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xxxHOLiC Episode 23: Favorites

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xxxHOLiC Episode 23: Favorites – Quick Summary

In xxxHOLiC episode 23, “Choices,” Watanuki regained consciousness as Maru and Moro were dragging him to the entrance gate. They couldn’t leave the grounds, but they were trying to get medical assistance for him – because he obviously needed it. They had some plan – just hurling him outside wouldn’t help him. What’re they hoping to do? Will Mayuko try to see him again, despite it obviously being unhealthy for him? And when will Yuuko get back?

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

Favorite Quote from xxxHOLiC Episode 23: Favorites

xxxHOLiC Episode 23: Watanuki knew being in Mayuko's presence was killing him; he didn't care

He knew she was killing him. But he didn’t want her, or himself, to be lonely. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Even though she knew she was killing Watanuki, Mayuko still went to one of their old meeting places. She had told him to stay away, so she at least made an effort to keep him at arm’s length. But if she really, really wanted him to stay away, I have to believe she would have gone somewhere else.

But loneliness sucks, doesn’t it? Like, a lot. Enough to risk one’s life to ease its pain. Watanuki accepted physical agony, to the point of coughing up his own blood, so he could both experience that easing, and offer it to her.

Which is what makes this my favorite quote.

They met for what would become the last time. Watanuki confessed that he knew their meetings were killing him. She seemed frantic when she asked why he still came to her.

“Because when you’re lonely, I’m lonely, too,” he said (11:45).

It was beautiful and terrifying and tragic, all at the same time.

Favorite Moment from xxxHOLiC Episode 23: Favorites

xxxHOLiC Episode 23: Watanuki finally realized he was important to people

Until this moment, Watanuki didn’t really accept that others actually cared for him – beyond the lunches he fixed for them. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Setup: Watanuki Started as a Spaz…

In this episode, Watanuki did something I never thought I’d see. No, I don’t mean inviting Doumeki to lunch. Though, to be honest, that was a) pretty great and b) indeed something I didn’t think I’d see. No, I mean something more intrinsic to Watanuki’s character. And it was pretty amazing.

All season long, we’ve seen evidence that Watanuki just doesn’t think much of himself. He doesn’t understand that the Zashiki-warashi was trying to give him – and not Doumeki – a present. In this episode, my favorite quote showed that Watanuki knew being close to Mayuko pushed him closer and closer to an inevitable death. Yet, because he couldn’t stand their loneliness, he chose to put himself at risk. That clearly suggests his perception of his self-worth is low. Tragically so.

xxxHOLiC Episode 23: Doumeki has helped Watanuki since the start of the series

Doumeki seemed to be losing patience with Watanuki this episode. He’s always been there for his friend – but Watanuki wouldn’t notice. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Partly, it’s his life experience to date. He has to feel put-upon, given how seeing spirits oppressed him for years before he met Yuuko. Growing up without his parents, blaming himself or superstitions or whatever for their death – those experiences grind a person down. Partly, it’s that the guy just can’t read social cues. He doesn’t see that Doumeki acts like that because he sees Watanuki as a friend (or a little brother – I can’t tell for sure!).

Delivery: Watanuki Ended as a Spaz Plus!

My favorite moment in this episode came towards the end. After Doumeki shot Mayuko with a spiritual arrow, Watanuki asked him if he had done it simply because she wasn’t human. That was a cruel question – Doumeki has not shown a prejudice against non-humans. Worst, Watanuki ignored something obvious; something fundamental. When Doumeki answered (15:20), “I chose to do so, that’s all,” you could see he was pissed off. And not just because Watanuki hadn’t listened to him.

It took Yuuko, unsurprisingly, to get the point across. Watanuki had tried to apologize for not listening to her warnings, but she said as long as he could live with his choice, all was well. Then she said (16:56), “Doumeki-kun made a choice, too. By shooting her… Even if it hurt you… Even if you hold a grudge against him… So that he could stop you from disappearing…”

xxxHOLiC Episode 23: Doumeki could see Mayuko -- and fired anyway.

Doumeki could see Mayuko. And he fired anyway, to protect his friend. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The shot of Watanuki’s face showed that finally, after 23 episodes, he understood. Doumeki was his friend. There were other people who needed him, too. The realization brought tears to his eyes.

This season showed us Watanuki growing from a ridiculous spaz to a ridiculous spaz with self awareness. He even did, in fact, ask Doumeki to join him and Himawari for lunch. That’s huge growth for Watanuki!

What did you think of Doumeki coming to Watanuki’s aid? What were your favorite moments? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “xxxHOLiC Episode 23: Favorites

  1. This is my favorite episode of the whole season! I love how the story shows two sides of the same coin. Mayuko was willing to hurt Watanuki to ease their mutual loneliness, Doumeki was also willing to hurt Watanuki for friendship. The difference is that the pain Mayuko was causing would have killed Watanuki, and the pain Doumeki caused was to save him. I also love how this is a unique depiction of a toxic relationship. The most dangerous toxic relationships aren’t the ones that make us miserable, it’s the ones that make us feel good. When there is someone in your life that makes you feel accepted and special, even if staying with them is painful or dangerous, we tell ourselves that it’s okay because it’s better than being alone. And when we tell ourselves that it’s okay to be in pain, it makes us blind to the people around us that legitimately want to be friends and don’t want to hurt us.

    1. “The most dangerous toxic relationships aren’t the ones that make us miserable, it’s the ones that make us feel good.”

      Wow. That’s spot on. I didn’t think of it that way. You’ve given me a lot to think about in that one sentence!

      I sat here starting at my screen for a few minutes as I tried to gather my thoughts. I think I’ve come to conclusion I need to think some more, but this reminds me of something. Have you ever written a computer program? Or written a book/short story? Do you know how the first draft isn’t quite where you need it to be? You see errors in a program; or character inconsistencies in a work of fiction.

      Humans feel like that to me — unfinished creations. Version 1.0.0. Maybe 1.0.1 (baseline with a single bug fix). Ray Bradbury was right. We’re too soon from the cave and too far from the stars.

Please let me know what you think!

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