The world is filled with people and everyone has a wish. People always want the unattainable and oftentimes embark on dangerous journeys to fulfill their wish. Many disregard things to get what they want, like morals or even love ones. xxxHolic tells the story of these wishers and how their wishes are granted. Created by CLAMP and animated by Production I.G., Holic centers around a young boy name Watanuki Kimihiro who has two notable talents: a great cook, and the ability to see spirits. Just as people take notice of his fine meals, the spirits notice Watanuki as well. They often chase him to devour him or perhaps just for a little exercise. Whatever the case, he hates his second talent. On such a chase, Watanuki happens upon a little shop in the middle of two giant skyscrapers. Something about the shop draws him in; perhaps how the ancient building sticks out in the urban environment. Yet no one but him seems to notice it. Watanuki soon finds out from the shop owner, Ichihara Yuuko, that there is no coincidence – only the inevitable.
Holic is a mixture of slice-of-life and the supernatural genre. A spooky feeling fills every episode that made my skin crawl on a few occasions. Of course, my heart is the size of a humming bird so I’m easily excited. I guess a good way to describe each episode is a scary story told around the campfire. Some aren’t that scary, but some will freak you out! Things usually start out innocently, then everything is revealed to be much darker. Fans of CLAMP will also get a few extra laugh because this series is littered with reference, objects, and people from many of CLAMP’s other works such as Card Captor Sakura, Chobits, and Tsubasa Chronicles. As a whole, the series is most strongly linked to Tsubasa Chronicles where Sakura and Li make a few guest appearance. However, Holic can definitely stand on its own with its own charm, memorable characters, and of course amazing stories.
What I love most about CLAMP aside from their great story telling abilities is the diverse art styles. Each of their series have their own look and Holic is no different. Taking inspiration from Ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock print), the artwork is heavily outlined and filled with a solid color. Intricate details are usually concentrated only on a few elements and not everything on the page. Interestingly, the Ukiyo-e style is the backbone to the Japanese “manga style.” In a sense, this animated series is seeing a manga panel coming to life. Along with the style is the distortion of proportion to show emphasis. You’ll notice that sometimes the character’s hands are a little bigger than it’s suppose to be. Storywise, this series is different from their other works in that the show is composed of many short stories strung together. Usually it is one omnipotent story that drives the plot onward. Here each story can stand alone, but at the same time provide insights and clues to a central theme for the show.
Funny how once a wish is fulfilled, happiness doesn’t always follow. Holic cleverly explores this notion inside and out. The show explains how a wish is created, what happen when it is formed, and how one can go about achieving their wish. Some cheats, steals, or lie their way to get what they want. Others do nothing, but doing nothing is also doing something and a consequence follows that action as well. Finally, others happen upon Yuuko’s shop and she can grant the wish…for an appropriate price. Equivalent exchange is one of the central theme to the show. What you put in is what you get. Sometimes what you give up to grant your wish ends up destroying you, but that’s the price. Another central theme is fate, but it is described as something malleable. Destiny is not carved in stone, but instead more like directions on a map. How one get to the destination also shapes the result and that route can always be changed. Holic is a sophisticated show that not only entertain, but also has some important lessons to tell. A clever blend of the paranormal and the mundane world create a landscape both unfamiliar and relatable. Definitely one to check out.