It’s just as I hoped: xxxHolic continues to get better and better. I guess I’m really into shows which tell a different story for each episode, as I just totally loved Mushishi and Jigoku Shoujo as well. Okay, there are no such things as cliffhangers, the endings of the episode don’t make you feel curious about what is going to happen afterwards. But still, I find myself wondering about the next story to be told at each of these anime I mentioned. This works just as strong as cliffhangers, maybe even stronger. Especially if you consider that a cliffhanger’s power mostly lies in the moment it happens. The minute the story continues takes its power away again, in most cases. When you have shows like xxxHolic, Mushishi and Jigoku Shoujo, this power doesn’t get taken away at all.
This episode probably was the best xxxHolic episode yet. It already starts with great references, both to Tsubasa Chronicle and the xxxHolic movie. Watanuki is bringing all of Yuuko’s stuff outside, in order to thoroughly clean them, just like in the movie. He encounters Mokona again, this time not in a box, but disguised as a stranded pillow. Maru and Moro are meanwhile hitting a rug, stitched with a couple of butterflies. Maru uses a bat (if I do recall it correctly, it’s the same bad as the one Yuuko bought in the sixth episode, after which she labeled it as a sword), while Moro uses Fye’s staff. To make things even better, The butterflies on the rug seem to be avoiding the bat and the staff. This truly was one greatly excecuted scene. So many things happen at once and Watanuki’s reaction was just perfect.
Then, the real story of the episode begins. It’s about a woman who’s collecting all kinds of rare and ancient stuff. She then notices a closed, cillindric, ceramic box-like thingy, and she asks Yuuko if she can have it. Yuuko warns her not to open it at all costs, and she gets pretty serious when she does this. The woman eventually gets to have the box, though I wonder what she had to give Yuuko in order to get it. I think that Yuuko’s advice was enough of a price, as the rest of the episode shows.
The woman appears to be a new teacher on Watanuki’s school. This means that Domeki and Himawari also are a bit involved in the case. The woman immediately recognizes Watanuki when she sees him, along with Domeki and Himawari. Then, Himawari accidentally opens the box, and a sealed monkey-pawn shows up. The woman tests this out by asking for a day of rain. She hears a loud “knack”, and the rain starts. The next morning, it appears that in order to make it rain, the monkey pawn took all of the water from the school pool.
What follows is a beautiful story about the woman who begins to lose herself more and more. She first wishes for a mirror she wanted to have for a long time. This mirror is probably the most valuable mirror in whole Japan, so once she wishes for it, the monkey pawn goes to steal it for her and brings it to her. She then notices that every time she makes a wish, one finger of the pawn breaks. She makes her next wish when she’s in a writer’s block, and wishes for a great paper for her to turn in. Of course, the pawn steals this from another brilliant student. In the meantime, she happily tells Watanuki, Domeki and Himawari about what she did, and doesn’t even realize she’s going into the wrong direction. Watanuki gets more concerned by the minute, as well as Domeki, although he shows less signs of it. Himawari doesn’t notice anything, while Yuuko remains as serious as she was when she handed the pawn to the woman.
Then, she misses her train, and just like all ordinary people, she wishes for an accident to happen. She really breaks when she sees a person getting ran over by a train, right in front of her eyes. To top this, she gets to pay the price of plagiarizing, and this makes her think that she’ll also be accused of the person being ran over, and she begs the pawn to undo all the things she did. Then, it strangles her, leaving no trace of her, it returns everything like it was before, and so it comes back to Yuuko. I so loved this story. Especially when she saw the person being ran over. Even though it was just a colorless figure, it did make an impact.
I’m also beginning to love the art more and more. Okay, so what if the long limbs aren’t natural. You never hear anyone talk like that about chibi-characters, do you? The facts that the art is messy and illogical are really starting to grow on me, and I’m really beginning to like the character designs more and more. Even normally dull-looking characters like Watanuki and Domeki look more interesting by the minute, and Himawari looks less annoying after every episode passes. And yes indeed, the “extras” aren’t even bothered to being colored, or given a face in the first place. Still, it’s better than method that most anime attempt: every “extra” has the blandest clothing, the most common face ever, and an extremely dull haircut, while the main characters suddenly have hair in the wildest colors, in huge amounts, and each have something unique. Though they still try to simulate some realism while trying to be as natural as possible while spending as little budget on it as possible. xxxHolic at least recognizes that the anime isn’t about these unimportant extras, and just gives them a quick outline and places a number of these on the scenery, in order to fill the screen a bit. In fact, this works so much better than those cheap attempts at realism.