viernes, 1 de julio de 2016

xxxHolic [Review]

Title: xxxHolic [xxxホリック]
Author: CLAMP
Genre: Sobrenatural, comedy, drama.
Original run: July,2003 – Frebruary 2011
Volumes: 19

English edition:
Price: 10.15 dlls
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Translator: Anthony Gerard
Buy vol 1: Amazon


xxxHolic is one of the most iconic mangas of CLAMP because it’s the link between all their stories.

            In case you don’t know them, CLAMP is a group of four mangakas, Tsubaki Nekoi, Satsuki Igarashi, Mokona Apapa, and Nanase Ohkawa. They’ve created some works with worldwide popularity including Card Captor Sakura, Magic Knight Rayearth, X 1999, and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, just to name a few. Their stories are known for their intriguing and complex plots.

            xxxHolic is my favorite manga created by CLAMP, before saying the reason I will tell you what the story is about.

Yuuko Ichihara.
      xxxHolic tells us the story of Kimihiro Watanuki, a high school student that has the ability to see supernatural stuff, something that has made him miserable. One day, while escaping from a youkai (Japanese demon) he finds a store where he meets a mysterious woman named Yuuko Ichihara, a witch that grants wishes. Watanuki wishes to stop seeing supernatural stuff, but Yuuko tells him that he must pay with something of equal value, and in his case his payment will be working for her until his work becomes equal to his wish. That is where Watanuki’s adventures begin; he often has to confront paranormal stuff while working for Yuuko.

            The manga begins following the premise presented in the first chapter, Watanuki must do errands for Yuuko, and because of those errands, he starts to get
closer to the supernatural world instead of get away from it. The first volumes follow the same structure, a customer goes to the shop and in few chapters they grant their wish. Most of the problems the customers have are related to habits.

            In the second volume this story intertwines with Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, a really intelligent marketing strategy because in order to fully understand the story, you must read both mangas. The story continues and more important characters appear, and also they make some references to Tsubasa, but it doesn’t lose the “customer - grant wish” structure.
Characters of xxxHolic and Tsubasa.

            Maybe my explanation of the story makes it sound boring, but it is not. The manga hooks you
Watanuki and a "Kitsune" (japanese
folklore creature)
instantly because it has a lot off Japanese folklore, it mentions legends, mythical creatures, and superstitions that let the reader know more about Japanese folklore, and if you compare it with your own culture, it’s really interesting. Also, most of the problems the customers have, or the customers themselves are relatable, you can relate yourself or someone you know to those problems and characters.

            The story has a perfect balance between comedy and supernatural stuff, when things are really quiet, something interesting happens, or when the story is getting too dark, some comedy appears to light up the story.

            One of the main things I like of this manga are the characters, everyone has different personalities and an interesting background story, also, as the plot advances there is character development, a development that may pass unperceived at first, but in the final chapters you notice how all characters changed after making certain decisions. The character that changed the most is the protagonist, Watanuki. At first he was really noisy and annoying, I actually didn’t like him, but now he is my favorite, he matured a lot.

            There is also relationship development between the characters, some characters didn’t get along at first end up understanding each other, or characters that started as secondary characters end up having a more important role in the story or help a certain character to develop.

            The only issue I have with this manga is the art style; don’t get me wrong, I like it, but
Looooong legs.
sometimes the characters seem to be too long and slender, especially Watanuki and Yuuko, their proportions feel off. Leaving that aside, I really like the backgrounds and costume design, something that outstands in the covers and the artbook.

             As the plot advances it gets more complex and becomes one with Tsubasa, yup, you HAVE to read both mangas, it doesn’t matter the order thou, but I recommend to read this one first or at the same time (though I read Tsubasa first).

            I must admit I didn’t like the ending at all, it wasn’t what I was expecting, I was hoping for something happier, but no. Although the story seemed to have a definitive finale, in 2013 a sequel titled xxxHolic: Rei started, it’s still on going.

The manga has two anime series, xxxHolic, and xxxHolic Kei, two OVA series xxxHolic Shunmiku, and xxxHolic Rou, they adapt most of the manga, or at least the most important of it. It also has a live action drama of 8 episodes, an original animated movie titled xxxHolic Manatsu no Yo no Yume, and a novel.

           xxxHolic has an interesting and complex story, it lets you imagine all kind of theories in your mind of what will happen; it also has intriguing and diverse characters and a mysterious feeling that makes you want to know what’s next. I usually don’t read mangas of more than 60 chapters, because I think it’s too long, but I couldn’t stop reading this one. I highly recommend it, each case it presents is unique and relatable, and also it shows a lot of Japanese folklore.

Cover for volume 19.

Have you read it? Let me know your opinion in the comments :) 

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