Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle character
Kimihiro Watanuki as illustrated by Clamp
|First appearance||xxxHolic chapter 1, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle chapitre 2|
|Voiced by||Jun Fukuyama (Japanese)
Todd Haberkorn (English)
|Portrayed by||Shota Sometani|
|Relatives||Syaoran Li (father)
Sakura Kinomoto (mother)
Kimihiro Watanuki (四月一日 君尋 Watanuki Kimihiro?) is a fictional character created by the group of manga artists Clamp. He is introduced in the manga xxxHolic as a high school student plagued by his ability to see spirits. In order to lose such powers, Watanuki starts working for the witch Yūko Ichihara who will grant his wish once he pays the price for her services. Besides appearing as the main character in xxxHolic, Watanuki is also featured in the crossover manga Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle which explores his connection with a teenager named Syaoran as well as his origins. Outside the two manga, Watanuki has been featured in their animated adaptations, spin-offs as well as other works by Clamp. Watanuki is voiced by Jun Fukuyama in Japanese and Todd Haberkorn in English.
Watanuki was created by Clamp following their need to have a main character who would observe Yūko's work and learn from her supernatural activities. His character has been well received by publications for manga and anime due to his role in the series and character development. Several positive comments also focused on his role in the series' last arc where he succeeds Yūko as the person who grants people's wishes.
In xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle
Watanuki is a high school student who has the ability of seeing spirits and is disturbed as a result. One day he stumbles, seemingly by chance, upon the wish-granting shop of Yūko Ichihara. She promises to remove his ability to see spirits if he works part-time in her shop until his work equals the worth of his wish. Since he lives by himself, he is experienced in cooking and cleaning, much to Yūko's pleasure. Besides doing domestic tasks for Yūko, Watanuki also often completes jobs of a spiritual or magical nature. He generally gets enraged at the often insane requests of Yūko, though he pays close attention whenever she is serious with him. Watanuki is known for being both volatile and caring. While around his crush, Himawari Kunogi, he is usually cheerful and excited, whereas around Shizuka Dōmeki he is much more irritable.
During his work, Watanuki encounters spirits who take his right eye for the destruction of a web. He then starts sharing Dōmeki's eyesight which allows him to detect evil spirits. When nearly dying while falling from his school's second floor, Watanuki learns he is related to a teenager named Syaoran who paid Yūko for his health alongside Himawari and Dōmeki. Watanuki is unaware he was used to fill the gap left by Syaoran after he decided to turn back time and accept imprisonment by sorcerer Fei-Wang Reed as payment. Watanuki became the child of Syaoran's parents and filled all of the relationships Syaoran would have made. Before the series' start, Watanuki gave up the memories of his past as a price to find Fei-Wang and help Syaoran. As he then could not remember his parents, Watanuki developed a strong sense of guilt, thinking his parents died due to his fault, and this guilt led to his ability to attract spirits. Across the story, Watanuki manages to overcome his selfishness and becomes concerned about granting Yūko's wish. Watanuki's origins and interactions with Syaoran are also explored in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle.
When Yūko dies, Watanuki resolves to take care of the shop so he can wait for her return. During the climax of Tsubasa, Watanuki and Syaoran have to pay a price to survive Fei-Wang's dying curse with Watanuki's price being able to stay in the shop. From this he becomes the new master of the shop and takes up Yūko's job of granting wishes to the shop's customers during the last volume from xxxHolic subtitled xxxHolic Rō. His personality changes as he adopts some of Yūko's quirks and habits. He works with help from Domeki who brings him materials from outside. Over the following years, Watanuki's powers become stronger since he retains his ability to see spirits. His lifespan also increases, though he has the appearance of a teenager. More than a hundred years after taking over the shop, Watanuki's powers grow strong enough to allow him to leave the shop, but he decides to remain there and continue to fulfill the promise he made to Yūko.
Outside the xxxHolic and Tsubasa manga, Watanuki has appeared in the film xxxHolic: A Midsummer Night's Dream where he visits a collector's mansion and he investigates the mystery behind multiple disappearances. In the original video animation (OVA) xxxHolic Rō, Watanuki, as the new shop's owner, receives a tape with Yūko's voice. In the second OVA, Watanuki is requested by the spirit of Dōmeki's grandfather, Haruka, to investigate his grandson's dreams. Watanuki appears as the protagonist of the manga xxxHolic Rei where he is featured as Yūko's assistant. While seeing several of Yūko's cases, Watanuki realizes that his boss is waiting for him to make an important decision. Eventually, he learns that he is living in an alternate dimension where Yuko is not dead. After saying goodbye to his boss, Watanuki returns to reality to give Syaoran a group of items. In Tsubasa World Chronicle he meets Syaoran and gives him the items. Shota Sometani plays Watanuki in the live action TV series. The video game xxxHolic ~Watanuki no Izayoi Sowa~ also features Watanuki. He is also a prominent character in the novelization Another Holic by Nisio Isin.
He also appeared in other works related with Clamp including the seventeenth episode of the anime adaptation of Kobato where he receives a package from one of the series' characters. In the book Soel and Larg: The Adventures of Mokona Modoki he is seen awakening the two creatures known as Mokona Modoki with one of them staying in the shop and the other being used by protagonists from Tsubasa. Yūko tells Watanuki how she created the two Mokonas alongside a sorcerer named Clow Reed in the xxxHolic Kei CD drama. In the manga Drug and Drop he hires its two protagonists for a job involving the encounter of a supernatural being. In the Blood-C anime he appears as a dog contacting the protagonist Saya Kisaragi whom he meets in person in the feature film where he grants her wish of obtaining a new sword. In the Holitsuba CD drama series Watanuki appears as a high school student from the titular school.
Creation and design
After creating Yūko, Clamp believed her character was so interesting she could be the only main character in the series. However, they then wondered it would more interesting if they created another character who, like Yūko, would also be connected with the spirits and across the story would see Yūko's life and often ask her about the supernatural events. They compared Yūko and Watanuki with Doraemon and Nobita Nobi, respectively, from the manga series Doraemon. Unlike Yūko, Watanuki's personality and design were not difficult to write and illustrate. He was based on a real beautician who has not been identified by the authors.
Although the authors noted that Domeki and Yuko were the series' most popular characters, Clamp illustrator Tsubaki Nekoi found that Watanuki was very popular with female readers. Nekoi believed this was due to his kindhearted personality rather than his appearance while head writer Nanase Ohkawa believed it was due to his multiple skills. When reaching the series' conclusion, Clamp received many letters from fans who were saddened with Watanuki's decision to stay inside the shop even after one hundred years. The authors were pleased with the readers' comments and clarified that for Watanuki staying in the shop made him.
In Japanese Watanuki is voiced by Jun Fukuyama. In casting Fukuyama, they made him try a more innocent tone in contrast to other roles he played. For the character's role in Blood-C: The Last Dark, Fukuyama needed to portray Watanuki as a mature character despite not aging from his appearance in xxxHolic. In the English dub of the anime series, Todd Haberkorn voices him.
In a xxxHolic poll, Watanuki was voted as the most popular character from the series. Director Tsutomu Mizushima referred to Watanuki as his favorite character from the series due to his personality and commented that he identifies with him.
Critical reception to the character has been generally positive. Although Watanuki was initially seen as "a little bit weak to be the lead character" by Polley Dan from Manga Life, his interactions with other characters and his development across the series has been praised. Ed Sizemore from Comics Worth Reading that while Watanuki was introduced as a "selfish, self-centered, but not very self-aware" character due to his origins, his growth across the series has made him far more likable as the changes allowed him to "mature into adulthood." While at this point Watanuki started undergoing existential vertigo, the way it was presented was well received by Sizemore. Matthew Alexander from Mania Entertainment liked the development of Watanuki's and Yuko's relationship as across the series Watanuki starts caring about his boss' true desire since he realizes how much she cares for him. Writers from Manga Bookshelf compared Watanuki with Tokyo Babylon's main character Subaru Sumeragi based on how both deal with supernatural being and society but found that Watanuki acted more as a normal teenager than Subaru due to his habit of becoming irritated.
Similar to Manga Bookshelf's writers, Rebecca Silverman from Anime News Network compared Watanuki's development in the series with Subaru's due to how both characters start behaving like close people to them. Matthew Alexander also compared Watanuki's new characterization with Yuko's as it shows him maturing by his no longer throwing angry tantrums and by his unwillingness to forget the witch. Carlo Santos praised Watanuki's role as the shop's new owner due to how he manages to replace Yuko by taking on some of her traits such a calmer demeanor as well as wearing multiple outfits. Leroy Douresseaux from Comic Book Bin liked Watanuki's calm demeanor when dealing with clients which helped to build an appealing atmosphere. Todd Haberkorn's work as Watanuki's English voice actor has been criticized by Santos for making the character sound annoying rather than funny.
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