The Anime Primer

Capsule Descriptions of Anime: X

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X   xxxHolic


Kamui Shirou returns to Tokyo after a long absence to seek out a mystical sword, a bitter, cold young man almost unrecognisable to his childhood friends Kotori and Fuuma Monou. All three will become caught up in a war for the future of the Earth between two factions of supernaturally powered men and women - the Dragons of Heaven and the Dragons of Earth - a war in which Kamui is the most important factor. It is destiny that he should choose one side - but whichever he chooses will produce the most dire consequences.

Based on the classic (yet currently unfinished) shoujo manga epic from CLAMP (Cardcaptor Sakura, Chobits), X is a grandiose, morbid tale of dark shoujo angst with super powers, where every character has an in-depth, depressing backstory to go with their incredible magical fights. There is little levity throughout, but it hardly matters given the calibre of the production - the animation is simply fantastic for a TV show, and most episodes put you through the emotional wringer. There are some recurring characters from CLAMP's previous work Tokyo Babylon which it may help to have some familiarity with, although it's not entirely necessary.

The TV series is available on 8 discs from Geneon in Region 1 (there are now 2 4-disc sets available at a slightly lower price-point), and an inferior Region 4 release on 6 discs from Shock.

(This entry deals with the X TV series - there is also an older movie version available from Manga Entertainment which, despite excellent animation, attempts unsuccessfully to compress 18 volumes or so of manga into an hour and a half of film, and thus fails quite spectacularly.)

[Entry by Andrew Hollingbury]


The anime interpretation of CLAMP's story xxxHolic is a marvelously witty and stylishly animated look into the old saying, "Be careful of what you wish for, because you might get it." High school student Watanuki is not much different from most other guys his age. He just wants to outdo his rival Doumeki, and to win the affection of a pretty girl named Himawari who is in his class. But the "difference" in Watanuki is a bit more "different" than normal, because Watanuki attracts and can see spirits, but he can't keep them from bothering him.

This "attraction" eventually brings Watanuki to the very mysterious house/shop of an agelessly beautiful witch named Yuuko, who grants wishes for a price. Yuuko takes a fancy to Watanuki and offers to eventually rid him of his problem, but for the price of having Watanuki become an unpaid servant in Yuuko's very strange household. Watanuki very quickly learns that there are many things in the world that are much stranger than the spirits that pester him, as he gains both an education in life, and an odd sort of "family" to replace the one that he doesn't have.

The xxxHolic anime excels at mixing humor, horror, romance and pathos in surprising doses and patterns. The cast of characters are likeable and intriguing, and the stories skillfully reiterate classical morality tales. Add to this a very enjoyable sound track and theme songs, and the result is a fantasy series that is memorable and demands re-watching.

[Entry by Dave Baranyi]

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