xxxHOLiC DVD 4

 [xxxHOLiC DVD 4 cover] This series is based on a manga by CLAMP; it is the continuing story of Kimihiro Watanuki, a high-school boy who can see spirits. Much to his dismay, the spirits he sees are also interested in him. One day, he finds himself in the shop of Yuuko Ichihara; she claims to be able to grant wishes for a price; her price for helping him is for him to become her housekeeper. He also ends up occasionally dealing with her clients and investigating on his own. The show is episodic; there are several recurring characters and a little bit of character and relationship development, though. The part of the manga that this series covers is only marginally less episodic than the anime; there are only hints of a larger story. The manga is also a crossover with Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, but those parts were not animated; they do appear in the Tsubasa anime, though.

The episodes mostly follow their manga counterparts; there are a few changes due to the omission of the crossover parts, and the order is not the same as in the manga. The art and animation are at best average; the manga is CLAMP does Art Nouveau, and that sort of elaborate style does not translate well to anime (at least, not without a huge budget). The dub is serviceable; I like Yuuko, have gotten used to Watanuki, and don’t mind the rest of the regular cast. I didn’t think the dub voices of the twins in episodes 14 and 15 were quite right; they were supposed to be in college, but sounded younger. Funimation continues to annoy me with the occasional random changes in the dub; the monster in episode 13 is a good example of this: the subs called it “wings” (the Japanese sounded like “hane”, wings) and the dub called it “a fallen angel”. There were other instances of that sort of thing, and food and drink was sometimes less Japanese in the dub than the subtitles. There were a couple of consistency errors in the dub itself that I noticed: the fish that the twins buy was flounder, but Yuuko calls it sole after they leave with it, and Watanuki refers to kimono in the dub (sub is yukata and is defined there) but Himawari refers to yukata later. The use of kimono instead of yukata is vaguely annoying, but not entirely incorrect; it seems like both references should be the same.

This volume had the same sort of extras as the previous volumes: an image gallery, textless opening and ending (Buck-Tick’s “Kagerou” becomes the ending in episode fourteen and is the one here), and trailers (Genghis Khan, Love and Honor, Dragon Ball Z, Vexille, Fullmetal Alchemist, Hana, Tsubasa, xxxHOLiC); the front-loaded trailer was Samurai 7. Funimation seems to be serious about their live-action division; they had three of the trailers this time (Genghis Khan, Love and Honor, and Hana). The DVD had an insert with ads for several of their upcoming series and a release calendar for July through September.

—The Episodes—

Chapters are from the US release by Del Rey.

  1. Transfiguration — (v5, c29-30) The girl with the wings; in the manga, it immediately followed the hydrangea and the ame-warashi and started with Watanuki’s first encounter with the pipe fox; he already knows about it here (episode 9). This episode is changed slightly from the manga, though not in a way that really affects the story. In the manga, Watanuki notices that a girl from his art class has wings on her back that no one else can see and she is a little rude to her friends in class; in the anime, she is nice in class and doesn’t yet have the wings, but Watanuki sees her and her friends after school and has the wings and is rude then. At the shop, Yuuko burns the feather he found (manga, in her hand; anime, in his) and gives him a slightly obscure warning. Watanuki continues to run into the girl and notices that she is ruder and the wings are growing. In the manga, the girl notices Watanuki at a festival and confronts him at school the next day; in the anime, the confrontation is at the festival. The pipe fox shows its true form and saves the day (and in the anime shoots fireballs), and Yuuko scolds Watanuki for not heeding her warning.

    The one major change was in the monster itself: Yuuko says it was a parasite, and it destabilized the soul; there was a slight chance the girl could recover. In the manga, Del Rey called it “Ko”, with meanings of vermin/bug/worm/bad temper/bad company. Yuuko said they were vermin, created to take souls, and implied that she knew who was responsible (hints of the plot yet to come); the anime ignored the few references to the plot, so it’s not surprising that there was a change. They could have left it as a soul-eater, though maybe they wanted something with a possibility of recovery; in the manga, Yuuko said the girl would not recover. Surprisingly, they left in Maru and Moro and their inability to leave the shop due to their lack of souls and the description of the shop as different on the inside; the difference in the shop might be mentioned again, but Maru and Moro’s status is not.

  2. Seal — (v4, c22-24) part one of two, the twins and the power of words. The season is shifted from the manga; the changes don’t affect anything. In the manga, it starts immediately after Valentine’s Day and continues into the spring (through White day, at least); in the anime, it is later in the year. It’s hot instead of cold, a couple of meals are different, and Watanuki has a different motivation for making candy. There’s also a bit of Tsubasa in these chapters, which was not animated.

  3. Release — part two of two; this is the overall plot for both episodes. Watanuki (and sometimes Doumeki) keep running into a set of identical twins; they are second-year college students. The older sister lacks confidence and self-respect and is often clumsy and is generally negative (doesn’t think she can do anything right, says that things never go right for her, that sort of thing); the younger sister is more confident but spends a lot of time worrying about her sister, saying things like “she’s always this way” when something goes wrong and wondering why she took a job as a waitress when she’s too clumsy and too shy to do the work. Watanuki senses a sort of wave from the older sister when she says negative things (their first real meeting, he helped her look for a contact; she told him it was no use before he started looking). Watanuki eventually has a talk with Yuuko about the power of words and how words can bind; he has a conversation with the older sister about the power of positive thinking, which helps a little, but she soon goes back to the way she was before (at the waitress job, mentioned above). Yuuko eventually fixes the problem, for a price.

  4. Reunion — (v5, c31-32) Returning the pipe fox to its smaller form, and a meeting with the zashiki-warashi. This is another episode that was changed slightly due to moving the events of Valentine’s Day to Obon. The pipe fox in its small form liked to hang on Watanuki, and often hid in his shirt; the pipe fox in large form was very large, but still wanted to hang all over Watanuki. At the beginning, Watanuki finds some fried tofu, which the pipe fox enjoys; it is bad for the pipe fox, causing it to lose some of its energy (?), signified by the markings on its head vanishing. I don’t remember that particular plot point being in the manga (it’s not in these chapters, at least). At some point, Watanuki buys hairpins as a gift. Yuuko says that they need to go to a place where there is a lot of pure energy, and sends them through a vase to another world. The pipe fox changes, there are talking daffodils, and they wander for a bit before meeting the zashiki-warashi, who was the source of the fried tofu. Watanuki gives her the hairpins as a thank-you (in the manga, they were a belated White Day gift); they talk, are chased by her karasu tengu, are rescued by the ame-warashi, and eventually she shows Watanuki how to return.

—The Art—

DVD 1, DVD 2, DVD 3
listing at ANN
Funimation’s official site (actually for both Tsubasa and xxxHOLiC)

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