xxxHOLiC: Ep 5

Drama ReviewsJapanese Dramas

xxxHOLiC continues to be a bit slow in terms of action but I really enjoyed the dialogue & the big reveal in this episode.

I have to say, I really enjoyed the arrival of the most interesting customer yet–Ame Warashi.  According to NeeNee she is played by Morikawa Aoi who, surprise surprise, was in the summer jdrama Sprout!  I totally did not recognize her in this episode, that’s how good her transformation is!  Anyways I thought it was fun to have Ame Warashi around because her dressing up in a lolita outfit made me feel more like I was watching an anime. 😛  I also like her snarky comments to Yuko, like when she comments about Himawari’s goody-goody behavior with Watanuki.  HEHEHEHEHE. 

The main point of this story arc is to reveal Himawari’s powers.   Again I find it interesting that Yuko is the one who plants the idea in Himawari’s head that she has the choice to help Watanuki.  This is only my interpretation but I feel like Himawari is much more reluctant than Doumeki was to help Watanuki.  It seems like she is already somewhat aware of her powers and just wants to stay out of these supernatural occurrences.  Of course she ends up helping Watanuki, but I wonder if she will continue helping him or if she will just back out of this completely.  It seems like her power has something to do with her yellow hair ribbons but at this point I am still confused about what her powers really are.  O___O  But don’t spoil me!   Anyways since Ame Warashi looks very suspicious when she glances at Himawari’s hair ribbons, I wonder if she will ever reappear later on in the drama.

As for Watanuki, the poor guy has to run around in this REALLY CREEPY hospital for the majority of the episode.  Plus he is running away from a scary doctor & nurse.  I admit, I am very easily freaked out so I was freaking out at the hospital scenes.  But also a part of me felt like it was getting too cliched, with the whole scary doctor, running through dark red hallways, etc. etc.  Somehow this episode lacked the suspense factor even though it had plenty of chances to nail the story.  Really, in such a short episode, they should be able to have a stronger sense of urgency and suspense to make the story more interesting.

“Yuko-san.  If I choose that path, is that also hitsuzen?”

BUT!!!  Even though this episode was rather slow, the ending scene is EPIC.  (Ignore the CG that was just “meh”)  I absolutely love the conversation between Watanuki & Yuko!!!  After Ame Warashi bluntly states that her request wasn’t even related to helping a human, Watanuki begins to wonder if Yuko is the same way.  He asks Yuko if she thinks humans aren’t worth saving.  Then he talks about how he realized that his power can help save people.  At first I thought this was a very heartfelt conversation and I was all, “oh good for you Watanuki you have overcome your hatred of your power!” but then Yuko replies that his wish is now void and no more shop for him!   Me: NOOOOOOO!!!!!  AND THEN THE SHOP DISINTEGRATES INTO BUTTERFLIES WHILE WATANUKI FALLS TO HIS KNEES AND DESPERATELY CRIES OUT TO YUKO.  HOW’S THAT FOR A CLIFFHANGER?

Oh, and here are my obligatory Doumeki x Watanuki caps. >____>  Yes, the bromance is still here and Doumeki is really growing on me.  I love the combination of Watanuki’s gruffness and Doumeki’s blunt statements.  HEHEHEHE.

Overall
Yup, I watched the raw version of this episode since I could not wait to post about it any longer.  Thankfully I had NeeNee’s recap over at Asian Addicts Anonymous to clear up any parts that I didn’t fully understand.  (linked down below) I am really excited for the next episode to see where this is going.  I wonder what Watanuki will do now that he can no longer go to Yuko’s shop!  Would he be able to return to ‘normal’ life or will he try to find a way to contact Yuko again?  Himawari is becoming a more interesting character now that her powers are beginning to be revealed.  Even though I find her rather annoying at times I am ready to see her darker side.

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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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  • I agree with you about the suspense 😀 The episode was beautiful as usual but somehow it wasn’t very gripping – I feel like the last episode with real suspense was the 100 ghost stories. However, (again to agree with you) the dialogue and character interaction was very good, especially the three with the cake at the beginning (particularly Doumeki stealing a taste lol) and the Doumeki/Watanuki interaction throughout. (CLAMP does like to feed the shippers lol) I won’t give any spoilers about Himawari but I am really curious as to how things will develop since they are now departing quite far from the anime and and manga plotlines but still keeping important plot elements like Jorōgumo, the eye (at least I think so judging from the preview), Himawari (at least some aspects of her nature) and the Yuuko dissolving sequence, but “remixing” them…I’m guessing that they wanted to include Jorōgumo (an important sequence) without having to introduce Zashiki warashi and the tengu, but I’m not sure how the next episode will flow…I’m pretty excited to see what they’ll do with it, and hopefully, judging from the trailer at least, it’ll be pretty thrilling! As a side note, I don’t think there’s been a single episode yet where Watanuki isn’t somehow agonized (and I hope they keep it that way 🙂

    • “I don’t think there’s been a single episode yet where Watanuki isn’t somehow agonized (and I hope they keep it that way”

      AHAHA yes..poor Watanuki is always agonizing over something. I feel kinda bad for saying it but I also hope they keep it that way 😛

      I wish they would show more of the character interactions like the cake scene and such, they really make the drama worthwhile!

  • Yeah, this episode was very “meh” in the suspense department, though it had its shining sequences (mainly the opening, Domeki’s and Watanuki’s hydrangea conversation, and the ending). Since I re-read the entire series last summer, I know enough, but it’s not recent enough to know exactly which parts are getting omitted or mixed around. I admit to being slightly sad that they will probably cut out the Zashiki Warashi, but I’m really looking forward to the integral Jorogumo plot line introduced in the next episode. I’m also really curious how they shall explain Himawari’s powers. Will they keep it true or diverge?

    I did loved the part where the Ame Warashi was all like “silly human thought I wanted to help a human” – she did a good job and it really hit Watanuki like a ton of bricks. I was really curious to hear Yuko’s reply (well I technically already know what it would be, but still), but we go the dissolution into butterflies before that could happen.

    Glad my recap could help a bit. Subs have now been released for this episode so that might clear things up a bit more for you, too.

    • *runs off to watch with subs*

      Yes that was an awesome moment, the look of realization on Watanuki’s face was SO GOOD. I also wonder what Yuko would’ve said. I really wonder what her motives are and how she views Watanuki. Is he just another customer or does she have a deeper connection with him? HMMM!!

  • Ahhh, I’m really disappointed with how they changed this one’s core story. Watanuki met the girl when he got sucked under the hydrangea, but there was no weird doctor-nurse spirit trying to eat her, just a lost scared girl who needed to get to a certain place but was afraid to be alone. The fact the girl was dead was relatively ambiguous until Watanuki grabbed the ribbon and got back to the surface, so it was kind of a WHAM moment when you saw that he was holding a skeletal hand. However, despite the disappointing change, they once again added to it in the character development department between Doumeki, Himawari, and Watanuki. For example, I liked getting to see them interact more as friends. I liked seeing Doumeki take the initiative to help Watanuki, and I liked that Himawari actually present there when Watanuki got to the surface… in the manga, she just handed the hair ribbons over without question. I’m glad Yuko’s actually actively trying to draw attention to her powers and get her involved. That didn’t really happen in the manga, even though Yuko was friendly towards her and occasionally hinted about her ability. It’s an interesting direction for her character and a decision I’m applauding, because I felt she was a little too often out of focus in the manga (though granted, there was a reason for that too). In general, the drama seems focusing on these kids with powers and them learning that even if they don’t think so initially, they can use them to help people. This is in contrast to how heavily Watanuki-centric the original story was.

    As for Himawari’s powers… Judging from the hints they’ve given thus far about her powers, I’d be really shocked if they were changed from what they were in the manga. However… they seem to be trying to explore them further and perhaps expand on them a little. Now, how they’ll actually HANDLE the revelation of Himawari’s powers, I have no idea, especially since the drama is swerving into highly-different-from-the-manga territory and it looks like the next episode will discuss her abilities further. I will say this though… she has a good reason for why she acts and behaves the way she does. And her story is one of my favorites so I’m hoping that even if it gets changed, some things remain the same… or they at least handle it in a way equally as good. It’s interesting seeing your reaction to Himawari in the drama, it’s similar to how many people felt towards her early in the manga, even though the direction that the two mediums is taking the character differ somewhat. I’m really interested in how they’ll handle her from here on out and what you’re reaction will be.

    The ending of the episode was rather shocking to me, especially since it took a direction I always felt that could’ve, but never was, explored in the manga: what if Watanuki’s wish no longer applied? In the manga it was an established fact that you couldn’t see the shop if you didn’t need it, but while you did eventually get the feeling Watanuki had grown used to his life working for Yuko and helping people and spirits alike, but he never actually outright discussed it with her, so there never was a time where the shop just disappeared for him. Watanuki despairing at Yuko vanishing before his eyes did happen, but under entirely different circumstances.

    Ah, sorry, I keep saying “manga this, manga that”, but I’m enjoying making comparisons, and its actually nice to see that despite its flaws, the drama keeps my interest by taking directions that part of me wishes I’d seen in the source material.

    I’m kinda raising my eyebrows at the preview of the next ep though, even though the character is one from the manga, I’m getting the feeling the story will be very different.

    • Thanks for the comparisons as I am unable to cover them in my own reviews! >_< I am unaware of how much the live action is different from the original. O_O But I'll say that I'm glad it is boldly taking new directions with the old material. As much as I like Watanuki I'm glad that the drama is developing all of the other characters as well.

      I REALLY liked the twist at the end and I'm surprised it wasn't covered in the manga! O__O

    • Ooooookay I’m definitely reading the manga once the drama is finished. I want to see all the details!

      I am surprised that the shop going away wasn’t explored, especially in such a long manga. It’s interesting, because I got the feeling Watanuki was asking “what if”, and that they would talk about it a little first, but maybe the shop obeys someone’s subconscious thoughts rather than conscious decisions.

      I really like how the inhabitants of the shop have become Watanuki’s family of sorts. The fact that he knows how to cook and do domestic things is probably partially because his mother died, and it highlights his loneliness. He was so withdrawn in the beginning.It makes me wonder what his home life is, if his father is around. Plus it’s very ironic that the very thing that lets Watanuki help people- ostensibly against his wishes- goes away when he decides he WANTS to help people. I can’t wait to see how this develops!

      • Ah! Another person who hasn’t read the manga, this is great! I’m so glad to see that people are enjoying the drama without knowing things in the manga, and I love your observations. In fact, a story not covered in the drama did point out that the reason Watanuki’s so domestic is indeed because he had to learn how to take care of himself. I should point out that, in the manga at least, Watanuki is an orphan. His backstory was altered in the drama so I don’t know if that holds true here, but I’m getting the feeling it is, considering how he’s always on his own.

        Yeah, I’m actually surprised that it wasn’t something covered in the manga either, because I honestly think it would’ve been a great plot to explore. That being said, with the way the plot turned out in the manga, I’m guessing it just couldn’t really be fit in >_>. Besides, it’s really easy to guess that Watanuki would be a rather lost soul without the shop being around, because as you point out, the shop has become his family. It’s great that the drama has been able to portray that in such little time. Watanuki may’ve come into the shop wishing to not be able to see spirits but in the end the story is more about him, who before was quite alone, gaining friends and connections, and learning that there are things he can do for them. Poor Watanuki though, even in the manga it seemed like whenever things were going well for him something happens that snatches it all away ;_;.

        If you do read the manga after the drama has ended, you really do need to keep in mind there ARE differences. The characterization for everyone, for example is more exaggerated in the manga. I guess a good way to think about it is that in the live action, their personalities are much more “realistic”, compared to the manga where, because it’s a comic medium, expressions and character traits can be stretched for more comedic effect. Also, where the drama is able to stand on its own as a story, the manga crossed over with another manga called Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, and in order to understand some of the later events in xxxHOLiC (around volume 12 and beyond), you need at least a basic understanding of things that happened in Tsubasa.

        • Yay, it’s good to know I’m not missing too much. Just so you know, I have watched a few episodes of the anime, so I am used to the exaggerated facial expressions and stuff. It won’t scare me away. I’m also going to try to include Tsubasa in my catching up, although I might watch the anime as a more compressed version instead.

          I think the few Japanese adaptations I’ve seen across mediums have been really good. Dramas can never be as complex as the longer mediums, but a lot of times they do a pretty good job. I think this one is up there with Hana Yori Dango.

          I can see how Watanuki’s butt monkey-ness would be exaggerated in the manga. These stories are always more interesting when they focus on the characters with the supernatural stuff as a vehicle. I think what he does when deprived of his second family would have been interesting to explore, even in a dream or something, but I’ll have to see what they do in the manga and anime. And God knows, the main character can never get what they want, especially when they angst as well as Watanuki does ;-p

          • Whoop! I made an assumption XD. If you’ve already seen some of the anime and plan to watch more, keep these things in mind: The anime is standalone, and removed as many references to Tsubasa as possible, all the way up until the Himawari arc (the end of the second anime season of xxxHOLiC). There’s also a long running arc pertaining to a character named Kohane that the ending was changed in the anime compared to the manga because at the time the anime was airing, her arc hadn’t finished. The manga version is much better (takes place around vol. 13-14 of the manga). From there the animated version gets extremely confusing though, because it’s a series of disconnected OVA’s that obviously havegaps in time between them, AND the OVA’s act as if the Tsubasa crossover events that were cut out in the anime series still happened. I hope I don’t scare you away from watching the anime though, at least through the two seasons it’s still a joy to watch. You just need more background in the manga to really get the OVA’s :P.

            Actually, we do sorta get to see what would happen to Watanuki if he lost his friends, or at least “flashes” of it. The circumstances are quite a bit different than mere him losing the ability to see the shop though. And while he never entirely loses his “family”, we do have to watch Watanuki endure a severe loss over the course of the story, and how he reacts is rather heartbreaking ;_;. In some ways it’s more jarring in the manga/anime when, where his generally more over-the-top behavior kinda masks his underlying angst.

            As someone who isn’t all that familiar with dramas and only watches them occasionally, I’m really happy to hear you think this is a good adaption, even with its length :).

            • Sounds like it would be good to do the manga first, then. I think I’m going to need a Yuko-san to give me extra time to read all this material…

              Thanks for clarifying stuff! I started out watching a few anime series, and then sort of switched more to dramas as quicker fixes. I never expected to like them- I was reading the end of the Gokusen Wikipedia page after watching the anime when they mentioned the live-action drama. I thought, “Ha, that would never work! I’ll just try the first episode to say I did.” Aaand that was all she wrote- I haven’t stopped since. I do think that dramas are less nuanced than the other things, but I love seeing the stories in different forms.

              And we’ll have to see if it’s a good adaptation, once we see the end. Not that I really know from first-hand experience, but it sounds like they picked the right things to adapt in the right ways, mostly.

  • This was a nice interpretation of the hydrangea story but now I’m really curious of how the drama will end. It seems that Himawari has been given a central role in the story. I hope he finds his aay to the shop again! I’m really wondering how he’ll meet Jorogumo in the next episode too since it seems she has a shop of her own. Will they kiss!? I’m really excited for the next ep!

  • The execution might not have been as good, but I enjoyed it.I thought it did really well drawing the parallel between Watanuki’s mother issues and Saori’s.

    I think Himawari is reluctant to use her powers because there is some negative consequence, rather than squeamishness or apathy.. Because she wasn’t fazed by the 100 Ghost Stories, it seems like it’s not the supernatural side of things that scares her, but her own powers specifically. It will be interesting to find what her powers are.

    One of my favorite things about these types of worlds is seeing them develop, and a character like Ame-warashi does that. By having someone who’s probably as powerful, if not more so, than Yuko, the world expands and there are so many possibilities. Plus I always enjoy the Fair Folk-type us vs. humans mentality, and thus look forward to seeing how these guys explore the themes of what it means to be human. Judging by Ame-warashi’s appearance in the beginning credits, it looks like she will come back.

    • Yes having Ame Warashi as another…spirit being..(I don’t know what she is called..O_O ) made it much more interesting. It is fun to see the human world and the spirit world overlap. I think Ame Warashi is also sort of all-knowing like Yuko is, since she already seems to know all about Watanuki & Himawari. I also thought it was interesting when the guy doctor in the hospital tells Watanuki that he has heard about him.

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