I managed to find something for the letter X with xxxHOLiC! An anime about a boy who can see the supernatural in his everyday life. And it’s a real bother for him, but luckily he happens to enter the store of a peculiar woman who says she can grant his wish…
This review will only cover the first season, because I haven’t seen the second one. I thought about watching it, but decided there are so many other anime I’d like to watch, as well as all the anime I’m already currently watching, that I decided to just end with the first season, which was already a good 24 episodes.
Watanuki is a boy who for as long as he can remember, has been able to see spirits and the supernatural. From spirits clinging to him to spirits full-blown attacking him, everyday life is a challenge. One day, he finds himself drawn to a strange shop, run by a woman named Yuuko. She tells Watanuki that she can take away his ability to see spirits, in exchange for payment. Watanuki has nothing valuable enough to pay for the wish, however, so Yuuko allows him to work at her wish-granting shop until he has paid for the value of his wish.
The anime follows Watanuki in his life working for Yuuko, and all of their strange encounters from then on out.
Supernatural Slice of Life
While it’s not tagged as such on MyAnimeList, I consider xxxHOLiC a slice of life anime, because the anime is the daily life of Watanuki working at Yuuko’s shop. Each episode features a different supernatural phenomenon, whether it be an afflicted customer, or an occurance in town. While the overarching story is that Watanuki is working to pay for his wish, there isn’t much development that takes place, at least in the first season.
Which means this really is a “daily life with a twist” type of anime. We are introduced to several characters alongside Watanuki and Yuuko, and then the rest is just slice of life style episodes.
With that in mind, I’d say that xxxHOLiC is an interesting twist on slice of life anime, simply because it heavily relies on supernatural stories and elements. It’s no regular school anime, that’s for sure. Many Japanese folk tales and superstitions are introduced in this anime in the form of an affliction or spirit.
Watanuki is one of those guys who overreacts to everything. I don’t know if he fits the “male tsundere” archetype exactly, but that’s the closest I can think of. The kind of guy who has so many outbursts that you never think he is actually angry. Who always complains but never actually does anything about it. He’s not a terrible character, but he’s not my favourite type of protagonist.
His character does work well for the anime though. Watanuki is not very bright, and things go over his head all the time. But this is by design, as many of the supernatural occurrences have a mystery element to them – so Watanuki is the one who never really understands the solution until the very end. Normally Yuuko is the one who provides us with the solution, as she acts as the “know-all” detective in many ways. She usually knows the solution before the case has even begun.
I will admit though, Watanuki was my least favourite part of this anime. I didn’t mind him at first, but I didn’t like how after 24 episodes he never really changed. After witnessing so many supernatural events and working under Yuuko for so long, he never really “improved” or gained a deeper understanding of how things work. I wasn’t a fan of that, because there are moments closer to the end where you’d think Watanuki would become more used to everything that happens given how steeped he has been in the supernatural world.
The supernatural events / mysteries are really what made this anime enjoyable for me. Each episode is something different. Interesting takes on Japanese folk tales, or interesting encounters with certain spirits.. you just don’t know what’s going to happen next. I don’t want to spoil anything from the anime, but I will say that this aspect of the anime was really well done.
My favourite cases were ones involving people, and their bad habits. The anime portrays them as being afflicted by something, and we can see it appear through their vices. Watching their cases was definitely interesting, watching some people try and defend their habits, or lie about them. And I’ll mention now, not all of the cases in this anime end with happy endings..!
While Watanuki wasn’t my favourite, there were some characters that I liked. Instead of describing them, I’m just going to share some images of them here.
Zashiki-warashi (Mountain Spirit)
All three of these characters could be considered minor / supporting characters. The pipe fox in particular doesn’t even speak, its more like a cute animal that hangs around Watanuki. Himawari is probably the closest to a main character, as she appears in most episodes, although not usually for very long.
The pipe fox was my favourite “character” from the anime. It’s just too cute!
Overall, I’d say that xxxHOLiC was a pretty good anime. I enjoyed the format it used, and the supernatural theme of the anime. Most of the characters were good too, although I didn’t like Watanuki that much, and I felt like Yuuko was a bit too omniscient. The lack of progression in regards to Watanuki’s character, as well as the overarching story, were a bit of a disappointment. I would have liked to see some progression during the 24 episodes, but it didn’t feel like much had changed.
I’m going to rate xxxHOLiC a 7.5 / 10.
It’s a slightly above average anime that is fun, but has it’s issues. If you like Japanese folklore, you’ll probably like this anime though!
I’ll give xxxHOLiC the Supernatural Extravaganza award, for really championing the supernatural genre. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Japanese fables / common tales in a single anime before like this. It certainly was interesting for that reason alone.
And with anime X done, we’re moving onto anime Y!
Until next time,
Thanks for reading.