Episode 12 of Shikabane Hime: Aka, “Dawn”, starts off from where the previous episode ended with the stabbing of Keisei by a possessed Ouri. However, Keisei quickly realizes what has happened and exorcises Ena’s control from Ouri. Too bad for Ouri that it wasn’t a dream, though, as he was aware what was happening.
Outside, Makina is fighting ineffectively against Kowaku, whose body can turn into mist and be adjusted to have a variety of effects, from tranquilizing to explosive. Meanwhile, Takamine, Rika, and their entourage are surrounded by some kind of barrier erected by one of the Seven Stars. The barrier is too weak to harm them, as Kamika promptly starts to demolish it, but it’s enough to keep them from helping Keisei and Makina.
Back at the temple, Akasha has appeared in front of Ouri and Keisei, and he inflicts additional damage on the already gravely injured Keisei, even plucking out one of Keisei’s eyes for his own nefarious purposes. Soon Makina, who has been being beaten by Kowaku, is thrown indoors, and Akasha turns towards her to “reveal her true nature”. He shouldn’t have let down his guard, however, as Keisei uses a suspicious potion to regain strength and grabs Akasha from behind.
And when Kowaku appears to destroy Makina, Keisei jumps in to save her and inflicts Kowaku with some sort of venom, which not only hurts Kowaku but also interferes with his ability to turn into mist. It’s not without its price, though, as the side effects hurt Keisei as well, but he’s well past worrying about it as he gives his all and repels Akasha and Kowaku, regardless of the consequences to himself.
Given his devastated state, Keisei convinces Makina and Ouri to transfer the Makina’s contract from himself to Ouri despite their protests. The transfer ritual is rather bland, unlike what I thought it would be from a shot in the opening credits, although setting up something like that in the middle of battle would have been out of the question, of course. The entire series seems to have been preparation for this moment, as it sets up the relationship between Makina and Ouri, and shows what happens to a shikabane hime whose contract monk dies without transferring the contract to another. I was hoping that Keisei would at least survive, even if crippled, but he doesn’t last long and the show loses its resident otaku.
Meanwhile, Kowaku is enraged at the damage Keisei managed to inflict on him, so he forces Akasha to release the shikabane that Akasha had gathered and regains his strength by merging them into himself. However, Kowaku’s rage is nothing compared to Makina’s rage, who quite handily beats him up and destroys him with no mercy by destroying his core. Unfortunately, this comes at a steep price, as Makina is unknowingly absorbing a great deal of Ouri’s life in the process.
As Akasha watches, he suspects that Ouri has something to do with the extreme power-up of Makina, but he also notes that an untrained Ouri would die at the rate Makina is using up his life. Remembering the past when Keisei announced that he would be raising Ouri, Akasha saves Ouri’s life as a last act of sentimentality and withdraws. By the time reinforcements arrive, the battle is all over. And Ouri finally let’s his tears run free when he sees the stew his late older brother prepared for him the previous day. This has got to be Ouri’s worst birthday ever.
Keisei is gone, but at least he went out with a bang. His funeral would be the next episode. Now that Ouri is Makina’s contract monk, though, will he still be going to school? I suspect that he’ll have to receive training as a monk in order to support Makina properly, so I doubt he’ll be staying in school. This would also mean he wouldn’t be returning to a part-time job at the Parthenon, which should reopen as Sadahiro and Akira no longer need to move away after being discovered by Keisei.
What is the “truth” that Akasha wanted to rub into Keisei’s face this episode? It was something that drove him to kill his own shikabane hime, which makes me think he’s blinded himself to another truth, that shikabane hime have minds and feelings just like ordinary humans. Whatever Akasha’s “truth” is, why couldn’t he have just written it up in something like the Journal of Applied Spirituality? He shouldn’t have followed the footsteps of other cheesy villains and dangle hints of the truth in front of others, all the while inflicting great suffering.