xxxHolic Series Review: Everything Has a Price


Watanuki can see spirits and they bother him fairly continuously. One day, as he is being harassed on the street by spirits he touches a fence and suddenly they back away. Entering the house he meets the mysterious Yuuko who offers to fix his problem in exchange for Watanuki working in her store where she grants wishes for a price. Though reluctantly, Watanuki accepts her offer and enters a world full of strange and supernatural occurences.


The idea of a mysterious person being able to grant wishes for a price is hardly a new one in fiction. Its pretty much as old as they come when you consider Rumpelstiltskin and other fairy tales that play on exactly that notion. What makes xxxHolic interesting is that you never really know if Yuuko is out for personal gain or not. While the price she demands at times seems steep, she always follows through on her end of the deal and considering what is being asked of her it only makes sense that it come at heavy cost.


So the premise of this story works fundamentally very well. As does the slightly spooky and yet glamorous setting of Yuuko’s store/house. It is unsettling and yet visually compelling as is Yuuko’s basic appearance. She is beautiful but beautiful in a way that makes you sense something slightly inhuman about her. The opening music, the butterfly motif, all of the aesthetics work at creating a truly enjoyable atmosphere for a mysterious story about spirits, contracts and other supernatural occurrences.


What I like less about the show is Watanuki himself. He is an incredibly irritating character. His hissy fits, his moments of self-delusion as he imagines himself with the pretty girl from school that he clearly has a crush on even though she’s clearly up to something, his sudden bursts of anger, his constantly underestimating or misinterpreting Yuuko’s actions… He is an incredibly childish character and most of the time you just want Yuuko to put him straight and yet for the most part his actions go without rebuke. Occasionally she’ll deliver a cutting remark to make him reflect and then we get the even more painful Watanuki being humble scene usually before he flies into yet another unwarranted rage.


This means I kind of have a love/hate relationship with the show. I watched xxxHolic because I loved Tsubasa Chronicles and Yuuko’s brief appearances in that anime fascinated me. On learning there was a story focused on her I just couldn’t resist. And she is fantastic while Watanuki is just kind of tiresome.

It isn’t as though he doesn’t grow some through the course of the series and certainly the follow up season did have him grow significantly. However, despite liking the overall premise of the show and loving Yuuko and the aesthetics, Watanuki is a bit of a sticking point. He just isn’t a lot of fun to watch as a character.


The rest of the cast are all kind of interesting or forgettable by various measures but they help to fill out the world and give direction for Yuuko and Watanuki so that isn’t really a problem. Watanuki’s friends (?) from school each have secrets of their own though in the first season of xxxHolic little is revealed about that.


Each episode is more or less a stand alone story, however artefacts from previous stories come up later and Watanuki becomes more knowledgeable and asks less questions later on in the series. Still, the basic set up is someone comes to the store or Watanuki stumbles upon something, there’s a brief consultation with Yuuko and Watanuki will usually be unimpressed with her initial response so do something stupid, there’s another consultation with Yuuko where someone will make a deal and she’ll either take action or direct someone to take action to resolve the problem. It is fairly formulaic but it doesn’t feel overly repetitive given the sheer number of different issues the characters face.


If you are in the mood for a slow paced story with a little bit of mystery and a focus on the supernatural, xxxHolic is certainly something worth checking out. Not to mention, some of the quotes that you will come across in this show will stick with you long after you finish watching it.

If you’ve watched it, please let me know your thoughts.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Inu X Boku SS Series Review

inu x boku

Inu x Boku SS Overview:

Inu X Boku tells the story of Ririchiyo, a girl who knows that she has a problem dealing with other people, moving into an apartment complex for the super rich. Every tenant has a member of the secret service as a bodyguard. Turns out, the tenants are more than just rich, and Ririchiyo’s agent is more than she bargained for given she didn’t want one in the first place.

By the way, the SS stands for secret service which is mentioned about once and other than allowing the characters to have someone following them around really doesn’t change anything in the story.

Inu X Boku SS Review:

Yes, it’s another story about an emotionally closed off, super smart girl with a bad attitude being pursued by a very needy and super good looking guy who is absolutely incapable of being discouraged. Okay, that doesn’t sound all that typical and yet the first episode of this series really feels like it isn’t treading any ground we haven’t seen before.  That said, as long as you don’t instantly hate Ririchiyo, there’s actually a lot to like about this anime.

Also note that there is a reasonable age difference in the romantic pairing and some genuinely creepy stalker type moments as well as a character who is obsessed with defining the world through the eyes of S&M. If that didn’t put you off keep reading.


I’m actually going to point out the obvious about Inu X Boku. There isn’t really an overall plot. Ririchiyo moves into the complex and the story follows her daily interactions with the other inhabitants and we watch her slowly learn how to deal with them in some way. There’s also the overall romance between Ririchiyo and Miketsukami which sways back and forth throughout but there’s no overall drive behind anything really.  I should also mention that all of the main characters are possessed by a yokai (or are a throwback to one or the like) and can channel them to use their power.

Without a plot, things are definitely slow moving. Individual episodes set up minor challenges (such as Ririchiyo trying to invite Miketsukami to have coffee with her) but these don’t amount to much more than amusing or thought provoking vignettes and while we learn more about the characters through them, they aren’t exactly creating a sense of urgency.


For me to like an anime with so little direct plot is kind of odd but I credit my overall enjoyment to the characters themselves (cliché archetypes though they might be).

Ririchiyo is a character I identify well with. She knows that she says really harsh things to others or that she comes across as harsh but she doesn’t know how to stop herself and so she makes the decision to close herself off. However, that isn’t a way one can get any better at interactions. Throughout the series she takes some major steps toward being able to interact with others, though she still hesitates and dithers.

Probably the moment that annoyed me the most about her was when she first started having feelings for Miketsukami and thought that her heart racing was caused by arrhythmia. For someone so smart that was really, really dumb. I do however like her awkward overtures of friendship to the others who live in the complex and her occasionally awkward exclamations when she makes a breakthrough in her quest for self-awareness.


Miketsukami on the other hand is an odd character. I like him as a character because he has a tragic past (which is explored well in the second half of the series), his motivation is always crystal clear and it makes sense, and all of his actions can in some way be linked to that motivation.

That said, if he were a person, he would be way too creepy. His overtly clingy nature and stalker like tendencies (did you not see that wall of photos in his room) make the relationship between Ririchiyo and Miketsukami a little less than sweet. His interactions with Ririchiyo are entertaining and at times touching and I particularly like the ending where they finally realise they both suck at communicating and that they pretty much need to start over. He’s also pretty awesome in his yokai form.


Now if you are after a cute relationship, Watanuki and Karuta just might do it for you. Karuta seems like a complete air-head obsessed with food but as Watanuki points out, she just sees the world differently. Time and again we see evidence that Karuta is actually very aware of what is going on and she deals with it in her own unique fashion.

Watanuki on the other hand is a self-declared delinquent and initially is really irritating but once he calms down a little he becomes quite the sweet boy in love. These two characters are adorable to watch and their friendship/romance develops in the background as this show progresses.


There are plenty of other characters bouncing around but my least favourite would be Kagerou, Ririchiyo’s supposed fiance. Every scene he is in he is being obnoxious. His presence does lend some needed tension and he does push some emotionally buttons that need to be hit to get any kind of plot progression but he is a really unlikable character and his departures are always greatly appreciated (and not just by the characters in the show).

Other than the characters, the other thing I found quite enjoyable was the closing credits. Each character essentially got their own song throughout the season and these added quite a bit to our knowledge of the characters and consolidated their general view of the world. Karuta’s is especially amusing and even Kagerou’s is very fitting for his character. I also really enjoy the opening theme and feel it kind of captures the feeling of the anime.


So, not a perfect anime but, as I said at the start, if you like the characters and aren’t put off by them, you will probably find Inu x Boku an enjoyable watch. Thinking about it, it’s probably the fact that it’s basically a romance with a vaguely supernatural air that ultimately sold it to me, even if the romance is a little bit creepy.

As a bonus, if you would like to see a Twilight trailer parody featuring the cast of Inu X Boku, I found this shared by Nicole Parker. I found it amusing.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James