A few days ago I was reading through my favorites list of blog posts in WordPress reader, and I happened upon a rather unexpected post from Crow at Crow’s World of Anime (click button below to read Crow’s post). They featured an anime from the early 2000’s that I haven’t seen mentioned in a pretty long time. The paranormal anime XXXHolic by Clamp! This creepy, cool series has a completely different art style from Clamp’s earlier work. It has over the top characters, cute and mysterious characters, returning characters that are quite different from their past iterations, and of course Yuuko the trans-dimensional witch! I was so thrilled to read Crow’s post that I didn’t comment on Crow’s post once or twice, but three times! And there was still so much more I wanted to say about one of my favorite Clamp series. So I honestly didn’t have a choice, I had to write this post! There’s just no stopping a overjoyed Otaku that speed types and loves to share!
Watanuki has a problem, he can see ghosts and they won’t leave him alone. If they aren’t chasing after him then they’re hanging onto him or otherwise making his life hard. One day he wanders into a wish granting shop owned by the hard drinking and swindling Yuuko. In a matter of moments poor Watanuki gets talked into working part-time at this strange shop, in return Yuko vows to solve his ghost problem.
The animation for Holic was a step away from Clamp’s standard art style up to that point. The character designs for earlier Clamp anime series like Card Captor Sakura, Chobits, and Angelic Layer stayed with industry norms and kept character dimensions of height and width fairly standard with only a slight Clamp flare. Yet with Holic, Clamp significantly deviated from more cookie cutter animation and this series’ character designs featuring extremely lanky and slim limbs with more rounded faces. This more distorted character design works really well for the creepier feel of the series and is almost an anime version of characters like Jack Skellington and Sally from the classic cute, goth stop-motion movie The Nightmare Before Christmas.
There’s no doubt about it, the main character of Holic, Kimihiro Watanuki, is a bit over the top. He’s a very excitable high schooler and will often burst into an angry rant, a shocked gasp, or a gleeful smirk at the slightest prompt. Nearly every expression Watanuki has is an over expression, but that’s what makes him so fun. The viewer is encouraged to see Watanuki as his magical employer Yuuko sees him, a source of entertainment that is fun to tease just to see how he will react. So, laugh inducing or cringe worthy, Watanuki is definitely the center of attention no matter what the situation.
Two characters that don’t get a whole lot of focus, and never really even get a back story, yet are present in nearly every episode is Maru and Moro. These two little helpers at the wish granting shop look like pink and blue haired little girls, and are just as playful as children, yet it’s never clear if these two are even human. Yuuko has hinted that they are older than they look and oddly they can never leave the land that surrounds Yuuko’s shop. What is clear is they play an important role as accomplices for Mokona antics, cheerleaders for Yuuko flamboyant plans, and mischeivous little sister figures for Watanuki nurturing side. A great deal of the anime’s humor just wouldn’t have quite the punch line without Maru and Moro’s added commentary.
Mokona is a reoccurring character in a variety of Clamp manga and anime series. From Magic Knights RayEarth’s convenient item carrying guide that turns into a pop tent, to Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle’s pragmatic feather finding helper, Mokona has taken on many roles in the Clamp universe. Yet none of the Mokonas are quite like the fluffy black creature in Holic! Instead of toting around loot for adventurers or helping find bits of a broken soul, Holic’s Mokona is the prank pulling drinking buddy of Yuuko. This surly little fluff ball is quick to boss Watanuki around, and join in with Yuuko to demand more snacks. Oddly, though Holic’s Mokona isn’t the most friendly version, they are the Mokona with the most personality and character out of all the different appearances.
My favorite character without a doubt is definitely Yuuko. She is the owner of the wish granting shop, Watanuki’s fickle employer, and the trans-dimensional witch that sends the cast of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle on their world hopping adventure. She’s also a gleeful drinker, a tyrant of snacks, and a force of chaotic energy. What makes Yuuko so cool, is she knows who she is and doesn’t make excuses for her actions. Whether they have positive or negative results, she’s never uncertain or ashamed of her decisions. She sticks to her guns even if she knows a situation won’t end well.
If you already love Clamp’s paranormal anime experiment, XXXHolic, and want to see more series like it, you might enjoy: Natsume Yujincho, Malevolent Spirits: Mononogatari, and Raven of the Inner Palace!
4 thoughts on “When Clamp Gets Creepy!”
I love the art on this.
I also loved “Raven of the Inner Palace” but I fear it doesn’t hit the necessary tropes to get it renewed.
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Yeah, it’s too bad. I was really looking forward to a second season of Raven of the Inner Palace, but I don’t think it’s coming.
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Holic is definitely a series that stands out for the unique art style and quirky, likable characters. I greatly enjoyed the first and second series when they came out. Reading this post makes me want to watch it again. For all the good shows out this season, few strike me as in the same league as xxxHolic.
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Totally! Holic is such a unique anime! Yay, I’m so glad this post has inspired you to re-watch this awesome series. You should definitely check out Crow’s posts about Holic. They’re making an episode by episode review series that really makes me feel so nostalgia for the anime.
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