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xxxHOLiC: Fifth Collection

FUNimation // Unrated // September 9, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted September 10, 2008 | E-mail the Author
The Show:

The all-female manga team CLAMP has certainly been doing well for themselves in the anime world. With a devout legion of followers on both sides of the pond CLAMP has carved out a name for themselves. From series such as Chobits to Card Capture Sakura and even Tsubasa there's no denying that each of their concepts are equally as entertaining as they are unique. For some time now we have been enjoying their latest effort, xxxHolic, as it embodies all of the team's strengths and weaknesses.

xxxHolic 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 the boy. 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.

Right away xxxHolic makes an impression thanks to the tone of the art style and presentation. CLAMP is known for elongated character designs and very uniquely crafted worlds. Both of those are characteristics that xxxHolic embodies but it's more the concept that makes this show as enticing of a nugget as it is. The characters are well-conceived and there's a lot of development scattered along their journey. Sadly after the show established itself a strong episodic formula took hold of it and from there on out it developed a "one story, one episode" mentality. This is perfectly fine for the concept, but I can't help feel that with such a rich world it would have been better served by more continuity and engrossing story arcs.

The fourth volume tinkered around with the formula a little by tying some components together and offering a tale that took two episodes to tell. With the fifth installment we are once again back to the episodic, but there is actually a nice bit of variety this time around for the show to explore.

This volume begins with an interesting character study as Watanuki explores the meaning of happiness. It's not exactly his happiness that he's looking at, but rather some random lady's. In this story the woman in question behaves in a manner that brings pain and discomfort to her life, but she seems to believe that it is bringing her happiness. Feeling something supernatural is involved here Watanuki gets her to Yuko which is another nice way to develop his character even further and show is caring side. In contrast to the focus on Watanuki, Domeki gets some time in the spotlight in the second episode here with the realization of something that leads to a confrontation of sorts with Yuko. It's interesting to say the least and adds a fine layer of depth to his character that wasn't there before. The final two episodes contrast each other nicely with one goofy and one slightly more serious storyline to follow.

Overall this installment of xxxHolic was actually more entertaining than some of the previous outings thanks mostly in part to the diverse content available on the disc. The four episodes here cover a lot of ground and the exploration of its characters simply felt better than it has lately. Because of that watching all of these episodes back to back didn't have quite the dragging on sensation that other volumes suffered from. I suppose the fact that Yuko and Watanuki have a snowball fight also helps to entertain a little more than other episodes did. Of course you just know that poor Watanuki can't really come out on top against Yuko.

If you have been watching the show to this point then you'll be pleased to know that despite the episodic content here this installment is very good. The individual stories are mostly interesting, but it's the richly developed characters that drive each of these episodes. CLAMP fans owe it to themselves to check out xxxHolic if they haven't already and if you have never seen one of their series you should give it a shot to see if it's your cup of tea.

The DVD:


xxxHolic's fifth 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 and there is some slight motion blur.


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).


Some trailers, clean animations, and an image gallery are all you're going to find on the latest 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. The overall experience of watching this show has offered some ups and downs due to watching the episodic content in bulk, but that doesn't detract from the quality really. This is a fantastic show that hits several high notes and despite the fact that it drags on occasion it's not one to be missed. This volume keeps the xxxHolic train rolling with four more episodes that fans will undoubtedly love.

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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