For my Secret Santa, I was given the choices of xxxHolic, Simoun, and Tsukuyomi Moon Phase. I tried the first two episodes of each of them and the one that won out was xxxHolic. Regretfully, I did not even manage to finish Holic before the deadline, but I’ll do my best to give a review of what I did manage to see (which was up to episode 15).
Holic revolves around Watanuki’s bizarre adventures into the realm of spirits, being (sometimes not so) helpfully guided by Yuuko. It’s unclear who or what Yuuko is, but it is clear that she has plenty of experience dealing with these bizarre happenings. Though she never lets on to it in front of Watanuki, she clearly seems to know what is behind every incident they seem to come across.
While these stories are interesting, what really drew me to the show was the characters. Yuuko is fantastic as she bullies Watanuki around and watches him struggle to figure things out. Even better is Doumeki, who is basically the straight man to Watanuki’s boke antics. While Watanuki tends to yell and scream at Doumeki, he seems to have an understanding that Doumeki is a trustworthy friend who would be there for him no matter what happens. However, Watanuki also views Doumeki as a rival, both in life and love.
As for the stories, they seem to take a monster of the week approach, generally being introduced and solved in the same episode, though there are a few that spanned two episodes. This format seems like it would get a bit dull after a while, but Holic does a good job of showing how the characters change from week to week as they encounter more strange and bizarre incidents. This is particularly true of Watanuki and Doumeki, who are now so close that Watanuki makes lunch for Doumeki practically every day.
I do feel as though a better understanding of Japanese folklore and mythology would make me appreciate the actual stories better. The terms – like Amewarashi and Zashiki-warashi – are mostly meaningless to me as far as the mythology and beliefs are concerned. I can understand what they represent to the story, but I get the feeling that people who grew up in Japanese culture would have a better understanding for these stories. Much like watching or reading about Alice in Wonderland or Dr. Seuss might make a bit more sense to me, these stories and tales might have implications that I’m not aware of. That said, I don’t think it detracts from the actual story itself; I just feel like I could get much more than I do from them.
The best part about the show, for me, is the shipping potential. While there are really only the four main characters, there are plenty of different ships to sail. So far, I’m shipping the Watanuki/Doumeki ship the hardest. It’s impossible not to see that ship. While I can kinda see Watanuki/Yuuko, I just don’t see Watanuki/Himawari at all.
While I haven’t finished Holic yet, I do still plan to continue on with it. I’ve also heard the second season is pretty good, so if I’m still feeling the good vibes from Holic at the end of the first season, I may have to continue on. FOR THE SHIPPING!
P.S. Thanks EO!