Monday, 22 December 2008

Shikabane Hime: Aka - Episode 9

After seemingly starting out as something of a pure horror/action series, Shikabane Hime: Aka has gained a surprising amount of emotional depth in recent episodes, and largely speaking this continues to some degree into episode nine.

Before all that though, we do get a decent chunk of that horror/action hybrid, with Makina gatecrashing on a bunch of students wandering around a supposedly haunted house just for fun, before things get serious when a corpse turns up to spoil the party. While Makina manages to defeat the corpse, albeit losing her arm again in the process (insert any "she's only 'armless" jokes in here at your leisure), she also gains herself a bit of a female fan in the form of one of the girls who was part of that group of students. While this particular little story seems to be little more than just a sideshow to the main points covered by this episode, I would wager that there's more to this particular plot point than a simple bit of Shikabane Hime groupie behaviour.

Anyway, away from all that the real point of this episode is to give us a glimpse into the life and times of Ouri, largely recounted by Keisei - How Ouri was found when he was first taken in by a child, and his inability to understand or compose human emotions, a state of affairs changed by his discovery, friendship with and death of a cat - A cat whose "soul" follows him around to this day, which is again a seemingly innocuous part of this series which I have a sneaking suspicion will become far more important as the series progresses.

To me, it seems that Shikabane Hime: Aka has really found its "groove" over the last few episodes - Sure, it revels in the odd bout of machine gun-touting action and the like, but it appears that it really wants to bring home the emotional impact of its story in many ways, becoming increasingly philosophical about death and the way it is viewed, and indeed about the way people treat the dead, be it as a mere memory or in corpse form. This actually makes for some interesting viewing, an although this particular episoe couldn't really be labelled "deep" the series as a wider entity raises some interesting questions (to my mind anyway). It appears that normal service will be resumed next episode, as Makina gets back to fighting some bigger, badder enemies, but as long as it can continue to mix this up with some more thoughtful and emotional content then Shikabane Hime: Aka is starting to look like it's on to a winning formula.

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