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Anime Review: XXXHolic (DVDs 1-3)

While my time watching anime is a mere fraction of my time reading manga, I realized I still have things to say about it! Go figure? So expect some sporadic updates like these as I share some thoughts on some recent viewings. Let’s get started with random-sporadic anime update number one shall we?

XXXHolic DVD 01

With releases that couldn’t get here fast enough for me, I’ve recently been enjoying the first three discs of XXXHolic, as released by Funimation.

Based on the manga by CLAMP, XXXHolic is a story about a boy named Watanuki who can see spirits. After trying to escape an especially persistent batch, he winds up in a mysterious shop run by the beautiful but equally mysterious, Yuko. She makes a deal with Watanuki: she will help him with his problem of seeing spirits and he in turn will work for her to pay off the debt.

Each episode works as a sort of stand-alone, with strands of continuing plot involving the lead characters. Patrons looking to have their wishes granted show up (though sometimes not intentionally) at Yuko’s shop. The witch grants their wishes but always at a price, with some more sinister than others. While only the tip of the iceberg in terms of story, it’s none the less a synopsis that works well enough for this portion of the series.

While I’m not going to go into a full-out review on the series itself, know that XXXHolic is already one of my favourite manga series and, in turn, I love the anime as well. Admittedly at times the animation left much to be desired (the occasional painfully lazy key frame scene has me cringing), but the overall style and mood of the original story is told well with the look and sound of this animated version. Great music and great voice acting. Those who (like me) were horribly disappointed with the animated version of Tsubasa, don’t fear, XXXHolic is done much better.

XXXHolic DVD 02

But these are the English DVDs after all, so what’ve them? Well there certainly aren’t much in the way of frills: you get five episodes per DVD (both subbed and dubbed), clean opening and closings and some trailers. It would’ve been nice to have some more material to justify the cost; maybe some interviews with the dub voice actors? A little expose on the manga or XXXHolic’s connection with Tsubasa? Something? Regardless, fans of the series (such as myself) will no doubt not be stopped by this and just be happy to finally own a copy.

My favourite part of these DVDs? The dub. Oh yes. I love the original voice actors, have since this series first aired; they fit the characters so wonderfully that I hear them in my mind as I read new volumes of the manga. I always watch dubs when they’re available to me though and I like them or hate them on total case-to-case basis.

When things first started on episode one, I was surprised to hear the high-pitched whine that emitted from Watanuki but goodness knows as time goes on, I’ve decided that Todd Haberkorn as the spindly, over-dramatic teen is brilliant. He gives such a level of personality to the character that it was like a fresh-light shone upon him. While what he says speaks all about him in the original Japanese version, how he says it in dub brings the words to life in a tone and manner that English speakers can better understand. His shrieking, squealing, complaining and swooning shows a great range of ability Todd Haberkorn and I can only imagine what he must look like in the recording booth.

In turn, Yuko’s voice actress Colleen Clickenbeard portrayed the mischievous enigma beautifully, with the perfect balance of wisdom and cheek that the original had. Domeki’s voice actor was excellent too. I’ve come across him being referred to as the “new Crispin Freeman” and admittedly J. Michael Tatum does sound similar to one of my voice acting favourites. Mokona’s English voice, like Watanuki’s, took a good full episode to appreciate but his obnoxious voice is in excellent tribute to his character.

XXXHolic DVD 03

So my dub summary? I loved it. It’s lots of fun and makes my habit of rewatching series again and again while I work extra-enjoyable, as I don’t need to peek back at the subtitles every couple of minutes. While it may take a bit of getting used to, it’s ultimately worth it and gives a fresh representation of this great cast of characters. Kudos to you Funimation! It makes up for how much I don’t like the Tsubasa dub (especially since my dislike for the series itself prevents me from purchasing it all in the first place).

Overall, XXXHolic is an entertaining series that shouldn’t be missed by fans of the manga and given a chance by those who haven’t read it (yet). The dub is lots of the fun and five episodes per DVD isn’t that bad either, even if that’s really all you get. Now then, when can I get my hands on volume four?

Review written July 12, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo
DVDs purchased in-store from HMV

About the Author:

Lissa Pattillo is the owner and editor of Residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia she takes great joy in collecting all manners of manga genres, regretting that there's never enough time in the day to review or share them all. Along with reviews, Lissa is responsible for all the news postings to the website and works full time as a web and graphic designer.

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