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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Xxxholic: Sixth Collection
Xxxholic: Sixth Collection
FUNimation // Unrated // October 21, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted October 30, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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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, and it's safe to say that it embodies all of the team's strengths and weaknesses.

xxxHolic follows the exploits of Watanuki, 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 fifth installment starts out with Watanuki exploring the meaning of happiness and what it takes for others to be happy with life and their choices. It was an interesting episode, but the one that followed it involving a woman and a photograph was equally intriguing as it offered a nice character study. The Yuko crew even took out some time in the volume to have a nice little snowball fight, which Watanuki won, but Yuko tricked him out of a really good prize.

Much like the ones that came before it, this final volume begins with a standalone story that focuses on its characters. In the first episode here Watanuki basically dismisses superstitions and pretends that they don't exist. Imagine his surprise when these superstitions start to haunt him. This is a commonly themed episode for this show and Watanuke once again finds himself in the middle of events that bring out his goofy side. In all honesty it's not a bad episode, but rather it's one that simply could have been better as it displays some of the series' weaknesses.

The next two episodes actually bring a close to this season. Rather than give too much away I will say that the ending storyline is actually very similar to some of the others that came before it. Because of that the conclusion lacks impact and it feels very dry overall. Granted there's another season of episodes on the way, but one would have expected the ending to be a little, well, better. Once that's over the final disc here is actually a character piece for Watanuki and it sees the boy at a much younger age, learning to cope with the spirits that he sees. This episode was probably the best on this volume, but even so it's still kind of fluffy in terms of weight.

There's plenty to like about xxxHolic, but it's definitely a show that has missed some steps along the way. The episodic nature of it with a strong focus on characters creates an imbalance, especially when two-part episodes are concerned. With that being said there's still plenty to enjoy about the show, but it's one that will be most appreciated by CLAMP fans. Consider it recommended overall, but if you have never seen a CLAMP series before you may want to just rent it first.

The DVD:

Video:

xxxHolic's sixth 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.

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 last volume of xxxHolic's first season.

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 closing volume for the first season has some entertaining episodes, but they simply don't equal the stuff that came before it. If you've been following the show to date consider it an easy recommendation, but if you haven't seen the series yet you may want to rent it first to see if it's your cup of tea.


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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