Shikabane Hime: Aka 8

Episode 8 of Shikabane Hime: Aka, “Tranquility”, begins with Makina still at it against Mitsuyoshi. She’s doing pretty well by taking full advantage of the fact that she currently doesn’t have a right arm. But Minai’s contract monk Shuuji wants to have all the credit, and doesn’t want Makina to defeat the shikabane when Keisei isn’t even around, so he orders Minai to destroy Mitsuyoshi. As Minai closes in for an attack, Mitsuyoshi proves that an attacker doesn’t actually have to land an attack for him to use his special ability: he stabs his own neck, which causes a stab wound in Minai’s neck and knocks her down.

Ouri does something a bit unexpected which calms Mitsuyoshi down, though. He calls Sumitori and let’s him talk to Mitsuyoshi. Sumitori is worried sick about the missing Mitsuyoshi, which is a sharp blow to his irrational belief that Sumitori is one of the bad guys. Minai takes advantage of his distraction by landing a finishing blow behind Mitsuyoshi. After the whole mess, Minai is grateful to Ouri for making her realize that her being a shikabane hime isn’t a punishment but rather a chance to help people. Shuuji leaves in a fit of pique, with a jealousy and sadness that he would never admit from Minai being friendly with Ouri.

Later back at school, Minai pays an official visit to Ouri to confiscate his cellphone as evidence, since it was used to connect to a shikabane’s blog. In return, she would help pay him for a new cellphone. Normally it would be someone else handling matters, but Minai is using this as an excuse to spend time with Ouri.

Shuuji is annoyed at Minai for having gone off somewhere without telling him, but the couple of punks he dealt with last episode ambushes Shuuji and drags him into an alley. Soon after, as Minai is walking with Ouri after having gotten him a new cellphone, an extreme mental shock seems to hit Minai. It’s obvious that something drastic must have happened to Shuuji, and it’s also apparent that the role of a contract monk is also to be an anchor of rationality for their shikabane hime, since Minai seems to have suddenly lost her own.

In the meantime, the religious organization has heard news of what happened to Shuuji, who suffered an ignoble death as he was stabbed by a couple of low-life punks. This has them alerting the other shikabane hime in the region for them to eliminate Minai, who is now just a shikabane, not a shikabane hime, without her contract monk. I really don’t like a lot of their attitude, though, with the way many of them think of shikabane hime as mere puppets. This news also reaches Keisei and Rika, who were talking with Saki, Rika’s physically ten-year old shikabane hime, making fun of her on the sidelines. Upon hearing the news, Saki runs out to deal with one of her own who has now effectively gone bad, with Makina closely following to watch what happens.

Minai’s state alarms Ouri as he tries to figure out what’s wrong with Minai, who continues to walk while being mostly unresponsive. When he tries to shake her out of her stupor, Minai nearly hits him, although she does miss and sends a car flying, instead. Minai tries to apologize and Ouri tries to say it’s OK, but the other shikabane hime has arrived by now. Saki, who is carrying a giant hammer-like weapon, begins battle with Minai. Saki really does not like what she has to do, but she quite prefers setting Minai free from her encroaching insanity by destroying her. But Ouri manages to run off with Minai during a lull in the battle.

By now, Sadahiro and Akira have also heard of the news about what happened with Shuuji and Minai. They’re talking about how much the situation must suck, and while they would have to deal with Minai if she appears in front of them, Sadahiro expresses his desire not to get involved with the whole sordid affair. He should have kept his mouth shut, however, as Ouri immediately arrives with Minai and asking them to hide her for the night, having no idea that Sadahiro and Akira are also involved with the organization.

As Ouri heads back home, Makina finds him and demands to know where Minai is, but he refuses to tell her. Meanwhile, back at the Parthenon, Sadahiro tells Minai, who knows a bit about who Sadahiro and Akira are, that there’s nowhere for her to go, but that there’s still a tiny chance for her to be saved. She needs to get a new contract monk very soon, and he offers to mediate the transfer from Isaki Shuuji to Ouri.

The episode ends on a sad note as Ouri comes across a crowd, including some of his classmates, gathered around the arrest of the two punks who killed Shuuji. Ouri cries out with grief with his classmates having no idea what set him off. And we see what Minai had decided about Sadahiro’s offer: she refused and held on to her ties to Isaki Shuuji, which meant her death.

The situation the shikabane hime are in really sucks, and I am quite with Ouri in the way I think about it. They think and feel just like ordinary humans, so they should be treated as such even if they’re technically not human beings. Perhaps Isaki Shuuji wouldn’t have had so many mental issues if he thought the same way. I even feel sympathy for the shikabane, who have lost all rationality and cling to just one single obsession. If it weren’t for the fact that all of the rogue shikabane so far have been responsible for multiple deaths, I might have been condemning the organization’s approach of going straight to eliminating them. Although it does make me wonder whether it might be more cost-effective to treat shikabane with psychiatric medications such as lithium …

By Shounen A

伝説の少年A. The Legendary Boy A. The counterpart of Konata Izumi from Lucky Star, he is an otaku of legendary reputation whose tastes foretell the rise and fall of anime series. Or not.