6 Jun 2010

xxxHolic Rou (Anime) Review

xxxHolic Rou (2010)
Format: OVA, 1 X 40 minutes
Studio: Production I.G
Score: 4 stars
Summary: Purely for manga readers of xxxHolic, this OVA explores the events that happen after a particular twist in the story, that included a time skip. The atmosphere and tone shows that the director understands the source material. Bone-chillingly good, but not the kind that you find in most horror films. The only downside is that the animation and art could have been more inspired. Do not read further if you want to avoid spoilers.

xxxHolic Rou is set 10 years after Yukko's death. For those who read the manga, this is actually much further into the story than where the manga is now. However, it retains certain elements of the chapters right after Watanuki takes over the shop and the 4 year time skip happens.

Story-wise, this is every bit of what you would expect from CLAMP. The characters have grown up and matured, but they are still essentially the same. It's the perfect kind of character development, as CLAMP captures the child in all of us that basically still stays the same, but with the tolerance, patience, and calmness of an adult. The story that weaves around them also seems much more complicated than what we have seen in past xxxHolic chapters. Perhaps it is because we are now looking at it through the eyes of the shop owner (Watanuki), that has to analyse and make decisions while being trapped in the shop for all eternity. Yukko's death and final words resonate in Watanuki, and through those silent scenes of loneliness, we witness Yukko's tragedy through Watanuki's pain.

The production values of this OVA is quite high, as can be seen by the faithfulness of the atmosphere and tone of the series. Production I.G held off the flashy effects and put forth superior design (though most of it is attributed to CLAMP) and a right amount of animation quality to it. Nothing really stands out from this show, except how it all comes together to get it just right. Obviously, there are some artistic directions that might not translate well from manga to anime, but I would have appreciated it if Production I.G took this chance to experiment more with the Gothic art style that CLAMP uses and come up with their own Gothic animation style.

For those who read the manga or loved the anime series, xxxHolic Rou is the best animated part of the series thus far. For those who haven't, this OVA would be very confusing, but would also be a very enticing invitation to read or watch the series.

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