At the beginning of episode 6 of Shikabane Hime: Aka, “At the End of the Demon Run”, as the traitorous monk’s exposition to Ouri is interrupted by Itsuki and Takamasa, the bald monk Honda and the other monk we saw in the first episode, Shirae Rinsen, are talking with the boss at Ouri’s part-time job. It’s no coincidence that the boss, Mibu Sadahiro, and his employee, Too’oka Akira, were an apparent shikabane hime and handler pair, since it turns out that he’s from the same graduating class as a monk as Keisei, along with one other monk who turned traitor.
Honda and Rinsen have been investigating Keisei and Ouri because not only have an abnormal number of shikabane been arising around the area, Ouri also turned up at most of them. This makes the organization suspect that Keisei and Ouri may somehow be responsible for the shikabane, that they might working with the traitorous monk Shishidou Akasha. Sadahiro apparently has a personal vendetta against Akasha, and volunteers himself and his shikabane hime to eliminate Keisei and Ouri if they are indeed working with Akasha. Honda was hoping for this, since Akira is one of the few shikabane hime that are allowed to kill living human beings. I have no idea why this is so.
Meanwhile, after getting Ouri to run away, Itsuki and Takamasa are facing against Akasha, who was responsible for the shikabane car. He was creating a whole bunch of shikabane for some nefarious purpose by having young people kill each other meaninglessly inside the car. And Akasha is not a shikabane: that’s why he was unharmed by the hail of gunfire from Itsuki last episode: since a shikabane hime is not allowed to kill a living person, Itsuki must have missed on purpose, hoping that intimidation alone would do the job. However, their situation deteriorates as Akasha casts the “sadanjyutsuhou”, or the “gathering stage magic”.
As for Makina, she’s still fighting against the shikabane car from the previous episode when Ouri comes across them. Makina is having a hard time as she can’t find the shikabane’s weak point, and eventually ends up half-entrapped by the shikabane. Keisei comes to the rescue and manages to pry her out, although at the cost of one of her arms, and helps Makina destroy the shikabane. With that done, the three of them search for Itsuki, suspecting that she would be facing the culprit behind the shikabane.
As they head towards Itsuki, Ouri learns that it isn’t a one-way relationship between Keisei and Makina. And Makina might not actually believe that a heaven exists, despite the religion’s claim that a shikabane hime that destroys enough shikabane can go to heaven. Keisei also reveals that he brought along a special potion that can increase his monkish potential in case it’s Akasha that they’re facing, which makes Makina unhappy because of the potion’s severe side effects.
When they finally find Itsuki and Takamasa, Akasha had pretty much won with his sadanjyutsuhou. The magic uses a sacred artifact to create a “miracle”, which in this particular case is a multitude of shikabane. Incidentally, we learn that only Akasha and Sadahiro had succeeded in the spell five years ago, which may have something to do with the massacre in which Makina died. Makina and Itsuki team up together to destroy the shikabane, but Akasha’s supply of them seems to be endless. Akasha is blindsided by Keisei, who grabs the medium for the spell and halts all of the shikabane.
However, the medium contains the bitterness of a multitude of souls, making it nearly impossible for Keisei to hold them back all by himself. However, Keisei took the potion beforehand and amplified his powers, so he manages to move the medium into the path of the blade Akasha thrusts down, which releases all of the torment in the form of blood. Akasha and Keisei are both splashed by the blood, but Keisei bears the brunt of it and falls unconscious. And before Akasha can do anything else, there is a psychically-enhanced sniper shot from far away, so Akasha retreats.
The sniper shot was fired by Akira, psychically supported by Sadahiro. Since they now know for certain that Akasha acted alone in all of the shikabane incidents, since otherwise Keisei wouldn’t have been fighting against him, they cancel their plans to eliminate Keisei and Ouri. I think Akira is a sort of tsundere, since she seems to express her relief by projecting it on Sadahiro. Unfortunately, despite Makina’s fervent wish for the well-being of Keisei, he isn’t waking up.
Will Keisei end up being gone by the next episode? If that happens, what happens to Makina? And what role is in store for Ouri? He has only been an observer so far, but I doubt that’s all the ethereal black cat has in mind for him.
As for Akasha, I suspect that he was originally motivated to betray the religious organization because he felt they were evil: perhaps he thought that the way the organization treated the shikabane hime as tools and not as living people was unacceptable. It could explain why he destroyed his own shikabane hime: it might have been an attempt to free her from her slave-like state. Or it might be that he learned something terrible: maybe the claim that a shikabane hime that destroys 108 shikabane can go to heaven is a lie. If it is a lie, it might explain why it was a notable fact that Akira had destroyed less than a hundred shikabane when it was mentioned that she was an exception to the no killing rule. In any case, there’s no doubt that Akasha is evil now.