This is the continuing story of high-school student Kimihiro Watanuki, who is working part-time at a wish-granting shop run by Yuuko Ichihara until he has earned enough for her to remove his ability to see spirits. He starts off as her housekeper, but very quickly gets drawn into dealing with clients and the associated weirdness himself. I watched this partially in Japanese with subtitles and partially dubbed with varying degrees of attention; I did check a few things in both to compare, and it’s probably obvious which episode I watched the most closely. This had a bit more explanations in the subtitles than the first volume, which I liked. The subtitles for the shiritori game had the Japanese words used with definitions; the dub version of the game was slightly different (had to use words from a particular category) and unsurprisingly, used completely different words. It lost the impact of the kid’s choice at the end, though; in the dub, he chose a category that Watanuki didn’t like, but in the original he chose oden (an automatic failure, explained in the subtitles).
For the most part, the dub seemed closer to the subtitles this time; it wasn’t exact, but I didn’t really notice many of the random sort of changes from the first volume, though there was a tendency for the rants to be a bit different. Most of the changes I noticed were in the category of making it flow better in English, which could explain the rants; the description of the website where Yuuko and the computer-addicted woman met was a little different, and the shiritori was necessarily very different. I don’t know why the path in episode six is a “[beep]” path (and there is a beep in the original); it’s “Aurora” in the manga, and I don’t remember anything bleeped from the fansubs. In the dub, she just calls it a shortcut.
They did remove some cultural references: the name of the bat in episode six was translated, but the original source (the sword of the legendary thief Goemon Ishikawa; Goemon of Lupin III was supposedly his descendant) wasn’t mentioned. Later in that episode, she quotes Goemon’s catch phrase (“I’ve cut another trifling thing”), but the dub was completely different (“Consider yourself liberated”). In episode seven, they removed the running comparison of Watanuki to Nobita (a character in Doraemon, noted for being a bit of a crybaby) and just called him a crybaby throughout. I can understand why they might have wanted to remove brief pop culture references, though I wish they hadn’t; I am glad they didn’t try to Americanize them.
I think episode seven strayed from the original a bit more than the others, though that could be because it is one of my favorites and I gave it all of my attention. There were a couple of vague references to the zashiki-warashi which were removed; she was introducd earlier in the manga than the anime. I still hate youkai translated as demon (briefly when discussing the ame-warashi). There’s a bit that was presumably accidentally not subtitled (in the Japanese and the dub, Watanuki’s freak-out while Yuuko is discussing payment with the ame-warashi existed but was not subtitled). Watanuki’s rant at the size of Doumeki’s temple is very different (the same basic meaning, though); some of the ame-warashi’s rants were rewritten as well. The dub-writer has apparently never seen a hydrangea; they don’t come in white (only pink to lavender to blue). An ambiguous “she” at the end (referring to the not yet introduced zashiki-warashi in the manga) was changed to “Yuuko” in the dub and the whole line had a different meaning: “Why does she think this guy’s so good” vs “For some reason, Yuuko thinks you’re an exception”, making Watanuki’s rant at the end be completely different.
This had the same sort of extras as the first volume: image gallery, textless songs, and trailers (Glass Fleet, Dragon Ball Z®, One Piece, Samurai 7, Fullmetal Alchemist®, Origin, MoonPhase, and xxxHOLiC). The case was clear, with the inside being a full picture. There was an insert advertising Funimation’s other shows; I think it was the same as in the first volume. It looked like the only front-loaded trailer was Vexille (VLC is my friend, and skips such things). I’d seen that trailer before; I do like the way it says “Music by Paul Oakenfold” with what sounds very much like Boom Boom Satellites playing in the background. I wish they’d put all their trailers in the Extras section, though; I might like the choice to watch them.
- Game of Letters — (v3, c21 and a modified and expanded version of v6, c39) This was originally titled “shiritori”, which is a game where each person has to give a word starting with the last character of the previous word; a word ending in ん (n) loses (Japanese words can’t start with that; na/ne/ni/no/nu are each their own character). Watanuki and Himawari watch Doumeki win an archery contest; Doumeki gives Watanuki part of his arrow (stuffs it in his bag when he’s not looking); Watanuki finds himself at an oden cart run by foxes (father and son), and ends up giving the arrow to the boy in exchange for oden. The next day (the full moon), Yuuko sends Watanuki back to the cart with a package and what looks like Card Captor Sakura’s backpack as protection; spirits threaten, Mokona is in the backpack, and gets Watanuki to play shiritori for protection. The package is delivered (birds whose silhouettes can only be seen in the light of the full moon), and more oden is eaten. In the manga, the delivery is much later, and is to some random man; the shiritori sequence is shorter, and Mokona is not as mean (in the anime, all words end in “ri’, much to Watanuki’s dismay).
- Indulgence — (v1, c4-6) starts off with a visit to the drug store from Legal Drug for a hangover remedy for Yuuko, though the minor reference to its plot was removed. After Yuuko recovers, she takes Watanuki via a strange path to buy a red bat and to visit a client with a computer addiction. There is some discussion of the nature of addiction and that the desire to stop must come from within. There is a random added scene in a café where everyone’s computer was affected, which is slightly better than the manga’s implication that Yuuko and Watanuki were waiting on the balcony.
- Hydrangea — (v5, c27-28) Watanuki is walking home and complaining about the rain when he meets an ame-warashi (a rain-making spirit). She visits Yuuko because she wants to help a hydrangea. Watanuki goes to the temple and gets Doumeki, they visit Himawari and get her hair ribbons, and then they go to the hydrangea, which is extremely large and has a section of blood-red flowers. Watanuki is sucked underneath it, and meets a girl who wants to leave. For whatever reason, this is one of my favorite stories; I think in part because it’s where Watanuki’s perception of Doumeki begins to change. Watching this the first time was when I realized that Doumeki was often deliberately provoking Watanuki.
- Contract — (v3, c18-20) A woman wanders by the shop and gets an artifact that she promises not to open. It opens (not entirely her fault, which I didn’t notice in the manga, though she was the sort of person who probably would have opened it anyway) and turns out to be a monkey’s paw, with predictable results; monkey’s paws are said to be able to grant a number of wishes equal to the number of fingers. For some reason, the animators decided to change the gender of an extremely minor character.