Watanuki is preparing a plate of ohagi for Ochugen. Yuuko, Mokona, Moro, and Maru make quick work of the sweets, leaving just one. Watanuki decides to give it to Himawari, however, she’s not at home. While sulking on the swings in the park, Watanuki is imagining what would have happened if Himawari was there when he hears Doumeki says that it’s delicious. Turning around, Watanuki sees Doumeki sitting on the swing next to him, eating the ohagi. After Watanuki goes berserk, Doumeki tells him that Himawari is on a trip to Karuizawa and shows him a postcard to prove it. Watanuki is lamenting this when he suddenly notices a blue firefly-like light floating beside him. It leads his gaze towards the girl who is now sitting on the swings next to Doumeki. She’s embarrassed when they start looking at her, so Watanuki assumes she’s one of Doumeki’s admirers. He tells the girl that he’s going home and getting out of their way, but the girl clings onto his shirt as if she doesn’t want him to go. Seeing this, Watanuki gets the girl to sit by Doumeki and takes a position nearby.
The girl admits that she forgot to bring something for Ochugen for her most important person. However, she smiles and says that she’s found it. She then reaches into Doumeki’s body and pulls out the ohagi he just ate. As result, Doumeki faints to the ground. Seeing that, the girl starts fumbling for words and crying. Watanuki tries to stop her and watches in amazement as she’s carried into the sky by a sea of those blue firefly lights. Yuuko pops her head down – scaring him – and tells him that the girl isn’t human. She explains that Doumeki has lost his soul and makes Watanuki realizes that this is his fault. She agrees to help him bring Doumeki back, but it’ll cost him, meaning that he’ll have to work more for her. She calls upon a giant bird, piloted by Mokona, and instructs Watanuki to chase after the girl. She also warns him that if he doesn’t bring back the thing the girl stole from Doumeki before the day is over, then Doumeki will sleep forever.
Mokona and Watanuki spot the girl against the moonlight and give chase. But she only runs away after seeing him. As he’s gaining on her, several miniature men appear around him, riding boards. They accuse him of making the girl cry and start to attack the bad guy (Watanuki). With Mokona’s piloting skill, Watanuki is able to dodge them, but he accidentally lets go of the bird’s reins in the process, causing him to go flying off and start falling down. Fortunately, his fall is broken when he becomes surrounded by a sea of the blue firefly lights. The girl from before is controlling them – she saved him. Watanuki thanks her and she apologizes to him. Since she had wanted to give the ohagi, Watanuki scolds her for taking a soul of the person (Doumeki) she wanted to give the ohagi too. Actually, the girl confesses that she wanted to give the ohagi to Watanuki for Ochugen. Surprisingly, the Ame Warashi then appears to clear things up. She explains to the girl that Ochugen is not the right time to give the present to the person you like – that’s a different day. Watanuki is still confused, so the Ame-Warashi explains that this girl is the Zashiki-Warashi and the mini-flying men are the Karasu Tengu. The Ame-Warashi takes the Zashiki-Warashi home, though the Zashiki-Warashi mouths some words to Watanuki as she’s being led away.
Watanuki returns with the ohagi to Yuuko. He’s happy to have gotten it as a gift but realizes that he made it himself in the first place. Yuuko says that it’s a power that Watanuki created with the power to see spirits and eaten by Doumeki; the Zashiki-Warashi needed something special to give, and that’s what she chose. They return it to Doumeki’s body and he wakes up. As Yuuko starts telling Doumeki about everything that happened, Watanuki notices another blue firefly floating in the sky. Sometime later, Watanuki gets a postcard from Himawari. Must to his dismay though, it’s addressed to both him and Yuuko.
This pretty much mirrors the first chapter of the fourth volume with the introduction of the Zashiki-Warashi, with a few minor changes including the addition of the Ame-Warashi. The season was moved from Valentine’s Day to Ochugen in July, but the general gift-giving concept was still there. I thought the Zashiki-Warashi in the anime was a bit more timid than she was portraying in the manga, mainly because of that long embarrassed period she spent on the swings. I look forward to her return later on because she’s involved in some of the most interesting stories of xxxHOLiC.
Production quality also seemed a bit higher than normal, though it’s kind of hard to tell with this style of series.
Next week looks like another anime original story, this time with Watanuki and company on vacation.