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Great Drinker – Witch's Brew, Yuko Ichihara

Name: Yuko Ichihara
Series: xxxHOLiC
Episodes: All
Usual: Sake
Favorite Dive: The comfort of her own lair shop home
Type of Drunk: The Cougar, The Social Drinker, The Philosopher
Quote: “Come on, let’s drink ‘til we burst!”

Yuko Ichihara runs a small shop that’s almost the inverse of the one in Friday the 13th: The Series. For an appropriate fee, she grants each customer’s most pressing wish by giving them a helpful item infused with some specific supernatural power. Her items and talents draw people with all sorts of afflictions, but none more so tortured by that which cannot be seen than Watanuki Kimihiro — a high school boy who attracts more spirits then Dana Barrett’s Apartment Building. As Watanuki’s situation is lifelong, Yuko, in all her graciousness, grants him asylum and aid in exchange for his daily … services.

This is all possible, because Yuko is a witch. I’m not saying that to be mean. I say it because Yuko deals in magic and magical items, has a talking bunny thing (Mokona) for a drinking buddy, and can create portals in space to avoid taking trains. The house she occupies, which also serves as her shop, has a magical barrier surrounding it that wards off mischievous and malevolent spirits. With this, Yuko has cleverly created a warm and welcoming safe haven in which Watanuki can cook, clean, and fetch sake for his Mrs. Robinson every day after school.

Since Watanuki’s too young and she’s not that corrupt, Yuko doesn’t depend on having of-age company join her in drinking. But that’s not to say she drinks alone. This lanky lush uses anyone’s company — familiar Mokona, her creepy twin creations Maru(dashi) and Moro(dashi), emotionally unstable clients — as an excuse to empty a few bottles with complete disregard for tomorrow morning’s hangover. Being the social drinker that she is, one might wonder how, since Yuko doesn’t deal in money, she can afford all this boozing. One might ask if she should be characterized as a mooch or a barfly instead.  To that I ask, “Have you seen how this woman dresses?”

Outfitted via a wardrobe comprised of an infinite selection of classic kimonos (and some more playful contemporary attire), the absolutely bewitching Yuko exudes a sultry elegance and drips with words of wisdom. No-one knows her age (and who’d be daft enough to ask), so we’ll assume that her demeanor and encyclopedic knowledge of spirits and human habits stem from what most would consider an extended presence on xxxHOLiC’s Earth. What else could explain Yuko’s air of experience? After all, any conversation that follows a cup of sake or few is sure to entail a proffering of sage advice or helpful philosophizing pertaining to some perplexing dilemma — be it unrequired love, bad habits, or angry spirits. So the drinks Yuko receives by those who stumble over themselves to retrieve them for her aren’t free, those drinks are payment for the opportunity to be in her company.

Yuko Ichihara epitomizes the drinker the world wants: wise and secluded but in the phonebook whenever she’s needed for an ear, advice, or just a good ol’ time. And Yuko seems to be just fine with that. She’s got her boy toy for amusement between clients and an insight that derives delight from the naïve beings in this world. And really, what’s better to drink to than the folly that is humanity?

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