Anime Best in Show

xxxHOLiC Episode 21: Favorites

Quick SummaryBest MomentSetupDeliveryOther Posts

xxxHOLiC Episode 21 – Quick Summary

In xxxHOLiC episode 21, “Nail Clipper,” Watanuki looked forward to a day off. He was getting ready to leave work when Yuuko asked if he was wearing new shoes. He proudly declared that he was. She asked him if he first put them on last night, and when she learned he had, she expressed concern. Not believing in superstitions, Watanuki turned to leave – and promptly tripped over his own shoelaces. Was there something to what Yuuko said? Will Watanuki figure it out? Or will one of those superstitions force the issue?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.

Favorite Quote from xxxHOLiC Episode 21

xxxHOLiC Episode 21: Yuuko wasn't exaggerating! Mokona was, indeed flat.

Just how much does Mokona need to eat to stay alive? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Watanuki had a rough day. He almost charged Himawari (as in, he almost acted like a bull charging a matador). He had a hard time even walking because his body felt so heavy. And he got zero sympathy from Yuuko when he staggered late into her house after school.

As he lay crashed on the ground, did Watanuki hear a single kind word? Nope!

After complaining that he was very, very late, Yuuko said (10:10), “Mokona has been so hungry. Look how skinny he looks now.”

Yuuko held forth Mokona, and true enough, the little dude was paper thin. So she wasn’t lying!

Favorite Moment from xxxHOLiC Episode 21

xxxHOLiC Episode 21: It didn't help Watanuki to follow one particular superstition

Despite adhering religiously to the superstition, Watanuki could not avoid the bad ending. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Setup: Matters of Faith

I’ve been thinking a lot about faith recently. Not my own. I’m writing a series of novels, and in the book I’m writing now (Evolution’s Hand Book 6: Unnatural Crypsis), the character Catalina Ojeda experiences a crisis of faith. I find it hard to write her scenes. So much of how faith is portrayed and perceived is either wildly unrealistic or utterly nihilistic. Trying to get it just right, trying to portray a genuine human reaction to the divine (or lack of the divine) is tough to do.

xxxHOLiC just made it look easy. And all it took was my favorite moment.

The whole episode played with the idea of our interaction with the divine – or at least the supernatural. It played with the idea that some superstitions were really cultural stories trying to keep people safe, based on the knowledge of the time. Some cultures, for example, have prohibition against eating pork, because trichinosis sucks.

xxxHOLiC Episode 21: Yuuko wanted Watanuki to be more honest.

At first, I thought Yuuko might be disappointed in Watanuki. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Yuuko, though, subtly scoffed when Watanuki offered that answer. At first, I thought it was because she thought he should know better. But in retrospect, after watching the episode yet again to review it, I think she scoffed because she knew he wasn’t being honest.

I say this because of my favorite moment. As Watanuki used nail clippers after dark (in Yuuko’s house, no less!), the massive pumpkin scissors (or whatever they were) tried to slice him in half. Only Yuuko’s intervention saved Watanuki’s life.

Yuuko told that sure, some of the stories might have been one generation passing health information to the next. But then she said something I thought was cool (almost cool enough by itself to be my favorite moment). When Watanuki asked her what the scissor thing was, she said (16:16), “Well, I don’t know. But I do know that it’s something which has been around long enough for people to talk about it from generation to generation…”

Delivery: Watanuki’s Human Reaction to Superstitions

She went on to say, “However, there are only a few people who would believe in nonhumans, so they conceal it in something as if that’s some kind of code.”

Phrasing her answer that way, Watanuki didn’t feel the need to defend himself. Instead, her words triggered his memory of being in school, when he parents had still been alive. A classmate told a scary story – so scary that Watanuki would protect his thumbs when walking past a graveyard, or if he saw a hearse. Apparently, the thumb is considered the parent-finger.

Child’s play, right? But check this out: still feeling aggrieved, Watanuki remembered doing all that. He also remembered the result.

“But my parents still died,” he said (19:09).

The two things aren’t related, are they? That’s just a superstition, isn’t it? But isn’t Watanuki’s reaction exactly the kind of thing you’d expect from a child? From a human whose faith is crumbling in the face of hardship?

xxxHOLiC Episode 21: Suddenly... nail clippers.

Suddenly… nail clippers! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

That’s the way to portray the human reaction to the divine (or supernatural). Not the take kind of faith as in “My faith will protect me against anything” while COVID kills people in droves. Or the cynical kind where someone says that there is no God, despite the acts of the person beside them whose faith sustains them in terrible times.

xxxHOLiC’s portrayal of Watanuki’s crisis was spot on. It was human, it invited discussion, it was open to interpretation – in short, it was a work of art. Which is pretty much what I’ve come to expect from this show.

What did you think of Doumeki helping himself to Watanuki’s manga? What were your favorite moments? Feel free to share in the comments!

xxxHOLiC Episode 21: Other Posts

Other Anime Sites

This Site (Crow’s World of Anime!)

Copyright 2022 Terrance A. Crow. All rights reserved.

3 thoughts on “xxxHOLiC Episode 21: Favorites

  1. I loved this episode’s look on superstition, and how following the rules of a folk tale or belief could save your life (like with the giant scissors) or it could do nothing at all (like how careful Watanuki was as a child yet his parents still died) and how confusing that could be for a human that interacts with the supernatural. Lol, I loved how eating a bunch of heavy food and then loafing around made Watanuki start acting like a cow! Oo, I just realized that my favorite episode/story arc is coming up next! Episode 22 and 23 are sooo good!

    1. I just watched episode 22… so many intricate little moments! I hope I can do the episode justice in my review next week!

Please let me know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.