Episode 7 of Shikabane Hime: Kuro, “A Mundane Wish”, continues from where the previous episode ended, where Kasuga Nozomi is asking Ouri to kill her. When Ouri pushes her away, Nozomi explains that her happiness is death, strongly influenced by Touya, when the interior of Ouri’s apartment starts being damaged by something spherical but unseen. Ouri is doubting what he is seeing when Nozomi starts kissing his face off, which is when the black cat appears. The cat teases Ouri about goofing off and pricks Ouri’s left eye, telling him that he wasn’t hallucinating. Once Ouri’s left eye is soaked blood-red, he is able to see the huge balloon, which also seems to contain a monster of some sort, tied down to Nozomi’s neck.
Ouri’s asymmetric eyes, one red and one normal, is oddly reminiscent of Hokuto’s mismatched eyes. This makes me wonder if Hokuto’s true counterpart is Ouri rather than Makina, despite what may have been implied by the broken mirror from episode 2. I wonder if his red eye will make him see things like Hokuto does, and not just allows him to see things normally unseen? At least I can figure out why the black cat would appear in the presence of Nozomi: she’s a living person, albeit influenced by an undead, so she wouldn’t be able to see the cat.
Inuhiko Mizuki then appears and tries to slap some sense into Nozomi, demanding to know what is going on with the school. After stating that she just wants to become happy and damaging Ouri’s apartment even further, Nozomi runs off. Mizuki then explains to Ouri that Nozomi had been concerned about him very much while he was gone, and when Ouri tries to explain that there isn’t anything between them, Mizuki makes it clear that there doesn’t have to be a reason for someone to love another, even if the other does not reciprocate at all, which is something Ouri knows all too well with Makina. The way Mizuki explained things makes it seem as if she was talking from her own personal experience, so I wonder who she had in mind. I don’t think it’s Ouri, since that would be an obvious answer and far too cliche.
Back at one of the Kougonshuu offices, Itsuki, Saki, Sougi, and Rika are gathered. They are unable to contact Ouri, and they have also lost contact with the non-contract monks that were sent to observe his school. At least they’re still in contact with Makina, who is running towards Ouri’s old school because of suspected shikabane activity, specifically Touya. Makina doesn’t want the others to come since she wants to deal with the Seven Stars member herself, and there is also the possibility that Touya may be a decoy while the rest of the Seven Stars attack Kougonshuu headquarters. Kamika happens to agree when she comes into the room a little later, citing that they shouldn’t needlessly send forces against Touya, whose abilities are still unknown, although it’s not clear how she knew what Makina said over the phone in the first place. Does she have superhuman hearing, too?
Meanwhile, at the Seven Stars base, Hokuto is putting herself through a lot of pain and making herself a bloody mess, which makes me wonder just what she’s doing. Akasha is probably wondering the same thing when he approaches her, although he stops when Hazama reminds him that to be known by Hokuto is to die. We learn that the Seven Stars had also stolen a religious text that described the how to create shikabane hime from the Hoshimura home, although this was just a side benefit from their primary purpose of creating a worthy adversary for Hokuto with Makina. It also turns out that Hizuchi, one of the Seven Stars, had went out since he doesn’t like the way Touya does things. Akasha is left to continue his work on interpreting the religious text about the shikabane hime so that they can better understand them.
By now Makina has arrived at the school, where she encounters Nozomi in front of the gate. Makina also sees a balloon above flickering in and out of sight. When Makina tries to get Nozomi away from the school, Nozomi talks about why she had been fascinated by Makina. As one no longer among the living, Makina is eternal, and this makes her beautiful, and Nozomi obliquely expresses her jealousy of Makina for having most of Ouri’s attention. At least this settles who Nozomi was jealous of in the previous episode. Nozomi continues to act funny and starts taking off her upper garments, and once she loosens her blouse, balloons start emerging from within her. Before Makina can react, one of the balloons latches onto her neck, and it’s apparent that shikabane hime are not quite immune from intoxicating effects of Touya’s balloons, which grow by absorbing the victim’s happiness.
When Ouri arrives soon after, Makina has him chase after Nozomi. Even if she was so inclined, which she isn’t, Nozomi is a living human and Makina would be ineffective against her, so sending Ouri after her would be the logical choice. There’s also the little matter of Makina realizing Nozomi’s feelings for Ouri. Makina herself sets her sights on Touya, who wonders why Makina resists “being happy” and flies towards the school. When Makina chases Touya into the school, however, the place turns into an amusement park, with mind-numbed students standing everywhere with balloons tied to their necks. And when some of the balloons are popped while Makina fires bullets against Touya, they release monsters that eat the previously mind-numbed victim.
The balloon attached to Makina herself also begins to overwhelm her, which is when she has a flashback to when she was a child, walking while holding hands with a man whose face is not clearly shown. This must have been one of her happier memories, but what’s really interesting is who the man might be. A really crazy idea would be that it’s actually Ouri, who had later reverted to a child and lost all his memories, although a more reasonable idea would be that the man is Ouri’s father or uncle. Whatever the case may be, I can’t shake the feeling that the man is important somehow, not just some random person from Makina’s past, and that he’s in some way related to Ouri.
Meanwhile, Nozomi is having what would almost be a date with Ouri, if only she wasn’t so thoroughly brainwashed and it wasn’t a life or death situation. She expresses her desire to die and become a shikabane hime, after which she can always be with Ouri, and Ouri’s attempts to talk her back to her senses do not reach her. Ouri is apparently able to summon his special red eye vision by will now, and he keeps on seeing the balloon attached to Nozomi growing even larger than before. Having had enough, Ouri breaks the glass in the apparent mirror house they were in, which breaks the illusion and reveals a classroom, which also happens to contain his two best friends in a comatose state, and Ouri tries to pop Nozomi’s balloon in an attempt to get her back to her senses.
However, when Ouri is about to pop her balloon, Nozomi screams for him to stop, that she will die if the balloon is popped. She doesn’t want to die anymore, which confuses her since she had been saying that she wanted to die all along. She manages to make sense of herself again: she wanted to become a shikabane hime like Makina so that she could always be with Ouri, but now that she’s next to him, she no longer wishes to die and wants to be with him while alive. Her torment breaks the illusion that had been cast upon the entire school so that it’s no longer an apparent amusement park.
Outside, Touya can’t understand why the illusion was broken and starts to head inside to investigate, but Makina calls Touya to a stop and pops her balloon. As Touya watches, the balloon releases a monster which coalesces into a child version of Makina, signifying a period in her life during which she was most happy. But Makina strongly expresses her will, that she would be happy when all of the Seven Stars are destroyed. The child Makina immediatedly reverts into a globby monster which Makina shoots up and makes short work of, and using its remains as a platform, she jumps up to Touya and beats the shikabane into the ground.
When the dust settles, however, Makina is surprised to see that Touya is actually a little girl inside who does not realize that death and happiness are not synonyms. One of the Seven Stars, Hizuchi, who had presumably been watching everything from his vantage point up in a tree, reveals himself and “kindly” starts to explain things: Touya was a little girl in a very poor and unhappy family. One day her parents took her to an amusement park where she had the happiest day of her life. It was also the last day of her life, as the parents committed murder-suicide for the whole family. She doesn’t even realize that she’s dead and continues to believe that happiness and death are the same thing.
Hizuchi actually agrees with Touya that to die is to become happy, which starts a short argument between him and Makina about the meaning of death, but he soon blindsides Makina and knocks her out. Hizuchi tells Touya to take Makina back to the Seven Stars base for Hazama, while Hizuchi himself heads into the school to clean up after something.
Inside, Nozomi talks about wanting to be with Ouri and that she thought that dying and becoming a shikabane hime would be the way to do so, but in the end she wants to live and be with him as a living person. Unfortunately, her balloon has already grown too large by now and pops all by itself, releasing the monster within. Ouri grabs Nozomi and runs outside to the corridor, and tries to stop the monster by attempting a sadanjutsuhou. However, he is knocked away by Hizuchi, who ridicules Ouri for trying, that there is no way Ouri could invoke a miracle from a blessing from the gods or the stars. The reason Hizuchi gives is a bombshell: Ouri is a child of shikabane, which many viewers would have suspected something similar by now, but the real bombshell for us, or at least for me, is that at least one of the Seven Stars knows what Ouri really is.
When the monster moves in to attack, Hizuchi easily stops and destroys it, stating that Ouri is his to take. Once the monster is destroyed, Nozomi collapses. When Ouri tries to see what’s wrong with her, the black cat appears and explains that the monster was a distillation of Nozomi’s happiness, basically Nozomi herself, and with the monster destroyed, she would not be able to survive. I’m not sure why this means Nozomi dies instead of her turning into a severe depressive, but that is what happens. Hizuchi must have left off screen, otherwise I wouldn’t expect the cat to have appeared.
This show is making me paranoid: I’m even suspecting that there’s more to Mizuki than is apparent: she did manage to escape the clutches of what was affecting all of the other students at the school, and she didn’t even seem to notice the damage done to Ouri’s apartment. And it’s funny how Keisei seems to have been involved with so many things concerning the Seven Stars: not only did he become the contract monk of Makina, who the Seven Stars groomed to be their adversary, but he also took in Ouri, who might be something even more intimately related to shikabane and the Seven Stars in particular.