The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

xxxHOLiC: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Title: xxxHOLiC: A Midsummer Night’s Dream aka xxxHOLiC: Manatsu no Yoru no Yume
Genre: Comedy/Horror
Company: Production I.G.
Format: Movie; 60 minutes.
Dates: 20 Aug 2005

Synopsis: Ichihara Yuuko is willing to grant anyone’s wish on the condition that they give her something of equivalent emotional value. She, thus, accrues a massive collection of other people’s prized possessions. One day, a letter arrives stating that her collection is incomplete. Somewhat incensed and partially intrigued, she goes to an old mansion with her servant, Watanuki, for a mysterious auction that just may cost them their lives.

The Highlights
Animation: Sharp, dynamic and creative.
Character designs: Unique… in a bad way.
Atmosphere: Intriguing without being heavy handed.
Plot: Merely a spark that sets off a series of unexpected events.

Opinions about CLAMP are often polarized between those who love the group’s works and those who believe that the group doesn’t deserve its fame. Regardless of what side you may be on, CLAMP has gotten so popular because it can weave entertaining storylines dealing with romance, destiny and taboo. xxxHOLiC: A Midsummer Night’s Dream does carry over some the creators’ misses, but it has several hits as well. From beginning to end, the anime manages to capture the audiences’ attention and guides them through an enigmatic world of dark intrigue and unfettered creativity.

“Unorthodox” is probably the best word to describe this movie. Nothing is what it seems, and little is explained along the way. On this note, know that all neurons in the left hemisphere of the brain are absolutely worthless. Logic is a zero factor in the anime since the story is presented in a random series of events that occur for the sake of intrigue. The little tidbits of explanation that are given are shallow insight into motive that no longer matter when they are revealed.

Because this is a CLAMP production, the characters have long arms, long legs, and long, long necks. I could probably write an essay on how obtrusive the long necks are, but the art is very pleasing to the eyes, thus, balancing out this peeve of mine. The animation is sharp and fluid, but it also can become quite erratic showing Production I.G.‘s wide visual range. Caricatures are liberally used to accentuate certain situations with wacky, FLCL-esque images.

What really makes this anime tick is its ability to draw in the audience and carry them through an unusual, almost frightening, spiral of events. With moody music that sets the tone just right, the anime manages to create a gripping atmosphere. The characters may be bland and the story may be trite, but the show has a slew of unexpected moments that keeps things exciting nonetheless. The overall dark, festering ambience juxtaposed with the flat, superficial story creates a mindless but enjoyable ride.

While this deck may not have any aces, it has plenty of jokers. Some connoisseurs will be quick to point out that xxxHOLiC: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, when broken down into itty-bitty Lego sized pieces, is unoriginal, but this movie is intentionally not designed for nitpicking. Much like a carnival rollercoaster, the experience cheapens once you get off, but the ride itself is undeniably fun.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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