Watanuki and Himawari are attending one of Doumeki’s archery competitions. Doumeki wins the championship and afterwards gives Watanuki an arrow fletching. On the way to Yuuko’s place, Watanuki suddenly smells something really good and gravitates towards the scent. It takes him to an oden stand where he encounters a young fox. Both he and the fox are scared of each other, but an older fox then invites him in. Watanuki thinks that it’s actually a person in a mask, but the fox assures him that they’re genuine. The older fox also comments on how Watanuki must have a very strong power in order to see the stand. He offers Watanuki a bowl of oden – it’s delicious. Watanuki then notices that the younger fox is eying his bag. Specifically, it’s the arrow fletching that he’s interested in, so Watanuki gives it to him. The older fox decides that since that fletching can act as protection against evil spirits, it can be payment for the oden Watanuki ate. He also gives Watanuki a box of food. After giving their regards to Yuuko, both foxes and the oden stand disappear. Watanuki realizes that it couldn’t have been a dream because he’s now got a box of food in his hands. At the store, Yuuko immediately recognizes the fox’s food because of the cloth that it’s wrapped in. Under the almost full moon, she and Mokona dine on the food and drink sake.
The next night is a full moon, and Yuuko wants Watanuki to go on an errand. She’s got a wrapped package resembling a cage that she wants taken to the oden stand. Since this is the night of a full moon as well as Friday the 13th, she knows that he’ll need protection, which is why she also provides him with a backpack. Watanuki sets out, but soon notices that the shadows are creeping towards him. Several evil spirits spring forth and start chasing him, so he opens the backpack. Inside is Mokona, who wants to play shiritori. With the evil spirits catching up, Watanuki goes along with the game. Surprisingly, every time he successfully thinks up the next word, one of the spirits disappears. At one point though, he drops the package. He picks it back up and continues running, but there are a few more hairy moments when he can’t think of a word. Watanuki and Mokona eventually manage to reach the oden stand safely. As the older fox explains, shiritori is an old protection spell used to create a barrier. Watanuki then hands over the package, which turns out to be an empty cage. Actually, it’s not empty – inside are a pair of phantom birds who show up only under the light of a full moon. However, the older fox notices that one of the birds is hurt. He takes the arrow fletching from the previous day and uses it to shine the moonlight onto the bird, healing it. Watanuki and Mokona stay for eats and play shiritori with the younger fox while the birds are set free and fly towards the full moon. They arrive at Yuuko’s store, indicating to her that Watanuki safely accomplished his duty. She raises her cup to toast the magnificent full moon.
They combined the fox/oden stand story from the end of volume 3 with the shiritori story from the end of volume 6 of the manga. In doing so, they changed the shiritori (phrase connecting) story so that Watanuki was actually delivering the cage to the oden stand, and they even added something with the arrow fletching. I don’t mind the changes because it makes the series connect together a bit better than manga, which had a few random stories here and there (this being one of them). It does make me wonder if/when they’re going to animate the ghost lantern story from the beginning of volume 6 (which also involves the young fox). Some of the scenes from that chapter are really beautiful and I’d love to see it animated.
The animation was fairly solid this episode, as was the music. xxxHOLiC is getting progressively better each episode. Next week, the woman who can’t stop using her computer.