×××Holic (×××ホリック Horikku?, in-universe officially typeset xXxHoLic), pronounced "holic" is an ongoing seinen manga written and illustrated by the group of manga authors known as Clamp. The series, which ties in strongly with another of Clamp's series, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, revolves around Kimihiro Watanuki, a high-school student disturbed by his ability to see the supernatural and meets Yūko Ichihara, a witch who owns a wish-granting shop. Watanuki requests to have his ability to see spirits removed and as payment, Yūko hires him to work in the shop, resulting in his encounter with various supernatural encounters. Clamp came with the idea of xxxHolic when wanting to create a series who would link with the others they made.
xxxHolic has been serialized in Kodansha's Young Magazine periodically from 2003 until March 2010 before moving to Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine in June 2010. The manga is published in tankōbon volumes under the KC Deluxe label and a total of eighteen volumes have been released currently. It is currently published in the United States by Del Rey Manga and in the United Kingdom by Tanoshimi. In 2005, Production I.G adapted the manga into an animated film, which was followed by two TV anime series, and various original video animations (OVAs) with one still meant to be released. Funimation licensed the film and the first TV series in North America, and released both of them in DVD as well as blu-ray. A light novel and a video game have also been released based on the series.
The manga has been well-received by both Japanese and English readers, having appeared in various rankings of bestselling books. Critics have generally gave praise to the series due to the way supernatural elements are played as well as the artwork used for the illustrations. Although the anime also got positive reviews, it has been criticized because of its animation and the different stories found in each episode.
The series' plot focuses on Kimihiro Watanuki, a high school student plagued by yōkai and ayakashi, spirits with a strong attraction to him. The spirits are invisible to others and encounters with them are extremely troublesome. When he stumbles into a shop that grants wishes, however, events in his life promise to become more unusual. The shop is owned by Yūko Ichihara, a mysterious witch of many names and esoteric renown. For a price, she offers to grant Watanuki's wish to be rid of the spirits. The price, according to Yūko, must be of equal value and so, as payment, he temporarily becomes Yūko's part-time employee. Watanuki's job consists of small errands dealing with the supernatural and household chores. His love interest, Himawari Kunogi, and "rival", Shizuka Dōmeki, occasionally join him in his work as per Yūko's request. The three become increasingly close despite Watanuki's annoyance with Dōmeki. Although Watanuki becomes happy with the new friendships he makes, he becomes concerned about Yūko, promising he will try to grant her wish.
As the series continues, Watanuki becomes more familiar and adept with the spiritual world with each supernatural encounter. A crossing plotline with the concurrent series Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle reveals that Yūko is actually on the verge of death, and her personal time was accidentally frozen by a powerful wizard, Clow Reed, keeping her alive for ages. As the magic binding her in time begins to dissolve, Yūko's ability to maintain the shop's magical existence fades and she eventually passes on, telling Watanuki that he will finally be free of his ability to see demons. However, Watanuki chooses to retain this ability and his now fully-grown magical powers in order to maintain the shop's existence and take care of it as the new owner. Further cross-over plotlines reveal that Watanuki was created as a result of a wish to turn back time by a shop client, Syaoran, a dimension-crossing adventurer. While Syaoran was able to go back in time, Watanuki was created to replace his presence in the natural timeline. Watanuki's existence relies on his connections with the people around him, including Yūko, Dōmeki, and Himawari. As the series reaches its conclusion, Syaoran and Watanuki become trapped in a void as a result of the time paradox created by Syaoran's wish and the two must pay a price to become free and maintain the natural order of the universe. Syaoran must forever travel through dimensions, never stopping, while Watanuki offers to stay inside the shop forever, never leaving, and becomes the new owner, granting wishes until the day he can meet Yūko again. As time progresses, Watanuki continues working in the shop, frequently visited by Dōmeki.
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xxxHolic was conceived when the group Clamp wanted to link the supernatural and fantasy series they made with a realistic one. This idea was further worked with the creation of the character of Yuko Ichihara who would bridge the stories from xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. The art style of the manga draws on the influence of ukiyo-e wood prints. When making a chapter composed of about twenty pages, Clamp takes around four days to make the artwork, the time differing with the ones from other series they made. When first presenting the idea of running xxxHolic linked with Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, although Nanase Ohkawa expressed concerns for the strain the weekly pace of such a series would place on the artists, she whole-heartedly approved. In accordance with Ohkawa's desire for each to have a well organized story, Clamp avoids putting references between the two stories too frequently.
Written and illustrated by Clamp, xxxHolic has been serialized in Kodansha's journal Young Magazine periodically from 2003 until March 2010 before moving to Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine in June 2010. A one-shot chapter of xxxHolic was also published in Weekly Shōnen Magazine in its June 2010 issue featuring a crossover with Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. The chapters were also published in tankobon volumes under the KC Deluxe label. Starting volume 16, the series is retitled xxxHolic Rō (×××HOLiC・籠?, lit. "xxxHolic Cage"), but the number of chapters follow the previous ones. The first volume was released on July 25, 2003, and currently seventeen volumes have been published. xxxHolic was one of the first four manga series licensed for English release in North America by Del Rey Manga, and was acquired together with Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Negima!: Magister Negi Magi, and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle in January 2004. Del Rey published its first volume on April 27, 2004, and as of October 26, 2010, sixteen volumes were released. The series has also been licensed for an English-language release by Tanoshimi, who released the first nine volumes in the United Kingdom with the first one on August 3, 2006.
Production I.G produced an animated film of the series titled xxxHolic: A Midsummer Night's Dream which premiered on August 20, 2005 alongside The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom. The DVD version was released on November 24, 2006. In the film, Yūko receives a request from a woman to help her back into her mansion, which does not allow her to enter. Yūko says that since Watanuki was the one who brought the client to her, he should be the one to grant her wish and therefore is brought along with her and Dōmeki. Yūko also attends because she has been invited to the mansion with many other famous collectors by the same letter, with the mansion filled with strange rooms and mysterious letters telling its guests what to do in place of a host.
The film was selected as a finalist for the Annecy International Animated Film Festival 2006 in the Feature Films category with other four nominees: Asterix and the Vikings, Origin: Spirits of the Past, Wallace and Gromit, and the award winner, Renaissance.
The anime adaptations of xxxHolic were produced by Production I.G. The first season of TV anime adaptation of xxxHolic began airing on Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) on April 6, 2006 in Japan and ended on September 28, 2006, with 24 episodes in total. Both the film and the anime series are directed by Tsutomu Mizushima. Ageha Ohkawa, Clamp's director and main scriptwriter, is executive producer of the TV series. The second season, xxxHolic: Kei (xxxHOLiC◆継 Horikku: Kei?, lit. "xxxHolic: Sequel"), began airing on TBS on April 3, 2008 in Japan and ended on June 26, 2008, with 13 episodes in total. The main staff and cast remains the same as in the first season. The first season's episodes were also collected in eight DVD volumes published between July 26, 2007 and February 21, 2008, while two DVD boxes were released on August 25, 2010 and October 27, 2010. The second's ones were released in seven DVD volumes between June 25, 2008 and December 17, 2008, while a DVD box will be released on January 26, 2011.
The first season was licensed by Funimation Entertainment in July 2007. A total of six DVDs were released between March 25, 2008 and October 21, 2008 featuring the first season's episodes, while a DVD box was released on July 28, 2009. On January 26, 2009, the series made its North American debut on the Funimation Channel.
A two-DVD original video animation, entitled xxxHOLiC Shunmuki (xxxHOLiC 春夢記?, lit. "xxxHOLiC Spring Dreams Chronicle") was also released. The first DVD for this OVA was released on February 17, 2009 with the 14th volume of the Japanese manga. The second one was released alongside volume 15 on June 26, 2009. Another OVA titled xxxHolic Rō (×××HOLiC・籠?, lit. "xxxHolic Cage") was shipped with the 17th volume of the xxxHolic manga on April 23, 2010. A second xxxHolic Rō OAD titled xxxHolic: Rō Adayume (×××HOLiC・籠 あだゆめ?, lit. "xxxHolic Cage Selfish Dream") is slated for released in March 2011, and will be included with the nineteenth volume from the manga.
There were also several other releases in the franchise. A novel titled ×××HOLiC ANOTHERHOLiC Landolt-Ring Aerosol (×××HOLiC アナザーホリック ランドルト環エアロゾル Horikku Anazāhorikku Randoruto-Kan Earozoru?), was written by Nisio Isin and published in Japan on August 1, 2006. It features four stories with the first one being an adaptation of the series' first chapter. The novel includes original artwork by Clamp. Del Rey published an English translation of xxxHOLiC: AnotherHOLiC, released on October 28, 2008.
Several fanbooks have been released in Japan. The first is Gekijōban ×××HOLiC Official Fanbook (劇場版 ×××HOLiC OFFICIAL FANBOOK?) and was released on August 17, 2005 with an ISBN 9784063720495. It was released in English by Del Rey on October 27, 2009 as "The Official xxxHOLiC Guide". TV Animation ×××HOLiC Extra Official Guide was released on May 17, 2006, with ISBN 9784063721515 and focused in information from the anime adaptation. Another manga guidebook is Shinpan ×××HOLiC Dokuhon (新版 ×××HOLiC読本?, "Brand New ×××HOLiC Reading-book"), which was released on November 17, 2006 with ISBN 9784063722260.
An adventure game by Marvelous Entertainment for the PlayStation 2 video game console was released in Japan on August 9, 2007, named ×××HOLiC ~Watanuki no Izayoi Sowa~ (×××HOLiC 〜四月一日の十六夜草話〜?, "Watanuki's Sixteen-day-old Moon Grass Story").
Two soundtrack albums were released for the franchise. The first one is xxxHolic: A Midsummer Night's Dream Original Soundtrack which was released on August 18, 2005 by Pony Canyon. It contains over twenty tracks from the series' film. The second soundtrack, titled xxxHolic Sound File, was released August 22, 2008 by S.E.N.S.Project. The CD includes thirty-four soundtracks, various of them from the PlayStation 2 game as well as from the TV series. xxxHolic also makes a crossover with Tsubasa in the drama CDs series 'Private High School Holitsuba (「私立堀鐔学園」 Shiritsu Horitsuba Gakuen?) which was released in three volumes.
The series has sold well in Japan with its thirteenth volume being 43rd in the top 50 manga sold in Japan in 2008. The series' debut in North America was also successful with its first volume ranking sixth in Nielsen Bookscan's list of bestselling volumes during its first week. Volume 13 also hit #6 on the New York Times list of bestselling manga shortly after its launch in April 2009. In Mania Entertainment's "Best Manga Awards For 2005", xxxHolic was the winner in the category "Best Mature".
The xxxHolic manga series has also been well-received by various publications with Mania Entertainment's Megan Lavey praising its focus on the people's thoughts, as well as its comedy. She also found its connection with Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle appealing due to events being depicted from different points of view, persuading readers to read both series. Michael Aronson from Manga Life stated the series' introduction had potential to be worth reading due to its episodic nature and found some of its characters to be "gripping", though Dan Polley, also from Manga Life, commenting that Watanuki "does seem a little bit weak to be the lead character". On the other hand, Matthew Alexander from Mania Entertainment stated that Watanuki's character was well developed across the series, becoming more appealing. Joy Kim, another writer from Manga Life, praised how despite its episodic nature, the narrative brought by Watanuki's interactions with other characters made every panel "loaded with significance". Carlo Santos of Anime News Network liked how later volumes of the series "[outdid] itself by breaking into the world of dreams", compared to initial volumes that focused on the interaction between humans and spirit. Active Anime found that its emotional tension as well as its connection with Tsubasa some of the main reason why the series is worth reading. Not having read Tsubasa, Matthew Alexander felt that the addition of elements from the series into xxxHolic was well-made, as it started to suggest a connection between the two series' protagonists. However, some critics found the series' connection with Tsubasa to be confusing to the point that only readers from both series would understand some explanations.
Regarding events happening from volume 15 onwards, Active Anime's Holly Ellingwood called them "tragic, inspiring, and beautifully, breathtakingly sad", enjoying the way Yuko's fate was revealed, but wondering how it would continue. Carlo Santos stated that although the series lost its "star performer", it kept being appealing due to the fact that Watanuki replaced her and found most of volume 16 as "an exercise in getting back on one's feet after a heartbreaking loss, and it is all the more inspirational for that." Matthew Alexander from Mania was more critical to these events due to the how it became "an ultra serious downer" due to Yuko's loss and the lack of its recurring comedy. Additionally, he cited the events regarding Yuko's disappearance and later death were not explained in xxxHolic, stating that only readers from Tsubasa would understand such events. The artwork has been praised because of its "striking designs and patterns built into the images", various notable traits from Clamp, as well as for being "equally memorable and evocative". On the other hand, it has also been criticized for being "less visually busy than Tsubasa" due to some pages lacking backgrounds, though critic Michael Aronson for Manga Life stated that the panels' composition is able to make up for such issues.
The anime adaptation of xxxHolic has received mixed reception from different publications, with Anime News Network's Casey Brienza liking how its first season is faithful to the original material. However, she found that some of Funimation's subtitles in its first episodes to be confusing, advising people to watch the English dubbed version instead. In a bigger overview of the first season, Carlo Santos, also of Anime News Network, found issues with the animation's unintentional "super deformed" moments in which the characters' limbs became notably longer. He also criticized some of its episodes' storytelling as it "falls flat" due to trivial issues discussed. Holly Ellingwood from Active Anime called the series "one of the most distinctly imaginative" because of the combination of supernatural elements and comedy. Pointing to the animation quality, Ellingwood found each character distinctive and the animation issues to be comical. DVD Talk's Todd Douglass Jr. gave praise to the themes touched upon in the anime series. Despite giving disapproval to its episodic nature, Douglass found the characters appealing due to their development over the series. IGN writer Jeff Harris found its start "tolerable", stating that fans from action series may not be interested by xxxHolic despite its potential. Like Santos, he commented on its animation, citing similar issues with the design, noting some moments lacked the fluidity seen in other parts of the series. He also criticized the blank background choices, questioning if they were truly artistic decisions or done to save on animation costs. Chris Beveridge of Mania gave a mixed review for the animation, agreeing with Santos and Harris, but still enjoyed the animation style, concluding that "everything about the visual design of the show is very appealing." Analyzing its episodic nature, Beveridge enjoyed the format, and praised the series' ability to strike a balance between light and dark parts of its stories.
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|40x40px||Wikimedia Commons has media related to [[commons: Category:xxxHolic
- XxxHolic (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- xxxHolic: A Midsummer Night's Dream and xxxHolic TV series at Production I.G's Official site
- xxxHolic and Tsubasa anime at Funimation Entertainment's Official site
- xxxHolic ~Watanuki no Izayoi Sowa~ official game site (Japanese)
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