The second DVD of xxxHolic is the best anime to arrive in my mailbox so far. Even though the characters are still unbelievably tall, the mystical beauty of the series still stands strong.
If you don’t know the storyline, high schooler Kimihiro Watanuki is a part-time worker at Yuko Ichihara’s house. Yuko is a professional fortune-teller and wish-giver. She often assigns Watanuki to difficult chores, such as purging the school of ghosts and offering comforting words to people tormented by demons. He’s hoping that Yuko will grant his wish to stop seeing demons.
The second DVD continues Watanuki’s life as a part-time worker. This time, Watanuki returns two birds to a fox and his kid, helps Yuko purge a woman of her addiction to the Internet and saves a cursed hydrangea. The chore for the fox in episode five is the lighter of the four episodes. On Watanuki’s walk back to Yuko’s, he discovers a food cart owned by a fox and his kid. They serve Watanuki the best oden (a Japanese stew) he’s ever tasted, and Watanuki brings Yuko some oden. In return, Yuko asks Watanuki to bring back the fox’s two ghost-birds the next night. Of course, since there was a full moon that night, demons attacked Watanuki, so Yuko gives Mokona to Watanuki. And while he’s chased by demons, Mokona plays a game with Watanuki called shiritori, in order to repel the demons. Mokona says a word aloud and Watanuki has to say a word with starting with the last syllable of Mokona’s word. I loved watching Watanuki struggle to think of words to say aloud.
The next three episodes are grim, to say the least. In episode six, “Indulgence,” Watanuki and Yuko returns to the woman with the ring, who cheated on her husband. Yuko and the woman are now friends on the Internet who post on the magical girls bulletin board (I guess there’s something for everyone in the Internet). This time, she has another addiction–an addiction to using the Internet obsessively as a diversion. Yuko and Watanuki solve her problems by fixing her computer. And Yuko bought a baseball bat for just this occasion.
In the seventh episode, Watanuki helps out a water sprite with an unspecified chore. Watanuki and Doumeki ask for Himawari’s hair ribbons. The water sprite asks Watanuki and Doumeki to go to a humongous hydrangea. However, the hydrangea wraps up Watanuki and pulls him into the plant. He wakes up in a grey world to find a girl who wants to get out of the void they are in. Thankfully, Doumeki saves him again. Unfortunately, the girl wasn’t saved–the girl was already dead.
The eighth episode is the most disturbing one yet. In this episode, a practicing teacher at Watanuki finds a pencil-shaped metal container at Yuko’s yard sale. Yuko lets her have the container, but warns her not to open it. However, when she does open it, she finds an artifact called the monkey’s paw. Whenever she makes a wish, one of the monkey’s fingers break. But as the episode continues, the teacher discovers that not all wishes come true. In fact, her college professor calls her on the phone to tell her that her thesis was a work of plagiarism. She accidentally makes a wish for a subway train accident, and a person next to her dies in it at the subway. Eventually, she dies an awful death by monkey paw.
xxxHolic continues its spiritual theme of contentfulness. Yuko continues to remind us that its better for people not to wish for so much, because we are fine the way we are. Of course, some people wish for more, and Yuko continues to grant them their wishes for things in return. This is a difficult business for Yuko, but in Japan, someone has to teach people to tame their inner beast. Yuko is just the person to do the job.
This is starting to become a dark and grim anime series, but it still remains very insightful. This is one of the best anime series this year. I’m looking forward to watching more.
Image courtesy of anime.mikomi.org