xxxHOLiC Shunmuki 01

×××HOLiC 春夢記 Episode 01 (OVA/OAD)

SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

Watanuki and Kohane-chan work on preparing a meal for themselves as well as the fortune teller lady and Doumeki. Doumeki has a gift of expensive sake so the lady says she’ll have to drink it with her best cup. Doumeki and Kohane-chan go to retrieve it. While doing this, Kohane-chan inquires into the relationship between Doumeki and Watanuki since Watanuki is always getting upset. Doumeki recounts how their first meeting had Watanuki kick Doumeki but Doumeki saw Watanuki in a different light when he cradled a dead cat and commented on dying alone. Kohane-chan notes that Watanuki is no longer alone.

Doumeki and Watanuki leave that evening for Yuuko-san’s place, bringing the leftovers. Yuuko-san and Doumeki talk briefly of Watanuki’s accident where he fell out of the school window and after Doumeki leaves to help Watanuki, Yuuko-san reflects further on the aftermath of Watanuki’s accident as well as the moment that the 2nd Syaoran-kun arrived at her shop.

Meanwhile, Watanuki meets with Doumeki’s grandfather (Haruka-san) in a dream state. Haruka-san has a quest for Watanuki, so the following day, Doumeki and Watanuki check out the storage room on the temple grounds. Watanuki is looking for five items, the first being a book. Locating a book, Watanuki finds himself suddenly fishing with Doumeki, apparently having gone to sleep. That evening, the two are packing up to leave when a down burst occurs. They find a Japanese inn right nearby and the young lady who answers the door seems surprised to see them. A group of women inside offer hospitality of the inn to Doumeki and Watanuki, who accept to get out of the rain.

In a room, they dry off when the girl come by to see them. She warns them to leave and then leaves. The lamp in their room goes out, so Doumeki and Watanuki go to obtain more oil. They see a well-lit room and discover that the women inside are in fact bird-people (a type of youkai). Seeing they are discovered, the women give chase, planning to eat Watanuki and Doumeki. As they flee, Doumeki throws the fish bait at the bird-women, which causes them to stop in order to eat the bait. Doumeki and Watanuki escape, so Watanuki wonders if maybe the young lady has a bird connection with Doumeki. Doumeki remembers raising some chickens in elementary school, but they ate them all. With that, Watanuki and Doumeki find themselves back in the storage shed, having lived out the story of the book they found.

Thoughts/Review: Hmmmm…one thing this episode reminded me of is how long xxxHOLiC has been basically marking time as a manga in terms of story. More on that in a bit.

The first part of the episode basically covered chapters 158-161, save for the end of 161 (which is dropped) as well as some conversation pieces. In place of the end of 161, through the Yuuko-san monologue, the events of volume 10 are brought to light, though the prices that Himawari-chan and Doumeki paid are apparently changed. Then the story in chapter 141 wraps up this episode, though rather than be a solo story as it was in the manga, the events in the anime are triggered by being sucked into a book that Doumeki’s grandfather Haruka-san sent Watanuki to find. There are some other bits included too, such as the real Syaoran-kun’s arrival at Yuuko-san’s home.

I praise Production I.G for figuring out that Watanuki has heterochromia — eyes of two different eye color. In xxxHOLiC Kei, Production I.G did have Watanuki have heterochromia for one episode, then it magically went away. I remember hating that, more so when the color pages from the CLAMP manga continued to show Watanuki with two different colored eyes. There was never a reason for them to remove that condition of Watanuki since it is an important thing. So when Watanuki makes his initial appearance in this episode, I was happy to see the eye issue resolved.

Production I.G is now officially linking Tsubasa Chronicle with xxxHOLiC. In xxxHOLiC Kei, they continued to keep the two series divorced even though the xxxHOLiC manga became more and more intertwined with the events of the Tsubasa manga. Considering they are doing the xxxHOLiC Shunmuki in conjunction with Tsubasa Shunraiki, I’m guessing that if these two OVA titles do well that from here on, the two franchises will be released together to retain their manga crossover linkages. That’s how it should have been from the start but oh well.

As to the story itself, I was reminded of how little the xxxHOLiC manga has progressed since the Kohane-chan arc wrapped up. Beyond the constant drumbeat of “what is a dream and what is reality,” not much has happened. Well, there was a big revelation about Watanuki, but I’ll say nothing about that now and wait for the anime to address that issue.

For some reason I was hard pressed to remember the conversation between Kohane-chan and Doumeki regarding Watanuki. I remembered the visit to the fortune teller lady’s home (where Kohane-chan is now living) but not the conversation. Kohane-chan’s loss of powers wasn’t mentioned in the anime for some reason, but thus far, it hasn’t been an issue in the manga and may not be.

As to the episode itself, I’m hard pressed to have any deep feelings here. I never got the feeling that the writers are trying to tell a specific story. Rather, I got the feeling that the writers were trying to right the xxxHOLiC anime from where it had gone off in the two TV series. I’m not sure how much to make of the anime exclusive quest given to Watanuki by Haruka-san. I guess we’ll find out.

The production values for this OAD are increased, which is how it should be. Should we get more of these OAD/OVA series, I hope that trend will continue.

Well, there are only two episodes in this OVA and two in Tsubasa Shunraiki. As such, not much of an investment to watch the next episode as well as the two Tsubasa ones so hopefully I’ll get to watch all of them.

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