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xxxHOLiC: Starter Set
xxxHOLiC Starter Set
Actor: Colleen Clinkenbeard
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense, Anime & Manga, Animation
UR     2008     1hr 40min

There is no such thing as coincidence, there is only the inevitable...Watanuki has been haunted by dark spirits his entire life, a curse flowing through his bloodline preventing peace. When his incessant demons drag him to...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actor: Colleen Clinkenbeard
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense, Anime & Manga, Animation
Sub-Genres: Animation, Love & Romance, Animation, Mystery & Suspense, Anime & Manga, Animation
Studio: Funimation Prod
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Animated
DVD Release Date: 03/25/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 40min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

XxxHolic Starter Set - Anime Set for DVD Versions of Clamp S
Mark | East Coast | 04/11/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"xxxHOLiC: Starter Set.

I love the xxxHolic book series, which can best be described as philosophical anime with a dash of high school angst and the supernatural. I think most people who are drawn to this TV version will be fans of the books xxxHOLiC, Volume 1.

This Starter Set includes the First Collection which is also sold separately xxxHOLiC: First Collection. I think the starter set is a better value than the first collection, because at least you get a box to hold the disks. No doubt, if you're a hard-core fan of Holic, you will be buying all the coming collections anyway. The second collection xxxHOLiC: Second Collection is soon to be released in May and the third collection xxxHOLiC: Third Collection is due in June. There's also a seperate movie which is sold as part of a Clamp double-feature Clamp Double Feature: Tsubasa Chronicle and xxxHOLiC.

While I still like the writing that has made its way to the show, not all hard-core fans will be pleased with the DVD version.

The Story

Our main character Watanuki can see spirits, who seem to be drawn to him. He stumbles upon Yuko, who suspiciously already knows his problem and is willing to solve it for a price. Yuko's ability to grant wishes is reminiscent of many stories about the devil, who always has a price. Watanuki's price is that he becomes her servant, and a series of adventures ensue.

Like all high school boys, Watanuki has a crush, Himawara, and a nemesis, Doumeki. In an ironic twist, he is forced to join with both of them to complete his tasks.

Once again, hard-core fans will already be familiar with the basic story.

The Good

The writing includes a lot of riddles and philosophical dialogue to make you think. So in that sense this is a thought provoking anime. Still, there's a lot of cartoon elements too, including the two girl helpers and the talking doll Mokona. In that sense, this anime can appeal to younger and older fans alike.

The core elements of the book series are all here. That includes some beautiful character silhouettes. There are also some beautifully done art sequences for the opening.

There are some funny and clever double entendres here, one in particular to open the second episode. In that sense, this anime is perhaps more engaging than many others. Still, the high school themes highlight the fact that just like most anime this one is geared towards kids too. Precocious kids, but kids nonetheless.

While the first episode is somewhat light, laying the foundation, the other three get progressively better.

The Bad

The first negative I have to note isn't about the episodes themselves. The first collection includes an extremely small amount of content. These episodes are meant to last 30 minutes with commercials, but these DVD versions seem 20 minutes long. I just feel that they could have either included more episodes or priced these better.

There are few special features. The disk includes some images and the opening and closing themes to the show without the credits. They are both catchy Japanese pop, but I have a feeling that most Japanese people would not consider these the best music they have to offer.

Another thing I was not happy with, which I noticed on another Clamp release as well, is the lack of Japanese character subtitles. I find original character subtitles helpful in deciphering some questionable translations.

I also like to read subtitles even with the English dub just to make sure I catch everything. Strangely, the English subtitles are only activated when Japanese is spoken, which isn't very useful. In order to access subtitles, you have to choose the Japanese option and then the English subtitles come up. I personally always like to see subtitles even with voice-overs.

Comparing the Japanese translations to the voice-over dialogue reveals some interesting variances and some cultural differences that were certainly lost in translation.

As far as the animation goes, like I said I love the opening sequence and several elements. But they seem to have done too many direct transfers from the book series, which sometimes leads to two-dimensional images of characters. While some characters, particularly Yuko, always seem to be animated with great detail, Watanuki looks like more time could have been spent enhancing his character for the screen.

Conclusion

While I think this series is cool and will still please many hard core fans, it may only appeal to a small audience beyond those core fans.

Enjoy!
"
The price of wishes
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 03/25/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I have to admit, "xxxHOLIC" sounds like a series about a porn addict, if it sounds like anything at all.

But it's actually the name of a rather quirky, dark little anime series. "xxxHOLiC: First Collection" smoothly introduces the eccentric characters and main plotline of this series, and its story is filled with malevolent specters, magical rings, and lushly drawn animation.

Watanuki can see spirits -- and as the story opens, he is chased and pummeled to the ground by a huge cloud of them. Naturally, this looks rather odd to other people.

But those spirits magically vanish outside a strange house, and Watanuki is drawn inside against his will. The owner of this shop is Yuko, a strange woman who says she can grant wishes... at a price. She predict that Watanuki sees spirits and has been haunted by them all his life, and that his wish is that he would no longer be troubled by them.

Before Watanuki is sure what's happening, Yuko has tricked him into working for her, as the price of his cure. Despite insisting that he won't work for her -- and seeing the terrible effect of spirits leaving him -- he ends up cooking and running errands for her anyway.

In the process, he also sees what she does. A young woman receives a ring from Yuko to fix the stiffness spreading through her hand... but a bad habit is compounding her ailment, and it might kill her if she doesn't learn in time. And a discussion about fortunetellers ends with Yuko taking Watanuki to two of them -- and letting him see that telling the future can be dangerous.

And a Ouija board (called an "angel" here) becomes deadly when Watanuki and a stoic classmate of his, Domeki, go to a school to find out what the smelly haunting is all about. But Watanuki doesn't realize what the truly dangerous influence at this school is -- and the only way of getting rid of it.

For an introductory volume, "xxxHOLiC: First Collection" is a pretty solid story, and an easy introduction into the world of Yuko's shop. Biff, bang, it's done. In the course of about two scenes, Watanuki is immersed in the shop's business, and by the end of the first episode you know it's going to be a very long, strange trip ahead.

CLAMP's artwork is smoothly transferred into a lush, detailed anime style, full of drooping embroidered robes, pipe smoke, and the misty backdrops of a spirit-infested world. There are a few scenes in the first episode that look painfully 2-D in their animation -- particularly when Watanuki is by himself -- but fortunately the animators hit their stride by the second.

Similarly, the stories are a nice blend of mild horror and kooky comedy. On one hand, we have the ominous stories about evil spirits, the sins that corrupt our lives, the terrible wishes people make, and the futures we can choose. But at the same time we have the cuddly bouncing rabbity thing, and Watanuki constantly having his chain yanked by Yuko.

Watanuki is a bit annoying, since he tends to ricochet up and down the emotional scale with the slightest reason. But he's likable in his quieter moments, and Yuko is an enjoyably eccentric, deeply mysterious female lead. And Domeki is a nice counterpoint to Watanuki's melodrama -- he's very stoic, quiet and mildly sarcastic. We don't see enough of that guy.

"xxxHOLiC: First Collection" introduces us to the world of wishes, bad habits and evil spirits, and promises to only get more interesting later on. Definitely worth checking out."