Episode 13 of Shikabane Hime: Aka, “Agenda for the Contract Monk’s Funeral”, is half recap and half interlude. While Keisei’s public funeral is scheduled for the night, Kougonshuu monks are holding their own ceremony for the departed monk during the day. Ouri notes a number of girls waiting outside, some of whom we have already seen but also quite a few we have never seen before, who are all obviously shikabane hime. They’re not allowed to attend funerals, however, so they can’t go inside the temple. It’s kind of odd seeing how they all dress differently, in contrast to their contract monks whose drab attire are all the same. And they’re all female without exception, which makes me wonder why there isn’t a “shikabane ouji”.
Shirai Rinsen, one of the Kougonshuu monks who provide support for the contract monks, talks with Ouri and brings him to Takamine Sougen, Keisei’s boss and teacher and one of the six Kougonshuu Soujou, or high priests of the Kougonshuu. They basically do a recap of the Kougonshuu’s background, where it’s said that there are about a hundred contract monk and shikabane hime pairs around Japan and it’s reiterated that only a shikabane hime can destroy shikabane.
I wonder what the rest of the world does about shikabane, or is this a phenomenon unique to Japan? And when it’s stated that cutting off the head or completely shredding a shikabane is enough to destroy one, I’m not sure why shikabane hime are supposedly the only countermeasure: an army squad from the Japanese Self Defense Force seems capable enough to handle an ordinary shikabane. On the other hand, shikabane hime would presumably be cheaper and more discrete.
For that matter, where does the funding for the Kougonshuu come from? With not many people knowing about their fight against shikabane, religious donations from average citizens wouldn’t seem to be enough to maintain operations. Maybe most of the funding comes from large private donations or even the government, which might explain why there doesn’t seem to be a separate government response to shikabane and how the Kougonshuu seems to be well-connected enough to cover up incidents.
Anyways, the Kougonshuu wants to transfer the contract Ouri has with Makina to another contract monk. Ouri doesn’t want this, but they have a point as the life of an untrained ordinary person could be absorbed to the point of death by a shikabane hime as Ouri had experienced so recently. Makina herself is being restrained by the Kougonshuu while they wait for a new contract monk for her, and is not even allowed to visit the outside of the temple where Keisei’s funeral is being held.
It is from Sadahiro that Ouri learns where to be trained properly as a monk so that he can keep the contract with Makina. Sadahiro and Akira had come to visit the temple, although they don’t go inside being the non-public members of Kougonshuu that they are, not to mention Akira being a shikabane hime. It is then that Ouri learns that they are a contract monk and a shikabane hime, respectively, and figures out what had happened to Minai in episode 8. Sadahiro tells Ouri about Goryousan, a mountain where monks traditionally go to train.
This episode should be the end of Shikabane Hime: Aka. Of course, it’s not the end of the story, as is made quite plain by the “To Be Continued”. The story should continue in Shikabane Hime: Kuro, where Ouri will presumably be an active actor instead of the passive observer he was in Shikabane Hime: Aka. But there’s still a pressing question that remains: who’s going to inherit Keisei’s anime collection and continue his perverted legacy?