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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » xxxHOLiC: Third Collection
xxxHOLiC: Third Collection
FUNimation // Unrated // June 17, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted June 19, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
E X T R A S
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The Show:

If you have followed my reviews for a while then you already know how I feel about CLAMP. The all female manga team makes some fantastic stuff and their shows are among some of the most popular on the market today. From Chobits to Tsubasa there's just something to love about each of their efforts. The latest of which proves to be one of the best in my opinion and xxxHolic is worth a shot no matter how familiar you are with CLAMP.

Not too long ago FUNimation released a CLAMP double feature with the Tsubasa and xxxHolic movies bundled together. Considering I enjoyed Tsubasa and was relatively unfamiliar with xxxHolic this project left me salivating. With much anticipation I dove into the first volume of the show not too long ago and much to my pleasure it was every bit as good as I hoped it would be. While the first four episodes proved to be rather episodic in nature CLAMP's quality storytelling bled through each tale and set the show up with high expectations for the coming volumes.

In case you have missed the whole affair the series follows the exploits of Watanuki who is a teenage boy with a problem. It would seem that his family has strong spiritual connections and poor Watanuki finds himself in a bit of a pickle. Spirits and other worldly things have a tendency to gravitate towards Watanuki. He's a magnet of sorts that simply attracts them because for whatever reason he seems tastier than most humans. The poor kid spends his days dogged by these beings that only he can see so it's only natural that he wants nothing more than to get rid of them. As the old saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for."

Watanuki soon finds himself in the employ of Yuko, who is a mystic of some variety that hasn't' been explained quite yet. Under the guise of "jobs" Yuko exposes Watanuki to all manner of spiritual situations where his unique ability comes in handy. Along the way came another character and partner of sorts for Watanuki named Doumeki. This kid is the polar opposite of our protagonist and thanks to fate and a little help from Yuko the two become inseparable rivals and friends. Wedged in between them is Himawari who is an object of desire for Watanuki and an interesting dynamic for the show.

The last time around xxxHolic's formulaic content took off and we really got a good look at what the series had to offer. Each episode offered an interesting one-shot story that was very self-contained but offered a lot of character growth and interrelationship developments. For the third volume we receive much the same with four plots that more or less play second fiddle to CLAMP's eclectic cast. If you're familiar with some of their other shows then you'll already recognize the manner with which they bring shows together. The pacing can be kind of wonky and some stories may be ultimately forgettable but throughout it all the writing is fantastic, there is an impressive amount of depth, and the series remains entertaining.

The theme for this volume is summer as the bulk of the episodes take place during the season. The first episode is a familiar pinky problem with a potential customer who has a bad habit which is a throwback to a story from the first volume. The second and fourth episodes involve summer playtime as one has some tales of horror and the other features a day at the beach. Probably the best episode this time around is the third which has Watanuke preparing some food for Himawari only to have it eaten by Doumeki. Amidst his anger Doumeki's soul is stolen by a spirit and it's up to our intrepid hero to save his friend, no matter how mad at him he really is.

Once again xxxHolic comes out with a decent batch of episodes but they just don't feel as strong as they should be. CLAMP has an impressive ability to craft a unique story and seeing the actually story used as more of a backdrop prevents this series from realizing its true potential. It is entertaining to be sure but the drawn out pacing and forgettable tales don't do the show justice. I'm not denying the quality that is here and I do have a good time with the show but there's just something about it all that leaves a very unfulfilling sensation. Hopefully the character developments are leading to something and we'll see a larger arc in future volumes.

The DVD:

Video:

xxxHolic's second volume is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The show was produced in 2006 and it maintains a very nice look with some great designs and a high level of detail. Colors have always been a big part of CLAMP's productions and this particular series is no different thanks to the vibrant palette. The image does suffer a bit with quite a large amount of grain in just about every scene. It gives off a very fuzzy look that doesn't allow the series to pop like it should.

Audio:

Thankfully the audio presentation for this DVD is significantly better. The English and Japanese 2.0 tracks present crisp dialogue and clean sound but the English 5.1 takes the cake with the added channels. The sense of immersion for this show isn't the greatest as it's mostly a dialogue-driven program but the material that makes it to the rear channels definitely spruces up the experience. The dubbing quality for both is also exemplary and I found myself unable to choose between the two (though the 5.1 won me over).

Extras:

Some trailers, clean animations, and an image gallery are all you're going to find on the third volume of xxxHolic.

Final Thoughts:

Whether you're a fan of CLAMP stuff or not xxxHolic is an entertaining show with a very interesting concept. Each character is well-developed and the stories are written masterfully but in the end every episode feels forgettable somehow. Beyond character interactions and growth there is very little about each tale that really leaves an impression. This is the problem with a formulaic show but there's no denying that CLAMP is very successful with series such as this. It's entertaining and interesting so in the end it comes recommended.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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