This is the first disc of the first anime series based on the manga by CLAMP; there is a second series that started this month. Kimihiro Watanuki is a high-school boy who can see spirits; the spirits he sees are very interested in him. Yuuko Ichihara runs a shop that grants wishes for a price; one day Watanuki finds himself there and eventually agrees to work for Yuuko until he has earned enough for her to make him unable to see or interest the spirits. The other main characters are his classmates Himawari (his crush) and Doumeki (his rival/friend). He starts off as her housekeeper and eventually accompanies Yuuko on cases or investigates on his own or with Doumeki. I did write a slightly longer manga overview last year.
The manga crosses over with Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle; the crossover parts were not included (though they were in the Tsubasa anime). There was also a movie (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) released as part of a double feature with a Tsubasa movie; the crossover was a plot point there (an item from the xxxHOLiC portion was the solution to the problem in the Tsubasa portion).
I do like the anime itself, though I like the manga better. Anime Watanuki is considerably more annoying than manga Watanuki; a couple of pictures of him freaking out over whatever weirdness is much less annoying than listening to him. On the other hand, there were parts that were more obvious (to me, at least) when animated; among other things, I didn’t realize that Doumeki was occasionally provoking Watanuki until I saw them interact, and there was something with Himawari that I completely missed in the manga. It’s interesting watching the episodes knowing more about the series and seeing some of the foreshadowing and other details that I missed before.
The DVD contains the first four episodes and a few extras (an image gallery, textless songs, and trailers for the CLAMP Double Feature, Fullmetal Alchemist®, Glass Fleet, One Piece, Dragon Ball Z®, Vexille, and xxxHOLiC). The art in the anime is unsurprisingly not as detailed as the manga art, but is still very nice. I did end up buying the starter set (disc + box); I love the artwork and am a sucker for boxes anyway. The box art is at the end of the post; it is nice, but is not the same as the Japanese release (another random, senseless change). The DVD itself is in a clear case with a picture of Watanuki in a suit standing behind Yuuko lounging (it’s from the manga, somewhere), and the other side is Yuuko lounging. The DVD itself has the cover’s picture on it. The only inserts were a Funimation ad (this is apparently getting volumes released every six weeks; I didn’t know Funimation released any live action) and a survey card (to be sent to rightstuf). There were also a front-loaded trailer for the special edition of Origin, which I skipped and was not in the extras) I hate forced trailers, and have heard they have put spoiler-ish trailers for later volumes of ongoing series in them in the past, so I generally will not watch them.
I watched the dub this time through; I watched all of it originally as it was released in Japan (fansubbed). I like Yuuko’s dub voice better than her Japanese voice, and I think I’m starting to get used to Watanuki’s dub voice. Black Mokona is substantially less annoying than White Mokona, and I don’t have much of an opinion of the rest of the cast yet. Doumeki’s voice reminds me of someone else, but I can’t place who, though it might just be from the movie. He was also Seishirou in Tsubasa, but I haven’t watched that far enough for that to be relevant.
The opening (Suga Shikao, “19sai”) is gorgeously animated; the ending (Fonogenico, “Reason”) is extremely basic (Mokona sleeping in a spotlight on a dark background; Mokona dancing). The second ending (Buck-Tick, “Kagerou”) is also basic (air band with Mokona, Maru, Moro with no background); both endings seem like the sort of thing that could be easily adapted to any song. Coincidentally, one of the anime’s producers was BMG Japan; all of the artists involved are also with BMG Japan (according to amazon.co.jp, anyway).
I love this series and will continue buying it, but there were several minor annoyances:
- I did watch the dub and did not have my full attention on it, but I did notice a few things that were either bad translation or subtitles or random and unnecessary rewrites. I noticed this the most episode two: the girl with the ring is 27 vs 28 in the subtitles; one of her boyfriends is a museum coordinator vs an import sales businessman; in the survey she says 24 but the subtitles say 22; do lunch vs go out for a drink. These changes do not add anything to the dub. Maybe I shouldn’t be so annoyed with them; they don’t really affect the episode. On the other hand, if the changes do not contribute anything to the episode, why not use the correct translation.
- It annoys me to no end that the subtitles use “Yuko”; I can understand them not using Yûko like the US manga, but I would rather have seen “Yuuko”; oddly, Domeki instead of Dômeki or Doumeki doesn’t bother me as much (maybe because I like Yuuko better). I clearly wasn’t paying enough attention when I first watched this; the subtitles used “Doumeki”, which is very inconsistent of them.
- I wish there were some sort of cultural notes; I have the manga, which has notes in the back, and I watched fansubs, which used footnotes, so I know the background, but a casual viewer would not. The most glaring example of something that needed an explanation was the conclusion that Kimihiro Watanuki’s birthday was April 1st; April 1st is apparently a different reading of his name (and was explicitly stated by Yuuko in the manga), but to someone who did not know that, it would seem like a random conclusion. The other that I noticed was why Maru-dashi and Moro-dashi were not actually cute names (the manga’s translation notes indicate they both mean “exposing yourself in public).
The episode titles seem to be direct translations of the Japanese. The manga equivalents are listed because I was curious enough to look them up. The chapters are from the US releases; there are a few places where there are splash pages without new chapters, so I don’t know if the US and Japanese chapters are the same.
- The Inevitable — Chapter 1 (v1). Watanuki finds himself in Yuuko’s shop and ends up working for her in exchange for her promise to remove his ability to see spirits and to remove the spirits’ interest in him. There’s an extra added bit where a spirit leaves Watanuki for a girl, and he freaks out because he doesn’t want to lose the interest of the spirits if losing that will hurt others. The Japanese title of this episode is hitsuzen; that term was not translated in the manga.
- Falsehood — Chapters 1-3 (v1; she wanders in at the end of Chapter 1 (after a splash page)). A woman comes into the store complaining about being unable to move her pinky; Yuuko asks her about bad habits (she claims none) and gives her a ring to wear. Watanuki follows her and discovers what her bad habit is. This story was toned down for the anime and Himawari’s presence was removed.
- Angel — Chapters 15-17 (v3); the bit with Himawari talking to Watanuki and Doumeki about the soccer game was moved here (chapter 12 (v2); it was originally followed by the ghost stories at Doumeki’s temple). Someone Himawari knows at another school has a problem; Yuuko sets up a meeting at a park to discuss it, and sends Watanuki to investigate so that Himawari won’t owe Yuuko anything. Doumeki ends up accompanying him. The “Angel” of the title is a game similar to an Ouija board: characters, numbers and symbols are written on a piece of paper, and two people think of a question, and hold a pencil that points to various characters and spells out an answer. It makes some sense that this story was moved up; it is the episode where Watanuki finds himself in Doumeki’s debt.
- Fortune-Telling — Chapters 9-11 (v2). Yuuko shows Watanuki the difference between real and fake fortune tellers and explains how the fake one worked.
Chapter 4 (v1) is a brief crossover with Legal Drug, and the purchase of a baseball bat (a generic drugstore + bat purchase in episode 6, despite the bat being used in episode 3)
Chapters 5-6 (v1) are the woman with the computer addiction; I’m not sure if it was animated (yes, in episode 6)
Chapters 7 (v1) and 8 (v2) are the first appearance of the Tsubasa characters (not animated).
Chapters 12-14 (v2) are the ghost story party at Doumeki’s temple; if I remember correctly, it was animated, but some of the stories were changed.
the rest of v3 is the one with the monkey’s paw (animated, episode 8) and the first encounter with the fox-spirit oden (animated as part of episode five)
—The box art—
The first two are the DVD cover itself; the second three are the box, and the last two are the spacer inside the box. The first two of the box art are a wrap-around image.