A must have companion book for any fan of the ‘xxxHolic’ franchise, anime or manga.
Translation: Stephen Paul
Adaptation: Stephen Paul
What They Say
Join Yuko, Kimihiro, Domeki, and all your favorite characters on a journey deep inside the thrilling world of xxxHOLiC! Learn more about the folklore behind the story and the various connections to the other works in the CLAMP universe. Filled with fascinating story details, creator interviews, fashion highlights, glossaries, lavish illustrations, and much more, The Official xxxHOLiC Guide is your ultimate companion piece to the beloved series.
Del Rey generally produces good books and they hit it out of the park with the ‘Official xxxHolic Guide’. The book comes in A5 size with some nice touches. The front has a large foldout color poster, followed by eight additional color pages on glossy paper. The color pages are two-page spreads of some of the best art for this series. The rest of the book is mostly in the standard black and white format, which requires a lot of ink because the ‘xxxHolic’ series uses a lot of solid black pages in its art. In a unique approach, this book uses purple ink for a multi-page section focused on Yuko. I really enjoy this presentation as it creates a more feminine feel for a section focused on a very sensual character.
CLAMP’s art for ‘xxxHolic’ follows their tendency for characters with long limbs and SD moments for comedic effect. From there, the art branches away from the style CLAMP uses for many of their other titles. ‘xxxHolic’ avoids the use of all screen tones, using solid white or solid black areas, with some mixture of horizontal or vertical parallel lines to create depth. I quite enjoy this monotone style. Perhaps the most memorable artistic aspect of this series is Yuko’s stylish wardrobe. She wears a different outfit in each scene, and they tend to range from traditional Japanese kimonos to modern clothing mixing with traditional Japanese and Chinese flair.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
This guidebook has a plethora of material from the manga series. It starts with synopses for many of the more memorable stories from the series before rolling into descriptive chapters profiling the main characters. Perhaps one of the more useful sections for those familiar with this series is the glossary. This section brings together and summarizes many of the key elements of the ‘xxxHolic’ series. The glossary describes some of the more important minor characters, like those from the ‘Tsubasa’ series that overlap with ‘xxxHolic’, and some of the items that have played a role in the story thus far.
Along with an informative section examining the various locals in the series, there are a few sections discussing various links to other CLAMP series. Perhaps the most recognizable of which belongs to the ‘Chobits’ series. During a certain task, Watanuki has to wear a pair of earmuffs strongly resembling Chi’s ears. Another time shows Yuko’s helpers, Maru and Moro, reading Chi’s story from ‘Chobits’.
Not surprisingly, Yuko receives a good amount of attention in this guidebook. While one section focuses on many of Yuko’s thought provoking quotes, another focuses entirely on the variety of her wardrobe. These are followed by an examination of Yuko’s favorite things, such as her favorite sake’s, beers, snacks, and her many references to older anime and manga series.
My only real complaint about this book is the sporadic redundancy. Every page has a short paragraph about a particular topic followed by reproduced art panels from the series. Each panel has a sentence about it, which unfortunately, often mirrors the paragraph description.
‘xxxHolic’ is probably one of my top three favorite manga series of all time. This sounds like a substantial claim, and it is as I have read a fair amount of series over the years. I have tried and dropped even more than I have continued. As a story, ‘xxxHolic’ uses many aspects that create likeable characters. However, where this series stands among a precious few is its specific genre, the occult. Sure there are plenty of occult themed manga series out there, but few that follows a loveable cast as they explore many old Japanese superstitions. Not only that, but this series avoids the horror aspect of gruesome creatures and vengeful spirits. Many of the creatures in the ‘xxxHolic’ universe are just living their lives, many times oblivious of the humans around them. Nevertheless, there are plenty of lessons to be learned from the downfall of various human characters.
The ‘Official xxxHolic Guide’ may focus on the manga series, but it has plenty of information for the anime fans that have yet to try the manga. This is especially true when one considers the anime adaptation only skimmed some of the stories from this long-running manga series. While I thoroughly enjoyed the anime, fans that haven’t read the manga are missing much of the character development and subtle emotional connections between the characters. Some of these connections are highlighted in this guidebook. This guidebook may also prompt anime fans to give the original source material a try.
This guidebook can also be a good addition to the manga fans collection as it provides a refresher course for many of the earlier stories and reminds us of many earlier characters that have come and gone. There is also an interview with one of the CLAMP creators that provides insight to how the four members delegate tasks for different series. There are also a few quiz sections and a section displaying the lead page from every chapter of the series as it appeared in ‘Young Magazine’ over the years.
All in all, a worthy addition to any fans collection.