This is the continuing story of Kimihiro Watanuki, who is a high-school boy who can see spirits; the spirits he sees are very interested in him. Yuuko Ichihara runs a shop that grants wishes for a price; one day Watanuki finds himself there and eventually agrees to work for Yuuko until she feels that his work is equivalent to the price of his wish. For the most part, it is episodic, though there are recurring characters and character and relationship development; the part of the manga this series was based on has vague hints of an underlying plot, though the hints didn’t really make it in to the anime.
For the most part, the episodes are fairly faithful to their manga equivalents, though the overall order is different. This disc is probably the least faithful; I’m not sure where episode nine came from, the ghost story episode (ten) had completely different ghost stories, eleven was shifted from winter to summer (but was mostly faithful otherwise) and twelve was an adapted version of Himawari’s manga ghost story. The dub remained fairly faithful to the subtitles; ranting bits were often a little different, but the general meanings were the same. I didn’t notice as many of the random changes as in some of the previous episodes, though there were still a few. Some of the next episode previews were dubbed accurately, but some were completely different.
Only a few cultural references were removed: references to shochu (Japanese liquor) were removed in the beginning of episode nine; the dub did not mention alcohol at all, though they generally have no problems showing drinking (and it was obvious from the context that that’s what it was). There was a random mention of the southwest corner being unlucky in the subtitles of episode ten that was not in the dub, but it was never really mentioned again (the manga mentioned a lucky corner, but did not explain it or reference it again), and the list of things they should do before telling stories was different. In episode eleven, they left the various food references intact with brief translations in the subtitles, but a mention of potato shochu was changed to Chardonnay.
The menus vaguely annoy me (and have all along); it’s not immediately obvious that the xxxHOLiC logo is what needs to be selected to go from a submenu to the main menu. The extras are the same as the other discs: an image gallery, textless songs, and trailers (Samurai 7 (box set), Yu Yu Hakusho® (first season uncut box set), Dragon Ball Z® (double feature), Glass Fleet (specifically for v6, probably spoiler-y), Shinobi (live action, an older title and trailer, re-released on Blu-ray), Fullmetal Alchemist® (didn’t watch, afraid of spoilers), Vexille (again, though it might be a different trailer), and xxxHOLiC (fourth collection)); the front-loaded trailer was Tsubasa. There was a new advertising insert; it included a release calendar for July, August, and September, which was a nice addition.
- Pinky Promise — (not sure where this story came from; the pipe fox’s introduction in the manga is followed by the girl with wings) discussion of the red string of fate; introduction of the pipe fox; Yuuko gives a ring to another girl with problems with her pinky; Watanuki and the pipe fox follow her one day, and Doumeki joins them the next day. They discover her bad habit was different from the other girl’s, and the pipe fox saved the day.
- Lamplight — (v2, c12-14, modified) Ghost stories at Doumeki’s temple, and an explanation of Doumeki’s powers. This episode severely diverged from the manga (not bad, just different). It was much earlier in the manga; it immediately followed Doumeki’s introduction and was Yuuko and Himawari’s first meeting. Himawari’s story is very different (man who killed his wife in the anime vs a hotel with a boarded-up room in the manga) and they managed to completely rewrite her story for the dub without losing any of the meaning. Doumeki’s story was also different (his grandfather meeting a ghost in the manga vs a student and a ghost in the anime), as was Watanuki’s (boy at a third-floor window in the manga vs guy at the crossroads in the anime). The connecting bits are the same as in the manga (almost word-for-word), though they moved the discussion of the number four after Watanuki’s story, and changed the first shape on the screen during Yuuko’s story to the guy at the crossroads.
- Confession — (v4, c21, modified) a look at Watanuki’s home; the introduction of the zashiki-warashi, slightly modified (moved from Valentine’s Day to Obon in the summer), though the basic plot is the same. Watanuki makes holiday food for everyone, tries to give one to Himawari, fails, and gives it to Doumeki instead. The zashiki-warashi shows up looking for a gift, and takes the food from Doumeki, along with his soul. There’s an added appearance of the ame-warashi, who shows up and tells Watanuki about the zashiki-warashi and tells the zashiki-warashi she has the wrong holiday (gifts to boys are Valentine’s Day, not Obon).
- Summer Shade — (v2, c14, modified) the group takes a summer vacation together. This is a modified version of Himawari’s ghost story, with an added voice waiting and wearing a blue dress and wondering if the blue flower was noticed. Himawari’s story featured a hotel where guests at the end of the hall heard noises from the non-existent room next door; Watanuki’s room is at the end of the hall but he hears weird noises from next door; he looks outside and there should be another room. He investigates and finds a room with words all over the walls and ceiling; the words weren’t subtitled, unfortunately. The random voice looked like a voiceover for the words, but Mokona said the words were something different. The random voice was never explained. I think this is my least favorite episode; everyone seemed slightly out of character. Doumeki seemed meaner than usual and repeatedly called Watanuki an idiot, and everyone expected Watanuki to do all of the work (normal) but acted like that was unusual and only for the sake of their plan.