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xxxHOLiC Episode 5: Favorites

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xxxHOLiC Episode 5 – Quick Summary

In xxxHOLiC episode 5, “Game of Letters,” Watanuki felt obligated to watch Doumeki compete in a municipal archery tournament. Not wanting to go alone, Watanuki invited Himawari. He should have been in heaven, right? Well, he was – except he also had to listen to Himawari say nice things about Doumeki. It didn’t help that Doumeki slipped the clipped arrow into Watanuki’s pack after the match. Distracted by his thoughts, Watanuki headed home – only to realize he had come upon a ramen stand. And it wasn’t run by a human. Where had Watanuki ended up? Is the ramen safe? And why did Doumeki give him the clipped arrow?

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

Favorite Quote from xxxHOLiC Episode 5

xxxHOLiC Episode 5: Watanuki wanted to put the young fox at ease

Watanuki didn’t want the little fox to feel awkward or out of place. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Do you know something that impressed me about Watanuki? He’s polite. Actually, let me amend that: he’s kind. Sure, he can be a spaz. He barely keeps himself together when he’s near Himawari. He compares himself against the physically capable Doumeki and comes up lacking, so he gets angry. But despite all that, he’s a nice guy.

He followed his nose to the fox’s oden stand. I don’t blame him; the food looked delicious. But when he prepared to pull the curtain aside and take his seat, he caught sight of the young fox. A young fox standing upright and wearing a robe.

Both Watanuki and the fox recoiled in shock.

After the father fox helped sort everything out, Watanuki could enjoy the delicious oden. He saw the little fox sitting there, and the little guy seemed a little dejected.

“Huh?” Watanuki said (05:58). “Oh… I’m sorry about before. You surprised me.”

Watanuki seemed so sincere and in the moment that the quote stood out to me. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say the quote charmed me. It’s part of the show’s vibe, and it feels very welcoming!

Favorite Moment from xxxHOLiC Episode 5

xxxHOLiC Episode 5: The elder fox had an opinion about Watanuki

The elder fox had a perspective on Watanuki – and he shared. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Setup: The Supernatural Doesn’t Need to be Starkly Other

When I get excited about a show’s depiction of the supernatural, it’s usually because of how well the show captured a sense of radical otherness. Mieruko-Chan’s Episode 6 is a perfect example. The shrine attendants and their god was neither cute nor cuddly. At a glance, you could see they would do whatever they wanted – and the likelihood of us as humans understanding what that might be was vanishingly small.

There’s another extreme of supernatural scenarios that I find just as appealing. Its as hard to pull off because of its very nature. I’m talking about the supernatural in the mundane. And it doesn’t get much more mundane than an oden stand.

xxxHOLiC Episode 5: It looked like an ordinary oden stand

What could be more ordinary than an oden stand? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

It’s something you might find in a lot of Japanese cities. American cities have similar food carts, so they’re it’s not unusual to see them here in the states, either. Watanuki certainly didn’t seem surprised, even though the background was clearly not what I would expect in a Japanese city – and Watanuki should not have expected it, either!

Delivery: Supernatural in the Ordinary

But in the moment he laid eyes on the little fox, he knew – this was no ordinary oden stand. And it fit perfectly with what we know of his world! The supernatural is sometimes among us. Now we know it’s sometimes just a step away.

The capstone came when the older fox made an observation about Watanuki. That’s part of the fun, isn’t it? Hearing the supernatural perspective about your own life is part of the immersive experience.

The fox said it was really unusual to see a human, and a younger human at that. He said (05:14), “For you to be so young is a big deal. You have a considerable amount of power.”

xxxHOLiC Episode 5: Watanuki didn't seem surprised by the elder fox's observation

If the fox’s observations surprised Watanuki, he didn’t show it. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

In previous episodes, Yuuko explained the supernatural that Watanuki experienced within his world. In this episode, he took a step into the supernatural world. Fortunately for him, it was (at least initially!) a pleasant experience. I wonder what his next journeys into that world will be like?

What did you think of Mokona and Watanuki’s game of Shiritori? What were your favorite parts of the episode? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “xxxHOLiC Episode 5: Favorites

  1. This is one of my all time favorite episodes of my all time favorite series. If the little fox is on the screen – it’s a favorite moment. I think the reason that Watanuki doesn’t react when the adult fox says “you must be very powerful” is much the same reason I used to not react correctly to compliments – my self esteem at that point in my life was so very low that I ignored compliments because 1) I didn’t believe they could possibly be true, and then 2) so whoever said that must be mistaken or maybe out to get something from me. Mistaken, mainly. I didn’t know how to react, so I just sort of ignored them. I think we are seeing that Watanuki really has really low self esteem and a lack of confidence, which maybe fuels some of that spazzy behavior. He has judged himself by “normal” society rules and found himself very lacking (as against Doumecki’s physicality and casual confidence) and it may take a lot of experience to unlearn that and learn to value the power he actually possesses. I love the whole “this is your protection” and it’s Monoka and they play the word game. It’s a super valuable lesson again from Yuuki. That it isn’t some sort of spell or charm, but instead a game of mental focus that he can do with probably just about anyone – something HE does HIMSELF that protected him. I’m not sure he got that from it – but I think that’s what she was trying to teach him. That he is in control. As you say, quantam physics. And, yet again, we learn something about the world by experience rather than information dump. I love this episode because of the softness of the little fox, the strength and calm of the adult fox, and how Watanuki and Yuuko react to them. And the moonlight birds is just a really beautiful concept. And because I deeply want to taste Fox Oden.

    1. I like your idea about why Watanuki didn’t react. It explains a lot!

      Watanuki really does have low self-esteem. It’s why he reacts the way he does to Doumeki. I guess seeing spirits as long as he has, combined with losing his parents, imposed quite a burden on him.

      “I’m not sure he got that from it – but I think that’s what she was trying to teach him.”

      I’m pretty sure he didn’t! That’s an aspect of Yuuki’s training that I’ve not thought about much. I think I’ll need to pay more attention to it!

      And those moonlight birds… the first time I saw this, the sense of beauty and wonder made me go quiet. I love it when a show can evoke that kind of reaction.

  2. I remember being really surprised when Watanuki started playing shiritori with Mokona, mostly because I remember play “the Alphabet Game” with my older sister when I was little and feeling nervous about something. It was great to distract me when I was little, and it’s kind of used in the same way in the episode.

    1. It’s almost as if Watanuki doesn’t think about the spirits, they can’t get to him. It’s like his observation matters. Reminds me a little of quantum physics, where the observer affects the observed — though that’s about all I understand about it!

Please let me know what you think!

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