Episode 5 of Shikabane Hime: Kuro, “Nature and Obsession”, starts off with Kasuga Nozomi getting off a bus. She’s in search of Ouri at Goryousan, after getting a call from him that he was training as a monk there. On her way, she talks on the phone with Inuhiko Mizuki, and it looks like Ouri is indeed quitting school in order to become a monk. And Nozomi may indeed have some feelings for Ouri himself, since she blushes at Mizuki’s serious question, unlike her teasing in episode 1, on whether Nozomi really did have feelings for him.
Not too far away, Makina is running away from the Keisei-lookalike that had just knocked out the escorting monks, although one monk did manage to make a phone call before dropping. The phone call was to Sadahiro, and since the matter concerns a cursed Makina, not just a shikabane that looks like Keisei, Sadahiro and Akira head towards Goryousan.
Back to Sougi, Itsuki, and Ouri, they are still confronting the shikabane Tomoharu. There’s a bit of philosophical back and forth between Sougi and Tomoharu about nature versus obsession, human versus shikabane, shikabane versus shikabane hime. However, it doesn’t sound quite right that Tomoharu claims that his nature is to kill people with cars, as he clearly didn’t look like he had any such impulses while he was living.
At least we get to learn a sort of rationale why there aren’t any shikabane ouji: the rituals required for the creation of a shikabane hime only work on females in a certain age range, although it just makes me wonder why the rituals would have such a restriction. And even if Sougi outwardly treats Itsuki differently from before, it turns out that he still loves her, but is hiding it because he has to, and he says that it is precisely the hiding of certain desires that makes someone human.
After the philosophizing comes the fight, and even though it looks like Itsuki and Sougi might be having trouble against Tomoharu at first, they manage to make short work of the shikabane quickly enough. It helps that Itsuki used her somewhat scary looking power-upped form that was seen in the flashback from the previous episode. The speed with which Tomoharu was defeated is rather unexpected, as the show spent almost two whole episodes focused on Sougi and Itsuki, but then the point of the focus was probably to illuminate aspects of the relationship between a contract monk and a shikabane hime. Sougi suspects that it might have been the traitorous monk that had unleashed Tomoharu as the shikabane had not been seen for four years, but then Rika, Saki, and Fresh hurriedly arrive in a car about news of the appearance of a supposed Keisei as a shikabane, so Ouri gets into the car as they head to Makina.
Meanwhile, Makina is running away from the Keisei-lookalike, which we know is Ena, when she encounters three of the monks that were escorting her seemingly on a high like they were on drugs. One of the Seven Stars is responsible, the one with the balloon face, and the shikabane quite enjoys absorbing ultimate happiness at the moment of death, as we can see when the monks turns into balloons and is absorbed by the shikabane. But this shikabane is only going to deal with potential obstacles: Makina herself is to be handled by Ena. However, Makina just cannot bring herself to fight against Ena, who has done quite a good job of dressing up like Keisei.
Back on the road at the abandoned car, Sadahiro and Akira are watching over a surviving but unconscious monk, when another car arrives at the scene. It is Ouri, Rika, and Saki (Fresh is still sleeping in the car after being thrown out of it earlier). Sadahiro is quite certain that the Keisei-lookalike is not Keisei, that Keisei is not that kind of person. He also tries to convince Ouri to forget about Makina and the Kougonshuu, but Ouri refuses.
Rika and Saki then start a fight against Sadahiro and Akira, sending Ouri off on his own to find Makina. Sadahiro tries to placate Rika by claiming that he’s only there to hunt down the Keisei-lookalike, but Rika airs the suspicions that Sadahiro and Akira are the contract monk and shikabane hime pair under the control of the anti-shikabane hime faction who are intended to kill humans instead of shikabane. I’m pretty sure that Sadahiro and Akira hate the idea of killing Makina, but I’m not sure if they would go through it. And even though I’m quite certain Saki and Akira are indeed fighting in earnest, the way the two fight in the background bouncing all over the place makes it hard to shake the feeling that they’re having fun. But the fight is cut short as another fight begins, as the balloon-face shikabane shows up.
Up in the mountain, Nozomi is quite tired, so it must be a relief to her when she sees Ouri running somewhere. But she is surprised when she hears him calling for Makina in his search, and Nozomi misses the chance to call after him. Meanwhile, Makina is feeling hopeless while she’s being hunted down by Ena, and doesn’t even try to dodge when Ena finally discovers her and is about to stab Makina. Fortunately, Ouri discovers them at the nick of time and stabs the Keisei-lookalike with his staff, which manages to ward off Ena. However, Ouri can’t finish Ena off as Makina stops him, being unable to bear seeing harm come to Keisei, even though she is quite aware that it’s not really Keisei and probably one of the Seven Stars.
The body of Ena is fatally injured, but this is not much of an obstacle to a shikabane. Ena reaches a pond and collapses, and Ena’s essence emerges from the body into the pond. Shadowy figures emerge from the pond, and they all turn out to be Keisei-lookalikes. Ena is back in business, this time with an army of Keiseis, although I find it odd that Ena could create clothes for the Keiseis but not sunglasses.
Back to Ouri and Makina, Makina is feeling sorry for herself and wracked with guilt as she tells Ouri that she’s responsible for Keisei dying. When Keisei was dying, he wanted to see Makina smiling, and Makina forced herself to do so with the intuition that it would become an obsession for Keisei if she didn’t. She expects Ouri to want to distance himself from her after hearing about how she didn’t let Keisei continue living even if it was as a shikabane, but Ouri understands that it was because Makina loved Keisei just like he did. In fact, Ouri wants Makina not to severe her connection with Keisei, that they just need to keep it secret from everyone else. It’s a real bonding moment for the two.
However, Sadahiro and Akira shows up, with Sadahiro stating that keeping Makina’s connection with Keisei is not feasible. If Makina were to keep the connection, it will continue to become a curse and would be a huge burden on her contract monk. But Ouri denies this perspective, stating that Makina’s connection with Keisei is not a curse but a strength. It would be like Makina having two contract monks, even if one is in absentia. It makes me compare it with Umehara’s own relationship with two shikabane hime.
Before anything more can be said, Ena shows up again in another Keisei-lookalike body. Ouri is willing to deal with Ena alone, not wanting Sadahiro or Makina to have to gain a memory of harming Keisei, unlike himself who had already suffered from the experience while he was possessed by Ena. Given how fragile Ena seemed to be when stabbed by Ouri earlier, I might have actually considered Ouri to have a fighting chance, but it was not to be, and I’m quite sure Ouri is also having second thoughts, as an army of Keisei-lookalikes emerge from the forest.