The anime continues exploring the life of Kimihiro Watanuki, the protagonist in the series who possesses the ability to see spirits. He has inadvertently angered a Spider Spirit who in turn put a curse on him and took his eye. His quest to obtain his eye will make him finally learn that there are no "coincidences, only necessity".
My suggestion is to watch the original xxxHolic first before watching kei. Otherwise, the numerous references and cameos from the previous show will lose meaning to viewers who jumped straight into Kei. In fact, the first episode throws viewers straight into the conflict between the Spider Spirit and Watanuki without bothering to introduce the cast much. Audiences are simply informed that during a routine cleaning process, Watanuki and his friend Doumeki have angered a Spider Spirit, and the spirit had retaliated by putting a curse on Doumeki's eye. To remove the curse, Watanuki traded his own eye for Doumeki, but it still didn't stop and setted off a chained reaction that led Watanuki to regret that he had offered his own eye. After this episode, it is followed by 3 episodes of a roller coaster ride that finds Watanuki battling the Spider Spirit with the Pipe Fox and rescuing Zashiki Warashi.
And perhaps this is the only weak part of the series. This anime already assumes that you know the cast. If the audiences weren't acquainted with the main cast before, they would never understand who Doumeki is and why he would risk his life for Watanuki, or who Zashiki Warashi is and the great lengths she would go to help Watanuki or why Ichihara Yuuko behave the way she did. For audiences who did know (and cared a great deal of) the original cast, the first 3 episodes are simply a wonderful mini-event that immediately reconnects the original cast and invokes a deep sense of nostalgia, because their actions are understood immediately.
Kei continues in the footstep of being a fantasy drama deeply rooted with customs, superstition and always ending with a moral-of-the-story. Again, any "help" rendered by Yuuko has a price. After the crack pace first 3 episodes, the story slows somewhat to introduce 2 main supporting cast; Kohane-chan, a child celebrity who can see ghosts, and a cat girl. The mid-part of the series concentrates on the story arc between Watanuki and Kohane-chan and how he helped her overcome her relationship with her abusive mother.
The one feature I loved about the xxxHolic series is that all events are inter-connected and that one good turn deserves another, while grudge and sins come back to haunt. Rewards are never reaped immediately, and audiences are always treated to a pleasant surprise when Watanuki is later remembered for the good deeds he had performed in the past and is reciprocated. The last part of the story concentrates on Watanuki's fate with Himawari, the girl with whom he is infatuated with. Although there is a twist to this, the plot hints at a lot of thing beforehand. Most audiences can kind of guess the "truth" behind Himawari before the series gets to it.
While I have no complains about the animation, the music by S.E.N.S. (though still good) is recycled from the original series. But I thought the opening song "Nobody Knows" from Shikao Suga was not as memorable as "19sai".
It's not as creepy and original as the first series. Audiences who have not seen the first series may want to drop another star. — Diane Tiu
Recommended Audience: Mature audience, preferably teens and above. Some implied child abuse with the case of Kohane-chan.
Version(s) Viewed: Pre-license fansub
Review Status: Full (13/13)
xxxHolic Kei © 2008 CLAMP / Kodansha
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