xxxHOLiC – 10
Yuuko can’t stop complaining about the heat until Watanuki brings her some kakigori. Watanuki himself doesn’t care so much about the heat as he cares about not being able to meet with Himawari for a month. Yuuko suggests a date with Himawari, but when he’s too embarrassed for that, she suggests doing it as a group. Actually, she and Mokona agree that summer dates means that they can tell ghost stories. She tells Watanuki that she wants to use Doumeki’s temple as the location for the 100 ghost stories. That night, Yuuko, Watanuki, Himawari, Doumeki, and Mokona gather at the temple. Yuuko mentions to Watanuki that Himawari is cute, but also that she’s a very difficult girl. Watanuki takes that to mean that he’ll have rivals for her, but Yuuko is actually talking about something else.
Inside the temple, Yuuko sets the room up for the 100 ghost stories by placing a basin of water down and having four candles arranged in a square around them. She proclaims that the actors are all here and has Himawari start off with the first ghost story. Himawari tells of a man who had an argument with his wife that ended with her death. He had hid it from his son, but when the son didn’t ask about his mother being gone, the father got curious. He asked his son why he wasn’t lonely without his mother. The son had pointed and said that it’s because his mother had always been beside his father. The father had turned around and found the figure of the mother smiling creepily back.
Doumeki tells the next story, something he heard from his grandfather about a student living alone in an apartment. During the night, he had heard creaking noises, as if someone was walking around. He obtained some o-fuda during the day and placed them around the room to protect himself. But that night, a spirit appeared in his room anyway and told him that it’s useless. This story ends up scaring Watanuki and Himawari quite a bit. Doumeki confirms for Yuuko that his grandfather was the chief priest of this temple and that he could see ghosts. Yuuko thinks that if that’s the case, then Doumeki should be able to also.
Suddenly, one of the doors in the room starts creaking. In fear, Watanuki asks Doumeki if there’s a person in the next room, but Doumeki says that there’s only corpses. When the creaking intensifies to rattling, Yuuko reiterates what she said earlier: all the actors are here. Watanuki tries to appeal to Himawari to leave with him, but Yuuko says that they can’t. While in the middle of the 100 ghost stories, you can’t leave the force field created by the four candles to protect the room. They have to tell all 100 ghost stories before being able to leave. A concerned Watanuki whispers to Yuuko that it’s dangerous for him to tell stories. Yuuko counters back by pointing out that he hasn’t seen any evil spirits yet. And so, they decide to continue onward.
Watanuki tells a story about a young boy coming home from school who, at a road intersection, saw a tall man carrying an umbrella on a day that it wasn’t raining. What makes it strange is that the boy encountered the same man at the very next intersection. When the boy gets to the third intersection, the man appears again, but this time he turns around and looks at the boy. That’s the entire story, and Watanuki admits that it actually happened to him. Doumeki thinks that what Watanuki saw was a spirit. Yuuko thinks that it’s good that he didn’t see the spirit one more time because that would have made the total count four, and the number four is considered to be related to the realm of the dead. Doumeki explains that in the past, an intersection was referred to as “four worlds” and “the world of the dead,” and it was where they thought that you could go into the world of the dead.
Watanuki gets angry that they’re talking about this so calmly, so Yuuko asks him what he did afterwards to get home: Did he advance forward or turn back? Unfortunately, Watanuki can’t remember. Yuuko decides to tell the final story and begins by asking what thing is being reflected through the door behind her. As she says this, a figure appears from the shadows, one resembling the umbrella man Watanuki saw. Creaking starts coming from the ceiling and the ground starts shaking. Looking at the candles, Yuuko senses something wrong with the force field. The figure of the umbrella man then changes into a horde of undead-looking figures. Coinciding with Watanuki’s scream are all the candles going out at once. Numerous arms pierce through the shouji and grab Watanuki.
Yuuko has Doumeki grab the bow and shoot towards Watanuki. Doumeki protests that he has no arrows, but Yuuko thinks it’s ok if it’s him. Doumeki pulls back the bow string and an arrow of light appears. He shoots it at the shadows, causing a scream and a black blob to float through the hole from the arrow. Yuuko has Mokona suck it up, ending the threat. In the aftermath, everyone enjoys watermelons back outside the room. Himawari mentions how Doumeki didn’t have an arrow with the bow, but Yuuko explains that it was his spiritual energy – he can exorcise evil. He got his power from his family lineage, making him the same as Watanuki. After he calms down from being pissed off at that statement, Watanuki asks Yuuko about what she meant with the all-the-actors-are-here statement. Yuuko says that the guest was the corpse, the person who attracts evil spirits is Watanuki, and the person who exorcises them is Doumeki. Watanuki notices that Yuuko left out Himawari of her explanation. Yuuko starts to say something about Himawari, but then decides not to tell Watanuki.
They changed the ghost stories that each person tells and made them longer, but overall the episode followed the manga. I thought that Himawari’s story from the manga (the sound of scratching that leads to a secret room with creepy writing on the wall) was a bit better/scarier than the one she told in the anime. Doumeki and Watanuki’s stories, while also different from their manga counterparts, were roughly equal on level of scariness, which wasn’t much at all for me. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy them anyway since it was fun to hear ghost stories where I didn’t know the outcome.
To tell the truth, Mokona sucking up the ball of evil freaked me out more than anything else this episode – just something about the way Mokona did it. And speaking of that ball of evil, it’s a shame it won’t be featured later in the Tsubasa Chronicle crossover from the manga because of the lack of crossovers in this animated version. Oh well…
Aside from the stories, some of the important things to take away from this episode (mainly from the conclusion) are that Doumeki can exorcise evil and that the subject of Himawari isn’t something Yuuko is willing to explain to Watanuki just yet aside from vague warnings and hints. Himawari remains one of the biggest sources of mysteries for me, even in the manga.