While episode one of Shikabane Hime set the scene in a not particularly spectacular style, and episode two added some genuinely creepy and horrific atmosphere to the mix, what can the third instalment bring to the series?
In short, what it brings us is some depth to the plot. The episode starts with another of those time-honoured cornerstones of the horror genre - The echoing sound of a crying baby in the night, which on this occasion belongs to a Shikabane. However, before it can be caught, all Makina is left with is the body of a dead girl, a situation which repeats itself numerous times. How is this Shikabane getting away every time, and why is it targeting young girls?
Meanwhile, Kagami is sent home from school with a terrible cold, but the mysterious "ghost cat" that keeps appearing drags him out to the outside of a gynaecologist's office, where he passes out only to be helped by the seemingly friendly doctor there. No sooner has he come around than he ends up face to face with who else but our favourite Shikabane Hime, leading to further arguments, revelations and peril.
It may have been a little slow to build up, but this was definitely the best episode of Shikabane Hime so far, finally putting some more substantial flesh on those bones of the series opening pair of episodes. We get to learn of the origins of Makina (although enough mystery remains to keep us suitably intrigued), the plot surrounding mixing Shikabane and humans is equally interesting, and we get a glimpse of what appears likely to be the series true bad guy.
While the horror elements of this episode were nowhere near as strong as the last instalment's outing, the atmosphere in this series remains suitably dark and moody, which continues to work well, and the thankfully the move to a more plot-centric story here actually worked well, being both delivered and expounded upon in a satisfactory and worthwhile manner. Thus, I'm still not convinced that Shikabane Hime: Aka will become any sort of classic, but it is at least building up to be a solid and eminently watchable show that is beginning to go some way to justifying its hype.