xxxHolic

26 Jul

xxxHolic: Review by Seema Kakade

There are some Manga that are so popular, that they don’t even need an introduction, let alone a review. Yet, I’ve seen a lot of people shunning away from these amazing pieces of works either due to a misleading title or a shoujo-ish outer appearance. Case in point – xxxHolic.
So for all those who are lingering around this manga without enough confidence to start reading it, I’m here to give you a brief overview of this cult classic.


xxxHolic, also simply known as Holic, is a fantasy, psychological and philosophical story by the famous group of manga artists CLAMP. Since the story happens to be a crossover series of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle and Card Captor Sakura, many incidents in the story might throw you off the course, but I assure you, that you can totally understand the story even if you don’t know squat about the aforementioned stories. So, without further ado, let me give you a brief introduction of the story.
Plot – The story opens with a young high school boy, Watanuki Kimihiro, who has supernatural powers to see demons and spirits (no, it’s not the usual cliché story of saving the world; there’s much more to it in this one!) being, as usual, followed, trapped and tormented by a bunch of spirits, while he does everything in is power, which is next to nothing, to get rid of them. While he is busy performing this feat, he ends up landing in front of a strange, old styled building that is squeezed between two modern sky scrapers.
xxxHolic 1 Cover

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While he is contemplating what the building is doing in such a strange place, he is involuntarily dragged inside the building, where he meets a strange woman, who calls herself a fortune teller and the owner of the fortune telling shop, which is what the strange building happens to be. This woman, who introduces herself as Ichihara Yuuko, a wish granter, strikes a deal with Watanuki that she’ll help him get rid of his power for a certain price. Before Watanuki can contemplate what is happening to him, the deal is sealed and as a price, Watanuki becomes Yuuko’s servant.  

xxxHolic
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Story – That’s just the beginning of the story as it takes you into a rollercoaster ride of strange events that slowly change Watanuki’s life as well as his personality, as he begins to understand and discover little truths of his life and finally realize where he really stands.
So what is so philosophical about the story, I hear thee ask? The philosophical part about the story is the fact that you can clearly see Watanuki growing as a person from a nagging and slightly self-centered person to a truly responsible, mature and an understanding individual. Since anything more than this is going to give away a lot of spoilers, let’s just say this series is a feast for those with an appetite for intellectual stories and you would definitely not want to miss it! 


The story manages to remain on track and does a surprisingly good job at blending itself with the story of Tsubasa Chronicle and not to mention, maintain the right timeline without giving away the spoiler for the latter series and what’s more, everything makes sense in the end! Now that’s what I call a planned story! I’d give it for the sheer lack of possibility of being able to predict absolutely anything in the story. Heck, it doesn’t even give you enough time to get over one shock and it drops the next bomb! 
Center Spread – Watanuki spots Yūko for the first time

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The story does go off track now and then, which I feel was necessary to make sure the story isn’t too heavy to digest. It’s like a light breeze that blows in once in a while that pulls you out of all the tension before pushing you into another crazy rollercoaster ride.


The story also gives you little tidbits on the values of life now and then, which is a perfect addition for those who love a bit of intellectual essence in the story, which is why I put this in the philosophical genre.

Characters – Characters are undoubtedly mature and not your usual moe or tsundere characters seen everywhere these days. So, this one’s a safe haven for those who are sick of them – yes that includes me too. So how are the characters so unique? For starters, you have a character like Watanuki who explodes like a fire cracker at every little thing and is yet, extremely understanding and happens to be an excellent listener. He just does not tolerates anything that doesn’t make sense, which is why he explodes!
Watanuki meets Yūko with Maru & Moro 
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And there are characters like Yuuko, who is all-knowing and extremely intellectual, yet, fun loving and bullying Watanuki happens to be her favorite hobby. Apart from these two main characters, there’s Himawari -Watanuki worships the ground she walks on, who is an extremely strong girl with a strong will to continue to keep utmost faith in herself and keep moving forward no matter what life throws in her way. Her outwardly cute personality if effective in hiding the strong person that she is, on the inside, which Watanuki begins to adore even more.

There are loads of other supporting characters like Doumeki , Mokona and Doumeki’s grandfather who continues to support Watanuki from the sidelines and several characters from Tsubasa Chronicle that make occasional appearance in this manga. I’d give it an 7 on 10 for the uniqueness of the characters alone.

Art – Character design, as expected from CLAMP, is unique and exceptional. Well, this might not exactly be a treat for gory lovers, but the delicate and elegant appearances of the characters fits the feel of the story perfectly. It’s also quite evident that the manga artists have adopted a slightly Indian feel to the characters, at least on the covers that just makes it so much more enthralling.


 The overall art has a very enchanting and fantasy feel to it and occasionally, you might come across art work that seems to be inspired by the traditional Japanese ukiyo-e wood prints style of art and a little bit of traditional Japanese and Chinese art style thrown into the mix that mokona, the character designer of CLAMP, churned into the unique art style that you get to savor in the story. Apparently, art was also inspired by Alphonse Mucha, who Mokona is a huge fan of. Apart from that, you can also notice that the art style is very similar to the one that is incorporated in CLAMP’s previous work RG Veda, but this is one unique style that you would fall in love with. Everything from the enchanting smokes that is so ukiyo-e, to the gorgeous detailing of the outfits and the alluring waves in which the hair flows has a way to pull you into the world of ancient Japanese fantasy. 

All-in-all I’d give it 9 on 10 for everything ranging from the originality of the story to the character design and the overall enjoyment factor. I’ll have to take away the one point for the fact that the story kind of drifts away from the main story once in a while, which never made me complain though.

xxxHolic 2: Cover
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One Response to “xxxHolic”

  1. WWW.ChiCha.in September 12, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

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