Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle character
Yūko as illustrated by Clamp
|First appearance||xxxHolic chapter 1, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle chapter 1|
|Voiced by||Sayaka Ohara (Japanese)|
Colleen Clinkenbeard (English)
|Portrayed by||Anne Watanabe|
Yūko Ichihara (壱原侑子 Ichihara Yūko) is a fictional character from the manga xxxHolic created by the team Clamp. A powerful witch, Yūko is the owner of a shop where people come to have their wish granted and most of her jobs involve dealing with supernatural beings.
She is also featured in the crossover manga Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle where she assists the main characters in their journey across the multiverse, and is known as "The Dimension Witch," a title that reflects her unique reach in time and space. She has also appeared in animated versions of the two series as well as other media. In the anime, she is voiced by Sayaka Ohara in Japanese and Colleen Clinkenbeard in English.
Clamp created Yūko with the idea of having a character aware of the multiple fictional universes she created across her career. In deciding the personality she would have, the authors were inspired by the strong character from their beautician. Publications for manga, anime and other media praised Yūko for her personality and role in the series. She has also been popular within readers following both xxxHolic and Tsubasa.
In xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle
Yūko is introduced in xxxHolic as a witch who runs a shop that grants wishes to customers in exchange for something of equal value to the wish. Yūko takes anything from precious objects to abstract concepts, such as love or luck, in exchange. In the series' start, she hires teenager Kimihiro Watanuki as her assistant so that his work will be his price for granting his wish of protecting him from yokai. She is usually free-spirited and somewhat immature, drinking constantly and forcing difficult tasks upon Watanuki. However, when giving customers or Watanuki advice, she is much more stern and offers cryptic messages that serve as warnings of impending danger. She constantly speaks of inevitability ("hitsuzen") and how nothing is a coincidence.
Across both xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Yūko remains in contact with the teenager named Syaoran and his companions. In order to grant him the ability of travelling across dimensions and save his friend Sakura, Yūko uses a pair of creatures named Mokona Modoki that are able to cross worlds. Yūko created these creatures alongside the sorcerer Clow Reed in anticipation for the series' events. During Tsubasa it is revealed that Yūko was once going to die but Clow Reed accidentally used his powers to freeze time for her. After her time is frozen, she becomes the enemy of sorcerer Fei-Wang Reed, who controls the main events of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. Near the end of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Yūko is revived by Fei-Wang in order to prove his superiority to Clow. She then gives up her life as the price for Fei-Wang's two creations, Syaoran and Sakura, to be reborn as normal humans in compensation for how, because of her, they were used by the sorcerer.
Before dying, Yūko finds Watanuki and tells him her wish is for him to continue existing. Over a hundred years after her death in the ending of xxxHolic, Watanuki owns her shop. In the end of xxxHolic, Watanuki begins having a series of dreams in which Yūko gradually reveals herself to him; finally, she tells him that he has stayed in her shop for a long time and now has the power to leave it. Yūko appears as the shop owner in the manga xxxHolic Rei where she awaits for Watanuki to make an important decision. Eventually, Watanuki learns she is not the real Yuko and leaves to his own world.
Outside the manga, Yuko has also appeared in the film xxxHolic: A Midsummer Night's Dream where she visits a mansion whose owner is collecting the hearts of its visitors and in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom where she contacts Syaoran's group once again. In the Holic Rō original video animation (OVA), Watanuki receives a recorded tape from a girl that has Yūko saying "I'm home,". The following OVA has Watanuki finding Yuko in one of his Shizuka Dōmeki's memories where the witch gave him a magical egg. The actress and model Anne Watanabe plays the role of Yūko in the live action TV series. In the drama CD series Holitsuba, she appears as a teacher from the titular school. She is also seen in the video game xxxHolic ~Watanuki no Izayoi Sowa~ and in the book Soel and Larg: The Adventures of Mokona Modoki where she creates the Mokonas with Clow Reed. The latter event is retold in the drama CD xxxHolic Kei. She is also a prominent character in the novelization Another Holic by Nisio Isin.
Creation and design
Yūko was the first character created for the series as a result of the importance she had; Clamp wanted to create a character who was aware of the multiple fictional universes she created across her career. Yūko would also bridge the stories from xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. Clamp found her to be so "special" that she alone could have been the series' main character. However, after deciding it would be more entertaining to have a character who would be interested on Yuko's past, Clamp created Kimihiro Watanuki. They compared Yūko and Watanuki with Doraemon and Nobita Nobi, respectively, from the manga series Doraemon.
When making the character Clamp thought three patterns of conduct for her. The character was not fully decided until meeting her model. When meeting the beautician that made the artists' manicure, it was decided that Yūko would have the beautician's strong personality. However, there are no physical similarities between Yūko and her model. The artists had problems in designing the character, as it took them a long time to make her facial expressions. In choosing Sayaka Ohara as Yūko's Japanese voice actress, Clamp made a research to find a voice actress who was not heavily associated with another character. In the English dubbed series, she is voiced by Colleen Clinkenbeard in English.
Yūko's character has well received by Japanese readers of the series. In two popularity polls held by Weekly Shōnen Magazine, she placed seventh among all the characters in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. In a xxxHolic poll, Yūko was featured as the third most popular character from the series. In the Animage's Anime Grand Prix poll from 2007, Yūko was voted as the thirteenth most popular female anime character. NTT customers voted her as their fourteenth favorite black haired female anime character.
Critical reception to the character's role in the story and traits has been positive. Carlo Santos of Anime News Network liked the character's philosophies about fate and realism as she manages to explain multiple aspects from the series "like a brilliant university professor." To Megan Lavey from Mania Entertainment, "Yuko really makes this series" due to the way she interacts with her clients about the price to grant their wishes as well as her sense of humor which involves multiple references. Across the series, Yūko grows close with Watanuki and their development has been praised by Matthew Alexander from Mania Entertainment as Watanuki starts caring about his boss' true desire as he realizes how much she cares for him. Michael Aronson from Manga Life saw Yuko's outfits appealing. Johanna from Comics Worth Reading agreed with him while Ed Sizemore from the same site admitted having taken a liking to her due to her personality and the fact that she has "the wonderful sensuality of a Hollywood femme fatale from the 30′s and 40's." Her death scene has been referred by Active Anime's Holly Ellingwood as "tragic, inspiring, and beautifully, breathtakingly sad" due to the way it was presented. Santos noted that while the loss of Yūko could have negatively affected the series due to the impact she brought to the series, it managed to retain the same quality thanks to Watanuki inheriting most of her distinctive traits. Colleen Clinkenbeard's performance in the English dub of the series has also been the subject of praise by writers from Anime News Network.
- Clamp (2004). "Chapter 1". xxxHolic, Volume 1. Del Rey Manga. ISBN 978-0-345-47058-4.
- Clamp (2004). "Chapter 4". xxxHolic, Volume 1. Del Rey Manga. ISBN 978-0-345-47058-4.
- Clamp (2004). "Chapter 9". xxxHolic, Volume 2. Del Rey Manga. ISBN 978-0-345-47119-2.
- Clamp (2006). "Chapitre 64". Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Volume 9. Del Rey Manga. ISBN 978-0-345-48429-1.
- Clamp (2010). "Chapitre 215". Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Volume 27. Del Rey Manga. ISBN 978-0-345-52071-5.
- Clamp (2010). "Chapitre 220". Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Volume 28. Del Rey Manga. ISBN 978-0-345-52164-4.
- Clamp (2010). "Chapter 95". xxxHolic, Volume 15. Del Rey Manga. ISBN 978-0-345-52112-5.
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- "Characters" (in Japanese). Marvelous Entertainment. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
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- "Anime Grand Prix 2006-2007". Animage (in Japanese). Gakken (6). May 2007.
- Dong, Bamboo (May 5, 2014). "Japanese Fans Rank Their Favorite Black-Haired Anime Characters". Anime News Network. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
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- Ellingwood, Holly (March 18, 2010). "XXXHOLIC VOL. 15 (ADVANCE REVIEW)". Active Anime. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
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