. 2015 03:19 AM)
    It really doesn’t say much for some comedy anime though when stuff like Kenya boy and Garzeys wing end up being funnier.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Apr 28. 2015 03:17 AM)
    @Bam: Its so sad to see Madhouse, who made Shigurui-death frenzy make mahouka.
    Ha I recently skimmed apocalypse zero (which coincidentially shares shigurui’s author), Mars of destruction level awesomeness there.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Apr 28. 2015 03:12 AM)
    @Bam: I respect the man for going out of his way to genuinely fuck with peoples heads with the content of his material.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Apr 28. 2015 03:10 AM)
    @Bam: Nagai’s lighter stuff is hella’ fun too though, shin mazinger is my favourite mech show =P And Dororon-enma showed that even crude humour in his hands could work. I don’t think I was ready for violence jack when I was younger but I know I was still half-drawn to it because I kept switching back to the channel it was on.

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