- Princess Pearl of Flowerland is sent to Midland at a young age to learn her ceremonials duties. Her mother, the Queen Mother misses her daughter very much that the King orders his sister, the princess, to return home. However, the princess has fallen in love with General Wing of the Midland army and is reluctant to part from him. As their boat approaches the Flowerland border, Pearl and Wing save the life of a girl named Ying, who threw herself into the sea in order to escape an arranged marriage. As the boat arrives on shore, General Wing and his troops along with Pearl continue on their journey, leaving the still unconscious Ying on the boat. Shortly thereafter, they are attacked by pirates and Pearl falls into the ocean in the ensuing chaos. Princess Pearl washes ashore within the Flowerland kingdom and is saved by a man named Million....
Animation has not improved much from the previous OVA, but character proportions are much more realistic compared to "Kei", and much easier on my eyes. Music was very nice, and effectively used to create the eerie and suspenseful mood in certain scenes. Voice acting, once again, is very well done. Although the technical aspects of this OVA definitely lacked the wow-factor, it was incredibly well-directed. The pace and the setting was clearly established in about 10 minutes, and the plot flowed wonderfully to the very end. A number of poignant moments between Watanuki and Doumeki are abruptly interrupted by Mokona or Maru/Moko, which carries the thought to the ending, which was an 'interpret-by-yourself' conclusion. The OVA had a true Japanese cinema feel with excellent use of silence and pauses, as well as effective utilization of camera footage taken by Doumeki and viewing by Watanuki to advance the story.
I have not been following the manga series, but the setting of "xxxHOLiC Rou" was very easy to follow (although it raises a lot of questions to Yuuko's disappearance and what happened in the last 10 years). The mission this time is an unremarkable one, but it's themed around Yuuko's return, and a showcase of 'how the ship is ran' by Watanuki's as the 'shop' master. Once again, there is a lot of Japanese mythical references that were very interesting if you're into that stuff. The characters weren't given much space for development in the actual show, but it is rather a display of how the characters had developed in the 10 years without Yuuko. Character depiction was done exceptionally well as a half-feature-length-OVA.
Lee Heung Kam