xxxHOLiC: Ep 1

Drama ReviewsJapanese Dramas

I cannot believe my luck this jdrama season!!!!!!!  Another great drama to add to my watching list! 😀  And if you’re going, “xxxholic”?  Isn’t that that manga by CLAMP?  YES, YES IT IS.  PLUS this isn’t a cheesy live action with an idol cast!!!  Also if you haven’t seen the anime, you can still watch the live action all the same because it’s awesome. 😀

Just for a quick refresher for those who need it (or who haven’t watched the anime)…

The drama focuses on a student named Watanuki (Sometani Shota) who has the ability to see ghosts (or spirits, whatever you want to call them).  He can see the way the ghosts are affecting the people around him but he can’t do anything about it.  He comes across Yuko, a witch who has a “shop” in which she grants people their wishes in exchange for a heavy price.  Eventually he gets caught up in Yuko’s alluring world and begins working in her shop because he wants his wish to be granted.

If you are hesitant about watching xxxHolic, don’t be!  I think one of the things about live actions is that I tend to stereotype them into a cheesy, low quality production with horrible acting.  Thankfully xxxHolic proves this stereotype wrong (leave it to WOWOW to pull it off!) and puts a much more serious, darker spin on the original manga/anime.  I like that it’s not afraid to cut out all the humor and just go straight for a more mature dark tone.  It feels like it is not just geared towards the anime fanbase, but rather towards a wider audience that can appreciate a serious drama. 

“I can see them.  But that’s all.  I can’t do anything anyways.”

First off, let me just say that Sometani Shota as Watanuki is AMAZING.  Great casting indeed because he pulls it off to the T and it definitely makes the drama enjoyable to watch!  In the anime Watanuki is a sarcastic and bitter guy but is also a source of comic relief with his funny reactions to Yuko and his frustrations with the ghosts.  The drama makes him into less of a humorous character and more into a broody guy with a deep inner conflict.  He is an intruiging character right off the bat…not just because he can see spirits, but because of the mindset that his ability puts him into.  The good thing is that he’s no whining about how hard it is to be a…spirit…watcher…. (what would you call him??  Is there a name for it?)  but rather he is thrown into a state of complacency because he knows he can do nothing to stop the ghosts.  His moral conflict comes from whether he should try to change people’s fates if he knows that they are about to die, or whether he should just step back and remain a passive observer.

The short story arc in episode 1 is when Watanuki tries to save a person who is about to be killed by a ghost.  The person ends up dying right in front of his eyes, which makes him blame himself and also reaffirms his belief that it is not his place to interfere.  I love the moment right after he witnesses the person’s death because 1) Sometani Shota’s acting is GREAT. 2) It is a poignant moment because his best friend is also there with him and then runs away because she finds him repulsive. 

It is a really intense scene that throws you into a more realistic mindset…that this whole issue is not child’s play but that it has serious consequences.  There is also a great moment when Watanuki struggles to decide whether or not he will ask Yuko to grant his wish.  He has flashbacks to his tragic childhood, the look of fear and disgust on his best friend’s face, and the death of the person he failed to save. (again great acting!)   All of these painful feelings lead him to ask Yuko to take away his ability to see ghosts. 

^The costumes are gorgeous in this drama!!!!!!!

As for the other main character, Yuko (Watanabe Anne), I’d say she’s just meh.  Not particularly interesting but not too much of a bore either.  At this point she is just a really mysterious, all-knowing figure that is sorta pulling strings in the background but is also careful not to get too involved in the human world.  I feel like Anne really plays it safe and is trying hard to be all exotic mysterious while Sometani Shota is completely immersed in his character.  However I think Yuko’s character is a really hard character to play especially when she cannot be all that she was in the anime. 

The anime-version of Yuko is not quite feasible in the drama-version Yuko.  For instance, in the anime, Yuko is all sexy and always teases Watanuki while getting up close and personal with him.  Sure it works in the anime, but in a drama that might not come off as well.  As in, she would seem a bit TOO touchy with Watanuki and it could even come across as her preying on him or something.  Especially if she is wearing her really sexy dresses.  O___O (I’m being serious here..) 


^Some great GIF’s, credit is linked HERE.

If you are unwilling to accept anything but a perfect live action of the anime, then don’t watch it.  You cannot expect a live action to be just like the anime/manga.  It is just not possible.  There are things that work in the anime world, and things that don’t work in the drama world.  I think WOWOW’s version is quite solid and it is great to have a serious supernatural (or fanatasy?) jdrama.  But you know, HATERS GONNA HATE. 

And if any of you haven’t seen the anime and are wondering if you should still watch the drama, I would definitely recommend it.  I have only seen 1 episode of the anime and I am thoroughly enjoying the live action.  I actually think it is probably better if you haven’t been exposed to the anime/manga since that way you can have less preconceptions & expectations for it. 

OH, and did I mention that I’m totally fangirling over Sometani Shota?!?!?!?  Like, in the beginning I see him as this young high schooler but then at random moments in the episode I start crushing on him!?!?!??!  That started to freak me out because I was convinced he was underage, but then I looked it up and he is in his early 20’s.  Whew!  Anyways his character is cute but at random moments he is suddenly all handsome…..I really do not know why…


I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
The Legend of Zhen Huan: Full OST!
The Legend of Zhen Huan: Eps 57-59 (Updated)
      • I just saw someone saying Yukie Nakama is perfect for Yuko and I totally agree! But I don’t think they can afford her. 😛
        Anyways I thought Yuko should always wear heavy make-ups, so I blame the dresser for not dressing Anne more pretty! She just looked depressed.

        • HMM that is an interesting idea! I think Nakama Yukie could possibly fit the role because she is older & more mature than Anne. Part of my problem with Anne is that she seems a bit too young for the role.

          I agree, her make up could be much more dramatic for a more stunning effect.

  • At first I was a little bit meh about Anne as Yuko but then I tried to think of anyone else…and failed utterly. I think, though, that she has the potential to grow on the audience, and I do like many aspects of her performance…it’s just a really difficult character. As for the rest, all I can say is !!!!!! Sometani Shota is awesome, and I really like the serious tone…for me it really matches the later volumes of the manga. (BTW I have read the whole manga and watched the entire anime and all the bits and pieces at least twice)

    • Yeah I am trying to think of who would be good in the role but now I can’t! On a shallow level, Anne really has the body for it O_O Like she is tall and slender and the kimono look so gorgeous on her!

      Oooooo so you have actually watched/read it ALL! I’m glad it has your approval! 😀 It will be great to get your opinion as the drama progresses more~

  • I noticed this one earlier as one of your headers, I just love the cinematography. I’m not much of an anime person, and the few that I have seen have already skipped my mind. The live action looks great, with that tinge of the supernatural. I think I’ve found the next j-drama me and my sister are going to binge on 😀

    • Yup I was expecting some good cinematography since it is by WOWOW. I also like the supernatural feeling to it because I sorta like the whole character-with-secret-power thing. The effects aren’t amazing but they do a good job of making the beginning a bit creepy 😉

  • haha, thank you for telling me!!!!
    oh, poor Anne, I give her more credit, though I agree that she didn’t do much this episode. But it was mostly an introduction, I (want to) believe, so let’s hope that they’re getting started next time!
    And YES, ♥♥Sometani Shota♥♥ love all around…He delievered such a good performance. And those eyelashes!!!!

    • Hopefully she will get her chance to improve her character with the upcoming episodes! 😀

      Yes I didn’t know why you were so excited for Sometani Shota but NOW I KNOW WHY. OMG!!!!

  • I finally watched this yesterday (and did recap the first episode on AAA for those interested) and was soooooooo happy it wasn’t some cheesy, chintzy production. I was shocked by how much more serious and darker it was, but I won’t complain. I do kind of miss the annoying Watanuki who went from spazzy fits of gaganess over Himawari to nearly biting Domeki’s head off every time they are alone, but that would be toooo over the top for this drama. I didn’t try out the anime, only ready all of the manga thanks to my friend Chani-chan who collected both that and Tsubasa.
    I’m looking forward to the next episode. I hope Annes’ portrayal of Yuko gets better as that character just seems off to me.

    • I agree. I laughed a lot during the first episode of the anime but I couldn’t really picture those kinds of humorous scenes having the same effect in the live action.

      It is kinda fun seeing Yuko because I remember her from Tsubasa Chronicles 😀 I wonder, will they have a mokona in the live action?

      • I know, I was wondering about our alcohol loving little marshmallow. If they have to do him in that horribly fake looking CGI that you sometimes get in dramas (those wolves in Beauties of the Emperor were sooooo fake), then I think I’m okay with leaving him out for the series.
        Yuko did mention that she was called the dimensional witch by “someone” so I wonder if that someone will have an appearance on the show or just be alluded to…although I don’t think Clow ever made an appearance in the actual manga…

        • I can’t really imagine a real-looking CG mokona in a drama. Maybe they will leave mokona out, darn it! It would be cool if Clow showed up, but who knows…

  • Whoa I want to watch this!! I have only read a snippet of this manga before (like probably years ago) but judging from the screens, the characters look just like how i remember from the manga :O

  • They’ve been uploaded (up till episode 2 now) with eng sub on in good quality too, for anyone who wants to ddl it.

  • OMG

    I often lurk in your blog to read your chinese drama reviews and never ever once noticed your post about xxxHolic. How could I miss it?
    I didn’t even know that xxxholic has the live action. I’m going to look for the dvd as soon as possible.

    As for Yuuko, maybe Chiaki Kuriyama? Anyway the custome for Yuuku got to be awesome if they follow the manga since Yuuko always change clothes (she never wore the same clothes twice in manga)

    • Hm maybe you missed it since you were looking out for c-dramas not for j-dramas? Overall I enjoyed the xxxholic live action a lot. I had gripes about Anne as Yuko but eventually I got used to her and I think she’s fine! 🙂 There are a lot of awesome costumes for Yuko, but I think she did wear some clothes twice.

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