Episode 3 of Shikabane Hime: Kuro, “Dear Abnormal Form”, starts off with Ouri and Makina entering a new phase in their training. Or rather, Ouri is now about to start the actual training as a contract monk, as he was previously focused on strengthening his connection with Makina as a contract monk. Makina, on the other hand, is supposed to severe her connection to her previous contract monk, Keisei, as the connection is the cause of the “curse” on Makina that strengthens her tremendously, which would not be a bad thing except that the Kougonshuu considers it to make Makina that much closer to a plain shikabane. Ouri has his reservations about the whole idea despite assurances that severing the connection merely means that it stops Makina from overly preoccupying herself with Keisei, that it doesn’t mean Makina is going to forget Keisei.
Meanwhile, at the secret lair of the Seven Stars (although I don’t really know if it’s “secret”: for all I know, the Kougonshuu may very well be aware of where it is but can’t or won’t do anything about it), Ena managed to snare the honor of being the first among the Seven Stars to seriously go against Makina. At Akasha’s bewilderment at the apparent eagerness of the Seven Stars to fight against Makina individually, Hazama makes it quite clear that they are motivated by their nature. If their nature gives them a desire to fight against Makina, then they will do so. And it’s also made quite clear that they don’t care if Makina somehow manages to destroy them, so at least they don’t suffer from an invincibility complex. It might be the case that the Seven Stars has no ulterior motive or scheme concerning Makina other than as a worth adversary, after all. To bait Hoshimura Makina, Akasha volunteers the use of an interesting shikabane he has been “raising” for some time, so that even if Makina isn’t sent against the bait, it will still deal a blow to Kougonshuu forces.
While Rika and Saki wait outside the ritual chambers situated within a cave in a mountain, Makina must severe her connection with Keisei all by herself. However, things don’t go so well as Makina hallucinates a mirror image of herself convincing her otherwise. If it weren’t for the fact that it’s in the middle of Kougonshuu territory, I would have suspected it as part of a mind game by Ena. But it’s probably just an inner desire of Makina externalized. Whatever the case may be, Makina soon goes out of control and runs off, with Saki having been unable to contain her. It probably wasn’t just the overpowering strength shown by Makina that prevented Saki from stopping her, but also Saki’s hesitation due to empathy for what Makina must go through, as Saki can’t imagine severing her own connection with Rika.
Elsewhere, while Itsuki and Fresh are taking a bath, Itsuki talks about her own past as a shikabane hime. Obsessions obviously come in all forms, as Itsuki had no particular obsession during life. In fact, her life was as ordinary as can be with nothing special, which ironically enough became her obsession in that she didn’t accomplish anything during life. So when she became a shikabane hime when she died in a traffic accident, she sought out the person who had the most promise of being a powerful contract monk. This happened to be Takamasa Sougi, except that Itsuki is completely flabbergasted after making a contract with him when it turns out that Sougi had no idea about the shikabane hime, as he inherited the temple when his father died without telling him anything. I’m surprised that Itsuki could create a contract with someone she has never met before or that a shikabane hime without a contract monk would be rational or let out unescorted. Perhaps some shikabane hime are created directly as such, while others are fresh shikabane that get a contract monk in time, or maybe it’s just a discrepancy that should be glossed over …
On the other side of the fence, Sougi and Ouri are also taking a bath. Sougi warns Ouri that one should not consider a shikabane hime as a human, that it’s completely unreasonable to want both the strength of a shikabane hime and the relationship as a human at the same time from a shikabane hime. This belief is not due to some abstract tradition or anything, but is from Sougi’s painful personal experience. There are scars all over Sougi’s body as proof of his previous foolishness, and it seems that he may have lost a close friend of his because he wanted Itsuki to be more than just a weapon. Before Sougi could continue, though, female screams from the neighboring bath signals the discovery of Umehara peeking on the girls, so Sougi heads over to rescue the teacher from the girls’ punishment.
So Ouri ends up alone in the bath, which is just what Makina has been waiting for. Right after the black cat finally appears in front of Ouri and goes away, belittling him for not remembering what he was, Makina attacks Ouri. She demands that Ouri quit being her contract monk, claiming that she is satisfied with the curse cause by her connection with Keisei and that Ouri is just a drag. She isn’t going to kill him, but when Ouri refuses her demand, she intends to cripple him so that he could no longer be her contract monk. Makina has obviously reverted back to a bad state as a lot of her rationality and empathy seems to have gone dormant. But Rika and Saki manage to tag-team Makina and capture her in the nick of time.
With Makina restrained, the contract monks are concerned that Makina will not be able to function as a shikabane hime in the state she is, when Sougi gets a call about a shikabane appearance. It’s a shikabane from four years ago, most probably related to his painful personal experience, and it has a suspicious resemblance to the friend of Sougi and Itsuki that was seen in Sougi’s flashback earlier. As this episode put some of the spotlight on Sougi and Itsuki, it’s no surprise that there would be a history between them and the shikabane that appeared, which Akasha was “raising” and will be a major part in the next episode.
With the black cat back and being exasperated at Ouri’s continued inability to remember whatever it was he forgot, maybe it’s getting close to the time when Ouri’s mystery is revealed. What was he and what happened to him before he was taken in by Keisei? It might be a bit too much to expect that it would have any bearing on how Makina’s attachment to Keisei will be handled, although a part of me is hoping that Ouri manages to reconcile her attachment with his position as her contract monk. Even after death, Keisei is still a source of badass: there’s a lot of reasons why Ouri would want to keep it that way even if everyone else says otherwise.