Shikabane Hime: Kuro 9


hizuchi

Episode 9 of Shikabane Hime: Kuro, “Value of the Living”, begins with Seven Stars member Hizuchi “kindly” helping Ouri regain his memories by recreating a certain event from the past, mainly by kidnapping a bunch of children, terrifying them, and throwing lots of stuff into a fiery heap. And the black cat is making no attempt to hide itself from Hizuchi. Elsewhere, Takamine is telling Rika and Saki about Ouri’s past. His mother gave birth to Ouri after becoming a shikabane, but with Ouri being a human child, she couldn’t understand him and kidnapped a whole lot of children, only to end up killing them as none of them were her child.

Hizuchi was one of those children, whose obsession was hunger after being starved before being killed, and whose first act was to eat the bodies of other dead children. And Hizuchi wasn’t the only one of the children who lingered in this world after death. Ouri’s black cat is the aggregated shiryou, souls which failed to become shikabane, of the other dead children gathered into a single form. Hizuchi believes that the black cat has always hung around Ouri desiring his body, which he proves by picking up the cat and throwing it at Ouri, which turns into a black blob with lots of mouths and absorbs Ouri.

hokuto-dying

Elsewhere, while the Kougonshuu is gathering its forces to prepare their assault against the Seven Stars, Hokuto is having a lot of fun with Makina, who is being beat up like a rag doll. According to Akasha, the fight is so one-sided because having no obsession nor nature trumps having either, even if it’s two obsessions like Makina thinks she has. A long time ago, Hokuto was raised to be a sacrifice right from the moment she was born and had practically no experience at really living while she was alive, presumably to appease the gods about lifting a drought. But when the sacrifice actually occurred, it only caused a massacre when she turned into a shikabane. This is what should happen when people kill over some blind superstition. Having had no life experience, Hokuto is not held back as other shikabane are by their own life experiences, which makes her much more powerful. Interestingly, Hokuto had her Big Dipper mark on her cheek with its seven stars even before dying.

Surprisingly, Makina appears to have some of Hokuto’s memories, which is explained by Hazama that it was the Hoshimura bloodline that created Hokuto: Makina and Hokuto are distant relatives. This is why Hazama was so focused on Makina, and now that Hokuto has defined herself as an enemy of Makina’s, which in turn means she’s now also an enemy of the Kougonshuu, Hazama has no further use for Makina and let’s Hokuto squeeze Makina to death (in a matter of speaking). We also get to hear Hazama mention what Akasha’s goal is: to free all shikabane hime. Apparently Akasha considers being a shikabane hime to be something to be liberated from, which the only way in his eyes is to destroy them. However, Makina isn’t quite finished: there’s still Ouri, and this is enough motivation for her to get back into shape. It is at this moment that the Kougonshuu makes their assault on the Seven Stars headquarters: it seems they had used Makina as bait so they can find the location. With concern for Ouri trumping her obsession to destroy the Seven Stars, Makina heads out to rescue Ouri, leaving others to deal with the Seven Stars.

ouri-merged-with-the-black-cat

Meanwhile, with Ouri and the black cat turned big black blob half-merged, Ouri is not in control and is about to eat up the children, with the previous black cat happy about Ouri turning out to be a shikabane. To stop what is about to happen, Ouri gives himself up completely to the shiryou of the dead children. Now that they have merged completely, they are back under their own control. And the black cat had much more affection and empathy rather than resentment for Ouri, so they decide to protect Ouri rather than act the way Hizuchi wants them to. Perhaps it helped that the two were together for so long, if ghosts could be sentimental. Unfortunately, they are no match against the experienced Hizuchi. Fortunately, Makina shows up before Hizuchi could finish Ouri and the others off.

Ouri is confused about whether he is shikabane or human, which Makina responds to by simply throwing him his monk outfit. The big black blob merges back together and Ouri is back to normal: Ouri has chosen to be human, and it seems that this time Ouri and the black cat really will be the same entity from now on. Using his sadanjutsuhou and with a little help from Makina, Ouri manages to defeat Hizuchi. And Makina gets to indulge in her obsession with destroying the Seven Stars by firing the shots that finish off the Seven Stars member. With the battle against Hizuchi over, Makina admits that she needs Ouri, which signals a change in their relationship from Ouri being useless baggage to a more equal partnership.

big-dipper-deaths

However, the Seven Stars’ scheme heads into its next phase as planes crash around the city. With casualties probably numbering in the tens of thousands, the Kougonshuu will have their hands full with hundreds of shikabane that will arise, probably helped along by something done by the Seven Stars. There’s no way that the pattern of where shikabane are arising is just a coincidence. With the Kougonshuu pretty much playing into the Seven Stars’ hands, their chances aren’t very good, unless Ouri and Makina turn out to be a wild card and/or Touya does something unexpected that makes Hazama regret ignoring her.

The way that Ouri could choose between being a human and a shikabane is odd, but it isn’t totally out of the blue with living women being turned into shikabane by being injected with shikabane cells in episode 3 of Aka. And we finally got to learn the identity of the black cat that was always pestering Ouri, that it was the souls of the children killed by his mother in the form of shiryou that we saw in episode 1 of Kuro. Now that it seems that Ouri and the black cat are really one now, I wonder if we’ll be seeing the cat again?

  1. #1 by Milan on March 12, 2009 - 2:35 am

    Thank goodness, we found out what all the eyes on the black cat meant. That was bugging me a lot. I am pretty sure the cat will return with some kind of new power for Ouri. There is something changing with Toya I just can’t say yet. I can’t say she’ll change sides. She just might go completely insane, and not take any side.
    Now I am curious as to why the 7 deadly sins keep appearing in either Shikabane or monks. Then there is the connection with the 7 Stars, 7 deadly sins…..haven’t a clue. I don’t know much about Buddhism, but I didn’t think they had 7 deadly sins? Also I keep trying to count, but I am not sure are there 7 pairings of Shikabane with contracted monks? If you count all the pairings even the dead ones(like Minai & her monk) I think they add up to 7. Seven is Spiritual perfection. Spiritual transformation that leads to material transformation. I think I know how the show will end.

    • #2 by Shounen A on March 12, 2009 - 4:25 am

      I don’t think there’s any relation between seven stars and the seven sins: if there is, I’d suspect the number of deadly sins is supposed to match the number of stars in the Big Dipper. I.e., the sins appearing are just sins, they’re not directly inspired by The Seven Deadly Sins. And there’s definitely a whole lot more than seven shikabane hime and contract monk pairs: I think more than seven were shown in a single train compartment, never mind the other shikabane hime or the large number of dots shown in Isaka’s map in the previous episode.

      Despite this, there could still be some special meaning for the number seven in this show, besides just being the number of stars in the Big Dipper.

    • #3 by Shounen A on March 12, 2009 - 4:33 am

      About Touya, while I thought she would just be a neutral party that does something unexpected, now I think it’s possible she might actually switch sides. Happiness was her obsession (or nature, or whatever), which got conflated with death. But if she realizes that happiness != death, and starts trying to make people actually happy instead of forcing a faux happiness right before death …

  2. #4 by Milan on March 12, 2009 - 9:55 pm

    I know there are more pairings of Shikabane Hime and monks, but that is the same for the Seven Stars also. There is plenty more Shikabane then just the Seven Stars themselves. Just because the S.S. know of there exclusive grouping doesn’t mean that the Hime group isn’t their own unconscious grouping. Like maybe they have their own special pull to become a powerful gang.
    I don’t think the seven sins directly target the S.S. I see the sins in the Hime also. Like for instant the little girl Hime with the hammer = gluttony, Her monk could be lust, but that may be a tie with flesh. There are many more sins that play up in many more characters I just can’t think of them now.
    I agree about Touya. After her fight with Makina she has changed a lot.
    If anyone can try to pair up the characters with the sins I would like to see how many more there would be.

    The Seven Deadly Sins

    1. Pride
    2. Greed (avarice)
    3. Envy
    4. Anger (wrath)
    5. Lust
    6. Gluttony
    7. Sloth

    • #5 by Shounen A on March 14, 2009 - 2:01 am

      Interesting exercise to categorize the characters according to the seven deadly sins …

      Shikabane hime and contract monks:
      Pride – Shuuji (pride as a Kougonshuu monk made him treat Minai like dirt)
      Greed – Umehara, Fresh (uncontrollable desire for anime goods)
      Anger – Makina (against the Seven Stars, obviously)
      Gluttony – Saki (taking full advantage of being a shikabane hime, not worrying about becoming obese)
      (Takamine, Kamika, Sougi, Itsuki, Sadahiro, Akira, Ouri, Rika, Minai don’t seem to fit in any of the categories even with convolutions. Rika doesn’t seem to be particularly lustful (the opposite, in fact), despite her manner of dress. She may have had the hots for Keisei, but with him gone …)

      Seven Stars:
      Pride – Hazama (really seems to have a high opinion of himself)
      Greed – Ena (greed for beauty)
      Envy – Touya (envious of happiness)
      Gluttony – Hizuchi (obvious)
      Sloth – Hokuto (wanting to get to know others, but too lazy to spend the effort to actually get to know others)
      (Only Hizuchi is an obvious fit, the others are rather convoluted, while not enough is known about the remaining two shikabane. And we won’t get to learn anything about one of the remaining since he’s been destroyed last season.)

  3. #6 by ? on March 15, 2009 - 2:42 am

    the seven deadly sins thing seems a bit convoluted… I attributed the particular quirks of the shikabane hime (i.e, Saki pigging out, and Flesh’s shared Zenbu nose fetish) to what i know about Buddhist/Hindu thought: I am drawn to think more of those desires (OBSESSIONS even) which tether us to the material world. In the case of dead people coming to life based around obsessions or unrequitted desires, seems logically consistent. The thing is you could over analyze the whole thing and we could probably find all kinds of funny stuff. After all, it’s those types of neurotic qualities (sometimes) or more endearing qualities juxtaposed to those (transcendent) unique human qualities (the monk’s sacrifice for Ouri and makina) which makes the characters of the drama (which is just a cartoon after all) so “life-like”, and really, interesting. And that’s in most good anime i’ve seen, and seems to me the reason people become so attached to them.

    Anyway, I find this show enjoyable and also enjoyed your synopsis… i’m waiting for these latest episodes to be subbed!

    • #7 by Shounen A on March 15, 2009 - 5:28 am

      The Kougonshuu being derived from Buddhism, it’s obvious that the Seven Deadly Sins is not really an issue, but it could still be fun to think how to fit it in. :) Anyways, thanks for the compliment, and here’s hoping for the remaining episodes of Shikabane Hime to be just as good. :)

  4. #8 by Milan on March 15, 2009 - 4:11 pm

    I can’t help that I love this show. It doesn’t take me more then five minutes to come up with these theories. Its not like I sit around all day thinking about Shikabane Hime. I just feel that from all the anime I’ve seen that maybe this one would be different. Like maybe there trying to branch out from the whole Japanese Buddhism culture and try to add more western influences(reasoning for the seven sins). They still respect there culture but just try to add to the story lines. The animators & Japanese in general love America. Frankly I think there running out of ideas for anime shows all together. So I would think that they would have to evolve to come up with more interesting stories. Examples would be Romeo X Juilet and Kuroshitsuji. I love both of these shows also, but they seem very copied. A classic play and Sherlock Holmes. I’d just hate to think that the Anime world is turning into copy-cat Hollywood. I guess Shikabane Hime is suppose to be my Anime savior. Though I do see similarities to Shikabane Hime & Mai HiMe. Switch the corpses for the HiMe’s and the story line seems the same. I m just hoping the ending isn’t the same.
    Shounen, thanks for the run down of the Seven Sins! I kept seeing them in the characters I just couldn’t remember all there names. I love this website because I don’t really need the episodes to be subbed. Your descriptions of each episode are very accurate. It makes it feel like I have watched the show twice even though I have only seen it subbed once.

    • #9 by Shounen A on March 17, 2009 - 3:05 am

      Thanks for giving me a warm and fuzzy feeling. :)

  5. #10 by Hunter on March 17, 2009 - 1:07 am

    Wow, I wonder how Ouri managed to survive, I mean christ must of been like Rambo baby or something.

    • #11 by Shounen A on March 17, 2009 - 3:07 am

      I think two things helped Ouri out: contamination from a shikabane mother may have ironically given him a firmer hold on life (though I’m not sure how he managed to feed himself when the other children were starving), and being ignored by his own mother meant that he would not have been hugged to death like I suspect happened to many of the other children.

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