xxxHOLiC: Ep 4

Drama ReviewsJapanese Dramas

THE BROMANCE IS EMERGING!

I was hoping for xxxholic to continue its great momentum from episode 3, but unfortunately it does not.  Instead this episode feels more like the middle ground or a filler episode that is meant to continue on into the next story arc.  I feel like the main purpose of the episode is simply to strengthen the bromance link between Watanuki & Doumeki as…ghost-hunting..partners, and to get Himawari a bit more involved in supernatural affairs.

I really like how Yuko plays a middle man sort of role as she works to bring Watanuki & Doumeki together.  Even though she acts like she doesn’t care about Watanuki, we all know she does because she goes to great lengths to help him.  Perhaps she has a bigger plan for Watanuki which is why she is getting Doumeki on board to help him. 

It is interesting that Yuko offers Doumeki the choice to use his powers or not…….but in actuality I think she already knows that he will use them.  So is she leaving Doumeki’s fate in his hands by letting him use free-will?  Or is she simply fulfilling his destiny because it will happen no matter what?  Verrrry interesting.  Also I can only wonder if she already knew of Himawari’s upcoming request and figured out how to use it to her advantage.  I mean, Himawari’s request is very convenient, considering that she is the link between Watanuki & Doumeki..RIGHT?  

Episode 4 ATTEMPTS a more creepy horror-story kind of feel but it kinda fails.  I don’t know why but somehow the suspense just isn’t there.  Even though it is a life and death matter, I just wasn’t feeling it.  Maybe it’s because I could already predict what was gonna happen?  O_O  Or there is just not enough build-up to the moment when Doumeki finally uses his power.   I will say though, that although the story itself goes flat, the characters do not.  Watanuki doesn’t have many broody scenes this time, but even the littlest expressions from his character make him fun to watch!

AND FEAR NOT!!!!!!  THE BROMANCE IS HERE!!!!!!!!!  OMGGGGG I LOVE DOUMEKI & WATANUKI!  Doumeki is now very fun to watch because of the way his character contrasts with Watanuki.  There are lots of funny moments..like when Doumeki scares Watanuki and then scoffs that he is such a scaredy cat.  Or when Doumeki saves Watanuki, and then says that he didn’t come back for him.  AHAHA.   Also, when Himawari asks what she can do for them, Doumeki goes:  CAKE!  Watanuki: I SHOULD BE THE ONE GETTING IT NOT YOU.   And Doumeki is just “pffft”.  AHHH A RIVALRY?  I LOVE IT AND WANT MORE!

Overall
Even though this episode failed to meet my expectations, PROPS to it for creating a great bromance in so little time.   I am also looking forward to the next story arc because it seems like the customer actually knows Yuko and is not just a foolish destructive customer!  Part of me wonders though..Watanuki IS able to make contact with the ghosts so technically he could do something to affect them.  Would the problem be that he is just too physically weak?  Or is it that to fight the ghosts, you must also have a special spiritual power to do actual damage?  Anyways I think Yuko needs to give this poor guy a protective charm or something to ward off the ghosts. 

On a side note, I didn’t really notice how subtle Doumeki’s expressions are but this one definitely works:

^Image credit linked

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heisui

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!
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  • Ahahah, part of the problem with this episode was it was adapting a story from the manga that also involved the “ghost-girls-that-were-remnants-of-the-angel-game” turning into a seriously ominous looking, gloppy monster that wanted to kill the boys rather than just beating em up, but obviously they couldn’t do a CG job that big without it looking ridiculous, I honestly think that’s part of why the story in it fell flat.

    What was interesting about this episode was the amount of alterations made to the story, compared to the other plots which actually adapted their manga counterparts quite faithfully with some noticeable but otherwise mild changes. In the manga Himawari merely asked that they check out the school of a friend of hers where strange things were said to be occurring because of the Angel-san game and she was concerned, rather than actually physically getting to know her troubled friend, which in my opinion was a good call; it gave Himawari more of a personal involvement. The way the malevolent spirit was defeated was also altered, which also could’ve contributed to why the story didn’t work out so well. However, the alterations in this case are amusing me greatly because they pieced together elements of other xxxHOLiC stories that probably will not be adapted. The whole factor about Doumeki “making a choice” and exorcising a spirit afflicting Watanuki was part of a different story, and Doumeki receiving an accessory for manifesting a bow didn’t happen until VERY late in the manga, and in fact, in my opinion, was long overdue. The Spirit Archery ability was actually underutilized in the source material so I’m really happy they took that element and brought it here. As far as developing Doumeki’s friendship with Watanuki, I think the way they’re handling it in the drama is working better for me than the manga did, their bond was clearly the focus of the episode here, whereas in the manga the focus was the story plot itself, as well as just further making the point that Doumeki has the ability to drive spirits away (to Watanuki’s chagrin). Himawari’s involvement is also slightly more prominent too, which keeps the OT3 shipper in me happy.

    While the storytelling in this episode left something to be desired, I can safely say that I’m thus far enjoying the direction they’re taking the characters and their relationships here. I like that they’re focusing on the trio of friends, but I also like that they’re also showing off Yuko having a mentor role for not just Watanuki, but for Doumeki as well. And of course, there’s Yuko’s passive attempts to look out for Watanuki’s well being and teach him things.

    Judging from the preview I’m going to expect more instances of heavy alterations on the basic manga plots from here on out, which I’m actually quite excited for, because while I will know some basic story elements, it has more of a chance to be surprising for me and keep me guessing. The story that will be adapted next is one of my favorites from the manga, and I’m curious as to what the changes will be.

    As for Watanuki doing things… in the manga, part of his development DID revolve around him learning to take initiative, and that there ARE things he can do, even if his only apparent power is to attract and see spirits.

    Sorry for the super! long comment! I had a lot of things to say, and I don’t think I even said them all! ^^;

    • Actually thank you for your analysis because it helps me to understand the drama/original better!

      Ok so it seems like the live action version of this episode is actually less scary than the original version. O_O The funny thing is is that I was still freaked out by this toned down version. >__>

      I think that based on what you have said, the live action is definitely going at a very fast pace. Thankfully it is making good use of its very short episode times. I am also glad that they are incorporating other elements from some of the stories that might not be shown in the drama. :3

      • No, actually, this version was scarier ^^; I mean, with all the self harm aspects and the creepy lighting, it got kinda disturbing! in general, the drama is trying to play up the horror aspects moreso than the manga did though. It’s just in the manga version there was definitely more of a sense of urgency, and “oh crap we are in in trouble here” because the boys started getting chased and stuff (and nearly fell off the building!), and so it ultimately when it was defeated didn’t feel as stilted as it did here.

    • One thing about j-dramas- they tend to do adaptations really well, and it sounds like it’s no different here. I mean, obviously you can’t go into as much detail as an anime or manga, but sometimes that actually makes the story tighter and better, like with the Hana Yori Dango drama. I’m going to want more of this one, though. I’ll have to go back and finish the anime.

      I’ve only seen a few eps of the anime, so thanks for your thoughts!

  • OMGLKJSLKDJFOIUSDF BROMANCE! I was all *flails* after watching the last two episodes in one night…it’s just too much of one of my favorite ships for me to handle XDDD

    I love how the drama is still including the rivalry between Domeki and Watanuki. In the manga they bicker a LOT, almost to the point where they sound like an old married couple. They did take out the part where Himawari’s always like, “Domeki-kun and Watanuki-kun get along so well!”, when they’re bickering, buuut…well, with all the bromance moments, I”ll forgive them.

    This was always one of my absolute favorite parts in the manga and anime, mainly because it made my shipper heart beat faster, and I have to say I did watch it mostly for all the bromance moments than the plot. The climax just wasn’t that climax-y for me either. All in all though, I really love the character development in this show and I can’t wait for the next episode either ^_^ and I”m pretty sure there’s going to be more bromance parts next week too, so can’t wait!

    • I sense we have a Doumeki x Watanuki shipper here! I love their bromance, OMG!!!!!! It is so GOOD, I love the way their personalities play off of each other so well. Even though this episode wasn’t the best the bromance made up for it, HEHEHEHE.

  • I was surprised to see that bracelet Yuuko gave Doumeki, Because that is supposed to be a ring and so far in the manga plot. I guess it was okay for them to interpret the manga Angel-san this way since it would be too dangerous for the actors if they were truly loyal to the manga. I’m thinking the next episode would be another bromance thing with the Rain Sprite and Hydrangea story. But I’m still excited at how they will interpret the whole thing. They’ve seemed to have added more “horror” to it. I’m just worried that they might be going too fast with the plot development, from what I’ve seen with the preview of the next episode, which I hope I am wrong.

    • Hmm I wonder why they gave him a bracelet when they could’ve just given him a ring. O_O

      It is rather tricky to get the pacing right. I’m still not sure how many episodes this drama has but I feel like they have a lot to cram in in a very short time. At this point though I am glad that Doumeki is using his powers so soon because it makes it more exciting and leads into the BROMANCE~~

  • Yeah, this was definitely not all that suspenseful and the ending was horribly anticlimactic, but for what its purposes are, I suppose its still a good episode as it does start the bromance more and it gets Domeki directly involved now with Watanuki’s plight.
    For the past 2 episodes Yuko has been hinting about Himawari, so I wonder when they’ll finally drop the bomb on her secret?
    I dislike the fact that this drama and Karamazov no Kyodai has this habit of shooting really “dark” scenes where it can be hard to distinguish details. I know there’s this dark undertone, but can’t you have the scenes just a tad brighter?
    Anywho, I like how Yuko is so flippant at the end of the episode, but we know better as you saw her genuine worry and concern for the boys until the moment Doumeki chose to unleash his power and beat up the poor haunted piece of paper.

    • I think they might reveal Himawari’s secret soon. I am verrry curious to find out what it is!! *w* As for Yuko I really liked the part when she looked sad over the foolishness of the school girls.

      I agree some of the scenes are super dark. Overall though I love the lighting in this drama, it is really gorgeous!

  • (>.<) I just pressed the wrong key and lost my whole comment. T.T I don't feel like typing the whole thing out again, so I'll just summarize that I pretty much agree with everyone above re: the excellently-developed Doumeki and Watanuki interaction and the flat plot-line etc. etc., and add that my big concern here is what was teased in the next episode preview. I'm not so concerned about changes to the Ame-warashi and Hydrangea plot as I am worried about how they are planning on pacing out the rest of the drama…the Yuuko-into-darkness dream seems very premature. T.T. I hope it's just a fore-shadowing or something…(at least we know for sure that Jorougumo is in episode 6)… O_O I'm sort of holding my breath lol

    • as a little mini side-comment, I was thinking about the somewhat “flatness” of the plot; I think that the problem was that Watanuki wasn’t in enough “mortal peril” so if it hadn’t been a piano but rather something more dangerous, that would have upped the tension and might have been enough to lift the plot. Oh well, no use crying over spilled milk lol

    • Aw sometimes that happens to me too >_< At this point I like the pacing but then again I have no clue what's coming up. There are only 4 episodes left and I'm sure there must be a lot to cover there!

  • But she did give him a protective charm! In Doumeki…

    Joking aside, I still loved this episode. I see why you didn’t like the plot as much, but I like the concept of childhood games having roots in more ancient and sinister customs. I wonder if part of the reason it fell flat was because the solution was the exact same as last time? Not that the arrow special effect isn’t super awesome, but when the cure for everything is “Doumeki shoots it”, it gets old. Have him grapple with them or something! Give him a spirit sword or axe! Give Watanuki a way to fight them and have him mess up! I don’t know.

    I also take back any reticence on Doumeki’s acting… he’s super fun, and a great foil for Watanuki. He’s taciturn enough for the character, but injects enough expression that it doesn’t fall totally flat. And I do love the relationship that’s growing between everyone, including the little snippets we get of Watanuki playing with the two little girls (fairies? demons? spirits?) at the end of each episode. The great failing of dramas is that they just scratch the surface of the intricate stories told in the manga and anime, so I think the main issue I’ll have with this one is that there isn’t more.

    • I agree, I think it lacked suspense since I was just waiting and waiting for Doumeki to use the thing Yuko gave him so that he could shoot the ghost.

      HEHEHEHEHE YES I LOVE DOUMEKI NOW!!! AND WATANUKI!!!

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