This show has been recommend by a few posters throughout this column (the most recent being daotherkenji) and I’ve resisted checking it out every time it’s been brought up. I won’t make any bones about it... XXXHOLIC sounds like the title of a porno about a raging nymphomaniac. I’d expect to find it in my spam filtered folder, not available to watch on Hulu. And, after watching this episode, I still think that, because I can’t, for the life me, grasp what how the title relates to the show, at all. I can’t even figure out how to pronounce it.
With that being said, I’ll note that I never expected to watch an anime with a rendering style that so strongly reminded me of Edward Gorey’s artwork. He was an American cartoonist whose pen and ink drawings mostly depicted macabre subjects and pale goths with overlong limbs like the guy who’s haunted by demon in this. The only other contemporary work I can recall that’s similarly inspired by Gorey was the music video for Nine Inch Nails’ “The Perfect Drug.”
Another Western work I couldn’t help but relate to this was, topically, ALICE IN WONDERLAND. It exhibits a sort of playful surrealism and, I suspect, a penchant for wordplay that also typifies Lewis Carroll’s work. Obviously, I can’t speak nor read Japanese, but I suspect that the main character’s name translating to “April 1” in Kanji characters would be a lot more obvious as a pun if I did. Also, the two wild-haired assistants and the guy randomly bringing around the little occult rat in his gym bag while he went grocery shopping seemed like they'd easily come out of Caroll's imagination. I suppose you can think of that demon worm as XXXHOLIC's own Chesire Cat, then. The plot really doesn’t advance that much in this episode, so there isn’t as much to talk about aside from those possible inspirations. However, I’d be remiss not to note how strongly the fortune teller lady’s insistence about “inevitability” reminded me of one too many solicitor’s insistent sales pitch. Of course it was all a ploy to get his watch.
Anyway, let’s keep these recommendations coming. Tell me what you’d like to watch next, after you check out the episode in discussion below...
-- Tom Pinchuk is the writer of UNIMAGINABLE for Arcana Comics and HYBRID BASTARDS! for Archaia. Watch out for the HYBRID BASTARDS! hardcover collection this March - - available for pre-order now on Amazon.com.