xxxHOLiC – Episode 7

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Time for Himawari to shine! Watanuki gets to finally hear his Lady Sunflower’s tragic fate and his reaction…well, befits a penultimate episode. Gotta keep the show going, eh?

Song of the Post:

ピロカルピン (Pirokalpin) — ワンダーワールド (Wonderworld)

Episode 7: ひまわり (Himawari)

We resume with Jorōgumo looking down on Watanuki as he wails in agony, her sting leaving a web mark on his chest. He coughs what looks like 2 liters of blood (oh, Japan) while she muses that Himawari is to blame for his pain.

Meanwhile, Doumeki is in da place, but has to face the BDSM girls right away. He isn’t in the mood for a strip party though, and loses no time shooting spiritual arrows. That’s my boy. Soon, he finds Jorōgumo, who wonders if he really wants THAT back. THAT being Watanuki bleeding to death.

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Jorōgumo doesn’t mind it since his soul is still worth it. Doumeki aims at her only to watch in horror as she casually takes the blow, yelling “It hurt!”. He’s ready to shoot again but she’s had enough and kicks them out of her cave. Well, that was fast. Doumeki checks on Watanuki, noticing his bleeding web mark, and screams at him not to die. Cut to Watanuki waking up with a start, in Yuuko’s room. Finally, Yuuko!

Yuuko is watching over him, and comments that it’s been a long time. You don’t say! She explains what happened, and how he was trapped by Jorōgumo. The spider knew the barriers around Yuuko’s shop were too strong to break, so she purposely set her trap so that Watanuki can’t enter the shop. Ooookay.

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Watanuki figures out that Doumeki brought him there, but Yuuko adds that there was one more person involved. She looks at Himawari, who was there the whole time. Watanuki remembers Jorōgumo’s words about Himawari’s cursed blood and shakes his head in denial but Himawari tells him to stop worrying: “You realized, right? About me.”

She tells him that it took a while for him to notice what was wrong with her. She first became aware of it when she was 4: she went to pick her ball in the neighbor’s garden and the next day their house was burned down. They said the fire started in the garden, precisely where she took the ball. Other instances confirmed her fear, such as when her friend committed suicide, or when her teacher was stabbed by her lover. And that’s only for the big cases.

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In a flashback, we see Himawari’s grandmother bringing her to a shrine, where the priest assured them that she was neither possessed nor had powers. That reassured her grandma, who thought that it was simply their imagination, but the priest laid it out: Himawari is someone who brings bad luck to those around her. Looking coldly at this pitiful child, the priest asked them never to visit his shrine again, because there’s nothing he can do.

Himawari reeled at his words, her hands clutching her knees, until she felt the warmth of her grandma’s hand on her. But soon after that, her grandma died, which didn’t ease Himawari’s guilt. Doumeki seems to be the only one unaffected by her blood, but she’s afraid he’s reaching his limit. Holding back her tears, she forces herself to smile as she says her parting words: “Your bentos were always delicious.”

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Silent tears run down Watanuki’s cheeks, and he painfully crawls towards her, telling her to wait. “What would you like for your bento, tomorrow?” LOL. Her back facing him, Himawari wonders if he heard what she just said, pointing out that he’s in this state because of her. He agrees, but that doesn’t change the fact that her presence makes him happy. Her smile is his reason to live, and for that he doesn’t mind dying. My, my, aren’t we overly dramatic here?

Turning to him, she smiles: “You’re such a fool, Watanuki.” Truer words have never been spoken. She ignores Doumeki as she passes by him in the hallway, but stops in her tracks when he calls out her name. The dam breaks, and she finally allows herself to cry.

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In Yuuko’s room, Watanuki manages to stand up, ready to chase Himawari, but Yuuko blocks his path. Where does he intend to go, with such a body? Watanuki stubbornly tries to go, so Yuuko reveals that he was about to die, since Jorōgumo’s sting is poisoned. She takes out his bandage to make him see that the web mark has disappeared.

He’s afraid to understand, but Yuuko finishes his thought. Both Doumeki and Himawari became her clients, which explains their presence in her shop. We rewind to when Doumeki screamed at Watanuki not to die. Himawari was there, and she helped him carry Watanuki to Yuuko’s shop where she accepted to grant their wish to save their friend.

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Yuuko tells Watanuki that Doumeki gave the same amount of blood he lost. What’s left is Himawari’s price, and looking at his chest, Watanuki seems to figure out where his scars went. Walking with Doumeki, Himawari winces in pain as she feels the sting, but says that she’s happy to think of Watanuki each time her wounds hurt. What the…

Watanuki can’t accept this deal, and pleads with Yuuko to reverse it. This is impossible as she states that for two wishes of equivalent strength, priority is given to the first. The rule only angers him more, and he wants Yuuko to deliver Himawari from her curse. Yuuko points out that the price would be equivalent to his own life, prompting him to shout “Then take my life!”, which earns him a hard slap. Talk shit, get hit.

Yuuko looks equally stunned, but now that she got Watanuki to calm down, she tells him that he needs to find out what is the only thing that can be exchanged without a price.

On their way back, Himawari asks Doumeki to let her walk alone, assuring him that she’ll be okay. He’s still worried, but accepts, after giving her the ribbons Watanuki held until the end. She thanks him with a gentle smile, followed by a wistful “Goodbye.” Uh oh. Doumeki looks at her walking away, feeling that something is off.

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And indeed, Himawari goes to a tall tree, staring at it with gloomy eyes. Don’t tell me you’ll hang yourself, missy? A spider web glints above her, and next thing you know, her scream is heard miles away. Doumeki twitches at the sound, and runs in her direction.

Watanuki is still resting in Yuuko’s room, only waking up as Maru and Moro bring him a homemade meal. He smiles fondly at their thoughtfulness, the girls having even brought his glasses. How I wish we had more of this Watanuki. They hear a thud outside the room and rush to find Doumeki sprawled on the stairs. Breathing heavily, he ekes out Himawari’s name, his thoughts flashing back to her ribbons being calcined by the spider web.

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Himawari is trapped in Jorōgumo’s cave, tied up in her huge web. Jorōgumo enjoys the spectacle from afar, not wanting to come close to her “filthy blood”. She recalls how Watanuki said that he would die for Himawari’s smile, but knows that Himawari is tired of faking cheerfulness. Jorōgumo tightens her grip, smiling as Himawari shrieks and bleeds. She finally cackles as she repeats what she told Watanuki: “You’re fine as you are.”

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Impressions:

You know there’s a problem when you can’t wait to watch the final episode….to put an end to this misery as soon as possible. The drama xxxHolic has never been addictive, but I wanted to see more of its original spin. Ever since the Jorōgumo arc started, I’ve felt a loss of creativity which this episode confirmed. If I’m not mistaken, Jorōgumo has the privilege of being a kind of archvillain since she’s taking 3 whole episodes, but that only makes the series quite conventional. This is even more disappointing when the five precedent episodes managed to balance the manga’s essence and the drama’s own narrative.

That said, I feel like I should maybe reserve my judgement until I watch the finale, to see if my criticism is justified or not, but here goes. On the bright side, I liked Miyazaki Karen’s acting during Himawari’s revelation, and I really don’t blame her, but that was another missed occasion. The drama version needed her to part with Watanuki in order to move the plot forward, but had to cut off the sweet exchange she had with him in the manga.

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Which brings me to that point. Rant and spoilers ahead, beware! I didn’t want to acknowledge it, but this episode also reinforced the gnawing feeling that Watanuki’s character is stagnating. The drama version is (once again) very short, but his character hasn’t really progressed since Episode 1, especially if we compare him to Doumeki, or even Himawari. The manga also had a slow start, but by the time Himawari let the cat out of the bag, Watanuki had changed and matured.

Pretty much from the start of the manga, you get the idea that Watanuki doesn’t really value his own life, and often risks it for no reason. The manga has an explanation for that, related to an other universe and another series so I won’t go further, but let’s say that he is “a being that cannot exist”. It was never explained to him, though some visitors of Yuuko’s shop hinted at it, but he still felt it subconsciously.

Which is why his encounter with Jorōgumo was a freaking big deal because she was the one who forced him to realize that by throwing himself in harm’s way, he was hurting those around him. And because he accepted the fact that people care about him as much as he cares about them, he couldn’t let Himawari go.

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Sure, Drama Watanuki did try to hold her back, but he used such trite words! The moment he said that he didn’t mind dying, I was facepalming real hard. Manga Watanuki said precisely what Himawari wanted to hear so badly: “I’m very happy to have been able to meet you.” Himawari told him that he may die but he confidently replied that he’d never die or else she may cry. See the progression? That is character development!

So why sticking to hackneyed tropes? WHYYYYY? Augh, my poor heart. For the sake of the drama’s continuity, the writers merged different arcs even if it meant flattening characters along the way. Well, one more episode to go. Please make me eat my words! Now let me read xxxHolic for the xxxth time.

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