Episode 9 of Shikabane Hime: Kuro, “Value of the Living”, begins with Seven Stars member Hizuchi “kindly” helping Ouri regain his memories by recreating a certain event from the past, mainly by kidnapping a bunch of children, terrifying them, and throwing lots of stuff into a fiery heap. And the black cat is making no attempt to hide itself from Hizuchi. Elsewhere, Takamine is telling Rika and Saki about Ouri’s past. His mother gave birth to Ouri after becoming a shikabane, but with Ouri being a human child, she couldn’t understand him and kidnapped a whole lot of children, only to end up killing them as none of them were her child.
Hizuchi was one of those children, whose obsession was hunger after being starved before being killed, and whose first act was to eat the bodies of other dead children. And Hizuchi wasn’t the only one of the children who lingered in this world after death. Ouri’s black cat is the aggregated shiryou, souls which failed to become shikabane, of the other dead children gathered into a single form. Hizuchi believes that the black cat has always hung around Ouri desiring his body, which he proves by picking up the cat and throwing it at Ouri, which turns into a black blob with lots of mouths and absorbs Ouri.
Elsewhere, while the Kougonshuu is gathering its forces to prepare their assault against the Seven Stars, Hokuto is having a lot of fun with Makina, who is being beat up like a rag doll. According to Akasha, the fight is so one-sided because having no obsession nor nature trumps having either, even if it’s two obsessions like Makina thinks she has. A long time ago, Hokuto was raised to be a sacrifice right from the moment she was born and had practically no experience at really living while she was alive, presumably to appease the gods about lifting a drought. But when the sacrifice actually occurred, it only caused a massacre when she turned into a shikabane. This is what should happen when people kill over some blind superstition. Having had no life experience, Hokuto is not held back as other shikabane are by their own life experiences, which makes her much more powerful. Interestingly, Hokuto had her Big Dipper mark on her cheek with its seven stars even before dying.
Surprisingly, Makina appears to have some of Hokuto’s memories, which is explained by Hazama that it was the Hoshimura bloodline that created Hokuto: Makina and Hokuto are distant relatives. This is why Hazama was so focused on Makina, and now that Hokuto has defined herself as an enemy of Makina’s, which in turn means she’s now also an enemy of the Kougonshuu, Hazama has no further use for Makina and let’s Hokuto squeeze Makina to death (in a matter of speaking). We also get to hear Hazama mention what Akasha’s goal is: to free all shikabane hime. Apparently Akasha considers being a shikabane hime to be something to be liberated from, which the only way in his eyes is to destroy them. However, Makina isn’t quite finished: there’s still Ouri, and this is enough motivation for her to get back into shape. It is at this moment that the Kougonshuu makes their assault on the Seven Stars headquarters: it seems they had used Makina as bait so they can find the location. With concern for Ouri trumping her obsession to destroy the Seven Stars, Makina heads out to rescue Ouri, leaving others to deal with the Seven Stars.
Meanwhile, with Ouri and the black cat turned big black blob half-merged, Ouri is not in control and is about to eat up the children, with the previous black cat happy about Ouri turning out to be a shikabane. To stop what is about to happen, Ouri gives himself up completely to the shiryou of the dead children. Now that they have merged completely, they are back under their own control. And the black cat had much more affection and empathy rather than resentment for Ouri, so they decide to protect Ouri rather than act the way Hizuchi wants them to. Perhaps it helped that the two were together for so long, if ghosts could be sentimental. Unfortunately, they are no match against the experienced Hizuchi. Fortunately, Makina shows up before Hizuchi could finish Ouri and the others off.
Ouri is confused about whether he is shikabane or human, which Makina responds to by simply throwing him his monk outfit. The big black blob merges back together and Ouri is back to normal: Ouri has chosen to be human, and it seems that this time Ouri and the black cat really will be the same entity from now on. Using his sadanjutsuhou and with a little help from Makina, Ouri manages to defeat Hizuchi. And Makina gets to indulge in her obsession with destroying the Seven Stars by firing the shots that finish off the Seven Stars member. With the battle against Hizuchi over, Makina admits that she needs Ouri, which signals a change in their relationship from Ouri being useless baggage to a more equal partnership.
However, the Seven Stars’ scheme heads into its next phase as planes crash around the city. With casualties probably numbering in the tens of thousands, the Kougonshuu will have their hands full with hundreds of shikabane that will arise, probably helped along by something done by the Seven Stars. There’s no way that the pattern of where shikabane are arising is just a coincidence. With the Kougonshuu pretty much playing into the Seven Stars’ hands, their chances aren’t very good, unless Ouri and Makina turn out to be a wild card and/or Touya does something unexpected that makes Hazama regret ignoring her.
The way that Ouri could choose between being a human and a shikabane is odd, but it isn’t totally out of the blue with living women being turned into shikabane by being injected with shikabane cells in episode 3 of Aka. And we finally got to learn the identity of the black cat that was always pestering Ouri, that it was the souls of the children killed by his mother in the form of shiryou that we saw in episode 1 of Kuro. Now that it seems that Ouri and the black cat are really one now, I wonder if we’ll be seeing the cat again?