Shikabane Hime: Aka Episode 3

Hi, my name is Makina. I’m dead, and my love-interest looks like an older version of Bleach’s Ichigo.

We open with a young couple walking in the night, pausing to kiss when the girl suddenly stops, claiming to have heard a baby crying. The guy hears it, and they turn around to find a frightening creature behind them. They begin to run, the creature in pursuit, when Makina shows up. She goes after the creature, but it vanishes, and Keisei appears as they discover a dead women, apparently a victim of the shikabane; apparently, this shikabane has been causing them a lot of trouble what with its disappearing act as of late.

At school, one of Ouri’s friends tells a tale of a high school girl who abandoned her newborn infant; supposedly you can hear a baby crying at night where she left it. But Ouri is less than enthused by the story, and his two guy friends wonder if he’s been cursed by the baby. Level-headedness prevails, though, when his female friend feels his head, and announces that he is sick. Ouri’s friends bring him home, make him some food, and leave so that he can sleep. Ouri dreams of when Keisei took care of him when he was sick as a child.

Ouri wakes up in the afternoon and calls his part-time job to tell them that he is sick. The strange cat that keeps appearing to him materializes in his apartment, and entices him to follow. Elsewhere, Keisei tracks the shikabane, as does Minai’s monk partner. Minai makes visual contact and gives chase, as does Makina, but they ultimately lose track of it, finding another dead woman as its victim. On her they find a business card from an obstetric clinic.

Keisei’s higher-up demands to know how much longer the problem will go on. He also suggests that they investigate the obstetric clinic, as all the victims have been young women.

Ouri follows the weird cat, despite still feeling sick, and is lead to an obstetrician’s clinic. He sits down in front of it, confused, and passes out. The obstetrician finds him and takes him inside. While unconscious, Ouri has weird dreams of Keisei and a field of corpses. When he wakes up, he comes upon the obstetrician, Doctor Rokuoka, speaking with Makina, who is posing as a pregnant teenager. The obstetrician agrees to perform an abortion, and goes to prepare the operating room.

Makina explores the clinic, and Ouri follows, persistently asking her questions, although she doesn’t really answer. Makina finds a baby in the nursery, and insists that it is a shikabane, although Ouri defends it. Rokuoka walks in and tells Makina not to harm the baby, but she points her gun at him and refuses. However, a shikbane bursts through the wall and knocks both Makina and Ouri unconscious.

Keisei meets with Rika, a doctor, who has been autopsying the victims of the shikabane – it turns out that they victims were the shikabane themselves, and that they had been injected with the cells of a shikabane, which turned them into shikabane; when they died, they reverted to human form.

Rokuoka has Ouri and Makina strapped down on two separate operation tables, and they look on as he re-chains the shikabane that attacked them. He explains that he can control it because he has the shikabane’s baby – the baby that Makina thought was a shikabane itself. The shikabane is a woman who died of a heart attack after giving birth.

Rokuoka also explains that he has been turning people into shikabane in an attempt to figure out how to attain eternal life. He cuts skin off of the shikabane and puts it into a solution, and then injects it into Makina. Although she writhes in pain, nothing happens, and the doctor mentions he knew of a family with her surname that died in a house fire years before. As he prepares to up the dosage, Makina breaks free, and states that she is the daughter of that family, and that the fire didn’t kill them. She then rushes the shikabane, and kills it.

Makina is about to kill the Rokuoka, even as Ouri protests it, when Keisei bursts in. Ouri loses consciousness.

When Ouri awakes, he is back at the orphanage, being cared for by Keisei and the orphanage’s land-lady. When he asks about the baby at the clinic, Keisei says he must’ve imagined it due to his fever. Keisei goes outside, where Makina is waiting; Makina asks why Ouri appears so often whenever there’s a corpse. Keisei suggests that Ouri is stalking her, much to her annoyance.

Later, Keisei goes to speak with Rokuoka, and asks him about the baby, saying he knows of a good orphanage. Rokuoka doesn’t answer, and Keisei asks if he thought that shikabane cells were the only way to prolong his wife’s life, who we are now shown is lying in the hospital bed in the room they’re in. He also wants to know who goaded him into the experiment. Rokuoka fails to answer again, and Keisei suddenly realizes that he has been murdered.

Outside, a man licks blood off his hand before turning away.


That whole thing of experimenting on humans really reminded me of stuff like Yami no Matsuei and Vampire Princess Miyu – unpleasant, very creepy, and definitely the sort of thing I think of when I think of horror anime.

I’m still not crazy about Ouri, but I think he is a bit necessary in a sense… he plays the sort of role that Gwen plays in the British sci-fi show Torchwood (sorry, not anime, but I wanted to make the reference since I’m a dork like that…) – that is, putting a ‘normal’ person into a strange situation as a means of making that situation accessible to the general audience. Although, honestly, if you think about it, Ouri’s place in the story is a bit of an age-old trope – powerful female brings normal guy into a totally alien world, like with Rukia and Ichigo in Bleach, or even shows running this season like Kurogane no Linebarrels.

Speaking of Bleach, I know I said this before, but Keisei totally looks like what Ichigo would look like in ten years if he became a Buddhist monk. Just saying.

I’m hoping that Ouri’s existence in the storyline doesn’t detract from the exposition of Makina and Keisei’s relationship, as I honestly find this dynamic to be the most interesting in the show – after all, we’re shown that shikabane’s handlers usually don’t view them as human, and Keisei is definitely the exception. I would also tentatively say that I see Makina as being slightly attracted to Keisei, despite her constant denials of any human feelings. Unfortunately, I feel like Keisei is destined to die in part because of that, with Ouri poised to eventually step into his shoes. I like Keisei, so I’m hoping not.

As for liking characters, Keisei’s friends amuse me. I in particular like his delinquent-ish female friend (I say delinquent since she’s had a cigarette hanging out of her mouth a few times and speaks a bit roughly).

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