xxxHOLIC Live Action Episode 1 Recap
I am impressed. I was wondering how they would be able to translate this particular manga into a live action drama, and the first episode is not nearly as horrible as I had envisioned. The special effects also aren’t all that bad (not nearly as cheesy and hokey as the live action OHSHC’s was). I can’t say I’m 100% sold on who they cast in each role, but they are doing a decent job acting.
For those who don’t know, xxxHOLIC is a manga series written by the infamous group CLAMP (Magic Knight Rayearth, Cardcaptor Sakura) and follows the story of Watanuki Kimihiro as he tries to find a way to rid himself of his ability to see ghosts and other types of spirits by coming under contract with the Space/Time Witch Yuko. This series also heavily tied into CLAMP’s Tsubasa Chronicles, although you do NOT need to actually read either series to necessarily understand what’s happening in the other.
My only concern is that the manga series actually took quite a few volumes to start getting into the real plot behind all the weirdness and silliness, so for the limited amount of episodes, what will they do? Anywho, onto the recap. These episodes are only a half hour each, to boot. So little time, so much to cover.
xxxHOLIC Episode 1: Fate
We open with Watanuki [Sometani Shota] at school noticing a spirit out of the corner of his eye. He talks about how he has been able to see such things for his entire life. However, he can not do anything else beyond just plain seeing the spirits. He can’t exorcise them or really interact with them at all. On his way home from school he runs into a woman and notices a black fog engulfing her hand. He says nothing and she walks away. Watanuki continues on his way and steps into a puddle. When he looks up there’s a house that wasn’t there before and he is being inexplicably pulled towards that house. Once inside, he’s greeted by two little girls who call him a customer and drag him throughout the house.
While Watanuki is being dragged around, we get a voice over from Yuko [Suzuki Anne or just known as Anne] about the strange wonders of the world that people don’t see or interact with. She then says that human beings are the most mysterious creatures in the world. The two girls then throw Watanuki in front of Yuko. He apologizes saying he was passing by and the girls happened to drag him in. Yuko says there is no such thing as coincidence, there is only “hitsuzen.”
So what exactly is “hitsuzen”? It’s a preordained event—what you’d call destiny. Something that was “inevitable.” When I read the manga, that’s one of the words that was left alone. I think “hitsuzen” sounds better than fate or destiny or inevitable. Plus, it’s not really translatable, you can only give a vague explanation in English of all that the term encompasses. Hitsuzen is very important in the manga and likewise, the drama.
Anywho, Watanuki goes to leave, but Yuko asks for his name. This surprises the teen, but he does eventually give her his full name and which Chinese characters it is comprised of. Yuko then does a reading on him. He’s good at housework and is currently living in situation that calls for him to be good at such things. He can also see ghosts and they flock to him because of his blood. This last thing angers Watanuki and he demands to know what Yuko is. Yuko introduces herself—her name is Ichihara Yuko. The children are her friends Moro and Maru. Yuko’s job is to fulfill the wishes of the people who are drawn in to her shop. This surprises Watanuki—wishes. Yuko gets closer and closer and grapbs his chin. She says that she grants wishes in exchange for something of equal value. She gest closer and whispers in his ear, “even if it’s a soul.” Watanuki jumps back a bit and Maru and Moro begin to demand to know what his wish is.
Now, I shall pause here and says this:
- In the manga, Yuko berates Watanuki for being stupid enough to give a total stranger his name and birthday as that can make him very vulnerable to those who wish him harm
- Yoko gave Watanuki a big lecture about imbalanced exchanges—how bad things would happen if you take too little or too much
Watanuki closes his eyes and when they open, he’s spacing out at school. His long-time crush Kunogi Himawari [Miyazaki Karen] has been calling to him for awhile. When he realizes where he is and who he’s with, Watanuki’s face blossoms into a smile [the first we’ve seen so far]. Himawari asks him what’s wrong and Watanuki says nothing. He then asks after Himawari’s promised bento [lunchbox]. Himawari sits down close to him, causing Watanuki to put a little distance between them. She then pulls out her bento. Watanuki takes it and tries it. He tells her it’s delicious and Himawari reveals she just repacked a bento she had bought into her own box. Say what? Didn’t Watanuki give her a recipe? Himawari confesses that she cannot make such a grand bento like he can [seriously, his bento was amazingly gourmet looking]. Watanuki starts to scold Himawari for not trying when Domeki Shizuka [Higashide Masahiro] asks Himawari about her promise. Himawari then rushes off after apologizing to Watanuki. The boy turns and angrily calls out to Domeki who just gives him a bland stare before walking away. We then cut to Domeki practicing traditional Japanese archery with Himawari…keeping score…maybe.
We then cut back the store where Watanuki is about to voice his wish when the woman he ran into earlier comes in. She apologizes for coming in unannounced and Yuko says that she’s been expecting the woman. The two sit down and start chatting—the girl is curious to know what kind of shop it is. Yuko says that she will fulfill the woman’s wish in exchange for something. Watanuki again notices the dark cloud hovering around the woman’s pinky. He says something causing both women to look at him. How did he know her little finger hurt? Yuko then takes out a ring and gives it to the woman. The pain in her pinky is immediately relieved. So what’s the price? Could it be free? Yuko tells her that she seriously needs to think about what a pinky is used for—that’s the price.
Watanuki immediately recalls pinky promises and the saying about sticking a thousand needles in one’s eye if the promise should be broken. He then flashes back to a hospital room. His mother. The roof. Him screaming for her not to come near. When he comes back to his sense, he’s on a rooftop.
On his way home, Watanuki sees a black cloud again and looks up to see the woman with the ring. He asks if she went back to Yuko’s store. The woman says that the pain returned horribly and she went to consult Yuko about it. The only thing Yuko asked was if she had any habits. The woman says she has none and then turns and starts yelling at Watanuki for being involved in some sort of scam with Yuko. Poor, boy.
Watanuki find the same puddle he stepped in earlier and steps in it again. Moro and Maru open the doors and welcome him happily. They take him to Yuko and he asks after the woman from earlier. Yuko says that it’s thanks to the ring that things haven’t gotten really bad yet. But what if she takes it off? Yuko comes up and leans over. She can only change the outside. She can’t change a human’s heart or what they say.
Watanuki is in a café where he sees the woman again. She is telling nothing but lies. Every time she tells a lie, the pain in her finger gets worse and Watanuki starts feeling ill as well. He follows her around and she just keeps lying, making the ghosts keep piling on her. Watanuki decides to tell her what her problem really is when Himawari finds him and apologizes to him for leaving with Domeki who is her precious childhood friend. In fact, Domeki is one of the few friends she has and she is very calm with him. Watanuki tries to rush after the woman again, but Himawari says that she is also very calm with him as well. When he turns back, it’s too late. The woman has taken off the ring letting the full weight of the spirits effect her. She becomes paralyzed and gets hit by a truck. The ring goes rolling towards Watanuki who collapses and yells. Himawari comes near him and when he turns to her, she screams and runs away from him.
Watanuki goes back to the shop to returns the ring to Yuko who says that she knew he’d come back. How’d she know? They share fate. Watanuki holds out the ring and asks if Yuko shared a fate with that woman, too. Yuko again repeats that she cannot change the inside of a person, on the outside. It was up to the woman to realize that lying had become habitual. Yuko takes the ring and changes it into a butterfly. She then asks Watanuki if he’s familiar with “The Butterfly’s Dream.” Whether he’s a figment who exists in Yuko’s dream or she in his—who knows? She then walks over to him again and demands to know what his wish is. Watanuki recalls his complaint of being able to see while not being able to do anything about it, watching the woman die in front of his eyes, and HImawari’s look of frightened disgust. He wishes to not be able to see ghosts anymore. Yuko leans in close and says she always does a fair exchange.
Anne is doing her best at trying to portray the complicated Yuko, but I don’t think she’s quite mastered it yet. We don’t really have any interactions with Domeki beyond that little glimpse, so it’s hard to say about his character. As for Watanuki—he’s toned down. In the manga, Watanuki was going through constant mood changes from being over the moon silly in love with Himawari when she was around to rabidly shouting at his perceived rival Domeki. Actually, for the moment, the drama seems much more serious and deeper than the manga. Oh, sure, the manga definitely had serious and dramatic moments, but there was a lot more schtick and silliness in it than seriousness—although most of the cases Yoko handled were all very serious.
However, I am liking this. The acting isn’t horrible, the effects are okay thus far. I’m looking forward to more episodes.