While in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles the fanservice takes the form of reoccurring characters from previous CLAMP works, in xxxholic this is done with a way more subtle and mysterious way, that suits more obsessed/ well-informed fans: reappearance of objects. In general, the universe of xxxholic, where Yuuko -and later Watanuki- rules, is full of objects and not without a reason.
To be accurate, some characters do cameo: Clow Reed, Rikuo and Kazahaya, as well as the four main characters from TRC. Then, there are two mentions through words – one about Sakura and Syaoran (and Clow) of Cardcaptors and one about Subaru from Tokyo Babylon. But yes, almost always it’s the objects that bear the image of their owners or their universe, namely they become their representatives.
This is a peek into Yuuko’s storehouse from vol. 14. From top to bottom and from right to left we have:
- Fai’s tattoo that was bestowed upon him by Ashura-Ou; also the price for his journey
- an Angelic Layer Doll kit
- the photo of that cat spirit which is acquainted with Yuuko and gives her ‘holy’ sake
- Ashura’s and Yasha’s swords which were the price paid by Ashura in Shura country to become gods
- Kurogane’s Dragon Sword, his price for the journey
- the bird that was meant to be a present for Oruha in Clover; since she died, Kazuhiko returned his gift. There’s an episode in the manga, where Watanuki delivers a similar cage to an old man, which has two mechanical birds inside that can be seen only by full moon light. These two might represent Suu.
- Fai’s magic staff; also given later as a price for a method to enter the Koryou Palace
- Tengu’s Fan, that has the power of transportation, was paid as a price to help Watanuki save the Zashikiwarashi
- the Monkey’s Paw protective cylinder, that lead a curious and over-confident teacher to her demise
- the pipe where the Kudakitsune lived
- a pair of mechanical ears from Chobits which were used in an exorcism mission into Watanuki’s school – they acted as Yuuko’s voice transmitter/ headphones
- and the Daffodil Jar that is retrieved from a Shinto shrine by Kazahaya and Rikuo in Gohou Drug. It is revealed it connects to a world of spirits and has purifying powers.
Yuuko’s pipe and beautiful clothes are her trademark, so Watanuki seeks to smoke and dress in those kimono in an attempt not to forget, to be as close as possible to the person who was very dear to him.
But objects don’t serve only as mementos or vessels of memories. As we are in a magic shop that grants wishes, objects also yield power. We’ve already seen some in the storeroom. Here are some more:
Roughly we encounter four types of magical objects:
- amulets, like the arrow Doumeki’s grandfather gave Watanuki, and the heigushi (bottom right),
- talismans, like the lantern that grants access to the youkai world apart from serving as a bottle, as well as the fan of Tengu,
- sealing containers, like the cylinder of monkey’s paw, the ring and the photo frame that absorb/ concentrate the negative energy and/or isolate it,
- and channeling device, like the sand pendulum the obaa-chan uses for her clairvoyance.
Amulets are believed to have the power to ward off negative energy or evil spirits or even illness. The word stems from the Latin word amuletum. A talisman is just the opposite of an amulet. They are believed to give more power to the person wearing one. Etymologically, talismans relate to the ancient Greek word telesma, that meant consecration ceremony (source).
Among other objects in xxxholic we can spot some everyday objects that become magical either intentionally through a spell or unconsciously through the power of feelings.
Take a look at the panels above. The first one depicts Yuuko’s storeroom. The rest come from Kohane’s arc. Both are pretty messy and full with stuff. Both spaces are like that for a justified reason – the storeroom is like a “rest station”, where objects wait for their time to be used or handed down to the right people, and Kohane’s house is in a mess because Kohane’s mother was preoccupied by her desire to become rich and famous, meaning she has little time tidying up. That’s only the surface though. Objects seem to fill in the place humans should have. Accumulated objects rarely bring in someone’s heart and mind peace and love. They might only drown the person who’s surrounded by them in memories. Therefore, I think that the strong presence of objects in xxxholic characterizes Yuuko and underlines her loneliness.
To sum up, objects are dominant in xxxholic, serving us with lots of good fanservice, creating a suitable mysterious and magical atmosphere, signifying emotions and relationships, and shedding light to Yuuko’s character and feelings.