Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle
|Also Known As||The Witch of the Dimensions|
The Time-Space Witch
The Far-Eastern Witch
Increased life span
|xxxHolic chapter 1|
|xxxHolic Episode 1|
Yūko Ichihara (壱原侑子, Ichihara Yūko) is a fictional character from the manga, xxxHolic, created by the manga team Clamp. Yūko, an enigmatic, powerful and fashionable sorceress, is one of the principal characters in xxxHolic and a very important person in the storyline of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. She is known by many names throughout the multiverse, most notably as "The Dimension Witch" —a title that reflects her unique reach in time and space. She has also been called The Far Eastern Witch as one of her aliases. However, she also claims that her name, "Yūko Ichihara", is just an adopted name, meaning her true name is unknown. The "侑" character of Yūko's first name translates as "to help, assist, repay kindness," coinciding with her roles as wish-granter and Watanuki's mentor. In the anime, she is voiced by Sayaka Ohara in Japanese and Colleen Clinkenbeard in English.
Role and actions
Yūko is the owner of a mysterious shop in Tokyo. She is a dealer in wishes as she will grant the sincere wish of anyone who is willing to make an appropriate sacrifice in return; the price is always equivalent to the weight of the wish, no more, no less. In the case of Kimihiro Watanuki, who sought to be rid of the evil spirits that plague him, the price was a long period of frequently demeaning servitude. As a result, she now has Watanuki as a sort of "personal assistant" to clean, cook, and perform other tasks she considers beneath her.
Yūko is apparently one of the few people with the power to send people to multiple worlds, such that she has been aptly named the Dimension Witch. The travelers Syaoran, Fay D. Flourite and Kurogane, the protagonists of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, are sent to her from their respective home worlds in order to gain this ability. However, to gain the ability to traverse dimensions and the related abilities embodied in a being known as Mokona Modoki, they are required to pay a price that equates the power required to grant the wish.
In the shop live two child-like beings created with Yūko's magic known as Maru and Moro, whose full names, Marudashi and Morodashi, translated roughly, mean streaking and flashing, a play on the "xxx" in the title. According to Yūko they cannot leave the shop or touch the Mokonas because they have no souls. The two have the function of grounding the shop to its unique location between dimensions. In later chapters, Moro and Maru are seen sleeping and Yūko comments that they are focusing on keeping the house in place. Apart from this function, the two greet visitors, assist Yūko, and annoy Watanuki.
Powers and abilities
Among her other abilities beside granting wishes, transversing dimensions, she can also create gods for other worlds (which was a wish made by Ashura of Tsubasa), manipulate time (demonstrated when she had Mokona transport the Tsubasa group from Shara to its ancient past of Shura), and speak through Maru and Moro as well through other people's minds. In the anime, when she sends a letter to Watanuki, her responses to him are in "real-time", depending on Watanuki's reaction. In the xxxHolic movie, she gives a glimpse of how powerful she can be when she faces the Collector, even though she does not use any offensive attacks. She effortlessly dodges most of his attacks and is seemingly unscathed from a direct hit.
All of Yūko's customers must pay such prices in order to grant their wishes, which can be no more or no less than the one demanded, or else harm will come to one's way. She is not one to tell the customer the most direct way to solve their problems because in the end, it can only be solved with that person's own realization and resolution to change themselves. Often if the person lacks the sincere determination to change themselves, an ironic disaster -that even Watanuki, who wishes to stop them from hurting themselves, cannot stop- will inevitably befall them. In Volume 8 when the Tengu-Karasu seek her help to save the Zashiki-warashi, their payment; the Tengu Fan was more than the required price. To balance it out, Yūko sent out Watanuki to assist them.
Her abilities are not without limits and may almost seem a curse as it appears that she is unable to do anything for anyone or grant any gift (other than feelings) without it becoming a binding transaction.
In chapter 183 of Tsubasa, Yūko throws a rope-like item towards the moon, far off to Fei Wong Reed's whereabouts, in order to send the Tsubasa gang to Clow Country, where Fei Wong Reed resides. Fei Wong notices, and counters back at Yūko, hitting her hard. With a more serious look, she continues on. Afterwards, she collapses but places one hand upon a nearby tree, Mokona yelling out her name and worriedly hopping over to her. Yūko's left arm is bleeding, and she weakly states that she no longer can help the Tsubasa characters, it is all up to them now.
Yūko's shop is located in Tokyo, Japan. From the drawings Clamp made, the store is located in the middle of high rise buildings. She, Black Mokona, Maru and Moro also reside there. Part of her shop is her main residence and also has a Koi garden and a back well. Yūko's shop is said to exist for some unknown reason or made to specifically for that purpose. The shop also hold many valuables and artifacts that were used in the manga's storyline.
Some of the items in the store are from other Clamp work, such as the High Moon vase from Gohou Drug, which she claims she acquired from the "anything goes" store (but Watanuki thinks she stole it); Sakura's staff from Cardcaptor Sakura, which she reveals to be just a replica of the original; and a stuffed toy resembling Kero, found in the back of her shop. She also has Fay's tattoo and magical staff, Kurogane's Ginryuu sword, the clothes worn initially by Syaoran, Sakura, Fay, and Kurogane, ear headphones resembling the Persocom ears in Chobits, a birdcage containing birds similar to the birds in Clamp's Clover which can only be seen in the light of a full moon, and twelve jars of pure water taken from a well at a mansion. The two Mokonas were originally stored in there in the beginning of the series, but the white one was given to the Tsubasa group. She also appears to be in possession of a capsule similar to that which was seen in the vision in the beginning of the Tsubasa story (although it is not the same capsule). As of chapter 133 (or 150 in Tsubasa) it is revealed that it is a world all of its own and Sakura's soul resided within it.
Other xxxHolic items used in the storyline were the Monkey's Paw, a red aluminum bat inscribed with the characters for "Zantetsuken" (Japanese for "Executioner's Sword" and a reference to Lupin III), used to cut through a woman's laptop computer and for beating a carpet with a living butterfly pattern, a picture frame that contained the moving picture, the ring used for a girl with a bad lying habit, swords given as payment by Ashura in the Tsubasa group and xxxHolic crossover, and another picture frame that has an Akari image in it. In Soel to Larg: Mokona=Modoki no Bouken, she has a bath that if you put cold water in it, it will always keep it cold.
The shop keeps its secrets and seems to be selective in its clientele. When Shizuka Dōmeki could not enter the shop and only see Yūko's store as a vacant lot, Yūko explains in volume 8 of the manga that since Dōmeki does not need anything from her or the shop, it does not physically or visually exist to him. As a result, he cannot enter her shop like Watanuki and must arrange to meet her outside of it. For a shop that can grant any wishes, only a few seem to have taken notice of it, though she believes it is Hitsuzen that makes it possible for those few to set foot in it.
The shop's existence is connected both to the fates of Watanuki and the four leading characters of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. As events in Tsubasa escalate, Yūko and Mokona note that the shop's wards are weakening.
The shop also is a common place for recovery for Watanuki everytime he is injured, within which Yūko makes sure to make him comfortable. Mokona would often sleep beside him when he is ill.
In chapter 157, the wards of the shop collapse, revealing the shop completely. It is most likely this event which makes it possible for Fei Wong Reed to attack Yūko in chapter 183 of Tsubasa RESERvoir CHRoNiCLE. In chapter 167 the shop itself dissolves, although the store room is unaffected. Yuuko remarks that she must at least protect that room.
Yūko's personality is one of Clamp's deepest and most profound yet. Though she acts very sarcastic, annoying and bossy around Watanuki, she has a wise understanding of the human nature - their sorrows, joy and love. Yūko has a wildly eccentric personality in many respects. She has a decidedly nasty streak, as evidenced by the humiliating tasks she frequently assigns to Watanuki. Yet she is also capable of showing affection for him as well. She is lazy and whimsical, carrying out her tasks in an off-handed manner much of the time and expressing little concern over what happens to her clients once her job is done.
In addition, she has a tendency to make cultural references, such as Lupin the III, Urusei Yatsura or The Ring.
She is also fun-loving, witty and humorous, with the occasional lecherous side she utilizes to disturb Watanuki (to her great amusement). She has a great fondness for alcohol, which results in sending Watanuki to the pharmacy for hangover cures whenever she drinks too much. She is frequently seen with a Kiseru pipe (A pipe used to smoke Kizami, an special tobacco). In the first episode of the xxxHolic TV series, it shows her filling the pipe with tobacco, though in her typical eccentric fashion she uses a cigarette cut rather than a cut for pipes, in Chapter 194 of the manga, is confirmed by the Moon Rabit after the pipe goes into Watanuki's possesion.
As the series progresses, it becomes increasingly evident that her outrageous behaviour is merely a cover up to prevent Watanuki from realizing the severity of the actual situation around him. It is not known if her doing so is entirely out of concern for him or because telling him the truth at this point in time would be considered as overstepping the bounds of 'interference' that she is limited to.
Relationship with Watanuki
Yūko's relationship with Watanuki is sometimes difficult to understand. She is obviously very interested in him but that interest is neither shown to be romantic nor sexual. At times, she acts as a mentor to Watanuki, letting him experience and understand the world of the unnatural as well the diversity of the human kind.
Yūko's playful side with Watanuki involves in tricking him into minor wishes for additional service. For example, in volume 1, when she showed her fortune telling abilities, she took Watanuki's watch as payment. Her signature characteristic is always asking for food and sake or wine, using different excuses to drink sake. She also gives him humiliating or life threatening assignments, though she does also provide ways for him to survive. For instance, when Watanuki had to deliver a birdcage, he needed to play Shiritori with Mokona in order to repel the evil spirits. When he was investigating the rumors of classmates playing Angel-san at night (Japanese equivalent to Ouija), a giant snake guardian nearly ate him, but Yūko offered it the Persocom headphones instead. When he helped Ame-warashi, a dead girl nearly lead him to the afterlife for evil spirits, but they were rescued by Dōmeki who was following Yūko's instructions. He also had to go inside a vase, where the Tengu-Karasu chased him before he could get back home. Finally, when he went to the 100 Demon Night Parade for nectar, Watanuki was nearly mauled by 100 demons.
On Watanuki's side, his attitude towards Yūko begins as a mixture of annoyance, contempt, terror, and gratitude. He would often warn Himawari and other clients to beware of her because she is "ensnaring them in her clutches", and Yūko would respond to this with a verbal outburst or by striking him in a comedic fashion. However, Yūko never leaves Watanuki fully incapable in a time of need. She nurses him from time to time when he is injured, such as when she gave him half of Dōmeki's sight in Volume 8, where Watanuki finally realizes his self importance and collapses shortly afterwards in Yūko's lap and it is shown in the translation that she says he is tied to other people by love, especially her, implementing some romantic feelings in some people's view. As the series goes on, it is not stated that because of how much work and time he spent at Yūko's store that Watanuki sleeps over ever more so often.
In several occasions, Yūko allows Watanuki to receive payment for the various jobs that he had done in which her own involvement was minimal. She never mentions any form of payment or rental fee whenever the Kudakitsune tags along Watanuki, especially in the dangerous trips. In Chapter 120, Yūko gives Watanuki an egg for him to hatch and care for as her payment to him for the water he had fetched for her.
As the series progresses they are sharing a much more deeper and serious mentor-student like relationship. In Chapter 139, Watanuki finally asks if he could do anything for Yūko as she has been granting wishes for everyone, and wondered who grants her wishes. Then Watanuki, in Chapter 144, has made himself even more clear and insists that he will do the best within his power to grant Yūko's wishes. At this point of the series she has a much more somber personality towards Watanuki and he has been noticing it in the recent chapters.
In recent chapters, Yūko has moved from Watanuki's world into Clow Country. Subsequently, anybody who had met Yūko prior to this is no longer aware that Yūko Ichihara had ever existed, much to Watanuki's shock. In xxxHolic chapter 181, it is revealed that since Yūko's time had started to move, she was dead before Watanuki was even born, thus explaining why nobody can remember her.
Ten years after this, Watanuki grants a wish to a black-haired girl with her right eye covered with bandages. Being unable to leave the shop, Watanuki tasked Doumeki and Kohane with filming her request. After fulfilling the request, the girl ordered Doumeki to give the tape to Watanuki and nobody else. Watanuki plays the tape, and the girl remarks, "I'm back, Watanuki." After rewinding the tape several times, Watanuki responds with, "Welcome back, Yuko-san."
Relationship with Clow Reed
Her relationship with Clow Reed is somewhat ambiguous. They made the two Mokona Modokis together using their magical abilities. They also met the original Mokona of Cephiro in other dimension. Clow Reed is the one who wished for Yuuko to stay alive when she was dying, thus stopping her time. It has been hinted in both Tsubasa and XXXHOLiC that Yuuko and Clow had a somewhat romantic relationship prior to this.
Yūko in Tsubasa
After Sakura lost all her memories (in the form of feathers) in the first volume of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, the four main characters finally met for the first time in Yūko's garden, each of them with a request for which Yūko demanded payment:
- Syaoran: Wished to travel dimensions to gather Sakura's feathers.
Payment: Sakura's memory of him will be lost. (Though she revealed to Watanuki that the fair price would have been to take Syaoran's memories of Sakura as well, but she stated she decided to let it pass.)
- Kurogane: Wished to be able to return to his alternate world of Japan.
Payment: His sword Ginryuu. (Although is a replica)
- Fay: Wished to never return to Celes.
Payment: The tattoo on his back that prevents his magic power from becoming too great.
Yūko also provided the party with the White Mokona, which acts as both the group's dimension transporter and interpreter. Additionally, Yūko can use the White Mokona to communicate with the group, grant requests and exchange payments, such as the dress Sakura made for her and the Chocolate Lava cake they had in Oto country.
Her appearances in the earlier volumes of the Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle manga were very limited and often with comedic effect, such as teasing Kurogane (much to his annoyance). After the incident in Tokyo Country, Yūko became pivotal in explaining the challenges that the cast will face. When Sakura had a dream that Fay would kill her, Syaoran, Kurogane and then turn on himself, she traded her luck for advice from Yūko. Yūko was also aware of Fay's curse from the beginning, thus her appearing in a different dimension when the Tsubasa group first met in the 1st volume of the manga.
As both the Tsubasa manga and XXXHolic manga progresses Yuko makes very subtle hints of Watanuki's later significance to Syaoran and their story, stating that she may know more of what fate lies between Watanuki and that of Syaoran.
By the time the Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle group returned to Nihon Country (Kurogane's world), she was able to explain the real truth about Sakura being a cloned soul. By chapter 183, she granted the teams' wish of returning to Clow Country in which she, with the help of Black Mokona, used a magical string to connect Syaoran's group to Clow county. The price for them to return to that dimension had already been paid by Watanuki with his memories. Fei Wong Reed, sensing her powers, sent a lightning bolt to stop Yuko, seriously injuring her in the process. However, she was able to complete her task. At this point, she explained to Black Mokona that there is nothing more she can do for Syaoran and that the rest is up to those children to choose their fate.
Yuuko reappears in chapter 215 and 216. It is revealed that she had suffered the same fate as Sakura in that she had her own time frozen to prevent her dying. She breaks open the tube (shown in chapter 1), which contains the souls of Sakura and Syaoran Li, the original "Syaoran's" parents.
Events prior to the main storyline
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle chapter 189 revealed that Yūko had received payment from Sakura Li ( the Star Staff given to her by Sakura Kinomoto) to allow her son (the original 'Syaoran') to travel to Clow Country to meet with Princess Sakura. She returns 'Syaoran' after his father, Syaoran Li made a wish that he should return safely. However, 'Syaoran' makes a wish to return to Clow Country. Yūko reveals the price to be that 'Syaoran' would be unable to return to Japan as long as there is nobody who can cross dimensions in Clow Country. 'Syaoran' agrees to the price and Yūko sends him off.
Although Yūko's actual name and age are unknown, she has evidently had contact with most of the important mystically-oriented characters in the various Clamp series. She has in her possession a replica of Sakura Kinomoto's first Clow staff  as well as the real Star Staff  and has been known to complain mightily about her annoyance with Clow Reed's personality, though it seems that they were preparing for the arrivals of the characters of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle and Watanuki. She has also mentioned being acquainted with Sumeragi Subaru and his sister and has been aware of the Sakura Kinomoto of Cardcaptor Sakura for some time claiming that one day she wants to meet both Sakura and Syaoran from the world of Cardcaptor Sakura.
Additionally, several characters in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle are familiar with Yūko. Sorata and Arashi Arisugawa of the Hanshin Republic mention that they are indebted to her, Seishirō from Ōto has been given the ability to travel because of her, and Ashura of Shura is seen speaking to her through a reflecting pool. The mysterious antagonist, Fei Wong Reed, and his assistant, named Xing Huo in the anime, are both aware of Yūko's powers and abilities and how she intends to derail them. In the anime, Fei Wong Reed even remarked when Yūko succeeded in derailing his plans that he has "fixed" the problem already since there will be something else that Yūko and even Watanuki will be dealing with. In volume 1 of XXXHOLiC she also mentions that she knows an Onmyouji who had a twin sister. She was talking about Subaru from Tokyo Babylon
As well, many items in Yūko's shop appear to be from other worlds in Clamp's works, or at least act as references. The High Moon Urn used in volume 5 is the same vase recovered by Kazahaya Kudō and Rikuō Himura in volume 2 of Legal Drug. In volume 3, Moro and Maru are seen reading "A City with No People" by Chitose Hibiya from Chobits while Watanuki sports headphones that bear more than a passing resemblance to Chii's ears in the same volume. In volume 6, Yūko sends Watanuki to deliver a cage of mechanical birds which can also be found in Clover.
Since part of CLAMP's stated intention of xxxHolic was to unite their body of work into a single universe/multiverse, it seems quite likely that Yūko has a more than passing awareness of the events of Cardcaptor Sakura, Tokyo Babylon, and X/1999, and that while she may not have visited Cephiro herself, she is almost certainly aware of its existence. In a special novel released in Japan about the origins of the two Mokonas, it was mentioned that Clow Reed and herself met the original Mokona of Cephiro (Magic Knight Rayearth) thus making it the model for building the two smaller Mokonas. One is black and one is white. The white one has a red gem and black one has blue gem.
- ↑ xxxHolic chapter 170
- ↑ xxxHolic Rou OAV
- ↑ xxxHolic Chapter 2
- ↑ Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle Chapter 189
- ↑ xxxHolic Chapter 9