Shikabane Hime: Kuro 8


hokuto-respnding-to-makina

Episode 8 of Shikabane Hime: Kuro, “Because Our Mother is Not Stained”, begins with flashbacks to past events we’ve seen until it reaches the end of the previous episode, which continues on to confirm that Nozomi won’t be coming back as a shikabane hime. Elsewhere, Makina wakes up in the Seven Stars base after having been captured. Hazama actually wants Makina to fight against Hokuto, and while Makina doesn’t know what he’s up to, she isn’t going to turn down a chance to destroy the Seven Stars when she’s right in their midst. This time, however, Hokuto sees Makina as something very bright and hot instead of the broken mirror from episode 2. Incidentally, Makina was deliberately selected to be the adversary for the Seven Stars because she was of the Hoshimura bloodline.

It seems that Hazama would have preferred Hokuto to have become a shikabane hime in some other scheme, though. When Akasha wonders what they were trying to achieve by having Makina and Hokuto fight each other, Hazama says that it’s only because Akasha wasn’t able to find a way to turn Hokuto into a shikabane hime using methods from the religious text they stole from the Hoshimura family they murdered: Hokuto has been a plain shikabane for too long to be turned into a shikabane hime. I have a feeling that Hazama is obsessed with destroying the Kougonshuu, an obsession not quite shared by the rest of the Seven Stars. Meanwhile, Makina isn’t quite a pushover as she faces Hokuto.

Of course, this means that Makina is absorbing power from Ouri, which causes him to collapse while training against Kamika at the Kougonshuu headquarters. So much for keeping secret the unsevered connection that Makina has with Keisei. At least Ouri isn’t collapsing dead despite the horrendous amount of power Makina must be drawing from him, considering the distance and that she’s facing Hokuto. However, it turns out that the higher-ups in Kougonshuu knew about Ouri’s origins all along: he was born from the belly of a shikabane, and they even considered it a possibility that Ouri himself was a shikabane.

field-of-dead-children

This is news to the lower ranking members such as Rika or Sougi, though. The former apparently has just received orders to severe the connection between Ouri and Makina just as if Ouri was a shikabane, although Rika thinks it might be better off for Ouri as a chance to be free from Kougonshuu affairs like how Keisei didn’t want Ouri to be involved in the first place, which is a sentiment that Saki doesn’t seem to quite agree with. The revelation triggers a flashback in Ouri, who remembers a field with dead children strewn all over and witnessing Keisei having just destroyed a shikabane as Sadahiro and Akasha are watching, along with Akasha’s shikabane hime. (Shikabane hime are obviously not quite unique in their ability to destroy shikabane, despite marketing claims by Kougonshuu members to the contrary.)

Sougi is the one that is tasked with bringing Ouri to the severing ceremony, and he even acts like he’s wholeheartedly into it, but Sougi and Itsuki actually wants Ouri to escape and help Makina. It’s just bad timing for them that Rika and Saki, who were bringing the tools for the severing ceremony, encounters them just after Itsuki knocks down a couple of guards. While Ouri manages to escape, Itsuki and Saki almost start fighting against each other over a difference of opinion: Saki might not be happy about cutting the connection between Ouri and Makina, but she does understand Rika’s argument that it may be best for Ouri, whereas Itsuki and Sougi hope that Ouri and Makina could resolve the question of whether there could really be an understanding between humans and shikabane. It seems that I improperly attributed the currently cold relationship between Sougi and Itsuki as being due to superficial thinking.

otaku-shuriken

The fight between Saki and Itsuki is aborted before it really starts by a ridiculously huge pair of shuriken, which could only mean the appearance of an otaku contract monk and shikabane hime pair. They’re shortly followed by the head priest of the Kougonshuu, who tells them to ignore the problem of Ouri and Makina: given the ruckus that the Seven Stars have been raising recently, it has been decided that all contract monks and shikabane hime are to be gathered for an assault meant to wipe the Seven Stars all at once. As a side note, I would not have expected a religious organization such as the Kougonshuu to have super-advanced metallurgy and weapon forging technology, too: otherwise Itsuki’s guns would have shattered upon impact from Saki’s huge hammer (I’m obviously being sarcastic here).

Back at the base of the Seven Stars, Hizuchi gets the green light from Hazama to kill Ouri: when Ouri is killed, Makina would supposedly become even more powerful as a pure shikabane with only a single obsession, an even more worthy opponent for Hokuto. The Seven Stars can also monitor the gathering of shikabane hime around the Kougonshuu headquarters thanks to Isaka, another member of the Seven Stars. The gathering is exactly what they want: it seems that the situation would actually allow an awakened Hokuto, who will presumably be primed by Makina, to move in directly into the heart of the Kougonshuu headquarters with no difficulty at all. Touya is oddly unresponsive, though, to the puzzlement of Isaka, while Hazama doesn’t care. I have a feeling that Hazama will regret not giving any thought to Touya’s catatonic state. Elsewhere in the base, Hokuto seems to having a great deal of fun about having someone that isn’t being destroyed easily, in contrast to the frustration that I suspect Makina must be having about none of the damage against Hokuto sticking. Hokuto seems to get really happy when Makina defines Hokuto as her enemy.

Meanwhile, Ouri is at his old place, the temple with the orphanage, searching for any clues that Keisei may have left about Ouri’s past. He almost gets hit by Riko with a broom as a burglar, but she realizes that it’s Ouri in time: instead, she hits him for not visiting them right away after coming back to town. Of course, Riko has no idea about the Kougonshuu or any clues about Ouri’s past before he came to the orphanage, but she remembers that there were a lot of missing children right before Ouri showed up. So it wouldn’t be a good sign when one of the orphanage boys runs in about someone kidnapping one of the orphanage girls right in broad daylight.

outpouring-of-eyes

When Ouri runs out to search for the girl, the black cat appears saying that a sibling of theirs is calling them. It also seems that something else is close to awakening within Ouri as a lot of eyes open all around the cat’s body. Ouri and the cat soon find a group of children being watched over Hizuchi, who is recreating an event from the past. It’s like what happened to another group of children, including Hizuchi (or perhaps Hizuchi is actually all of the children), who were killed by Ouri’s mother, who we quite clearly see to be a shikabane in a flashback. And Hizuchi is very pissed off about Ouri being the only one still left alive. It doesn’t help that Hizuchi doesn’t even know why.

  1. #1 by Milan on March 4, 2009 - 5:57 am

    The name of the title “Because Our Mother is Not Stained” invokes a lot of thought in me. I just still can’t figure it out. I am sure the meaning of the title will evolve throughout the next episode. I wonder also why she only kills children. It’s obvious killing children is a soul staining event. I still think Hokuto is Ouri’s twin sister. Not only do they look alike, but their both extremely powerful.
    The Happiness Monster (I know she has a name just can’t remember it) is changing a lot. After the conversation she had with Makina, and now she understands that happiness doesn’t equal death. She seems to have remorse. After the map scene she had to be carried away by another member of the Seven Stars. I have a feeling she might change sides, and over come her Shikabane instincts.
    Ouri’s cat is bothering me. I don’t think the cat is Ouri’s subconscious. It would be strange if others could pet your subconscious. I knew that the many eyes that covered the cat meant something from the first episode (maybe second episode). Power and vitality reside in the eye. The mythical eye is too look through into the after world. The cat is Ouri’s eye’s into his Shikabane side. The cat must be his guide. So is it really his dead cat? Or is it someone else residing in a body Ouri knows and trusts?
    BTW Fresh is annoying! I feel like they squeeze her in in the most opportunistic times. If she was the comic relief I didn’t feel it.

    • #2 by Shounen A on March 5, 2009 - 5:15 am

      I don’t know what the significance of the title is myself, although I have the vague idea that it might be related to how shikabane usually have no ulterior motive and are narrowly focused on a single obsession.

      As for Hokuto and Ouri being twins, I’m pretty sure that they’re not: one of my sources indicates that Hokuto is far too old to be a twin sister of Ouri’s. (Trying to find information without being spoiled can be rather difficult. ^_^;; ) On the other hand, Ouri might not be as young as everyone thinks he is …

      My own current theory of the cat is still that it is an external manifestation of Ouri’s subconscious: Ouri is manifesting it in the real world without realizing what he’s doing. This episode has me thinking that the cat might actually be aggregation of souls killed by his mother that have merged with Ouri himself, though.

      And while I don’t find Fresh annoying (I actually find her amusing as a sort of in-joke for otaku), I can’t understand the reason for her existence: she’s an anime-only character, and I don’t understand why Umehara’s first shikabane hime, Touma, couldn’t fill the same general role (obviously without the otaku attitude).

  2. #3 by Milan on March 6, 2009 - 1:20 am

    I don’t really look for spoils. I think it kind of ruins it. I do enjoy debating, and talking about what I think might happen. Besides that I can’t read Japanese nor do I have a program that converts the text to show true Japanese characters. Other then that isn’t Wikipedia a website anyone access to change information? So in fact it doesn’t make for a good source?
    Corpse Princess is what got me into watching Anime. This show is well thought out, and is rooted deep in developing the characters and stories. That’s what I love about it. I guess that’s why Fresh bugs me so much. She’s just not very well thought out. I like Touma much more. I loved her first fight scene when her eyes went all crazy.

    • #4 by Shounen A on March 6, 2009 - 9:28 am

      I just mentioned the Wikipedia article since that’s where I got the info. I don’t go out looking for spoilers, either, but how old Hokuto was just caught my eye as I was trying to find out how to spell the characters’ names. ^_^;; (And I’m not sure how closely the anime follows the manga, anyways: while the actual story-telling seems to be pretty different (I got the impression that Keisei wasn’t alive in the manga, despite trying to avoid looking at the article too closely), I don’t know about how different the actual events may be.)

  3. #5 by Milan on March 6, 2009 - 1:24 am

    BTW, you might be on to something about Ouri’s cat being of the souls his mother killed. Maybe they are trying to lead him down the right path. Still unsure about the souls merging with Ouri’s subconscious. I guess we will have to wait and see more in the next episode.

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