Koutetsujou No Kabaneri

December 4, 2016

It was perhaps a sad thing when the epic sequel to Shingeki No Kyojin got delayed for another year. So I thought Koutetsujou No Kabaneri would be the consolation and extra appetizer for us fans waiting. Because all you need to do is replace Titans with zombie corpses and those giant walls with steel trains. Voila! You get this anime! People are living behind walled villages and travel around the country ravaged by such zombies via those trains. Sounds very familiar, doesn’t it? So I hope that it won’t be just a blatant rip-off by just changing some of the stuffs and calling it a new anime. Perhaps an anime that could stand side by side with Shingeki No Kyojin or surpass it? Who knows? It might work. Just as zombie corpses and steel trains sound silly, so are giant walls and Titans. Either way, humanity is always doomed. Ah, such tough times to live as humans.

Episode 1
As narrated, 20 years ago people sought refuge from zombies known as Corpses behind station walls. An Iron Fortress (train) is being attacked by Corpses. The people are trying to defend it when one of them gets beaten. To die with honour, he is forced to commit suicide before her turns into a Corpse. Ikoma is frustrated he yet again fails to created a weapon that will pierce through the Corpses’ heart. He along with his friend, Takumi is also part of a team of engineers who maintain Iron Fortresses that dock in the station. Lady Ayame of the Yomogawa family is here to see Ikoma since she knows his expertise in steam gun. But an Iron Fortress arrives earlier instead of tomorrow. As reported, a station fell so it is natural it has one less stop to make. The occupants go through thorough body inspection to see if they are not infected by Corpses. However a priest, Shimon and his petite girl companion, Mumei (literally means no name) skipped the inspection and instead are directed by Kenshou, Yomogawa’s head directly to his quarters. When an occupant is accused for being a Corpse and fears being persecuted, the guards begin aiming their rifles. Ikoma objects hard to make them stop but was beaten up instead. Everyone is shocked when hearts of Corpses fall out from his bag. Unfortunately the occupant is shot when he tries to run away. His death proves he wasn’t a Corpse. Ikoma chides everyone for being cowards. He claims he has been fighting as hard as them against Corpses but Kenshou has Kurusu knock him out and thrown into prison. Ayame is confused when Kenshou tells her about maintaining order as a knight’s duty.

Shimon talks to Kenshou that the duo are heading to Kongoukaku and need to get there on the next Iron Fortress. Mumei sneaks out to visit Ikoma to talk about his earlier actions. When a scheduled Iron Fortress is about to dock in the station, it is not slowing down. Obviously Corpses have taken over it. Too late, it smashes through the sentry. Corpses everywhere. Panic everywhere. Let the feasting begin! Ikoma knows Corpses are attracted to blood so he slices his hand as bait to lead them back to his home so he could test his weapon. But it attacks from the roof! Luckily he shoots in time and it pierces through its heart. Ikoma is ecstatic that his Piercing Cannon finally works. Then the bad news… He notices his arm bitten. Knowing he needs to make sure the virus doesn’t reach his brain, he starts wrapping iron belts around his body before finally, uhm, strangling himself?! With his steely determination he wasn’t the same person back then, the virus quickly dies down and his body returns to normal. Shimon and Mumei are on their way to the Iron Fortress. Shimon realizes he has been bitten. So before committing suicide, he tells her to continue the journey alone and await young master’s orders when she reaches Kongoukaku. A Corpse stands before Mumei. Is she going to fight bare handed? A roundhouse kick cuts off its head! But her bladed sandal is now stuck in the pillar…

Episode 2
When Takumi comes to get Ikoma, the friends are happy that the Piercing Cannon worked. But Takumi isn’t so happy to learn he was bitten… The people are getting restless about reaching the station. Ayame tells them to wait for her father’s signal but can they since Corpses are breathing down their neck? Mumei beats an impatient guy up when he tries to touch her. She wants to know who can pilot an Iron Fortress. Yukina can, although she is just an apprentice. Mumei will carve a way for the people to get there. Everyone watches in awe as Mumei slices and blasts the Corpses with her acrobatic parkour moves! Ikoma and Takumi are at the station and need to prove they are not Corpses to board. Ikoma is going to use his weapon on the incoming Corpses but Mumei took them out. Like child’s play, huh? She’s yawning! She smells Ikoma and notices he is different. Kurusu is suspicious Ikoma is a Corpse because that is the only way he would get out of prison. Mumei vouches he is not. Once everyone is onboard, Ayame gives the signal for the train to leave. Kurusu wants Mumei to help out with the manpower but it seems she has gone to sleep to recuperate. Better hurry because hordes of Corpses are now rushing over like as though it is Black Friday! When a Corpse is trying to break through, Ikoma uses this chance to show off his Piercing Cannon. He sure showed that zombie. But as he gloats, nobody is impressed. Oh look, he has a Corpse’s heart now. Even Takumi is afraid of him. With nobody believing him he is not a Corpse, Kurusu won’t take his chances anymore and shoots him out of the Iron Fortress.

A small Corpse horde is in the path of the Iron Fortress. Ayame is distraught that one of them is her father. Kurusu ‘brainwashes’ her he is not her father. Just a Corpse. The Iron Fortress rams through the horde. Squishy zombie meat? As the Iron Fortress reaches the drawbridge, it won’t lower since a severed Corpse’s hand is blocking the mechanism. What now? To everyone’s surprise, they see Ikoma fighting off the Corpses. Is it the case of Corpses fighting among each other? Ikoma lowers the drawbridge manually and hopes they all live. This is because he is going to have the last laugh in the afterlife as they will live the rest of their life with regret abandoning the man who saved them. Iron Fortress begins is acceleration. Takumi throws a rope for Ikoma to grab but he is not taking it. So he really wants to die and laugh at them? That is when Mumei jumps down to grab him back on board. So Takumi is not grateful he is saved? He is a Corpse now and supposed to die? Well, Kurusu is going to give him a chance to commit suicide. Man, is this what you want? But Mumei stops him and reveals Ikoma is not a Corpse. But he is not human either. She reveals her back as she has symptoms of a Corpse’s heart too. He is like her. They are Demi-corpse AKA Kabaneri.

Episode 3
Many would want to kill Mumei and Ikoma but Ayame doesn’t want to be hasty as they saved their lives. Mumei makes a deal with them that she will promise to stay in this rear coach if they take her to Kongoukaku, the shogun’s strongest station stronghold. Apparently Ikoma is still reeling he is a Corpse and wants to get off the train but Mumei beats the hell out of him. Later she makes a deal with Ikoma to become her shield. As she fights Corpses, she uses an immense amount of strength. She will soon grow tired and rest. That is when she is vulnerable and she wants him to guard her. So to start training him as her shield, she starts beating him up? Well, looks like Ikoma gets a beat down. Pathetic. Mumei rushes out to the next coach when she thinks she smells a Corpse. Kurusu thinks she wants to kill and will kill her fist. Mumei dares him. Sorry to break your standoff but a report comes in that the water tank is busted and they have to stop to make repairs. While it is being done, others prepare food as well as offer prayers to the departed. Mumei and Ikoma learn they are similar in the sense that their family was killed by Corpses years ago. Ikoma has a beautiful stone he found by the river and his sister had a matching one too. They kept it as charm. Five years ago, their station was attacked by Corpses. His sister was bitten. Ikoma naturally ran away even though he wanted so much to save her even if it means dying with her. When he returns, he was filled with regret but knew it was too late. His sister was gone. He destroys her body before she turns into a Corpse.

A few men are still wary of the Kabaneri duo. They want to take action to kill them now although Ayame stops them. Mumei dares them but soon pays no heed and walks off into the main crowd. Meanwhile the men are shocked that Ayame is dares to gamble with her life as she stands close to Ikoma. She then tests him by stabbing him and asks his resolve and to determine if they are their allies or foes. Shockingly or not, Ikoma does not bite her. Because he made a vow he will never run away just to save his own skin. Corpses are the enemy and he vows to kill every single one of them! Doesn’t this sound like Eren’s vow too? The men back down after Ayame dares them to check Ikoma themselves. Later she apologizes to him for the test but wonders why he took the stab directly. He just turned into this form and is worried he cannot control his strength. But all that bleeding must have weakened him as he passes out. Meanwhile Mumei plays with the kids and makes them laugh, putting everyone else at ease that she isn’t some hungry Corpse. But all that playing has made her hungry and she now needs to eat. Blood. Are you f*cking kidding me???!!! It is no surprised that everyone is just as startled. A pregnant woman has turned into a Corpse so I guess this is Mumei’s excuse to swiftly go kill her. As Ayame prepares the treatment, Ikoma gets up and feels the urge to bite her! Has he really turned into a zombie?

Episode 4
Just great. Corpses are sighted in the distance! Back onto the train! Kurusu hits Ikoma away. Although he regains his sanity, Kurusu thinks he is putting up an act. Iron Fortress manages to carry on its journey before the Corpses reach. With rumours spreading that the Kabaneri duo were the ones luring the Corpses, some of the men blame Ayame. She admits she is unfit to lead and gives away the master key, a sign of authority to one of them. They decide to switch the route to the mountains. Despite they will be prone to Corpse attack, it is the faster way to Kongoukaku. Some then throw Takumi, Sukari and Kajika back with the Kabaneri duo believing they are their supporters. With Mumei hinting she is hungry for blood, they soon realize those men are trying to disconnect their coach. The sooner the Iron Fortress enters the tunnel, a horde of Corpses jump in. Needless to say, a bloodbath is eminent. With innocent lives slaughtered and the remaining ones flee to the front. Among the Corpses is a Learner. This Corpse is dangerous as it has previous fighting skills which make it formidable in combat. This means this Learner can do samurai swordplay and avoid most attacks you throw at him. This massacre scene gives Ikoma the chills as it reminds him of his sister being killed.

Mumei and Ikoma plan to follow and take out the Learner as it is moving towards the front coach travelling via the roof. However there are many tunnels ahead and they must time their movements as well as take out other Corpses (cue for cool action sequences). However Mumei is getting tired sooner than expected so she warns Ikoma that he will have to fend himself for the time she is resting. As the Corpses attack the front coach where a bastion has been created, Kibito notices melee combat is noticeable. Remembering how the Kabaneri duo fought, he tells Kurusu to use his samurai sword to fight. It works like a charm till he faces off with the Learner in which he got stabbed. While he is being treated, Ikoma just arrived and screams he needs blood. He doesn’t care whose but will promise he will defeat this Learner. Instantly Ayame offers hers. She slits her hand for him to drink. That little drop is enough to power him up as he uses his Piercing Cannon to shoot through the Learner’s heart. Victory is theirs. As everyone cleans up the walls and floors of Iron Fortress, Ayame wrests back her authority and control. She decides to let the Kabaneri duo ride with them to Kongoukaku. If they need blood, she will offer hers. Kurusu is against it seeing her blood won’t be enough to satiate them. That is when some of them like Takumi, Sukari, Kibito and Yukina volunteer to give theirs if they are ever needed.

Episode 5
With Ikoma’s new innovation and a few adjustments, others can fight with the same mechanism that Pierce Cannon is using. As they stop at the next station, there is no reply and they believe Corpses must have overrun it. However they spot a few survivors and rescue them. One of the survivors, Enoku knows Mumei. He talks to her privately. Something about the shogunate creating weapons not to kill Corpses but humans. He wants Mumei to relay this to the young master but seeing that Enoku had some sort of fall out with her brother, she isn’t going to take him seriously. It sends shivers down her spine when he reminds her that her worth is only killing Corpses. Lose that and she will be tossed aside too. Because of that, Mumei starts acting strange. During Ikoma’s briefing to remove a tower wreckage blocking the Iron Fortress’ path, she calls them cowards for wanting to go around the boiler where it is the nest for Corpses instead of taking them on directly. Then her insensitive (but truthful) comment about a boy’s dead pet dog has everyone hurl insults against he. Alone again. The operation to remove the crane goes on smoothly till Ikoma spots Mumei trying to head to the boiler all by herself. Looks like the plan will be slightly delayed. Inside the boiler, Mumei fights the hordes of Corpses. She manages to finish them all in record time. But then more appear. Wait a minute. You mean she didn’t expect more?! Sh*t just hit the fan when they realize the dark shadows at the bottom of the tower are actually Corpses trying to climb their way up! So apparently Mumei’s attack was futile as it only provoked this. Thanks so much for the attention, Mumei. She thinks she can still handle this but for once Ikoma tells her to shut up as he hastens the plan. Everything is going on as planned and they are at the final stretch when Ikoma sees Mumei already tired fighting the Corpses. She takes a beating from one and is thrown down. This means Ikoma has to go save her but at the expense that the wreckage is still blocking the Iron Fortress! Yukina had to step on the brakes so as not to crash into it. Bad Mumei! When the entire tower collapses, Ikoma takes Mumei to hide in the mines. Then appears a giant Corpse from the ruins called Smog. Titan-level Corpse?

Episode 6
Smog is made out of many Corpses acting as a giant organism. Think of it as Transformers but Corpse level. Iron Fortress finds shelter inside the station and closes the iron gates before Smog could catch it. Ikoma is trying to dig Mumei out. Talking about guilt, blame and weakness… All that don’t really matter right now, right? Mumei panics when she thinks she is going to turn into a Corpse so Ikoma lets her drink some of the blood reserves he has. After calming down, he puts her rescue on hold since a horde of Corpses is in sight. Time to show his worth as a main character and kick ass. This brings back traumatic memories of her station overrun by Corpses. Everyone got so crazy that they even started suspecting humans and killing them. One of those unfortunate was Mumei’s mom. She was about to meet her same fate but somebody saved her in time. By the time she wakes up, Kibito and his team have come to rescue her. She is worried about Ikoma but apparently he is alive despite taking in all those bites. I guess it is one of those good things of being a Kabaneri. Getting back into Iron Fortress (which is now fitted with a super Type-48 Cannon after the engineers fused it with the boiler), they see Smog trying to become stronger by assimilating other Corpses into it. As explained by Mumei, the only way to defeat Smog is to destroy the single Corpse acting as its heart. Type-48 Cannon will not be enough to finish it off as there will be many Corpses protecting it. Instead, after blasting open the heart, Mumei will finish it with a point blank shot. Smog picks up speed but not the Iron Fortress. Yup, some damn Corpse part is stuck between the mechanism again. Sukari risks his life to take it out. One wrong move and he would be dead meat. Smog leaps onto Iron Fortress and causes havoc. After Sukari pulls it out, Iron Fortress speeds up. Takumi fires Type-48 Cannon before Mumei redeems herself and destroys the core. Iron Fortress runs full steam ahead out of the station.

Episode 7
They finally reach a station that is not overrun by Corpses! After docking, the engineers need to get more daita iron, source for the Pierce Cannon’s jet bullets. Might as well take this time to stock up on food and clothes too (Kajika the queen of haggling). Seeing that today is also Tanabata, I guess it is no harm in letting some steam off. A boy talks to Yukina and is waiting for his father to return from an Iron Fortress. She remembers that train smashed into the station and everyone onboard was Corpses. She didn’t want to tell him but Sukari tells the truth right in his face seeing it will be crueller to let him hope for a father who will never return. Although the boy doesn’t want to believe, Sukari gives him the will to fight on. Ayame sees some local ministers to get necessities in exchange for blueprints to Piercing Cannon. They are awed in Kurusu’s demonstration and agree. Meanwhile Enoku sees Kogenta who is representing the shogunate for this station. It seems there is some sort of power struggle and while some are not happy and want to be left out, I figure that isn’t going to happen. Ikoma talks to Mumei. She tells him she celebrated Tanabata with her mom before but forgot about it. She was called Hozumi before her ‘brother’ took her in. Because she always keep wondering every morning if she would still be her sane self or turn into a Corpse, Ikoma tells her not to fight Corpses again. He vows to find a way to change her back into a human. I don’t know if that is possible. So he is now like her mother, putting his foot down not wanting her to fight and just fill her stomach with rice like her mom always wanted? That night, everyone celebrates Tanabata with fireworks and putting up their wishes. Ikoma gives everyone great hope when he hopes to eradicate Corpses and take back their land. Next morning, everyone happily greets another incoming Iron Fortress. This one contains Hunters, an independent force under the shogunate created to specifically destroy Corpses. Leading them is Lord Biba Amatori, the shogun’s son and Mumei’s supposed brother. She is glad to see him. But not so for Ikoma… He has his suspicions and need to find out if he is a true hero or not. I hope he doesn’t rub it the wrong way like as though he is a jealous guy who will not have any other men in Mumei’s life.

Episode 8
Mumei introduces Biba to Ayame. She thought they were siblings but apparently not. Mumei just decided to call him her big brother. Then here comes Ikoma. He asks straight in his face if he was the one who taught Mumei about the weak must die and the strong lives. He puts it in a way that what he meant was he wants to save them. Because survival isn’t just merely about staying hidden but to stand up and fight against Corpses. Hordes of Corpses are coming. Seems this is all part of Kogenta’s plan to lure them as bait so the Hunters will go in action. And indeed we get to see them take down the Corpses with their sophisticated weapons and vehicles all from close range. Mumei wants to fight a mini hybrid so Biba allows her but has his subordinate, Horobi to assist. She too is a Kabaneri. At the end of the battle, Enoku confronts Biba. I believe he wants to get back under serving him but Biba tells him off he has no need of him. Enoku attacks but is no match for him. Biba considers him as a traitor and has lied to him. Without mercy, he stabs him. Ikoma is distraught he killed a man seeking help. Biba is puzzled he cared for a man he has no relation to. Takumi and Ayame had to restrain Ikoma and apologize on his behalf for his rudeness. Biba will have Ayame and co accompany his side to Kongoukaku. Later, Takumi talks to Ikoma about his outburst. It seems he is bothered that Mumei is a Kabaneri having never been bitten by a Corpse. This means she was turned into one. Shortly Kogenta and his men are all assassinated by the Hunters and only Hirotsuka is taken in.

Flashback shows Biba didn’t exactly help Mumei. He tossed her a sword and told her to be strong for her survival. She picked it up and killed her attacker. It was then he took her in and told her to cast away the name weak people usually called her because she doesn’t need it. Be strong move, move forward. And you know how such effect can brainwash a kid. Biba then orders Mumei to take the master key from Ayame. In the front compartment of the train, Biba is keeping a cage filled with Corpses. He interrogates Hirotsuka on whose orders his team was left for dead in the battlefield since his side was in charge of the supplies. Fearing for his life, Hirotsuka reveals it was the shogun. Ayame is surprised that Mumei is being pushy for her key. Yukina hears this and gives her a key to the boiler room. Mumei is surprised Biba tells her it is not. This shows they are not yet willing to trust them yet. With Ikoma sensing Corpses in the front, Biba tells Mumei to kill him if he enters. She tries to persuade him to go away. In the process, also revealing about the Corpses that Biba is keeping as for research. How else would you know the enemy? It is that same technology they turned her into a Kabaneri although she was the one who requested for it. Why? To be strong, silly! She still believes in Biba (that weak-strong thingy again) and will not rely on Ikoma. End of conversation. This convinces Ikoma that Biba is no hero. Because he saw him smiling when he killed Enoku. Well, he can add Hirotsuka to that list.

Episode 9
They are at the last station before Kongoukaku. But the guards only let everyone else except the Hunters in. Their Iron Fortress is parked outside the station. Ayame and co thought it is a good thing to separate everyone from those dangerous men. But she wished Mumei was with them. Ayame and Yukina go to see the lord of this station, Maeda. His subject warns him of Biba’s feud with the shogun but Maeda is optimistic that if it was true, Biba wouldn’t have fought Corpses for the shogun for over 10 years. Shortly, Biba, Horobi and Mumei also enter to see Maeda. Under pretence to go to toilet, Mumei knocks out the guards on her way to open the gate so the Iron Fortress could enter. But this is when she opened Pandora’s Box and did not expect to see what is coming. The Hunters are leading hordes of Corpses into the station! Panic and chaos ensue. With this signal, Biba kills Maeda and his men instantly. He then forces Ayame and Yukina back to his Iron Fortress to witness the experiment. Mumei is left feeling guilty the wake of destruction she has indirectly caused. The heartbreak of seeing a child being bitten and her mother painfully commits double suicide. The local guards think the Iron Fortress is here to save them but instead the Hunters shoot them all dead. This is retribution for 10 years of cowardice. Biba and Horobi have their last moment together before he injects a serum into her. Horobi turns into the core of Smog as she assimilates other Corpses to go on a gigantic rampage.

When Mumei confronts Biba about everything, he has her look at the carnage of dead people and Corpses preying on humans. This is the world of fairness and equality they’ve been striving for. Well, it looked like world destruction if you asked me. Horobi soon berserks out of control and becomes a real Corpse. There is supposed to be a cure but Souei the mad scientist deemed she is beyond saving. Kurusu barges in to save Ayame. In the confusion, she manages to get hold of the cure and threatens to toss it away. Souei pleads her not to do something dumb as it is very precious. As he tussles with Kurusu, they fall off the train. Horobi now attacks everyone indiscriminately, killing even her own allies. When she is moments away from killing Biba, the last ounce of her humanity has her stop right before his eyes. Then Biba just stabs through her heart like as though she is a worthless piece of sh*t. Sad. In the aftermath, everyone non-Hunters are rounded up. Those who are bitten are immediately exterminated. Biba then announces this is their freedom, their liberation from these cages. He asks everyone to join in his fight to destroy the walls they have built, the symbol of cowardice. This is where the strong lives and the weak dies. I’m sure Ikoma is brimming with anger but what can he do? He is beaten up and told to shut up because they are interested in his blood. Well Mumei, it is too late to think your brother has lied to you this entire time, eh?

Episode 10
On the way to Kongoukaku, Sukari has joined the Hunters and everyone doesn’t take too likely his betrayal. Ikoma is kept in a cage at the back. The other passengers are ordered to donate their blood when the time calls for it. Ayame talks to Biba about his great feat as a commander 10 years ago despite he was just 12 years old then. They set out to build stations and cleared the land of Corpses. One day supplies for them stopped and were obliterated when Corpses surrounded them. That is why he must deliver this punishment to his father with his own hands. Ikoma and the others plan their own liberation plan to take control of the engine room which is at the very front. Ikoma believes if they can seize it, Biba can’t do anything and will be forced to release Ayame and Mumei. You think so? He knows one of them have the keys to that room and their plan will begin during the next blood intake is held. He believes the blood is delivered to the Corpses and Biba plans to destroy Kongoukaku. Confused Mumei sees Biba. She doesn’t understand what is happening. Just a vague answer that he will assure the passengers’ safety if they behave is enough to make her happy and put her trust in him again. The uprising begins and goes on as planned. Takumi wants to beat up Sukari but Ikoma stops him. It seems Sukari is purposely playing the traitor. That is how he could relay information to Ikoma about the train layout and such. With word of the rebellion reaching Biba, he wants Mumei to take the serum. She is scared and unwilling so he threatens her that he will stop giving the cure. For once Mumei stands up for herself. She will not take it and wants to be with the passengers and eat rice with them every day. If that is her answer, Biba’s men restrain and tranquilize her. Ikoma and Takumi are just a carriage away from the engine room but the key doesn’t fit. Biba and his men pop up. He knew Ikoma was planning this and switched the key. Biba fires at him but Takumi uses his body to protect. Does Ikoma have time to cry his heart out? Well, if Biba is asking how he is feeling and depending on his answer he might let him join his army. You know his answer, right? But his anger doesn’t translate much as he gets beaten up and even loses his right arm. Then Biba orders Mumei (clearly hypnotized) to kill him. Without hesitation she stabs him. Capping off a bad day, he falls out of the carriage, down the cliff and into the river.

Episode 11
With Takumi dead, Kajika even dares the Hunters to just kill them all. I guess we have enough blood for today. Flashback shows the shogun slashed Biba but he didn’t blame himself. It was fear! Biba injects the serum into Mumei. The shogun addresses his subjects about Biba’s rebellion. When a subordinate mentions if he should tell everyone about Smog, upon knowing he is the only one who knows about this, the shogun kills him in front of everyone! Information to create needless fear is not needed! As expected, Ikoma is still alive but he is wallowing in regret and despair. He thought a Corpse is nearby but it is Kurusu and Souei (as his prisoner). Kurusu is mad after hearing all that has happened. It doesn’t get any better as Ikoma is still guilt ridden and can’t go on. Yeah, just stay here and die. The Iron Fortress is outside Kongoukaku. They are suspicious to let it in at first but when they heard it is from the people who captured the Hunters, they let them in. Of course it is all just a play as Ayame is forced to go along with Biba’s script. Using her connections with the higher ups, she claims she and the people rebelled and captured Biba. Ayame and Biba are brought before the shogun. He takes out an old knife belonging to Biba. Biba wants him to kill him with it if he has any mercy. The shogun felt a prick on his hand and a small drop of blood is spotted. That is when Biba tells the secret how he survived fighting Corpses all this time. He can detect Corpses. The biggest threat from Corpses is their ability to hide among people. He warns everyone to be wary of their surroundings or they’ll be the next victim.

When the shogun starts showing symptoms as a Corpse, the guards panic and shoot him dead. With Biba stoking the fire that there are Corpses hidden among them, everyone starts suspecting each other and before you know it, killing each other. Biba getting right back at the shogun. Don’t blame him. Blame fear! What a joke… Some of his Hunters kill the rail operators to open the gates. Then the Iron Fortress opens the cage with Corpses flooding the city. Feasting time. And Biba is just sitting on the throne like a boss. Kurusu is fixing the bike as Souei bugs him to hurry otherwise she will turn into Smog and become irreversible. Kurusu gets an idea as he talks to Ikoma about why he is still alive. If Mumei pierced his heart, he would have died, right? But apparently it took a lot of skill to miss it by inches. So she purposely saved him? Well, at least enough motivation to bring sulking boy back to help. After learning that Mumei needs the cure before she forever becomes Smog, time for a makeover. New hairstyle and Piercing Cannon attached to his arm. Let’s do this. Souei thought he wants the cure but actually the opposite. This might accelerate the virus and it doesn’t work on men but that is the power Ikoma needs. Time for a new power up badass look too? Mumei is in despair and regret. Just about the nice recipe to become Smog and all part of Biba’s ultimate plan for her to crush Kongoukaku.

Episode 12
Kongoukaku in chaos. Mumei still on a rampage and her guilt is fuelling it. Ikoma and Kurusu return to kick butt, slicing and blasting their way through Corpses. Yukina and co are imprisoned as the locals blame them for bringing this scourge. Ayame tells them to stop and even dares them to shoot at her. After telling everyone how they doubt their hearts and minds, they agree to listen to her and escape together. Heh. At least they’re not stubborn. With Ikoma’s return, Biba knows he is targeted. He tells his men to escape while he sets a date with a ‘dying man’, taking a long the last cure with him. And the much awaited last battle between Ikoma and Biba is here. Despite Biba stabbing into him, Ikoma is filled with rage and uses it as his raw brute force to turn the tables. Ikoma could have won had not he suddenly lose his senses (sight or sound, that is). Or maybe he lost his humanity and just stood there making him an easy target for Biba to sneak up on him. I’m not sure if Ikoma and Mumei had some telepathic communication because at the right time Ikoma turns around and blasts Biba at point blank. Well, at least Biba lost an arm. Ikoma then quickly climbs into Smog to inject the cure into Mumei. Smog disintegrates like liquid. When Mumei wakes up, she is disheartened to find unresponsive Ikoma before her. Is he dead? Then here comes angry Biba trying to pick a fight with a dead man. You mean it’s not over yet? It is then Mumei stabs her brother. She had wished he listened to her sometimes. Goodbye. As the rest ponder which routes to escape, the surviving Hunters want to escape with them in exchange for route information. Many do not trust them after what they have done but kind hearted Ayame gives them another chance. Ah, always the forgiving type. After learning Mumei’s side is still alive, Kajika announces from the speaker to come to the Iron Fortress. Kurusu carries Ikoma as they make a mad dash to reunite on the Iron Fortress. It leaves the crumbling city just in time. After all that shaking and yelling from Mumei, I think it is enough even to wake up the dead! That’s why Ikoma lives! Because he is the main character! Or rather something hints Biba injected him with the cure during the fight since his symptoms have gone down. Happy Mumei returns his dropped stone to him.

Only Human…
Despite many online reviews criticizing how bad this anime was, personally I find this anime to be satisfying. Of course by no means that it is a very great anime that it could be compared on par with Shingeki No Kyojin because that anime has skyrocketed anime standards so high that it is no longer sufficient to just fly to the moon if you want to get those same standards but hurtle outside the Solar System. Yeah… Many claimed it started out great but slowly descended into somewhat generic and predicable plotline towards the end. I agree that putting in the twist of Biba’s revenge instead of focusing on the real epidemic of Corpses put a damper on it overall. Because you know, we need to have a cool bad guy to shake things up. Well, I thought Shingeki No Kyojin was also pretty much something like this towards the end but then again, it all boils down whether you have started hating this series or not.

So I am not going to jump on this train and condemn it either because like I said despite not being the masterpiece that it should turn out to be, it isn’t all that bad either. I was not bored nor truly disappointed throughout the series so on that part you can say it is already an achievement by itself. You can also say that I kept my standards low and that I am a simpleton. That is why everything is decently awesome. But at this point in time I have come to realize that no anime is truly perfect and if you really want to nit-pick on something, you can do so on just about anything and everything. But I do find that this ‘lousy’ ending did increase my disappointment since you know the burning question inside me starts asking, “Where the hell are they going now?”. Assuming if Kongoukaku is the last stronghold, are there any others left? Are Ikoma and Mumei completely cured of their Kabaneri condition? So as long as main hero and heroine and a bunch of other ‘likeable’ side characters are alive and the main baddie dies, everything is okay. For such standards, that is.

So to start off, I can’t help feel that a lot of things seem to draw quite a bit of comparison to Shingeki No Kyojin. It is hard for me to separate this anime on being its own without the thought of linking it to that said anime. Like as though they took some concepts in Shingeki No Kyojin and then change it a little, put on a little cosmetic and then call it a new anime. However bear in mind that Koutetsujou No Kabaneri does not originate from any manga unlike Shingeki No Kyojin. This means this is an original TV anime and has no manga material to fall back on (although, it now has several manga adaptations and prequel stories after the TV ended its run). One may argue that these producers were so inspired by Shingeki No Kyojin that they took elements from it and placed it here. Well, you know what they say about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. Erm, close enough. There are some that I read said that this series also ‘copied’ Tokyo Ghoul in terms of the virus infection. But since I didn’t see that horror series, I can’t do any comparisons.

Therefore other than replacing Titans with Corpses and giant walls with iron trains as aforementioned in my opening paragraph, we also have the main protagonist who also somewhat takes the form of the enemy they vow to kill. Every last one of them. While Eren could transform into a Titan, Ikoma is also a Corpse albeit more of Kabaneri but still a Corpse nonetheless. Notice how these guys have their family members killed by the menace many years ago? Eren saw his mom getting chomped and Ikoma… Well, you saw what happened to his sister. Then there is the strong female lead. Mumei might be the Mikasa of this series but she is certainly not her by a mile. And what do you know? The so called main antagonists are the humans themselves as they betray their own kind. Biba did it for revenge but Annie’s reasons were shrouded in mystery. And yes, supporting characters who die… Takumi is like the Marco of this series… Albeit the former meets his maker near the series’ end compared to the latter who bite the dust quite early. You kill Titans by slicing a portion at the back of their neck, which is a hard place to get. You could easily kill Corpses if not for their heart protected by very hard steel. Both creatures kill you using their mouth… There are quite a bit more I can compare so much so I can do a list of comparisons but I’ll reserve that for another day.

Now, the obvious reason why almost everything in this anime reminds me of Shingeki No Kyojin is because of the art style. The surrealism of the characters and the gloomy backgrounds to the steampunk action all wreak similar sensations to that Titan series. Don’t be surprised because they are animated by the same anime studio who did Shingeki No Kyojin too, Wit Studio. Albeit that series was in joint effort with Production I.G. Blending steampunk style technology with the feudal attire and setting seems like a unique combination at least from my perspective. Character designs look quite okay except maybe for one or two. Like Ayame whom I cannot stop thinking that she looks like Sakura Taisen’s Sakura. Sure, it is mainly her attire. But I almost fall into the trap of referring and calling her as Sakura. Same case for Kajika. I thought what the hell Love Live’s Kotori was doing in this series! Has she given up being an idol after Muse disbanded?! And then there is Mumei’s garb when she goes into battle. Although there is a vast difference, I can’t help think if she is an X-Men wannabe… Seriously. Oh, and Yukina. It was a surprise to see her muscular body beneath all those clothes. It’s like as though for that moment she took it off just to show us those abs and biceps. Kinda reminds you of Mikasa, no? A pretty face with a decently muscular body? Well, you need all that strength to operate an Iron Fortress.

Character wise, I think this is one reason why many feel disappointed in the series. Many viewers feel like they mostly fall into generic stereotypes. Well, for our generation who have watched so many movies and series, I am sure we are running out of ideas of what kind of heroes there needs to be. Goody-goody two shoes heroes feel like so yesterday while brooding heroes with ambiguous moral compass seems to be boring these days as the market is flooded with so many of such heroes that they are hardly exciting when a seemingly similar character pops up.

Like Ikoma who is no doubt the main character. He is not perfect and has his flaws too. Despite being a half corpse, he is still human like any others. Except the irony that humans may be even worse than Corpses themselves. So we see him as weakling in terms of fighting abilities (he only can protect himself if he is armed with his Piercing Cannon) and physically weak too. He also went through an emotional roller coaster ride as far as from witnessing his sister’s death to the injustice atrocities the authorities conduct on fellow innocent men and then having to put up with Mumei’s shocking betrayal (even if this wasn’t the case). It is enough to turn anyone into a zombie. And like generic heroes he has to be, he makes a comeback from his fall and defeats the baddie of the day. End of (same ol’) story. And was he trying to become Ash Williams of The Evil Dead when he attached his Piercing Cannon onto his severed arm?

Mumei is a confused girl. Sometimes I feel that she has twin personalities. She becomes a hardcore badass when she puts on her gear to fight Corpses but in her casual clothes, she feels like a vulnerable and simple girl. And then when she got those feelings confused during an episode that introduces Smog, she just screwed up everything that could have been just a simple escape plan. It made her feel annoying. But can you blame her after years of being ‘brainwashed’ by her ‘brother’? Ah, we can all dream of the simpler times when filling your belly with rice was ultimate bliss. Sometimes she also has that really ridiculous look for a badass kickass girl especially that time when she made funny faces to the little kids just to pacify them. Weird. Funnier too is this seemingly running joke in the initial episodes whereby Mumei tends to easily beat up Ikoma for his whining and stubbornness. Funny.

Then there is Biba whom many viewers feel that he is such a generic antagonist. Cool, strong and handsome mysterious guy leading an elite force with shady ambitions. Uh huh. Sometimes I feel he is like the Sephiroth of the series. Well, not that I know Sephiroth well either. So he has got this sick twisted thinking that is just revolting. So by liberating humans and letting them being devoured and becoming one with Corpses, this is his concept of freedom? Man, it is like saying to wipe out the AIDS epidemic once and for all, we should all just eradicate humans. Sickening, no? And this guy is worse than a woman because he holds his grudge for 10 years! 10 FREAKING YEARS!!! Where the hell and what the heck has he been doing for that period? Going around doing his job just to gain trust or at least let his enemies let their guard down? And you thought time heals all wounds, no? Not this guy.

Unfortunately the rest of the other supporting characters are just being minimal. Like Ayame who seems to be reduced to be a damsel in distress. Not that she needs saving whatsoever, though. I’m sure she needs to be strong and stand up to take her father’s place but from the looks of her diplomacy to protect her people, it isn’t working. So she went as far as to conspire with Biba in hopes of minimizing casualties but look at what mess Kongoukaku turned out. Even higher than before. For her, it is the case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Next, there is Yukina who starts off as an Iron Fortress’ driver to become Ayame’s escort of all sorts. Because who others can be of the same level as her? Mumei is out of her league and Kajika feels like the weak motherly or sisterly type. Then the rest are like, well, for Kurusu this guy seems to have this suspicious look for just about anything and you’d only remember him as Ayame’s sword and shield. Takumi is the main character’s best friend who seems to have it written all over his face that he was made for the role to die for his friend. And Sukari… What is this guy for again? There are many other minor supporting characters part of this Iron Fortress group but their roles are so minor that you noticed I didn’t even bother to name them.

If you are hoping for some sort of romance, don’t count on it. It might seem that Ikoma and Mumei might hit it off but it doesn’t get anywhere close. Just because they spend lots of time together doesn’t mean it would translate into something deeper. Besides, Mumei has this close resemblance to Ikoma’s dead sister so maybe that is where the fondness stems. Even in the final course of the series felt like because Mumei has realized the err of her ways and the only closest guy she could trust from now on is no other than Ikoma. That’s why she was so desperate in reviving him and so happy when he came back to life. Rice will taste better now, huh? So the closest to seemingly come in this department is Sukari and Yukina but that too is very vague. Noticed how this guy would do a lot of risky stuffs just for her? And the way he reacts whenever she gives him the cold shoulder? Hmm… I’m not too sure about Takumi and Kajika. These two, you ask?! Yeah well, I thought after Takumi died, Kajika was crying over his body, screaming to the Hunters not to touch a hair of it and then ‘talk’ to him as if to go home. Go home to his grave, that is! Oops. Sorry. I never knew she had it in him but it could be more of her sisterly nature to care for everyone on board.

Sadly, the plot never seemed to address the epidemic that caused people in Japan to turn into Corpses (although I heard there was a novel prequel subsequently released that told of the events prior). It would have been interesting to see some sort of back story of how this came about, how Japan screwed up big time (assuming it was their fault) to have the entire country turn into a sea of Corpses (assuming from the opening credits that the entire ‘glowing lights’ that is lighting up an entire dark Japan as viewed from a top-down perspective are the radiant hearts of Corpses). So it begs certain questions like if this catastrophe only confined to Japan or has it spread to other parts of the world. And although we have not seen them doing it here, can Corpses swim because otherwise wouldn’t it just be logical to make your stronghold surrounded by water or live kilometres away from land and at sea.

Action wise, there is enough to keep adrenaline junkies satisfied (I think) but if you are the kind that wince at the sight of blood and violence, you shouldn’t be watching this. Or even any other mild superhero movies. In almost every episode, there is guaranteed to be deaths whether it is the poor hapless civilians or some minor supporting character who is unlucky enough to make a few minutes of cameo before being killed off. It goes to show that nobody is safe when the country is overrun by these Corpses. It is nice to see Mumei’s acrobatic fighting skills, the satisfaction of seeing Ikoma pumping his power blast into the Corpses’ heart and Biba using a hybrid of gun and sword to fight. But you can’t really complain if you really want to see more variation than that. Well, it is not like you need a variety of special moves and combos to take out the Corpses, right?

Speaking of Corpses, it is hard for me to say whether or not they are more threatening than the Titans. It all depends. Because for Corpses, there are a hell lot more of them and they come in Hordes. Not to say that there much less Titan antagonists but in terms of numbers, Corpses would definitely outnumber Titans. Because they are just everywhere! Titans are fast too (some of them) but all of the Corpses are fast! They are not like your usual zombies who grunt and walk slowly towards you. It is really a panic attack when you see them rushing like as though this is some cross-country marathon race. Titans may be big but this does not make them clumsy. However Corpses being the same size as adult humans, this means they are harder to strike and have the capacity to be as agile as you. Yes, they kill you faster as they just need to sink their teeth into your skin unlike Titans who need to pick you up, open their mouths and then chomp you. Or they can just squash you flat. Furthermore, Corpses can infect you and turn you into one of them. Scary, right? Thus this is one of those tough cases whereby if you were to be asked the question would you rather, Titans or Corpses, you’d be thinking a hell lot and realizing this is just between the devil and the deep blue sea, a rock and a hard place.

Voice acting is pretty decent with Yuuki Kaji being one of the few alumni from the Shingeki No Kyojin series to lend their voices here. This time he isn’t the main character but as Takumi. The other seiyuu from Shingeki No Kyojin is Ryota Ohsaka who voices Sukari. Oddly, He was Marco’s voice. In the Titan anime, his character dies but now in this series, Yuuki Kaji’s character dies. Strange… The only other seiyuu from that series is Mariya Ise as Yukina who was Isabella in the No Regrets OVA. Due to lack of emotions of her character, I couldn’t recognize she was Fairy Tail’s Levi. The other surprising one was Mamoru Miyano as Biba. He was quite out of his usual boyish voice role that I am so familiar of that I would never have recognized him if I did not take the effort to look up who this dude was behind this character.

Casting newbies as the main lead feels reasonable as it somewhat brings a certain freshness to the voice acting. Like Tasuku Hatanaka as Ikoma (Ushio in Ushio & Tora) has that rawness feel in his voice while Sayaka Senbongi as Mumei (Cracker Griffon in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans) isn’t too shabby in her role. The rest of the seemingly veteran supporting casts are Maaya Uchida as Ayame (Rikka in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Toshiki Masuda as Kurusu (Miyamura in Yamada-kun And The Seven Witches), Kanae Oki as Kajika (Jacqueline in Soul Eater), Kensuke Satou as Kibito (Nikolai in Hitsugi No Chaika) and Aya Endo as Horobi (Miyuki in Lucky Star).

I have a feeling that they try to replicate the opening theme which goes by the same name as the series to be as epic and grandeur as Shingeki No Kyojin. Sung by Egoist who is more famous for their work on the songs of the anime series Guilty Crown, it feels a bit like a messy piece. It’s like trying to infuse together their trademark singing with opera voices and strings but coming out as almost a train wreck. And then the chaotic action sequences in the opening credits animation filled with Corpses devouring, explosions, fire and frenzy Corpse killing feels like it is to distract you from the one-kind singing but instead it just enhances everything. At least the ending theme sounds slightly better. Ninelie although by Aimer x Chelly also has some roots with Egoist. At certain points of this slow rock, the voices kinda reminds of Enya’s songs. There is a special ending theme for the penultimate episode, Through My Blood <AM> by Aimer, another slow hard rock piece. Some of the BGM I feel also tries to make it sound epic like Shingeki No Kyojin with opera voices in it. And the insert songs of rock origins make the resemblance even closer and weirder.

Overall, this series is by far not a train wreck as many have claimed to be. I for one personally may not list this anime as my top 10 or even my top 20 but at least I am satisfied with this series for having ‘entertained’ me. That is in the general and broadest sense. I know it does not have the best plot, the best characters, the best action, the best visuals, the best soundtrack and a poor ending to boot with, but if you only live to watch Oscar winning films and nominees, you’ll never broaden your mind and watch others that missed the cut. Whether they are a gem or just dirt all depends entirely on your tastes and preferences. I might earn the wrath of others who hate this series because I’m giving a decent high score for it but it all boils down to you. Whether you agree with me or hate and blame me for recommending this piece of crap, make sure it is after you at least watch it. Don’t be a zombie and just take my word for it. After all, today’s world and technology have turned us into some sort of ‘zombie’. Corpses. The living dead. We stare at our mobiles for hours, amuse ourselves with various social media platforms all day long and watch YouTube videos for countless hours. Yup. A new form of mankind liberation and freedom is needed urgently here.

Shikabane Hime

July 7, 2013

If you are going to fight a bunch of ghosts, spirits, zombies or the undead, what better way than to use an equivalent corpse to do just that, right? But wait. If both sides are already dead, how do you kill them off for good? Just destroy the brains! And so one reason why I decided to watch Shikabane Hime was because I was attracted to the fact that there is this female protagonist who whips out a pair of Uzis and shoot her way through her enemies. Yeah. Girls with guns each in her hands are always cool and kick butt. Lara Croft. “Two Hand” Revy. Aria Kanzaki. Jo. Scanty. Ah yeah. Bang! Bang!

Before I get carried away, the basic premise of this series is about a dead girl. Well, more accurately, she has been brought back to life to fight evil corpses or people who turn into one with a priest partner. You see, when we die, we have regrets and it is this lingering attachment that causes us to turn into one upon our death. So only corpses can kill corpses and this is where she comes in to play a role in turning back those corpses to what they really are. Dead and never to move ever again. She has to kill 108 of them in order for her to ascend to Heaven. Why such a number? Couldn’t they just round it to a hundred? Well, that is the number of sins or defilements in the Buddhism. I’m sure 108 isn’t a hard number to achieve if you diligently do you duty to kill one every day or two. Hey, people die every day, right? It’s not like you have to kill a million just to reach Heaven. That would totally be a total de-motivation. Of course it would be boring if you would just see her shoot down corpses called Shikabane. Along the way, she learns of the ones who killed her and goes on a quest for vengeance. And you thought being the undead was just mindless zombies, eh?

Shikabane Hime: Aka

Episode 1
A mysterious cat enters the temple-cum-orphanage, Dairinkan where Ouri Kagami is sleeping. I suppose he was awakened by the cat’s voice and decides to take a midnight leak or something. He passes by a room and to his shock, sees a corpse of a girl. He hides behind the Buddha statue when he hears people coming in. Among them is his brother, Keisei Tagami and several other Buddhist Priests. The cat seems to be telepathically telling Ouri that he is being shown a Shikabane. Though Keisei is injured, he starts his ritual on the corpse while scoffing off fellow priest that she is not an object. Keisei hugs her and the next thing we know, she comes back alive. Elsewhere the police raid an apartment belonging to Hagino. They have found 7 female bodies in his residence. Hagino tells them he was just getting rid of them because they disobeyed orders. He shocks the cops by leaping out of the window. Keisei may be a priest but he doesn’t seem to be setting a good example by stealing the orphans’ breakfast! The caretaker of the place, Riko puts him in order and let the kids share his food. Today is also the day that Ouri will be moving out to live on his own. Something that the other kids aren’t happy about. Riko thinks this started when Ouri saw Keisei injured that night. He always disappeared and came back with wounds. Riko may have gotten used to it but perhaps it was too much for Ouri. In class, Ouri’s classmate, Mizuki Inuhiko warns him about the harem criminal case. That guy seems to be lurking around the area and to be extra careful since Ouri is moving to his new place. Keisei is seen discussing with Makina Hoshimura about Hagino’s case. Apparently he leapt from the twentieth floor and survived. It’s because he is a Shikabane and revived. He is a Shikabane that kills and one that is a felon usually acquires strange powers. Makina will help do the investigation. When she finds him, she will kill him.

Makino infiltrates a building where Hagino is believed to be. She sees him sucking the blood of 4 of his harem women. He thinks he is a vampire, an immortal. But Makina knows that he is just a Shikabane. However she wonders if the other women were infected in becoming a Shikabane. She whips out her double Uzis and fires away but Hagino turns into his true demonic form, grabs all the women (including Makina) and flies away. Makina struggles to break free and when she does, she falls straight down to the ground. Ouri happen to walk pass and sees a corpse nearby. He is shocked to see it’s that same corpse he saw the other night. He thinks of doing what Keisei did to bring her back alive. Makina wakes up from a nightmare from being devoured by demons. Though she doesn’t know who he is, Ouri seems not to be afraid of her despite knowing her heart isn’t beating. She slaps him to get away and rendezvous with Keisei on his scooter. Keisei tells her that a Shikabane cannot infect others. The other women may have been hypnotized under his spell. Therefore, she can’t touch and hurt those women. Makina faces Hagino at the building top and narrates how a Shikabane Hime was created to annihilate other evil Shikabane. Makina has it tough with the harem women coming in between her but thanks to Keisei’s help, she is able to dive straight and attack Hagino. She blasts her Uzis away and Ouri happen to be right below when the building debris start falling. Makina becomes dangerously reckless as she continues shooting Hagino. She’s got nothing to fear, right? She’s dead. Knowing a way to kill a Shikabane is to destroy its brain, it’s game over for Hagino when she fires at point blank. Finally Ouri reaches his new place by night fall. He is surprised to see his friends asleep. I guess they wanted to throw a surprise welcome party and waited too long.

Episode 2
Ouri continues to visit Dairinkan. He learns that one of the girls who used to come by often, Hikaru was killed in an accident. One of the orphans who is close to her, Shouta seems to be a little devastated. He can’t go to her funeral because she is the daughter of some big shot and there will be media everywhere. He feels sorry for Hikaru of the others knew she hung out with orphans like them. But during the funeral, Hikaru revives and climbs out of her coffin!!! Shocking, no? Ouri works part time in a bar run by Sadahiro Mibu. Sadahiro explains to another part time worker, Akira Touka that Ouri is Keisei’s little brother. They aren’t blood related because Keisei took him in when he was young. Ouri wasn’t given the Tagami name so his fate wouldn’t have the burden of the Kougon Cult. For now, his job is to look after him. Ouri on his way home passes by a hospital. He sees a commotion and the black cat leads him in. Then he sees Makina sneaking through the window. She is going to destroy Hikaru who is now a Shikabane but got distracted by a decoy and got deeply stabbed. The hideous Shikabane transforms into cute Hikaru when Ouri comes in and pleads for help. He takes her away and Makina is too weak to follow up. Her wounds soon heal and she tracks them down. Keisei calls her and informs that there are other 2 kids too that turned into Shikabane. Makina assures she will finish her part and not to worry.

Hikaru brings Ouri to the playground. He realizes something is wrong when he sees the 2 other dead kids playing there. He doesn’t want Hikaru to go but she throws him back. Makina is on scene as she explains the goal of Shikabane of bringing death to humans and herself as the Shikabane Hime to exterminate those undead. Yes, she’s a monster like them. Probably she could have ended it faster if she did not stop and tell the Shikabane she was going to kill it! She got beaten up as the 3 Shikabane combine into one giant monster to further toy around with Makina. Ouri gets sick when he sees a dismembered human nearby. He calls out Hikaru’s name as he wants to give her something and this causes the monster to go berserk. Is it reacting to his voice? Makina shoots it as it breaks up. While Makina destroys one, fellow Shikabane Hime, Minai Ruo gets another. Hikaru lies in the arms of Ouri. Reluctantly he gives Hikaru to Makina as she shoots it dead. Ouri then hands over the drawing of Dairinkan family to Makina, the thing he wanted to give to Hikaru. After Ouri leaves, Minai’s contractor, Shuuji Isaki wants her to keep an eye on him because he has witnessed too much. Keisei says it is unnecessary because he is his brother. When Makina wonders why Ouri told her the same thing after she disposed the corpse, he explains because Makina drew her gun, he was able to let go of Hikaru. If she didn’t, he wouldn’t have done so even knowing if Hikaru is a monster. Since she killed it, it’s his way of saying thanks. Ouri breaks down when he returns to his home.

Episode 3
A young couple walks through a dark path when they hear a baby’s cry. They look back and see a hideous Shikabane! Run! Luckily Makina is on scene but by the time she confronts the Shikabane, it is already gone and there has been a victim claimed. On another day, Makina swiftly goes into action in a similar case but once more she only finds the victim’s corpse and no Shikabane around. Keisei and the other priests are discussing the possibility of an invisible Shikabane. They realize all victims were young women who have visited a particular gynaecologist. One of them was pregnant and could it be her baby was stillborn at birth and turned into a Shikabane? Keisei dismisses that since a being with no attachment in this world can’t turn into a Shikabane. Ouri is sick and stays home. But the cat pays him a visit and tells him he is being called. He follows it to outside a clinic where he collapses. The doctor takes him in. Next morning he is feeling better but is surprised to see Makina pulling a bluff on the doctor that she is pregnant and her boyfriend left her. After the doctor leaves, Makina confronts Ouri. She is not amused that this is the third time he has appeared in her Shikabane hunt and wonders who sent him. But she has no time to play with him as she starts looking around. They wander into a room with a baby whom she believes is a Shikabane because a baby’s voice is heard each time a young woman died. Ouri doesn’t think so. She adds this baby is too old to be kept in this place and believes the doctor is being used by a Shikabane. As Ouri tries to stop her, he smelled her rotting flesh. She wants him to smell the baby too. Smells like milk? The doctor comes in and tells her the baby is not a Shikabane. Makina doesn’t listen to him and takes the baby with her. However she is attacked by a Shikabane who knocks her out while leaving the baby unharmed. The doctor knocks Ouri out from behind.

Keisei is doing his research with Rika Aragami. They find out cells that can give birth to a Shikabane in the victim’s body. So did somebody planted parts of Shikabane into human to turn them into one? Keisei deduces somebody is trying to increase the number of Shikabane or doing some experiment. Makina and Ouri wake up, tied up in a room. The doctor explains the baby belongs to this Shikabane mother who died while giving birth. She turned into a Shikabane and because nobody else looked after her baby but him, that is why she obeys him. The doctor is also doing experiments to bring back the dead as heard from rumours. He takes a skin sample from the Shikabane and mixes it in a potion. He was the one who did this to all the woman victims. He injects a sample into her but nothing happens and wonders if the dosage was enough. He’ll keep trying till he succeeds. Learning Makina’s name, he remembers a family in that name died when their house burnt down. Makina manages to break free and turn the tables on the doctor. She admits she is from that family. But she says the fire didn’t kill her. She died once so a corpse’s flesh won’t do anything to her. Since she has become one, she thought it would be better to lose all her humanity. She destroys the Shikabane while stating that trying to become human again isn’t any different from being a monster. And him helping humans turn into Shikabane, he is already one. Makina is about to kill the doctor for turning humans into Shikabane. Ouri tries to stop her that he is human. Well, she doesn’t consider herself as one. Keisei then barges in but Ouri’s head goes heavy and passes out. He wakes up back in Dairinkan and learns the doctor was arrested. As for the mother and baby, Keisei dismisses he was just imagining things. Later Makina asks Keisei why Ouri is always around when she’s on the case. He cheekily replies he is stalking her. She is worried he’ll find out about him but he assures that’s why he won’t fire her. Keisei goes to the hospital to talk to the doctor who is by his ailing wife’s side. He knows he is conducting experiments using a Shikabane’s cell to prolong his wife’s life. Somebody with vast knowledge on Shikabane must have put him up to this and wants a name. However, the doctor is already dead as a dagger is seen stabbed in his chest.

Episode 4
Kun Osaki is an idol. Not just an ordinary idol because she can still play her piano while a bloodied corpse is hanging on the ceiling! Yup, she’s a Shikabane and she wants to sing. Her song is much more important so if you want to live, you better listen to her. Her manager who is connected with the yakuza has arranged her to perform in a concert. He gets a call from a mysterious guy, Akasha Shishou who warns her that Shikabane Hime is targeting them. Ouri is at the library trying to look for articles about a fire incident 10 years ago that killed the Hoshimura family when his friend, Hiroshige Ushijima comes in to invite him to Kun’s concert. Keisei is listening to Kun’s music and gets kicked by Makina for being disgusting. There’s a reason he is doing this. Kun is going to release her second album this week. But that’s not possible because she’s already dead. He heard she had health problems and collapsed. The hospital didn’t say anything because her manager has connections with the yakuza and is hiding the fact she is a Shikabane. Though Kun is making a comeback, several people have gone missing. She has never made an appearance since her launch of her new album and suddenly she wants to hold a concert. They need to get to her and dispose of her quickly. Makina disguises as a pizza delivery to enter Kun’s room. But she blows her away with her supersonic voice. The yakuza surround her. Though she threatens them with her Uzis, she can’t harm the living. She fires her shots at Kun but she disintegrates her bullets with her voice. Battered and cornered, Makina dives out the building and escapes.

Riko tells Ouri what she has found out about the Hoshimura. They were connected to the Kougon cult and Makina did come over to say hello shortly after her father died. Makina is Keisei’s senior but Riko has heard nothing about their house being burnt down. Ouri follows the cat to a temple and sees the entire place charred. He gets a call from Ushijima that something big has happened at Kun’s concert. Seems she was attacked by the yakuza as believed and one of them is a girl. The police are there arresting the yakuza members. Ouri sees the grave of the Hoshimura family and Makina’s name is on it. Makina happens to be there and confirms it. She reveals her family was murdered and her house burnt down. However only she was resurrected as Shikabane Hime. Ouri wants to know more about her but she won’t have him come closer because they are already dead. Makina gets a call from Keisei. Keisei’s hears Ouri’s voice in the background and is shocked. Makina hangs up. Ouri can’t leave her alone since she is hurt. He wants to help her. Kun is angry that she can’t sing and throws a tantrum when Makina and Ouri burst in. She can sing in hell for all she likes. Kun transforms into her demonic form and attacks Makina but Kun is too strong for her and takes a beating. Ouri notices her wounds heavier than before. Keisei enters the scene to explain that as Shikabane Hime, she is connected to a specific person. If that person is close to her, she can absorb his life energy, restore her body and gain new skills or knowledge. Such a person is called Contracted Priest and Keisei is Makina’s Contracted Priest. He hugs her and heals all her damage. Makina returns to fight Kun as Keisei plays a song from her CD. Kun turns crazy as Keisei lectures her that even though she wanted to sing, she can’t because she threw away her humanity. She can’t touch people’s hearts anymore and now her song is a sad song filled with death. He sticks a plant grown in holy water in her before Makina finishes her off.

Episode 5
Makina walks off on her own while Keisei returns to Ouri’s place to explain. He asks if he ever wonders what happens after death. Since there is meaning to everyone’s death, one should not have attachment to this world. Those who do and not accept their death will become Shikabane. Much research is done but the answer remains elusive on why this occurs. Therefore the purpose of Kougon Cult is to save the living from their pangs of death and revert Shikabane to what they are in the first place: Corpses. Ouri is upset that Keisei is saying he has nothing to do with this. Now that he knows his injuries are mainly from this, he can’t help worry. What if he really dies? What will happen to Dairinkan? What would happen to all those left behind? Keisei can’t quit and Makina is the reason why he became a Contracted Priest. Several kids sneak into an unlicensed car rental’s SUV to go for a night drive. Rumours have it you can ride it for free and just leave the cash in the compartment. Of course they won’t do that and are going to drive it for free. Suddenly the SUV starts moving on its own. Before they know it, the passengers all start drying. The SUV returns to the car wash where Akasha collects their blood. Ouri’s class receives a new classmate. A cutie, Itsuki Yamagami. It’s suddenly Kun’s demise was gotten over with for those fans of hers… But when she starts waving at Ouri, the guys become jealous. Why him? On the other hand, the girls are more infatuated with a new PE teacher, Takamasa Sougi. He’s wearing a lab coat doing archery? Meanwhile Keisei gets a call from his father and fellow Contracted Priest, Bishop Sougen Takamine. Because he has let Ouri know about Shikabane Hime, he must be eliminated. It was the deal that no other family members must know this. Until this case settles, Keisei is suspended. It seems Inspector Honda was the one who reported this because he believes teachings against the Kougon Cult must not be tolerated. He seems not to like it when Keisei treats Makina more than a tool. Since Keisei is suspended, Sougen hopes no Shikabane will appear in his area. His Shikabane Hime, Kamika Todoroki offers to go but Honda doesn’t want to send their strongest Shikabane Hime to get hurt. Besides, he has already sent one.

Makina has already done her research on the unlicensed car rental and knows that all those who rented with them never came back. Knowing it is a Shikabane’s trap, Keisei is told not to take action. Well, nobody said Makina couldn’t, right? Itsuki manages to use her charms to persuade Ouri to come join her for the free SUV ride. Ouri was undecided till the cat showed up and told him that he is already involved too deep and it does concern him. So when he meets up with Itsuki, there is also Makina. Itsuki starts driving. I don’t know if she has a valid licence or not. Seems Ouri tagged along because he had a hunch Makina would turn up. Makina tells him about Keisei’s suspension. Just when Itsuki’s driving is getting bad, she points out the SUV is moving on its own. Then an onscreen message tells them this SUV can only fit 1 passenger and to reduce the other numbers. Weapons come out from its compartment. Itsuki becomes scared and takes the gun. She doesn’t want to die like this. Makina tells her to come down and takes out her Uzis and starts shooting the SUV. This vehicle is definitely a Shikabane. After blasting the door off, Makina kicks Ouri out. She then realizes Itsuki is missing. After the SUV crashes, Makina and the SUV get involved in a Mexican showdown. Ouri is awakened by the cat. It starts to snarl when Akasha pops up. Then it flees. He refers to himself as betrayer monk as what other calls him because he is disobeying the Kougon Cult. He is trying to destroy all dolls that they created. Because Ouri say he met a good Shikabane Hime, he tells him all Shikabane Himes have a contract. They must kill 108 Shikabanes to enter Heaven. They are no different from Shikabane and don’t know how to die so the Kougon Cult uses them. Before he can say more, Itsuki fires her warning shot and accuses him of trying to make new Shikabanes. He admits that is his first step in his plan. I guess Itsuki is a Shikabane Hime too and coming to her aid is her Contracted Priest… Takamasa!

Episode 6
Honda and Rinsen Shirae are at Sadahiro’s bar. They talk about several things and Sadahiro knows they’ve been keeping an eye on Ouri as he was spotted too many times with a Shikabane Hime. They fear he may have connections with Akasha. Sadahiro will eliminate Ouri and Keisei if they are found to be connected with Akasha since he is his prey. Besides, Sadahiro’s Shikabane Hime, Akira is the only one who can kill humans. Ouri is told to get out of here since he is only in the way. Maybe Itsuki hurt his heart too in addition to his face. Itsuki questions Akasha, Kougon Cult’s former first ranked priest on why he killed his own Shikabane Hime. He doesn’t answer her and knows she can’t kill him. But they can hurt him, right? Because he doesn’t like her touching him, he punishes her by using his powerful Zadan technique via the box of blood of the victims he collected. Ouri is so upset that he is useless, he runs into Makina’s fight with the SUV. He even wants answers if his existence is in the way of Keisei’s work. She puts it this way. Some grow stronger when they protect others. Then there are those who get killed just because they stand in their way. Is Ouri the latter? He knows about her mission to go to Heaven and views that as selfish. What good would Heaven do then? If she wants to die, then die alone and not involve Keisei. I guess their talk was long enough for the SUV to grab Makina as it tries to devour her. In great timing, Keisei enters the scene. No choice, in order to free Makina from being devoured, he cuts off her hand. Ouri doesn’t want Keisei to endure such things because it won’t bring him any good but he says he made a promise. When Makina died, she had 2 choices. Become a Shikabane and kill humans or turn into a Shikabane Hime and kill those monsters. Either way both are hell. She chose. And he promised to always be by her side. Makina manages to find the SUV’s brain when it transforms into its true monster form. She fires at it and kills it for good.

When Ouri mentions about the betrayer priest, Keisei make haste to where he is. Ouri wants Keisei to promise he won’t die. Sorry brother, he can’t do that. Upon meeting Akasha, it seems he and Keisei know each other. Akasha is using Itsuki’s body for the Zadan technique that is believed to summon some power of the stars and Gods. Well, they look like Shikabanes to me. Akasha says he and Sadahiro were the first ones to discover this 5 years ago. Akasha is using those who died in the SUV and their attachment to this world as a weapon. He doesn’t view Kougon Cult very much different than what he is doing. Just that, he maintains their heart and use their force to bring less suffering to them. Keisei dismisses it because he murdered them twice. Once when they kill each other to be created Shikabanes and then again as ingredients for his Zadan. Akasha mocks Keisei he loves his doll so much that he might even love it. Makina gets upset and shoots the monster to free Itsuki. Why was Akasha just standing there doing nothing? Sure, the monster protects him. So? When the Shikabane Himes fire enough to reveal the blood box, Keisei grabs it. But because it contains 108 Shikabanes inside, Keisei is starting to lose consciousness. Akasha says he should know this because he had attachments for his doll. Keisei throws him back that same line because wasn’t it him who loved his Shikabane Hime the most? Was it the reason he betrayed Kougon Cult. Akasha relies it was the other way. They betrayed him. Akasha is about to strike him when Keisei uses the box as shield. They thought he was paralyzed but prior to this, he drank Kougon Cult’s painkiller. There is risk of them dying if they get spiritually damage if the blood of 108 Shikabane covers them. The box bursts and covers the duo in blood. Keisei starts reacting to it. A long range snipes almost hits Akasha. He knows it is Sadahiro and Akira and that bullet contains Zadan. He makes his escape and hopes Keisei could one day see his Shikabane destroy Kougon Cult. Keisei’s act has proven he is not a betrayer priest so Sougen reinstates his position. Makina rushes to Keisei’s side. With tears streaming down her eyes, she says she won’t let him die and protect him. She’ll have Ouri take his place instead.

Episode 7
Some guy called Mitsuyoshi observes a bunch of delinquents causing trouble on the train. After they get off on the next station, he confronts them. Because they get cocky and think they can beat this guy, they attack. However Mitsuyoshi has a Shikabane protecting him. Their punch deflected and he throws one of them into the path of an oncoming train. What a way to die. Meanwhile Takamasa sees Rika and is told Keisei s recuperating. He wants her to strengthen his bow weapon and plans on using Zadan. He blames his weakness as the cause of Keisei and Itsuki getting hurt. Sadahiro explains to Akira about Akasha’s past. He was one of the priests in an expedition to rid a powerful Shikabane running rampage. Sadahiro was the backup priest and when he arrived on site, he saw everyone dead except for Akasha. He was holding his Shikabane Hime in his arms and his eyes were bloodshot. A week later, he infiltrated Kougon Cult’s headquarters, stole the sutra and killed his own Shikabane Hime. Ouri’s friend, Sumitori shows him a blog that belonged to his senior, Mitsuyoshi. They were once in the kendo club. His blog used to be about video games but it recently turned into an ominous diary as his mission as a hero of justice, birth, death and torment. Sumitori also mentions that recently a fellow kendo club member died in a train accident. Coincidence? He tried to contact Mitsuyoshi but couldn’t get through. He is telling Ouri this because Mizuki did warn them about those Shikabane rumours. Ouri quickly brushes them off and lies he doesn’t know about it. Later he goes to see Makina. She corrects his belief that she wants to go to Heaven. Her goal is to find the Shikabanes responsible for her family’s murder and kill them. That’s why she doesn’t want him to misunderstand and that they are no hero of justice. If he continues to stay with them, Keisei might die. When Ouri asks if they were lovers, she starts flustering and beats him up. Hey, at least she knows how to feel embarrassed.

Isaki and Minai are going around looking for clues on Mitsuyoshi. Isaki doesn’t hesitate to abuse Minai if she’s not doing her job the way he expects it. He thinks with Keisei out of the picture, it is their chance to get promoted. He force kisses her but finds it horrible. She’s a corpse, remember? Ouri manages to contact and meet up with Mitsuyoshi. Despite getting beaten up, he tries to persuade him that Sumitori is worried and that if he is a hero, he should find another way of doing things. This causes Mitsuyoshi to go berserk and transform into his hideous Shikabane form. Isaki and Minai happen to pass by and recognize Ouri whom the temple head is still suspicious of. He thinks this is great opportunity. Minai saves Ouri from being minced meat but she goes into shock when Mitsuyoshi calls her the evil one instead. Isaki abuses her to get the job done much to Ouri’s dismay. He explains some Shikabanes are powerful that they obtain special ability. In this case, the curse enables Mitsuyoshi to have telekinesis. He chides Ouri for getting in the way and orders Minai to stop ‘sleeping’ and get the job done. Minai only runs from Mitsuyoshi so Isaki butts in by stabbing its hand. He got hurt instead. Ouri realizes Mitsuyoshi can reflect the damage he got on the same place of his opponent’s body. Ouri then pushes Mitsuyoshi off the cliff. Minai dives in to save him. Resting in the cave, Ouri isn’t happy she obeys that heartless Isaki. Because he is her Contracted Priest, duh. She says she killed a man and was supposed to die together with him. However she didn’t and she became a Shikabane Hime as penalty. That’s why she felt there were some truths when Mitsuyoshi accused her of being evil. Ouri disagrees because she saved him. Mitsuyoshi revives and attacks. Minai is too weak and before Ouri could use his body to protect her, Makina comes into the picture firing at the Shikabane with her Uzi (remember, she still has a hand missing). She notes it didn’t receive any damage when he attacked the right arm. She is glad she lost hers.

Episode 8
Makina is about to land the finishing blow on Mitsuyoshi. However Isaki wants Minai to do it because it will be an insult for a regenerating Shikabane Hime to help her. Besides, he’ll get scolded by the head priest. He warns Makina it is illegal to distance herself from her Contracted Priest and fight alone. She backs off to let Minai do the honours but Mitsuyoshi stabs his neck to transfer that wound to hers. Ouri calls Sumitori and puts his voice on the loud speaker. He is worried about Mitsuyoshi and this causes the guy to stop dead in his tracks and reminisce that someone cared for him. With that, Minai finishes him off. Isaki is still not happy and orders Minai to leave. She is glad she doesn’t consider these wounds as punishment anymore. Because she is not human, as Shikabane Hime she can continue fighting and get wounded to protect them. Rika and her Shikabane Hime, Saki Amase sees Keisei. Seems he is doing fine because for some perverted reason, he wants to lick Rika’s feet!!! Minai sees Ouri in his school. Because he used his handphone to access Mitsuyoshi’s blog, it is evidence relating to him so she must confiscate it. As compensation she will accompany him to buy a new one and bear the cost. After that when they trade numbers, she realizes 20 miss calls from Isaki. Man, that priest is going to be mad. However he won’t get to because he has been taken by a couple of punks he earlier beat up into the alley. Suddenly Minai goes into shock. What’s wrong? Word goes around that Isaki has been stabbed to death in the alley. The other priests arrive to pick up his body. Saki bolts out of the door with her giant hammer. Keisei explains that a Shikabane Hime and her Contracted Priest have a very strong link and bond. That is what keeps a Shikabane Hime human. If she outlives her Contracted Priest, she becomes just another Shikabane. That’s why sometimes another Shikabane Hime has to kill another of her kind. Makina goes off to watch how a Shikabane is being killed. I guess this is for educational purpose instead of being blood thirsty or whatsoever.

Minai becomes edgy, filled with regret and is losing her humanity. She is attacked by Saki. Ouri wanted to help but Itsuki restrains him. Saki lectures her about just becoming another corpse after her Contracted Priest died. She strikes but Minai is able to block. She doesn’t want to die and live because she has been thanked (by Ouri). Aren’t they already dead? Though Minai gets hammered, Saki was hesitant in killing her. This allowed Minai to retaliate as Ouri takes her and run. Sadahiro and Akira discuss about Isaki and his Shikabane Hime’s case. He doesn’t want to get involved too much as much as possible since it doesn’t concern him. Then Ouri comes in and hopes he could hide Minai temporarily while he goes to distract the rest. I guess he has to get involved after all. Later Makina confronts Ouri and wants him to tell her where he is hiding Minai. He won’t say. She chides him that Minai wanting to protect and fight for justice is the same as having attachment in this world which makes her no difference than a Shikabane. Although there is no wrong in her part in wanting justice. I find it odd that Makina says if Shikabane can sense each other, then why ask him in the first place? Sadahiro tells Minai that there is a secret procedure that can reverse her process. She has to break her link with Isaki and make another contract immediately. The tough part is finding a suitable one as she already has established a strong connection with Isaki. He thinks Ouri is suitable but Akira disagrees since he isn’t a priest. Ouri passes by a crowd that includes his friends. The police have taken custody of the punks who stabbed Isaki. When his friends tell him about it, Ouri goes crazy, screaming out his frustration like a mad man. Is he trying to kill those punks?! Of course his friends hold him back. Unfortunately, Minai is already shot dead in Sadahiro’s bar. She didn’t want Ouri to be subjected to such fate and allowed herself to be killed. Honda and Rinsen are there to pick up her body. Ouri calls Sadahiro but he is not picking up.

Episode 9
Nozomi Kasuga is among a group of students entering an abandoned building as part of the ghost spotting site. It is believed that robbers were trapped here before one of them set the place on fire. It spread so quickly that innocent people got engulfed. After that, people who entered the building never came out. This building soon became known as the man-devouring building. Nozomi thought she spot a corpse but it turns out to be one made of paper money. But when it starts moving and accusing them of stealing its money, you know it’s a ghost or rather Shikabane for real. Makina is also part of the group and tells them to scram while she gets into action. Nozomi is too scared to run so Makina helps her. However Makina got hit and loses an arm. Nozomi is shocked that she is dead. She tries to run but gets paper cut. Before the Shikabane could kill her, Makina revives and pumps her bullets to kill the Shikabane. It is then that Nozomi saw the beauty of death in her. She tries to search for her but to no avail. Till she sees her coming out from Dairinkan with Ouri. Ouri wants answers about Minai and doesn’t buy Makina’s answer that she has gone away or something. Ouri and Sumitori are somewhat depressed. Ushijima tries to cheer them up by showing them some boobs. Real boobs of their classmate. Hey… Isn’t that Nozomi? She remembers him. Hey… Aren’t they classmates? Shouldn’t she have recognized him when she first saw him then? To Ushijima’s dismay, Nozomi wants him to set up a meeting with Ouri. Why do girls only flock to him? Nozomi lights up in delight upon knowing Makina’s name but Ouri thinks she better stays away from her. The cat is taunting Ouri that he attracts Shikabane Hime as he is drawn to death as it climbs around Nozomi. It tells Ouri that only he can see it and that the cat is him. Ouri tries to get the feline but ends up grabbing Nozomi’s boobs! I wonder how many times he got slapped. Or wasn’t that just the replay? Nozomi tells him off he doesn’t even know Makina and that she will protect her from him.

Makina talks to Keisei on who Ouri is because she knows he isn’t any ordinary human as he wasn’t afraid of her being dead when they first met and also he treated Minai like a human being despite knowing she’s dead. Keisei explains he first found him when Ouri was 3 years old. He had no social skills and doesn’t even know how to feed or put on clothes himself. So much so the other kids stayed away from him. One day he brought back a cat and although he sucked in taking care of it, for someone who showed no interest in others and began taking care of a living thing, that’s quite an achievement. Unfortunately the cat died in an accident. Ouri stood there staring at it before taking it to the river bank, the place where he first picked it up. He thought it would cry again as it would but Keisei starts burying it. He tells Ouri the only thing they can do for the dead is to remember their death and cry. Priests aren’t here for the dead but for the living who are drowning in sadness. That’s why he must cry. For the first time, Ouri felt feelings and cried his heart out. As people easily forget about death, it isn’t so for Ouri. He thinks it’s something that can’t be forgotten. Nozomi meets Makina outside Dairinkan. Though she is happy to see her, Makina wants her to forget everything she saw on that day including her for her own sake. Nozomi gets desperate. She says Ouri knows nothing about her or her death, something that she views as eternal and beautiful. Makina replies death is just death. She questions her back how much she knows about Ouri because he understands death much more than her. This breaks he heart so Nozomi runs away in tears. Ouri happen to be around so he thought he was the source of their misunderstanding. To his surprise, Makina can see the cat and she thinks it’s the one with him from time to time. Ouri wants to know more about Minai since he knows nothing about her. Since the only thing to do for the dead is to remember them and cry, if he doesn’t know anything on her, he can’t remember her well.

Episode 10
Keisei is making a fuss in hospital. He is serious. He learns about what happened to Minai and is surprised that the auditor has rid of Minai’s body. Not even Sougen can stop him. Despite Ouri wasn’t hurt, Keisei knows his feelings were and if Sougen doesn’t know, he’ll ask somebody who does. He barges into the Kougon Cult and it may seem he is disrespectful trying to get some answers from Bishop Gon, the second highest in command in the cult. He won’t say anything. Then Bishop Geika walks in. You know he is the one on the highest order when everyone bows down to him. He has also heard what happened and hopes Keisei will continue to serve them. Nozomi wants Ouri to come with him (reducing Ushijima into a jealous asshole). She shows him a magazine whereby a mysterious cult has recently attracted some attention because the cult leader believes in attaining immortality after stepping through fire. Shikabane? Why is she showing him this? Nozomi thinks she could become like Makina if she joins this cult and hopes Ouri will join too. He’ll pass. She notes that they can be dead anytime so Ouri makes this comment that she’s too cute to die. What? Seriously? He said that? But Ouri thinks of checking this out to learn if there is a way to save Shikabane Hime. Keisei is seen talking to Takamasa. The latter thinks of retiring to some mountain with monks. Keisei shows him several sutras he had stolen from Sougen’s place because he thinks it’s the time to learn Zadan technique. He believes the betrayer monk will return as the mass outbreak of Shikabane is his first step. Keisei plans to go to Ouri’s part time job. He smells something fishy because it is the only place he could hide Minai as this is the only place he knows in town. Yet how could the auditor have gotten there? Keeping an eye on him?

Ouri is in the midst of screening how great this cult leader is. Yeah, the couple of elderly ladies flanking him are in full praise and even persuades Ouri to join. See how his sweat turns to gold? Well, at least he knows it’s a sham. Why wouldn’t such a great leader come out in the open himself? On his way out, he sees a weird girl, Hokuto who soon goes off. Speaking of the cult leader, he is being confronted by several Shichisei (Seven Stars) members, Hazama, Ena and Kowaku. They want to end his show but he puts on a little flashy show just to warn them he has powers. Oh, did he just mention he is also a Shikabane and wants to con the living out of their wealth? Well, he had always been a liar and deceiver when he was alive. Then when they display their overwhelming power, he realizes they are also Shikabanes. Before he could escape, Hokuto appears before him and kills him. Keisei is outside Sadahiro’s bar. He won’t let him in but Keisei recognizes his voice. He thought he was working for an information bureau overseas. Before he goes away, he tells Sadahiro about his 2 goals: To fight together with his Shikabane Hime and not get Ouri involved. Sadahiro wants Akira to pack up this instant. They’re going into hiding for a while since no Contracted Priest must know about them. They’re also going to track down the betrayer monk and hunt down the target. What about Ouri? So sorry he had to work for free this month. Yeah. And today is payday… Akasha meets Shichisei and wants to cooperate to erase Shikabane Himes in this world. They view it as a common goal to destroy Kougon Cult. Hazama introduces Hokuto as the strongest Shikabane around as she represents all the world’s evil. That’s why she is their leader. Keisei gets word from his colleague about the cult leader’s death. The security camera footage catches Shichisei in the picture. He thinks they have begun to move. And yeah, Shichisei was the one responsible in murdering Makina and her family.

Episode 11
Sougen discusses with Rika the appearance of Shichisei, a group of Shikabanes working together for a common girl to massacre the living. Akasha lets Shichisei know that Kougon Cult is now split into 2 factions. The one headed by Gon, Shuhouha is against the way Shikabanes are used now. Put this faction out of the picture, the other side, Shujouha takes over and Shikabane Hime will ceased to be used. That’s why they must make Contracted Priest and Shikabane Himes their target and damage Shuhouha. Because Akasha is still human they want him to proof he is serious and throw away his human heart completely. Ouri visits Dairinkan and thinks the kids hate him since they’re avoiding him. But Riko hints that they are secretly preparing his surprise birthday party tomorrow. Keisei shows the improvised robe with sutras underneath it for his Zadan technique. They get down to business and the moment Shichisei’s pictures are taken out, Makina becomes agitated. Their next job? She can’t wait to have her revenge. So when Makina learns Ouri had seen one of the members, she gets rough with him to spill the details and what he was doing at that phony cult. He thought he’d find another way to help Kougon Cult as he thinks she became a Shikabane Hime without a choice and it’s like punishment. She dismisses it and says she wanted to become one. Later Keisei comes to explain to Ouri. Since he lost his parents when he was young, the one who took care of him was the priest of the Hoshimura family and grew up with Makina. One day he left to train at Honzan and hardly came back. He stumbled upon Dairinkan and met Riko. Since it was in a mess, he was employed and they took their time and lots of money to restore it. Ten years later, he heard the Hoshimura family being burnt down by a group of Shikabane called Shichisei. He arrived on scene and was being told by Sougen to be Makina’s Contracted Priest. He must do it now to avoid her from becoming a Shikabane. He is the only one who can do so as they share a bond. Makina told him to make a contract with her because she wanted to become a Shikabane Hime to hunt her family’s murderers.

Ouri is on his way back and he returns the lost ball to a kid, not knowing she is Ena. She touches his hand as part of her plan to create a connection. Then she vanishes. That night, everyone in Dairinkan turns in early. Not because they’re tired but a Shikabane curse, a heavy fog is set upon the place. Except for Keisei and Makina as they know their enemies are coming. They prepare sealing the place with talisman. Ouri is about to leave his room when he notices the bruise on his arm. Suddenly that arm gains a mind of his own and starts strangling himself. Looks like he has become Ena’s puppet. Keisei and Makina wait for their enemies to show up. Guess who? Akasha and Kowaku. Keisei wants to know what happened to Akasha on that day because they along with Sadahiro used to train together. He admits all that and has no grudge against him. Because he trusted him and looked up to him, when he learnt the ugly truth on that day, he couldn’t handle it anymore. Therefore killing him here is necessary for him to be reborn. Makina fights Kowaku as Keisei notices Akasha still using the blood box as his medium but it’s not as powerful since it doesn’t contain 108 souls. Akasha teases him why would the enemy come to a place that they would have advantage of? Akasha then runs off and Keisei rushes back to the room where the others are sleeping to check on them. The seals have not been broken. Then he is surprised to see Ouri. What is he doing here? Can’t sleep? Next thing he knows, Ouri (under Ena’s hypnotism) stabs Keisei.

Episode 12
Kougon Cult’s headquarters is being surrounded by a barrier created by Hazama and Isaka. They know it’s a weak barrier but it’s just to buy time. I guess it’s also partly to show other Shikabane Himes to strut their stuff. Like Saki hammering around (like a clown) and Kamika why she is the strongest Shikabane Hime, living up to her nickname as Tsurugi Hime. Twin blades of awesome fire power! Keisei is still strong enough to use his own blood to push Ena’s control out of Ouri for good. Ouri is devastated he stabbed his brother. Akasha then attacks Ouri before knocking Keisei out. This is so that he could extract his left eye filled with despair believed to be 10 times more powerful than the dead. Makina is having a tough time handling Kowaku because he has no solid body and can turn into inflammable gas. I guess Akasha let his guard down and wanted to help finish Makina off. Keisei restrains him from behind. Then he jumps to Makina’s aid in and spits some holy leaves around. The poison causes Kowaku’s body to solidify. However, this also causes his own body to be poisoned. Keisei uses the sutra to do damage on Shikabane but in return also damages his own. Akasha panics and sees the eyes of a man who has accepted death. Keisei prepares to deal the finishing blow. Akasha becomes terrified. Is he not afraid of death? Doesn’t he want to live to know the truth? Keisei tells him if it is the kind of truth that will make him kill his own Shikabane Hime, then he doesn’t want to know at all! He blows Akasha and Kowaku outside the building. The cat worsens Ouri’s psychological state, blaming him for everything. But Makina tells Ouri off that it is not his fault because Keisei protected his family and beliefs. Keisei has a request of Ouri. He wants him to save Makina and the rest in his place. What does this mean? He wants to pass the contract to him. He knows he can’t make it in this state. Makina disagrees. She only wants him. How did Keisei get Ouri to accept the contract? Remember Minai? Know what happened to her? It’ll be the same for Makina too if they don’t do anything about it.

Ouri falls unconscious after Keisei passes the contract. The ritual is over once he wakes up. He Makina to bring Ouri to a safe place at that time and begs her to be with him and not drag this wounded ex-Contracted Priest to a hospital. He wants to see her smiling face one last time and proof he saved her from this living hell. Makina agrees to show it because she doesn’t want him to have attachment to this world and turn into a Shikabane. With that, Keisei leaves this world with a peaceful expression on his face. Kowaku forces Akasha to give him more power and it turns him into a hideous monster. He is mad and going to kill that Shikabane Hime b*tch. But not as mad as Makina is. Because now she is on a rampage and so mad this girl is, she got the strength to beat the crap out of this Shichisei dude. However she is overdoing it and is causing bruises all over Ouri as he takes in all her wounds. Akasha fears this curse makes her stronger than a Shikabane Hime can really be. Because Ouri has no training, the way Makina is being reckless extracting strength from her new Contracted Priest will kill Ouri. In the end, Makina kills Kowaku. Pretty ironic for a corpse pleading for his life and wanting to live, eh? Yeah, what right has he got to beg for mercy when he didn’t show Makina the same several years ago? As Akasha leaves the scene, he remembers Keisei wanted to run an orphanage and introduced Ouri to him. Keisei’s goal was to see this kid smile. Akasha uses his talisman to completely heal Ouri of his wounds. He notes this is his last attachment to this boy. Ouri sees Makina screaming and crying her heart over the horizon. So on his sixteenth birthday, becoming a Contracted Priest must be the worst present anyone could get, eh? What’s more, he lost a figure he admired as a father, brother and friend…

Episode 13
A funeral for Keisei is being held. Everyone at Dairinkan is deeply affected by his loss. Ouri meets Rinsen and learns he is the Kougon’s Cult auditor for this area. They are those who support all fighting priests and also arrange their funeral. He confirms Keisei’s death which means he went straight to Heaven instead of becoming a Shikabane. Then he takes Ouri to Sougen who feels the need to explain things to him. Take it as basic FAQs of what this series is about. The meaning of Shikabane, Shikabane Hime, Contracted Priests, death and attachment that could turn one into a Shikabane. Because Shikabane Himes are lingering between life and death, they need to eliminate 108 Shikabanes in order to go to Heaven. It is only then they are freed so it is not like Kougon Cult is using them as they please. We also learn additional stuffs like traits that identify a Shikabane. Two major traits: 1) Regeneration ability that makes them immortal and change them into a monstrous form; 2) They believe they are still human and alive but at the same time harbour hatred against the living. Others include En (bond that connects Shikabane to her Contracted Priest to stay human while continue fighting), Shugo (Contracted Priest of an area – approximately over 100 over the country and Keisei was the Shugo of this area) and the hierarchy of Kougon Cult. Dai Soujo ranks the highest followed by Shiou Gon Dai Soujo. Under him are 6 Priests in which Sougen is one of them.  As there are a few more classes below that, Keisei was the lowest priest but his death in duty promoted him to a higher rank of Gon Soujo. Sougen was Keisei’s former mentor and thus he considers Keisei like a son. Now that Ouri has a better understanding of the whole thing, at least he doesn’t think the society treated Shikabane Himes in a bad way.

Later Rinsen tells Ouri that they would find a new Contracted Priest for Makina. Ouri wants to remain as her Contracted Priest since it was something that Keisei passed down to him. But Rinsen notes that he is not a trained priest and at this rate, he will die. He almost did when Makina zapped his life energy. He will gain nothing if he continues to be her Contracted Priest. Speaking of her, she is staying at their head temple for now as all those tainted cannot attend the funeral. Ouri realizes that’s why all the other Shikabane Himes were waiting outside the temple. Now it’s time for Ouri to do a little reminiscing flashback. Take it as a very short summary of how he met Keisei and got involved in this Shikabane Hime business. Ouri had no memories of being taken in by Keisei and only remembered the cat’s death. Ever since, his mind is only filled with death. He can’t fear death and sometimes feels very close to it. His life changed 2 years ago when Keisei returned home always with bruises because he became Makina’s Contracted Priest. Even if Shikabanes are dead, they look like normal girls to him. He thought Makina was just Keisei’s soldier. But when he died, he realized he was someone very special to her. They both lost someone irreplaceable that day. Then we have short flashbacks of all the fun, irritating, teasing, annoying times and serious moments Ouri had with Keisei. I guess when there’s no big brother to bug or take care of you, you really feel the emptiness. When Sadahiro comes by the night wake, Ouri learns he is a Contracted Priest and Akira his Shikabane Hime. He knows Keisei because they trained together. Ouri wants to train and become a worthy priest and won’t give Makina to anyone else. Sadahiro reluctantly tells him the mountains called Goryouzan. It’s a place where all the priests had their training.

Shikabane Hime: Kuro

I do not understand why they had to split this into 2 seasons since the anime ran continuously back to back without any break of a season or more between them. It had the same opening theme and there was an obvious next episode preview at the end of the last episode. So much so you may not even think that this is the second season. Maybe it is just the naming sense. After red, it turns black. What do I mean? After spilling lots of blood, it is time for the corpse to rot and decay. So now that Makina has identified her true enemy and her family’s murderers, the hunt is on to take down the Shichisei no matter what it takes. She’s been to hell and back, right? Now she’s going to bring hell to them.

Episode 1
Six months down the road, Honda meets with Sadahiro and Akira. He wants them to take out sick Makina who is still quarantined whom Sougen is reluctant to do so. Akasha is in an argument with Shichisei because they want to go see Makina. After all, they created her as a Shikabane, right? Hokuto sees tears from his eyes and gets curious. But just as he is about to touch her, she swiftly breaks his arm. Hizuchi tells him Hokuto was born as a sacrifice and died without committing any sins. Everything in this world is a foreign substance so everything that touches her is like a blade trying to take her life. Rika and Saki go to see Makina at the quarantine but the priest appointed to guard her, Kurai won’t allow her. Till Saki tells him off of being afraid to get tainted by a cursed Shikabane Hime as it will affect his enlightenment. When they head in, they see evil spirits around her. Apparently those who can’t turn into Shikabane will turn into this. The spirits are trying to eat Makina and trying to form a body. Kamika saves everyone in time as Sougen puts a seal on the door. He explains the spirits were feeding of Makina’s Run. Life energy that flows through Shikabane Himes and gives them strength. It is given by the Contracted Priest and is purity itself. However if it settles too long it will rot. Old Runs will rot and attract spirits. Since Makina unconsciously kept Keisei’s Run as part of her attachment to him, it was left to rot. Even if Ouri is her new Contracted Priest, as long she is not willing to accept it, it changes nothing. At this rate all her Run will be eaten and she will die. Close by, a Shikabane, Flesh Backbone spies on them and learns about this juicy bit. Nozomi visits Ouri’s apartment but as usual notices he has never come back since he left for a journey after his brother’s death 6 months ago.

Ouri is training in the mountains. Wait… Did he just lose to a rabbit?! Takamasa is also there training him with Kanechika Umehara. He might look sloppy and a worse pervert than Keisei, but he is quite a good teacher. Umehara teaches Ouri how to bond with the rabbit and find its light. Takamasa wonders if Ouri will be better since there has no improvement for the last 6 months. Umehara puts it this way. This boy was so blessed that he doesn’t even need the light. Ouri chases the rabbit but bumps into Flesh, Umehara’s Shikabane. She’s an otaku pervert and gets into some silly otaku argument with Umehara. I guess this is what happens when you contract with a Shikabane who died at Akihabara! She threatens to tell Touma if he continues to be mean. Touma who? Umehara’s other Shikabane Hime. This guy has two? As Takamasa explains, this means double the Run. For Umehara to do so shows he is well trained. Yeah, Ouri almost died when Makina zapped his, right? Of course, Flesh has information about Makina. Night fall, Akasha ambushes the quarantine area and kills all the priest including Kurai. He turns into a Shikabane. I guess he needed more training if he transformed this easy. However Akasha is stopped by Sadahiro and Akira as their suspicions of him siding with Shichisei are confirmed. Sadahiro wants to know why he is doing this since Hazama was the one who killed his Shikabane Hime. Akasha asserts he killed her himself. Kurai breaks into the quarantine to attack Makina. Luckily Ouri is back and to restrain him. Kurai’s attachment stems from hi fear of being impure and wants to rid of Makina. Just to attain his own enlightenment, that’s plain selfish, right? Ouri braves through the spirits to hug Makina. Their bond was created when they first met. They can’t forget someone important to them and it became their regret. If this means she is impure, then he is impure too. Makina accepts him. His Run runs through him as she breaks free and kills Kurai in one strike. She then apologizes for not being able to protect Keisei.

Episode 2
Makina slaps Ouri after learning what he is doing. She didn’t like the idea he became her Contracted Priest because Keisei told him to. The Honda and the other priests come in and misinterpret they have killed Kurai. Sadahiro and Akira continue their fight with Akasha. However he summons a horde of Shikabane to swallow them. Soon after, Shichisei (personally, I think they should rename themselves to Rokusei – Six Stars after the loss of a member) makes their appearance. Sadahiro emerges from the ground to counter attack but Isaka teleports them away. Makina is restrained and Honda wants to dispose of her. They don’t believe Ouri’s words that Kurai turned into a Shikabane since all Kougon Cult priests have thrown away their attachments and regrets and train towards enlightenment. Thus they won’t turn into Shikabane. Ouri thinks he plans to make this look like it never happened. Itsuki and Takamasa enter the scene and they hope Honda could free his disciple. Suddenly they are thrown into Isaka’s barrier except for Itsuki and Takamasa who are kept out. Now that Makina has come face to face with Shichisei, she starts charging at them. Unfortunately her blind rage means she gets trapped within Hazama’s centipedes. He thinks her attachment for revenge is a weak one and it won’t be enough to kill them. Even though Shichisei are Shikabanes, they become one not because of attachment but nature. As attachments are feelings of regret slightly before death, nature is one that is born with and grows in time. Humans live by suppressing and rejecting their true nature. Since Shichisei is able to live by their true nature, they consider themselves as true human beings. Ouri won’t let them touch Makina and will protect her. Hazama finds it interesting that he has feelings for a Shikabane and will fight for her with no reason. He thinks it is his instinct and therefore his nature. He suggests if he would like to be a Shikabane with that nature of his.

Sougen senses Shichisei nearby the quarantine and wants to head there but Gon tells him there is no need because they need to be here to protect Geika. Suddenly Umehara and Flesh make their flashy entry by doing something perverted on Kamika! WTF?! Flesh claims she was made to do this or else Umehara will force her to eat frogs. WTF?! On to serious business, he is here to see Shichisei but wants to borrow something first. Something about some Choufuku guy that Geika sealed once (I think it’s a sword). Gon refuses but Umehara says he is the only who can use it anyway. Makina, after thinking back about Keisei (and lots of it), she breaks free from her trap and surprises Hazama with some unpredictable movement. He is saved from death at close range when Hokuto comes to play with her. Makina is no match for her strength and tossed around like a ball. The other Shichisei guys comment this is her way of interacting with others and getting to know things. Hokuto sees Makina as a broken mirror and continues to ‘play’ with it. But play time is over when Umehara breaks through the barrier. And with the other Contracted Priests and their Shikabane Hime in the picture, Akasha knows they have no chance if they to fight the powerful bunch. While the rest are surprised in seeing Sadahiro (they’re not supposed to know he exist), Akasha and Shichisei make their teleport escape. Hazama leaves some parting words for Makina. Shichisei acknowledges her as their worthy enemy. However this is also part of their plan (including her existence). Makina couldn’t care about all that because all she cares is that she will kill them all as a Shikabane Hime.

Episode 3
Sougen and the other priests are in some meeting. They are blaming him for letting impurities into the shrine and Shichisei getting away. As they debate about Shikabane Hime, Geika intervenes about Makina’s case. Whether she returns to Kougon Cult or strengthen her bond with her current Contracted Priest, he has tasked Umehara to confirm that. If so, he will acknowledge Ouri as Kougon Cult’s Contracted Priest. Meanwhile Ena has been given the green light to fight Makina first. Akasha thinks she shouldn’t just go alone as Makina is viewed as their greatest enemy. They remind him about their nature and that Ena’s is beauty. She will stop at nothing for beauty. That’s why they don’t care if she dies. They’re just following their nature. If Akasha thinks of interfering, they will kill him. Hazama wants Akasha to lure Makina out. Akasha agrees and will use a special Shikabane he kept for this. Ouri continues his training under Takamasa while Makina undergoes a different one. She is to perform Enkiri, a ritual to cut off her previous ties with Keisei. Because Ouri is her current Contracted Priest, other connections may become a hindrance. But the severing of Keisei ties doesn’t mean she will totally forget about him. Inside a cave, Makina begins Enkiri and she is confronted with an illusion of herself. Her illusion tries to convince her not to sever her ties with Keisei because he is everything to her. Makina realizes it is not the world or Shichisei that she hates but herself. At the end of the ritual, it looks like it wasn’t a success. Makina is still attached to him. Saki and Rika try to stop her but she’s too powerful. Saki got a little wounded as she was hesitant in taking out Makina. She is also worried that she might end up like Makina if Rika dies first.

Itsuki talks to Flesh on how she as a normal high school girl died in an accident. Her regret was probably she never did anything. No boyfriends, never went on field trip with friends, never did anything girly. So when she first became a Shikabane Hime, she was scared and requested to contract with the strongest priest. Takamasa is the successor of the title of Genpaku as the strongest fighter. She made a pact with him but is shocked to hear soon after that he doesn’t even know what Shikabane Hime and Contracted Priest. Bummer. I guess his father never said anything to him when he got that title. He was just a normal high school student who had never even fought once. Ouri talks to Takamasa. Even though he knows he can never be near like Keisei, when he heard Makina will undergo Enkiri, somewhere in his heart he felt relived. Takamasa says he is forgetting something important. He must understand Shikabane Hime is no longer human but an abnormality used to kill Shikabanes. He speaks from his personal experience and shows the scar over his body. It is price he paid for not knowing this. He lost many important things before he noticed Shikabane Himes are abnormalities and obtain their powers through death. It also means they became a non-human abnormality. He needs to throw what he has in his heart now if he is to gain the power of his Shikabane Hime. Takamasa leaves to save Umehara getting cornered in one of his perverted schemes. The cat appears before Ouri and teases him further that he should quickly remember what he truly is. Then comes in Makina. She wants him to quit being her Contracted Priest because he is weak. The only one for her is Keisei. Ouri can prove he can fight but she says he is only in the way. Because he won’t give up, Makina is going to kill him. Ouri is saved when Rika and Saki put the brakes on her. She is then restrained inside the building. As long as she remains cursed, she’ll be useless. Takamasa gets a call from Rinsen and several other priests in a pinch against a Shikabane. He takes Ouri along. Ouri wants to stay by Makina’s side but Takamasa tells him he already saw Makina’s abnormality. He reveals his ability to recognize a Shikabane Hime’s abnormality and is going to fight to prove it.

Episode 4
Makina is out of her confinement only because she agreed that killing everyone would just make Keisei sad and will cooperate. However her freedom is short-lived as Honda and the other priests come in to put Makina under quarantine again as ordered by Gon. Takamasa relates his flashback story to Ouri. Itsuki lamented she thought she could go to Heaven faster if she contracted with the strongest Genpaku but unfortunately got a raw kid who knew nothing. It was also because there wasn’t enough time to find her another Contracted Priest. So when they were tossed into battle with a Shikabane for the first time, Takamasa got wounded. Takamasa learnt about Itsuki’s death and regret after she became a Shikabane Hime. Itsuki felt sorry for dragging him into this fight of hers and went to finish off the Shikabane. She could have died if not for Takamasa summing up his courage to help her. Even though she is dead, he couldn’t let her die because to him, he looked like a normal girl. Soon Itsuki is transferred into his class and her reason was so that she could be close to her Contracted Priest and strengthen their En. Takamasa underwent lots of training as they became a formidable team taking down Shikabanes and living together (Itsuki as a freeloader of course). Itsuki ironically felt that though she wanted to go to Heaven quick, now she feels she wants to stay on Earth by his side a little longer. It might look like a simple love story but that is when tragedy starts to unfold. As Takamasa was training under Umehara’s guidance in the mountains, the master told him to stop treating Itsuki as a human because she is a Shikabane Hime. Takamasa didn’t listen because to him, Itsuki is a normal girl.

Takamasa’s best friend, Tomoharu Kishibe (self proclaimed romance master) even gives him the push to confess to Itsuki and some other positive words like how Itsuki only had eyes on him since the day she transferred in. That was the last time Takamasa would see his best friend. His family died in a car accident on their way back to their homeland. Their bodies were found beyond recognition. Back to present, Takamasa meets up with Rinsen. This Shikabane is the same one 4 years ago and is able to control cars. Guess what? That Shikabane is Tomoharu. When he turned into one 4 years ago, he killed youngsters by making their car go out of control or crashing into each other for fun. His regret was that his family were killed by reckless illegal street racers. His father swerved the car out of the way and they end up falling off the cliff. So he killed anybody associated with street racing including those who watch. Itsuki wanted Takamasa to give her the orders like he usually do. The one that has her kill Shikabanes. However he couldn’t bring himself to do it because he couldn’t send his lover to kill his best friend. In that dilemma, Tomoharu tries to kill them but Itsuki pushes Takamasa out of harm’s way. As a result, Itsuki got injured and turned into her true violent and hideous form. She attacked Takamasa and left a deep wound and now a scar on his body. He has learnt from his lesson since and is able to give the orders to Itsuki to kill Tomoharu. Honda and the priests who are transporting Makina back stop dead in their tracks because they see Keisei standing before them! Is this a dream?!

Episode 5
Nozomi makes her way to Goryouzan. It’s not Ouri she has on her mind but Makina and the beauty of death. Tomoharu holds Itsuki hostage and throws Takamasa several questions. Since Itsuki and Tomoharu died in a car accident, why didn’t he get to be a Shikabane Hime? Duh, you’re not a girl. What about Shikabane Ouji then? Well, as Takamasa puts it, they only know a spell to turn girls of certain age group into one. Tomoharu goes on ranting about his heart’s nature and just responding to it. By killing people? He has more right to judge others since is closer to human (he claims Takamasa like the rest hides his desires). Takamasa replies he too had strong desires. He wanted to be with Itsuki but he suppressed those feelings. There were so many times he wanted to do what his heart told him but he lived on and hid it. That is what he meant by living. Now that Tomoharu has lost his nature, he is no longer human. Takamasa gives another order to Itsuki to kill him and she manages to make that corpse stay as one this time. Rika and Saki rush into the scene to inform Ouri that Makina has been taken back to the main temple. But that’s not it. There is sighting of Keisei too. Takamasa advises Ouri one last time that Makina isn’t human anymore. The priests have been knocked out as Keisei claims he is here to rescue her. Makina doesn’t believe it is him and runs. Despite knowing he isn’t the real Keisei, she can’t bring herself to harm him. She becomes confused when he says he came back due to his regret that he wanted to see her. He loves her. Don’t give her that crap. Ouri arrives on scene only to see Sadahiro and Akira. Sadahiro gives him one last chance to give up Makina and return to his normal life. Even if he can’t forget about it, he has too because people go through life with one or two hardships. Rika and Saki stall them so Ouri can go to Makina. Sadahiro learns from Rika that Gon is trying to gain all authority by getting rid of all Shikabane Himes. Rather than doing that directly, he is secretly using a Shikabane Hime to kill humans. Their fight is cut short when balloons are floating in the air. It’s a Shichisei curse because touching it means it will attach to you and grows by absorbing your pleasure. You die after that.

I guess Nozomi is lost. So she is happy when she sees Ouri running past but he had no time to even notice her and ran straight deep into the woods. Keisei and Makina are playing hide and seek? Makina is turning herself psycho that this isn’t the real Keisei. When Keisei finds her, he’s about to kill her but is stabbed by Ouri. Keisei trudges away with his wound to a lake. Then he switches bodies and spawns into several Keisei clones. Makina thought he is still trying to be her Contracted Priest and tells him that before Keisei died, she felt his regret. Had she not smiled for him, he would have turned into a Shikabane. Therefore she killed him (for not letting even live as a Shikabane). Ouri is fine with that because it shows she likes Keisei a lot. She admits she loves Keisei even now. That’s why she couldn’t forgive herself if she were to forget him by taking on a new Contracted Priest. Ouri replies she won’t forget. He was told one can’t live without their desires and to live is to hide their true desires. He wants her to make a contract with him and keep her ties with Keisei. He won’t tell anyone and hide her heart. So sorry that Sadahiro had to disrupt and say it’s impossible because the corrupted Run in her body if she doesn’t cut her ties soon. It will be a curse and cause her torment. Ouri disagrees it is a curse because it is a bond between them. It is their strength. He believes they can use this to defeat Shichisei. Keisei comes into the picture as Sadahiro explains this is Ena in disguise. It’s her power to switch bodies as she believes in evolving beautifully like that. Ouri wants to handles this case. After all, he stabbed his brother before, right? Wasn’t that under Ena’s control? He can’t stand somebody sharing the same face with Keisei and doesn’t want Makina and Sadahiro to feel this horrible feeling. Since he likes Keisei’s face so much, here are more of them. He can pick which brother he likes best.

Episode 6
Ouri is able to cancel out Keisei’s power and stab him in the throat. Seems he used Zadan technique and as explained it isn’t how much he trained or the strength a priest has. Rather, a priest borrows Buddha’s strength and is protected. Since there are many Keisei clones, the rest hurry to dispose of them till the last one. Keisei calls for Touya’s help in which Ena returns to her original form. Makina seems to have acknowledged Ouri as her Contracted Priest and will take it from here. She clashes with Ena but is at risk of having her fingers and wrist shaved off by her bell spinning in high revolution. This recklessness is also causing her to drain Run from Ouri. I guess he needs more training. Ena notices this isn’t slowing down Makina and realizes her curse may be super regeneration. Makina uses both her hands to stop the revolution and destroy the bell. Ena loses control of herself. Flashback reveals that in order to attain perfect beauty, she tossed away her own body and took somebody else’s. While Ena drowns in this remorse, Makina borrows Akira’s rifle and blows her away. That’s another Shichisei down for the count. Just when Nozomi has found Ouri, he sees her collapsing into Makina’s arms. She becomes devastated. Then Touya appears before her and senses they both share the same view about death, beauty and ultimate happiness. He gives her a balloon which wraps around her neck. Ouri has been admitted into Kougon Cult and is in a meeting with other priests before Geika and Gon. Gon announces the need to prepare for battle against Shichisei and it may be a good thing or bad because Ouri the new kid stands up and asks questions as he feels Shichisei isn’t just targeting Kougon Cult. Though he isn’t sure what their objective is, he agrees that they must be destroyed because it is their wish. Later Rika gives Ouri the improvised robe Keisei laced with sutras. Not that Rika has gotten over Keisei, but if Ouri is going to learn Zadan techniques, he needs proper equipment. He also learns that Geika is the closest to God and thus he is the only one who can create Shikabane Himes. Nozomi returns to school and everyone can’t take their eyes off her. Has she changed? Indeed she did but she changed so much that Ushijima smells something fishy. It’s not like the Nozomi he knows. In school, Nozomi tries to pass on her ‘happiness’ to the other students by giving them balloons. It causes them to experience happiness and at its peak, they die and become balloons. Woah. Like some sort of evil drugs, don’t you think? After Ouri drops Makina off back at her place, he returns to his own after a long absence. To his surprise, Nozomi is there and pushes herself on top of him. She wants him to kill her.

Episode 7
Ouri pushes away as Nozomi states she just wants to be happy. Holes start appearing in his apartment and with the help of the cat, Ouri is able to see a big balloon attached to Nozomi’s neck. It contains her happiness. The bigger, the happier. That’s why she wants him to make her feel more happiness. Mizuki waltzes in to slap her. She tries to bring her to her senses because of what she did in school, everyone is in a panic. Nozomi makes her escape as Mizuki explains Nozomi was always worried about him when he was gone. Ouri dismisses they had nothing going on but soon realizes the similarity of Nozomi’s one sided love with Makina’s. He goes after her. Makina gets a call from Takamasa about a Shichisei spotted at school. Makina heads there alone but doesn’t need reinforcements. Kamika agrees to that since they need all the personnel they can get protecting the head temple as other Shichisei members may attack anytime. Meanwhile Akasha and Hazama talk. Seems Shichisei killed the Hoshimura family to obtain a book on how to create Shikabane Hime. The other reason was to create a Shikabane Hime out of Makina to give Hokuto an enemy. Makina sees Nozomi outside the school gates. Nozomi prises Makina’s beauty and wants to be like her. Dead. She thinks it’s the reason why Ouri likes her. She then attaches a balloon over Makina’s neck. Ouri arrives and although he wants to help Makina, she wants him to go after Nozomi. Ouri tries to wake Nozomi up from her delusion but she’s too caught up in her happiness. Ouri sees his friends knocked out. In their own world of happiness? He sees her balloon at its biggest and tries to smash it but Nozomi’s scream stops him. Suddenly she doesn’t want to die. Why? Because she’s so happy being with him. She wants to be with him forever and doesn’t want to die.

Makina faces off with Touya instead. He shows her the other students with balloons in the midst of their happiness. Makina can’t break them free because if she destroys the balloon, their happiness in it will turn into a monster and devour them. Touya also notices Makina’s balloon getting bigger and wants her to grow her happy monster. Touya is about to go see Nozomi sensing her ‘happiness’ has weakened. However Makina won’t let him go and shoots her own balloon. The monster turns into herself as a little girl. Touya thinks she can play all she wants like before without worrying a thing. That’s her happiness, right? Wrong. She’ll be happy when she kills Shichisei! Makina leaps and is about to destroy Touya. To her surprise, her true form is a little girl. She asks if happiness is the same as death. Hizuchi explains Touya was born in a very poor family who didn’t even have enough to eat. One day her parents brought her to the amusement park. She was very happy and had lots of fun. At the peak of their happiness, all of them died in the Ferris wheel (I suppose the family committed suicide by poisoning themselves). Touya died happier than she was and didn’t even realize she was dead. Makina disagrees death is happiness but Hizuchi tells her off she can fight them because she became a Shikabane Hime. That’s her happiness, right? Makina got distracted by Touya’s balloon so Hizuchi stabs her. He wants Touya to bring her back to Hazama while he cleans up this mess. Nozomi starts crying, thinking she could be with Ouri if she turns into a Shikabane Hime. She thought he might pay attention to her if she died. Of course now she realizes she doesn’t want to. Her balloon bursts and the monster is going to eat her. Ouri tries to use Zadan to stop it but it was futile. Hizuchi easily destroys it and mocks Ouri he can’t do it because he is a child of a Shikabane. Since the balloon is destroyed, Nozomi’s last words were to make her into a Shikabane Hime. He couldn’t. She’s gone. Ouri goes hysterical.

Episode 8
Ouri becomes devastated when Rika confirms Nozomi has died and has no qualities in becoming a Shikabane Hime. Makina wakes up at Shichisei’s base. As pointed out by Hazama, the important thing isn’t what they have in mind because she should take this chance to kill them without hesitation. But of course. She might not get this chance again. Makina sees Hokuto and charges straight at her. However Hokuto is equally strong and keeps seeing Makina as a shining light and wonders who the hell she is. Hazama thinks Akasha has failed to decipher the scripture but he replies there is nothing stated in it about turning an aged Shikabane like Hokuto into a Shikabane Hime. Is there anything to gain for a greater being like Hokuto to fight a mere Shikabane Hime? Hazama scoffs off Makina as ordinary because her blood is stained black. Ouri is reeling from Makina’s curse. He wants to go to her aid but Gon won’t allow it. He has always viewed him as impure and wants him to perform Enkiri. Is he a Shikabane? Actually, he was given birth by a Shikabane. Gasp! You heard that right. Ever since he was born, Kougon Cult never decided to get rid of him but now that the battle with Shichisei is coming closer, they will rid of any dangerous elements and will have Ouri sever his ties with Makina. Gon leaves the job to Takamasa. But on the way out, Takamasa and Itsuki defect and help Ouri to escape. They are stopped by Rika and Saki. Their reason being if Ouri could find the answer of whether a human and Shikabane understand each other. Something that they didn’t know. Their fight is comically stopped by Flesh’s comical ninja attack. Umehara feels disappointed that Takamasa made the Shikabane Himes fight each other inside the main temple. Geika says that Ouri wasn’t among their numbers to begin with and is just a small matter. Umehara hands Takamasa a special mission. They are going all-out to destroy Shichisei.

Hazama puts his plan into motion and gives Hizuchi the green light to kill Ouri. With Makina losing her Contracted Priest, she will lose her mind and become a corpse that fights. A corpse worthy of Hokuto. Part of their plan includes defiling this city with Shikabanes and this will awaken Hokuto to run through Kougon Cult’s main temple until it is destroyed. It will be the beginning of the dead massacring the living. Akasha suddenly feels he can’t help worry about Hokuto. Makina’s raw power battle with Hokuto continues. She thinks Hokuto wants to know about herself so she declares herself as her enemy. Ouri is back at Dairinkan and gets smacked by Riko. That’s for returning from training and not stopping by here. He is back to look for something that Keisei might have left behind. He wants to know why he was brought here. Riko may not know the details but around that time, there were cases of children went missing. The suspect was never found so Keisei never said anything about it. She feels it is strange because normally he would have taken Ouri back to his parents. Suddenly news that one of the orphanage kids got kidnapped. Ouri rushes out and sees the cat. It says their brother is calling them. At the river bank, Ouri sees several kids around Hizuchi. Calling Ouri his brother, he thought he would remember something if he did something similar back then. The time when they were all killed by Ouri’s mother. Visions of many dead children around a Shikabane. Hizuchi is mad that everyone died except him.

Episode 9
Hizuchi starts throwing and piling cars, equipment and everything in his rage to make Ouri remember. And yes he does remember his mother, a Shikabane. As explained, Keisei, Sadahiro and Akasha defeated Ouri’s mom and Keisei found him the only survivor among the dead children. Even if Ouri was born from a Shikabane, he wasn’t one. His mom was 9 months pregnant with him and died in an accident. When she turned into a Shikabane, she couldn’t understand Ouri. Her regret was that she couldn’t hold her own child in her arms. She went on a kidnapping spree but no matter how many children she kidnapped, she couldn’t find her son. All the kidnapped children died without food. However there was one among the dead kids who became a Shikabane: Hizuchi. He was so hungry that he ate everything. From rodents to insects and those dead children. Eating became his regret and nature. Hizuchi says that he isn’t the only one who returned as a Shikabane. Those murdered children too. They came back as a mass of souls and followed him around. It’s the cat. That’s what its real form is. Hizuchi throws the cat at Ouri so that it could devour his body. But he isn’t going to let him die so easily and will make him experience the same hell he went through. Meanwhile Makina finds it hard to believe she can’t win against super powerful Hokuto. Akasha was kind enough to explain the reason. As Hokuto has no regret or nature, Hokuto unlike other people who lived and experienced life and a variety of emotion, she was bred to be a human sacrifice. When she died, she became free and killed everybody in the village. It was her first ‘touching’ experience. In short, Hokuto is death herself and is the top of all Shikabanes. Makina can somehow see visions of her memories. Why is this so? Hazama explains the mother of all revelations. The family that carried out the sacrifice and found out the method in creating Shikabane Hime and eventually became the Kougon Cult was no other than Hoshimura.

In other words, Hokuto and Makina are blood related. That is why Hokuto became her enemy. A meaning was finally given to her. She became Kougon Cult’s enemy and with her strength she will destroy it. Hazama’s plan to use Makina was so that he could control her strength. Now he has no use for her. Hokuto is about to deal the finishing blow but Makina is so weak that she just tossed her away into the pool. Makina is running low on self esteem. Can she really win? Until thoughts of Ouri crept into her mind. She suddenly receives an enormous amount of strength and returns the favour to Hokuto. It’s payback time. The wall collapses and the priests from Kougon Cult are here. Seems Makina became their bait so they could find Shichisei’s base. The priests go after fleeing Shichisei but Makina won’t join them. She’s going to Ouri. Hizuchi forces the monster in Ouri to devour the children. But Ouri fights back and tells the monster to eat him instead. They agree and turn against Hizuchi. They vow to always protect Ouri because they’re always with him. They always watched to see if he would become a human or corpse. Hizuchi blames Ouri for their deaths but they say they are siblings and are crying because they wanted to be loved. Hizuchi disagrees with it all and tears the monster apart. But here comes Makina into the scene. She asks if this is Ouri’s true form. He doesn’t know. In that case, she’ll tell him. She throws his robes as the monster absorbs into it and Ouri reverts back to his human form. She reminds him he is her Contracted Priest. Hizuchi still disagrees that he is supposed to be a corpse just like him. Even so, Ouri will continue to live as a human. Ouri and Makina cooperate to kill off Hizuchi. When it’s over, Makina sounded a little like a tsundere because she tells Ouri not to die without her permission as she needs him. Suddenly a commercial plane crashes into the oil refinery. A couple more follow suit. It is part of Shichisei’s plan in motion. Guess how many Shikabanes can be made out of that? Tens of thousands…

Episode 10
All the priests and Shikabane Himes converge back at the Kougon Cult headquarters. The city is now like a zombie movie. Moving corpses all around. But Fresh seems to be happy about it. Because there are enough Shikabanes to kill and send them all free to Heaven. Geika gives the order to wipe out the Shikabanes even if it means leaving the headquarters vulnerable to attacks because as Kougon Cult, their mission is to return Shikabanes into their original state. Ouri and Makina make their first stop at Dairinkan, disposing off the zombies Shikabanes trying to eat the brains get the kids. After Riko and the kids are driven away to safety, Makina senses Hokuto heading towards the mountains where she was quarantined, Joubu. Ouri wants to head there but what about the Shikabanes in the city? Not their problem says he? Shichisei is an enemy that they and their brethren must defeat. Gon and Honda are inside Joubu. They seem to be in cohorts as they explain this place is the most impure of all Kougon Cult’s abodes since it discards impurities of Shikabane Himes. But there is also a secret reason why Joubu exists. Ah… A secret underground passageway… Hokuto, Hazama and Akasha are on their way to Joubu but are ambushed by Sadahiro and Akira. Hazama bears the most brunt of their attack. Akasha mentions Sadahiro is not his enemy by Kougon Cult. He knows Sadahiro has saw what happened on that day to his Shikabane Hime, Hibiki Shijou. He knew it was a trap as more than hundred abnormal Shikabanes gathered. Despite Hibiki was strong, she kept on fighting Shikabanes and Hazama’s bugs until she defeated more than 108 of them. He knows Sadahiro and Akira understand this too. Sadahiro hints that’s why they were allowed to kill humans.

Ironically when Shichisei passed them to enter Joubu, Sadahiro and Akira are faced with Makina and Ouri. They won’t let them pass but allowed Shichisei? They had orders not to let anyone in and will go after them once the duo are defeated. Sadahiro tries to convince them to leave as he explains they haven’t been killing just Shikabanes but humans who tried to unveil what Shikabanes are. They had to otherwise they would’ve gone insane. Makina tells them off that they are not the only ones who experienced hell. Makina herself have gone through hell so many times and hasn’t given up yet. Akira fires at her but Ouri’s Zadan technique stops it. He then knocks Sadahiro out and follows Makina in. Akasha and co confront Gon and Honda deep underneath Joubu. Gon creates a purity barrier that purifies and kills all those who enter it. Hokuto just jumps through and nothing happens. She stabs Gon. Honda sees her wearing the most sacred and important sutras of Kougon Cult that once belonged to from the Hoshimura family. She’s like wearing the purest shield and nobody can stop her. Hokuto breaks the coffin before her and when the corpse awakens, all the Shikabane Himes start to become weak. They feel they are losing their En connecting them to their Contracted Priest.

Episode 11
Akasha explains the reason why only young girls can become Shikabane Hime. Kougon Cult’s founder discovered a method to bring back his dead daughter and inscribed it as such. Not only that, Kougon Cult has also kept the Shikabane Hime created by him thereby using her spiritual power to connect Contracted Priests and their Shikabane Himes. Now that this catalyst has been destroyed, the Shikabane Himes will lose their En. Akasha views this that they have been released and Kougon Cult won’t use them as a tool anymore. There is also another reason why he is down here. A sutra owned by Hoshimura was a mere copy. This place lies the original. Akasha wraps that around Hokuto and uses his blood box to turn Hokuto into his Shikabane Hime. Then he orders her to kill Hazama. He killed his own Shikabane Hime so why this? It’s his atonement. Makina and Ouri enter the area and they square off with Hokuto. Akasha is impressed with his progress in using Zadan technique. It’s the power he got from all those that Akasha killed. When Ouri says he won’t understand it since he killed his own Shikabane Hime, this prompts Akasha to explain the truth. Hibiki was his lover and loved her very much. They were very close together since young and had only each other to support since they had no other relatives. Naturally they fall in love but she died due to a terminal illness. On her death bed, she wanted him to make her his Shikabane Hime. Akasha desperately begged to Geika and he allowed it seeing Hibiki had a gift and if she didn’t become Akasha’s Shikabane Hime, somebody else might use her. So the pair became a formidable team and was even believed to be stronger than Sougen-Kamika pair. Then that fateful day came. Akasha and a handful of other priests walked into a trap set by Hazama. Although taking care of the Shikabanes was easy, just as Akasha confronted Hazama, Hibiki counted she had already killed 108 Shikabanes. So did she go to Heaven? She turned crazy, injured Akasha and killed all the other priests and Shikabane Himes. Akasha couldn’t bear to see this and killed her.

In short, Shikabane Himes who have killed 108 corpses will ascend to Heaven is just a lie. They will turn into a Shikabane who only wishes to kill. When Akasha was grieving at Hibiki’s body at Joubu, he was told by Gon and Honda about this lie. That’s why they have observers who secretly bring Shikabane Himes like her down to Joubu and tell their Contracted Priest they have ascended to Heaven. Otherwise Shikabane Himes wouldn’t have fought so diligently for their Contract Priest. Now that Hibiki has reached this state, she is known as Breaker. She cannot be killed at this stage and will live for eternity. To prevent that, she will have her En cut and sealed in this place which contains all those Shikabane Himes turned into Breakers. The founder’s power keeps them sealed within. Akasha becomes upset about the truth of the eternal hell Hibiki will go through forever. He becomes disappointed and disillusioned with the Kougon Cult whom he had devoted. Gon uses his blood and sacrifice his life to blow up the place and let his fellow comrades escape. Too bad it’s in vain because Hokuto and Akasha are unscathed due to the former’s protection. Honda understands if Ouri and Makina hate him. But that is the reason why Gon had always been trying to avoid using Shikabane Himes as much as possible. Not only they become mindless killing corpses but wander in sadness through eternal hell. Even if Kougon Cult has manipulated them, this doesn’t discount the fact that Akasha killed Keisei. Hokuto attacks but Makina protects Ouri. But to Akasha’s surprise, her wounds start healing. Didn’t their En get cut off? Likewise with all the other fighting Shikabane Himes in the city, they still have the strength to fight back. They don’t need some catalyst to depend for power. They are friends before Contractor Priest-Shikabane Hime relationship and as long their hearts and mind are connected, they can produce as many En they want. That is their true bond.

Episode 12
The other Shikabane Himes realize their precious memories with their Contracted Priests, blah, blah, blah. Cut the chatter and finish off Isaka and Touya. Touya starts pondering about her happiness and death and can’t go any further. The Shikabane Himes realize that after their death, they realize and found happiness. Touya’s own balloon becomes a monster and devours her. The Contracted Priests destroy it. While Isaka laments he wants to continue existing, the Shikabane Himes blast him with all they’ve got. Makina and Hokuto clash once more. Hokuto remains stronger. Akira fires warning shots at them. Akira notes her regret is to kill more bad guys like the one who killed her. That’s why despite knowing the fate of Shikabane Himes, they’ve decided to kill humans. Akira destroys Joubu to reveal an area of coffins that Breakers lie. Akasha becomes emotional when he sees the coffin of Hibiki. He starts reminiscing the past as he realizes he she is the only one for her. Hokuto is even worried about him? She is easier to ‘beat up’ now that Akasha is all over Hibiki. Like yesterday once more. I guess Hokuto got jealous and kills him. Rejected… She reverts back to a Shikabane. Surprisingly that Hazama guy isn’t dead. He whisks Hokuto away. In the aftermath, the Shikabanes in the city are greatly reduced. With Shichisei gone, the remaining Shikabanes will soon lose their power. Honda and Sadahiro make an announcement that since Gon has died, Sadahiro will take over his place and look after Shikabane Himes who have killed 108 corpses and assist in their ascension to Heaven. The rest are to assume that Makina and Ouri went ‘missing’.

Seems now that the truth is out, Makina has no reason to continue killing but has no place to go. Ouri brings her Dairinkan and hopes she will continue to live here as a normal girl. They are surprised to see Ouri’s friends there. They are worried about him ever since the incident at school. Which reminds them about Nozomi’s case. Ouri will explain it all to them later. This prompts Makina to leave because she remembers to do something. Because Nozomi viewed beauty in death and wanted to die, she realizes she was about to do that. She doesn’t want that and wants to live on. When she was alive, she didn’t know about her reason for living and only realized it when she fought with Keisei against other Shikabanes. As for Hokuto, she is not death itself but a corpse. She just forgot about it and will have her remember what it means to live and die. Although humans cannot escape the clutches of death, they can struggle against it. She wants to fight against death because that’s the reason they live. She wants Ouri to come along with her. Makina is able to locate where Hokuto and Hazama are hiding because Hazama is holding a blood box that contains a part of Keisei. Hokuto also senses her and excitedly goes to greet her. As Ouri and Makina make their way into the building, Ouri borrows Keisei’s lines about priests being here for those grieving instead of the dead. He views Makina as alive and not dead because she is truly trying to live. That’s why she is alive. Hokuto ambushes them and the power fight begins. If her Uzis don’t work, Makina uses her fists to punch her. She will beat it into her to make her come to her senses on what it means to be human. Feel the pain! Feel the sadness! Feel that they are alive!

Episode 13 (OVA)
What’s this? A back story on Minai and Isaki? Why go all the way back to tell a story on characters that are long gone? It begins with Minai killing her boyfriend. I guess he was abusive. He even spelled it out right in her face that this will continue till the day she dies. Good thing he died first. Minai stabbed him. Then she committed suicide by jumping down the building. However she wakes up to find herself sprawling in her own blood. Her arm is broken but no pain? Keisei is called by Sougen and the other priests to see Minai. What has he got to do with her? Kamika found a name card bearing his name and she works in a cosplay club. Was Keisei misusing the name of the temple? Sougen thinks it is high time Keisei get his own Shikabane Hime to fight effectively but he doesn’t want to. I guess this leaves them no choice but to kill Minai. However Isaki says to make Minai his. Does he have a bond? He once met her in the streets and she confided in him about her problems. Minai undergoes a ceremony to become Isaki’s Shikabane Hime. Isaki wants her to pick a weapon seeing she needs them to fight Shikabanes. Since she took boxing before, she is confident in her punches. Isaki wants her to demonstrate. She punches him! He flies back! Oh sh*t! How is that for demonstration? On her first job fighting a Shikabane, she hesitated since she still thinks a Shikabane as human. The Shikabane attacks Isaki and he could have died if Keisei and the other priests didn’t come to his rescue. Isaki continues to look down and use Minai as a tool. Keisei tries to explain about En and Run to Minai but Isaki scoffs her off as dumb. Besides, she is already dead, does she need food although her stomach is growling? Meanwhile Honda and Sadahiro discuss about Minai. Honda does not feel any En between Minai and Isaki. There is only one possibility: Minai is not a Shikabane Hime and just a mere Shikabane, a quiet corpse that’s hanging around Isaki. One night, Minai senses a Shikabane and Isaki orders her to go after it. When she finally corners it, the Shikabane turns out to be Akira in disguise. She has just proven that Minai is just a Shikabane because her injuries do not heal even if her Contracted Priest is close by. She is about to take her out to prevent her from turning into a Shikabane when Isaki comes looking for her. Minai’s wound suddenly heals. This catches Akira off guard so she backs out and would like to hold her termination for a while.

When Minai tells Isaki about Akira, he tells her that what Akira said was a lie. Then she starts questioning if they have ever really met because she doesn’t remember meeting him. Isaki hints that he made up that story and wants her to keep quiet about it. Because if the higher ups know about this, they will be separated. In view of this, he needs her help. They sneak into a house whom Isaki believes a Shikabane stops by the Kougon Cult’s temple and takes the form of one of the head priests. There is no one inside the supposed room but when a guy comes out from the toilet behind, Isaki panics! That’s his brother?! He’s scared of big bro? Later Isaki explains that he wanted her to kill him. He considers his brother a trash because the only thing he cares about is sucking up to their parents and get more money. The last straw came when they gave all the inheritance to him. After their dad died, he decided to create a silly temple for Kougon Cult. In order to silence Isaki, he used his contacts and forced him into becoming a priest in Kougon Cult. So he thought he would just claim him as a Shikabane and use Minai to kill him. Therefore, they had no En and never knew each other before she turned into a Shikabane. However at that time he needed one. He wanted to climb the ranks of Kougon Cult and beat his brother. He realized it was impossible with her so he thought he would just at least do in his brother. He tells her to go away and do anything she wishes as she was never his Shikabane Hime to begin with. But she won’t because she is still not done with her punishment. She murdered someone. Then she sees his aura lighting so brightly in the dark and could feel them coming into her. Is this En? She says since she is allowed to go wherever she wants, she wants to be beside him because he too is a sinner like her. Back home, Minai is thrilled that he knows how to make her favourite okonomiyaki food. Honda tells Keisei about Sadahiro’s investigation on Isaki. Because he used to fight a lot with his brother when they’re young, their parents often put Isaki under Sadahiro’s care to separate them. Isaki learnt how the make okonomiyaki from Sadahiro’s bar then. At that time, Minai was also living around the area and as her parents were often busy working, she came by here frequently to have okonomiyaki, in which Isaki cooked for her. Since it happened so long ago, they wouldn’t remember but this is definitely their En and what connects them. Their destiny has been entwined since childhood. Minai and Isaki become a pair as they go around fighting taking out other Shikabanes and Minai is confident to proclaim herself as Isaki’s Shikabane Hime.

A Good Corpse Is A Dead Corpse!
Oh dear. Not one of those crappy endings again. So Makina couldn’t finish off every single one of Shichisei and ends up having a fist fight with Hokuto. Is that a good way to end things? To me, it isn’t. Personally, if they had killed off the remaining Shichisei duo, I would have felt that the ending didn’t suck as much. Why the need to bring Hazama back from the dead (okay, so he is already dead from a technical point of view)? Had he not done so, Makina probably would have finished Hokuto right where she was standing as she was at the transition of her weakest point. My guess is that it is so that Makina would still have some sort of mission to carry on and reason to live. I mean, if all the Shichisei members are dead, where else would she go, right? Her goal fulfilled and she can already go to Heaven. Oh wait. That’s not possible in her case either. So from the way I see it, she will not kill Hokuto and keeps on punching her to keep her realize what it means to be a human being. I thought that too would be futile seeing she is already dead. With Hazama too weak to do anything, I think it is safe to say that Shichisei won’t become a major threat to Kougon Cult in the future. Now that there are only a couple of them left, I think they should consider renaming themselves to Futasei (Twin Stars).

The revelation of the truth about killing 108 corpses to ascend to Heaven brings about more questions than answers. I knew there was going to be some twist somewhere in the series since killing 108 corpses itself sounds very fishy. Thus when it is revealed that Shikabane Himes who achieved this feat do not go to Heaven and turn into a berserk Shikabane itself, it made me think that Shikabane Himes would have it better if they just turned into a Shikabane before that and get killed. Besides, becoming a Breaker means becoming immortal. That’s like becoming God, no? I’m not sure but I feel that this is why many Shikabane Himes die before reaching this number. You may ask if this is the cruel fate of Shikabane Hime, why not do away with this Contracted Priest and Shikabane Hime combo? I somewhat agree too because before making a contract and turning them into corpse killers, just blow their brains and return them to their maker like what they do with ordinary Shikabanes. Doesn’t that solve the problem? Ah, you may think that they need some undead to fight and protect the priest from other rampaging Shikabanes. After all, Shikabane Himes are always at the front lines and taking in whatever damage. So if it was the ordinary priest instead, he would have died. But still, I think turning such girls into Shikabane Hime and do the dirty fighting is still a much crueller deed. I mean, killing every Shikabane is the same, right? Just like zombies, destroy their brains! That can’t be too hard, no? Unless their brains are somewhere hidden in their monstrous deformity. Yeah. Like they would sit still and let you whack their brains, eh? Considering that if this 108 corpses kill lie becomes known, what would become of the existing Shikabane Himes in contract? Would they go on vacation? There is no more motivation to kill anymore. There is no point in racking up the body count if they know what they’re going to end up as. As long as their Contracted Priest is by their side, they’ll retain their humanity. Another mind boggling thing is if Ouri was born from a Shikabane, how come he doesn’t look at all like a toddler? He was 3 years old when Keisei found him and just fresh from putting an end to his mother’s kidnapping spree. Assuming she gave birth to him and died soon after, how did Ouri survived those 3 years then? It can’t be since it’s already mentioned that Ouri was born right after her death.

Each of the Shikabane Himes that we know is unique in their own characteristic and behaviour. Some of them are fun. Like Flesh. Naturally she is an otaku Shikabane Hime so she is always with that carefree attitude even during times of danger. Saki is cheeky, bratty and she loves teasing Rika. Whenever she’s not in action or talking, she can be seen eating tremendous amount of snacks. I’m not sure if she is hungry or just likes to stuff f her mouth. Saki sometimes can be scornful but hesitates to live up to whatever she said. Especially about the part she was talking big about putting Minai out of her misery. Then she hesitated and lost. What does this show? She talks big for a little girl. Oops… Akira is also amusing because of her cynical behaviour. As the only Shikabane Hime allowed to kill humans, I think she is the only one who would punish her master if he steps out of line. Kamika’s seriousness and no-nonsense attitude shows that she is the strongest Shikabane Hime around and not to be messed with. Her few scenes in action are enough to just show us how cool she was. Say, if she really is the strongest one out there, does this mean she will also be the strongest Breaker? I shiver to think about it.

Over the series, we get to see the main relationship between Keisei, Makina and Ouri. Keisei is perhaps the most sporting character because even as a priest, he knows when to be serious and has a comical side. Ouri is lucky to have someone like him being his big brother although the little annoyance of having to put up with porn magazines and posters he offers. Keisei’s pervertness is only second to Umehara. There is this very deep bond and trust between Makina and Keisei. So it is natural when the latter died, Makina finds it hard to trust anyone else. It is no doubt that nobody could ever replace Keisei because Keisei is Keisei for who himself. But Makina found it hard to accept Ouri was perhaps she was afraid that if she did make a new contract with him, she would totally forget about Keisei. This is what makes her stuck in her past and unable to move forward. Once that is gotten over with, everything else just falls into place. Ouri the reluctant kid to have got into it all finally decides not to turn a blind eye and run. He may not be perfect and he has a long way to go in his training but at least he makes an effort in doing his best.

The other side characters are rather okay and I can’t comment on them much either. Like Isaki is somebody you would love to hate for treating Minai like a tool. But he is not that all bad because that is perhaps is his way he shows he cares for her (notice how often he keeps looking for her?). What’s the use of hanging around him if you don’t live up to your usefulness? Sougen, Takamasa and Umehara don’t play very much role but they provide essential support to their organization and the protagonists when needed. I heard Umehara had another Shikabane Hime. Touma was her name, right? Where was she? I read she was on vacation… I guess corpses even need to take some time off. I thought Honda and Gon were conspiring and like some shows, the real bad guys are the ones at the top. Fortunately, they were just trying to protect a secret even though it may make them seem like they are lying, think about when if the truth goes out, havoc will reign because you might have some Shikabane Himes going crazy thinking about the prospect of becoming a Breaker forever and some who wouldn’t give a damn and abandon everything since there is nothing in it for them anymore. Who will be there to assist the priests in fighting Shikabanes then? Akasha became an antagonist because of his method of wanting to free the Shikabane Himes from their curse. Would there have been a better alternative? What else would you have done if you ran out of options? The black cat’s mysterious appearance serves as a teaser to make viewers keep guessing who the hell is this feline and how is it connected to Ouri. Once its true form is revealed, you’ll never see it ever again. What happened to it? They didn’t move on to Heaven, right? From what I understand and saw, they absorbed themselves into Ouri (or his robes) but after that, I don’t see them playing any sort of role or make a whisker of appearance anymore.

One of my little complaints is that the action sometimes doesn’t feel convincing. It looked a little lame. Especially when Makina fires her pair of Uzis away, it felt as though she is firing a paper gun. I am not sure if Uzis are light but the way she wastes bullets on her enemies is like she doesn’t need to expend any effort. And also it feels like she activated some sort of cheat code because her bullets are unlimited and keep flowing forever.  Oddly, I feel that if she had just fired directly at the brains instead of everywhere else over the body (perhaps to weaken the Shikabane, I guess), she wouldn’t have took so long to dispose of one. But of course, if she knows where the brains are in the first place. This shouldn’t be too hard for Shikabanes taking a human form. Otherwise the action is rather decent but there are lots of blood and gory effects. Since you’re dealing with corpses, expect to see some limbs coming off. There are quite a number of deaths too whether unimportant extra characters or some of the supporting characters. Like Keisei’s shocking death is the pivotal one to Isaki’s ‘pathetic’ murder (it’s a shame this guy got easily killed by gangsters rather than die in the line of duty) to poor Nozomi who never got her wished fulfilled (now considering the real truth behind the Shikabane Himes, I think she got lucky going out straight with death) and other personalities that turned into Shikabanes for the first half of the series to give us an idea what we’re going to expect out from this anime. It’s like they’re trying to hint that death is inevitable and part of life’s cycle, which is true. Some of the Shikabanes in their true form are hideous and it gives off that horror feeling. Also when the black cat was around, it’s mysterious presence and subsequently the appearance of eyes all over its body did give me the creeps. Even the next episode preview is narrated by the black cat. So creepy and teasing that I feel if I let my guard down I would be frightened out of my daylights. Thankfully, I didn’t.

Being mainly an action and horror genre, I guess there is no time for some romance. If you are hoping for Makina and Ouri to become a couple in the end, then you better stop dreaming. Don’t even dream. I know love transcends age, race, nationality, etc. But loving the undead? Don’t brush it off yet because even if it is not obviously stated, you can just feel that Ouri may have feelings for Makina. Otherwise why is he so concerned with her? It can’t be just because she was Keisei’s Shikabane Hime and wants to take responsibility for her for partly causing his death. But if Ouri does turn out to like a dead corpse, then I won’t be surprised. After all, I have already seen it all in Sankarea… You thought that with Nozomi admitting her feelings for Ouri, it would go somewhere but too bad she died. I may be paranoid starting to think that Mizuki may harbour feelings for Ouri. But that is totally unwarranted for. They’re just classmates and best friends. That’s it. Perhaps the closest love romance came in the form of Itsuki and Takamasa. Their little flashback was a nice little distraction from our main protagonists. Akasha too loved his Shikabane Hime very much but his flashback was so fast and too short that I only felt his disillusion. So that dude only realized his wrong after he sees her real body? In that case he should’ve kept her corpse with him all the time. I guess his wasn’t a happy ending because when he died, he won’t be reunited with her in Heaven. She’s not there. She’s a cursed immortal. Though comedy isn’t a main factor, it is very minimal just to break the gloominess whether it is Keisei’s perversion, Umehara and Flesh in some useless argument or Saki’s teasing.

The art and drawing are rather okay too. Not that good but it isn’t that bad either. Maybe it is because I have seen too many animes, I thought I started seeing shades of other anime characters in some of them here. For instance, when I first looked at Keisei, I thought he was the more casual version of Bleach’s Ichigo Kurosaki! No kidding! At a certain angle, he really looks like one. Just that he doesn’t go into angst mode. For Ouri, I thought he was a feebler version of Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn’s Tsuna! Not joking either! At least Tsuna shows more emotions because he panics most of the time but Ouri is short of that. He only blows his top when Keisei forces his perverted materials on him or when the orphanage kids mispronounce and tease his name. Another thing I want to point out is some of the other priests in Kougon Cult especially those bald headed ones. I don’t know, they all look the same to me! I mean, I couldn’t really tell the difference between Gon and Isaki or some other baldy priests except for their voice or some marking on their face (probably this was also done to differentiate them). That’s why I thought characters with hair on their head like Keisei, Sougen, Sadahiro and even Rinsen are identifiable because of the hair on their head. I guess this goes to show the importance of having a hairstyle. Hehehe…

I think I am also paranoid because sometimes I noticed that Makina doesn’t wear any pantsu! Is there any reason for a corpse to be wearing one? Is ‘down there’ rotten? Haha! Just joking. But she does wear bra… What I’m saying is that there are times when the wind precariously blows up her skirt and if you are quick enough, you can see her butt line… What does this tell us? She’s not wearing underneath, right? Even there are a few comments about it that she doesn’t wear any pantsu. Just watch the opening credits animation and spot several of this instances. Because Shikabane Himes look like normal girls, it’s such a waste if you don’t have some fanservice. Whether it is Minai’s tight body suit or the Shikabane Hime’s clothes getting torn during the midst of a fight. Even Rika despite not a Shikabane Hime is here to give us some fanservice. I notice that she is the only female to appear in Kougon Cult and I’m not sure if her lab coat is too tight that it makes her unable to button her dress and leaves her baring her big boobs. I know she’s the medical division but can she walk around like that in such a holy place? Well, maybe the priests here have casted away all their desires… I feel the ending credits animations is also a place for Shikabane Hime fanservice. No wonder Minai who has been gone for so long is even featured here.

I also have a little bit of grouse on the voice acting. I find that Makina and Ouri sound pretty much like dead. Sure, Makina with her character as a corpse but knowing that she isn’t void of emotions, sometimes I feel her speeches lack the emotions to fit that scene. Same case with Ouri. Sure, he was born out from a Shikabane and void of emotions in his early part of his life till get to know death. In both characters, they sounded quite flat in their speeches. Maybe it is because both their seiyuus Nana Akiyama (voice of Makina) and Tatsuya Hasome (Ouri) do not have much voice acting experience or roles. Nana Akiyama’s only other anime role is Ageha in Viper Creed and for Tatsuya Hasome it is only Jou Yokosuka in Rainbow – Nisha Rokubou No Shichirin. I thought Mamiko Noto was the voice behind Minai. They sound close and had this feeling that this wasn’t my favourite seiyuu. Minai is voiced by Yuka Hirata who also doesn’t have a long list of anime roles to her name. The only other anime role I heard her was as Masamune Date in Sengoku Otome Momoiro Paradox. It was really amusing to hear and spot Yui Horie voicing 3 different characters! Yes, 3 of them. As the black cat, she sounded very creepy (kudos to especially how she narrated the next episode preview using this eerie voice). As Kamika she was in serious and no-nonsense mode. As Riko she was the caring big sister. Other casts include Keiji Fujiwara as Keisei (Sven in Black Cat), Chise Nakamura as Itsuki (Megumi in Dragonaut The Resonance), Tokuyoshi Kawashima as Takamasa (William Jones in Emma: A Victorian Romance), Junichi Suwabe as Sadahiro (Atobe in Prince Of Tennis), Mika Kikuchi as Saki (Mokona in Tsubasa Chronicle), Saeko Chiba as Rika (Natsuki in Mai-HiME), Aoi Yuuki as Saki (Madoka in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica), Aya Endou as Flesh (Lisara in Dakara Boku Wa H Ga Dekinai), Masaki Terasoma as Umehara (Kanbei in Samurai 7), Tomokazu Sugita as Isaki (Gintoki in Gintama), Hidetoshi Nakamura as Sougen (Gid in To Love-Ru), Mitsuru Miyamoto as Akasha (Ayame in Fruits Basket), Chika Fujimura as Hokuto (Sora in Oh Edo Rocket), Miki Maruyama as Nozomi (Miki in Lemon Angel Project) and Toru Ohkawa as Hazama (Roy Mustang in Fullmetal Alchemist).

All the opening and ending themes are sung by Angela. The only opening theme that starts off like a Halloween song, Beautiful Fighter is a rock outfit that befits the action and horror pace of this anime. There are several ending themes. My Story by Angela is the main ending theme for the first half of the season and this moderate rock piece doesn’t sound all too bad. For the second half of the anime, it is Hikari, Sagase Naku Tomo and resembles more of a slow rock. Beginning is a slow piece and has this sad and ominous feel in it and is only played for a couple of episodes in the middle of the series. The only song that is not sung by Angela is The Pale Sands of the Sleeping Star which is sung by Mayumi Iizuka who is the voice of Kun. Also another slow piece filled with sadness in its tune, this is the special ending song for episode 4 of the first season to reflect the sad end that befell on her unfortunate character.

Ironically from this anime’s view, a Shikabane Hime is more alive when she is revived after death than when she was alive. Unfortunately that is only temporary because now we know what really happens when they kill 108 corpses. In that case, why not be like Akira and kill humans too? I mean, humans are the worst sort of creature around, right? Sometimes even worse than Shikabane. Oh, I remember, they can’t kill humans as per their contract. Ever consider changing the contract terms? Besides, maybe Akira herself isn’t excluded from this condition in the first place. Instead of killing Shikabanes, she went round killing humans so this keeps her Shikabane count really low despite being around as a Shikabane Hime for quite some time.

At this rate with the human population already breaching the 7 billion barrier and is expected to rise rapidly in the coming years, I fear that with the technological advances, modern conveniences and materialistic wealth would only cause more Shikabanes to emerge. People these days too tend to be short tempered, greedy and apathetic to others so if the human race was massacred, it will spawn a new huge wave of Shikabanes. Even though that already is the end of humanity itself. The way I see it, to prevent humans from turning into one, there are only 2 options: 1) Throw away all your worldly desires and live life to the fullest without regret; 2) Live forever. I guess both are impossible to do, eh? That’s why for now I want to watch as many animes as I want before leaving this world so as not to have any sort of otaku regret. But just in case a Shikabane comes knocking on my door and I have no hot Shikabane Hime to rescue me, I am thinking of practising playing Resident Evil games to blow off zombies’ brain. I have also taken the liberty to prepare a garlic garland, a sharp wooden stake, a cross, some silver bullets and holy water. Oh… I think those are weaknesses for vampires. Oh shiiiii…!!!

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