Episode 3 of Shikabane Hime: Aka, “Voice of the Night”, starts off with a couple taking a walk near a temple when they hear the cries of a baby. They encounter a shikabane and run for their lives, but soon bump into Makina who tells them to forget everything. She’s chasing after the shikabane, but this one is slippery: there’s no trace of the shikabane after the dead body of a young woman is found.
Meanwhile, Ouri is having trouble sleeping because he keeps hearing the cries of a baby, not to mention the fever he’s also suffering from. Yet again, the ethereal cat who can walk through windows comes to him and asks Ouri to follow. This time the cat leads Ouri to a obstetrical clinic, at which point the cat seems to turn back into a normal one. Whatever is seemingly possessing the cat, it sure likes Ouri and is most definitely related to shikabane, although I have no idea what its goals are. Anyways, Ouri finally collapses due to his fever in front of the clinic, where the clinic’s doctor discovers him.
When Ouri wakes up, he finds himself in a bed, where the doctor put him in to care for him. As he wanders around the oddly desolate clinic, he encounters the doctor greeting a patient. It’s Makina pretending to be a newly pregnant patient, which is probably a bit surreal to Ouri. Makina soon gets away from the doctor to explore the clinic, using the need for a restroom as an excuse, and takes Ouri along with her.
She’s wondering if Ouri is up to something and why he keeps up showing up around in her encounters with other shikabane (it’s their third encounter), but Ouri isn’t able to answer as he’s wondering about the same thing. Only the cat would know, and he’s not really telling Ouri anything, he just leads Ouri around. In any case, they soon find themselves in an almost abandoned newborn ward with a single occupied crib.
Given how the shikabane she has been chasing has always been accompanied by the cries of a baby, Makina approaches to eliminate the baby. Ouri blocks her, being quite sure that the baby is really just a normal baby, especially since it doesn’t have the smell of death that shikabane have. And I was thinking he was right and that the doctor might have been shikabane hiding in plain sight. I was only half right, though, as the doctor frees the actual shikabane he had chained in another room and sets it on Makina and Ouri, both of whom are knocked out.
Meanwhile, Keisei is discussing with a young woman called Rika about the discovery that the dead women apparently killed by a shikabane had large amounts of shikabane-like cells in their bodies. In other words, the women themselves were part shikabane who reverted back to their original human form when they died. Keisei speculates that it’s either a shikabane trying to create other of its own kind, or someone conducting experiments on unwitting women. On a side note, I found Rika’s manner of dress rather odd: she seems to be a researcher of some sort, but I don’t know any real female researchers who dress like she does. And what’s with the girl watching them with a bored look on her face?
Back at the obstetrical clinic, Makina and Ouri find themselves strapped in separate beds. It turns out that the doctor managed to control the shikabane by taking care of its baby, the one it died giving birth to before becoming shikabane. The doctor heard of rumors of shikabane and was injecting shikabane cells into young woman who came as patients, all of whom ended up dying as apparent victims of a single shikabane, but in actuality dying as they partially turned into shikabane. He’s trying to figure out a way to transfer the apparent immortality of shikabane to women, and he also injects Makina as part of his experiments.
Unfortunately for him, Makina is already a shikabane and this does nothing to her. She manages to break free of her restraints and eliminates the rogue shikabane. She’s also sorely tempted to kill the doctor for his crimes, but Keisei arrives, at which point Ouri loses consciousness. When Ouri wakes again, Keisei is trying to cover up what happened and tries to give Ouri the impression that it was all a dream. I don’t know why he keeps trying. Keisei’s attempts at keeping things secret from Ouri will probably end up being as useless as his attempts to turn Ouri into a perverted otaku like himself, and it will probably be much easier on everyone if he just told Ouri everything.
Later on, Keisei goes back to the clinic and confronts the doctor, demanding to know who told him about shikabane and suggested the hypothesis that their apparent immortality could be used for human healing. The doctor is sitting next to who is apparently his very sick wife, whose sickness would explain his motives, but when the doctor doesn’t answer any of the questions, Keisei discovers that he’s been killed sitting right where he was with a tool used by shikabane handlers. The wife didn’t see anything, but we get to see the murderer walking away with blood on his hands and a smirk on his face.
This is turning out to be a show about the supernatural with conspiracies within conspiracies. Not only are the shikabane hunters themselves almost unknown among the general public, there’s also an even deeper conspiracy attempting something with shikabane. Whatever it is, it’s greatly increasing the incidents of shikabane in the city, and it’s getting the ethereal cat trying to pull Ouri into whatever is happening.
Random thought of the day: While watching the opening sequence, it struck me how Makina gives off strong vibes of Nono from Diebuster. Despite having a completely different personality, her general looks and posture are strongly reminiscent of Nono. I think I know why: in a few years Luxion will have its fatal encounter with space monsters, and a few decades after that, the Imperial Earth Space Force convinces the ageless Makina to become Buster Machine No. 7 after a lot of therapy …