Friday, 20 March 2009

Shikabane Hime: Kuro - Episode 10

After waxing and waning during the course of the series so far, the last episode of Shikabane Hime felt as though the scales had finally fallen from Gainax's eyes, allowing them to see what they needed to do to create something truly magnificent. Put simply, episode nine of Shikabane Hime: Kuro was a masterpiece, a real legend in its own lunchtime that got everything right.

That episode also left us with a tantalisingly horrific ending, with jumbo jets falling from the sky onto the packed city below - The bets kind of horror is often loosely based around reality, and the sight of planes ploughing into buildings hit all too close to home for obvious reasons. Given that spectacular ending and the way this instalment begins, this event actually gets a surprisingly small amount of screen time in this episode, as we get little more than a few brief scenes that wouldn't have looked out of place in a game of Left 4 Dead. Beyond that, the vast number of corpses created by this atrocity is little more than a distraction to get the Shikabane Hime away from the Kougon cult's main temple, leaving it open for Shichisei to do what they will with.

After only getting briefly involved with the goings-on following the plane crashes, Makina and Ouri soon head off to try and continue their fight against Shichisei, which eventually brings them up against Sadahiro and Akira (who are also trying, and ultimately failing to take on Hokuto and Akasha) who are under strict instructions not to let them pass into the Kougon-owned chamber they want to enter. Come the end of the episode the reason for this becomes clear, with yet more revelations to follow no doubt...

After that fabulous episode nine which could be regarded as a work of near-perfection as far as I'm concerned, this episode of Shikabane Hime: Kuro was always going to struggle to live up to that billing. While I wish more had been made of the fight against the surfeit of corpses following the numerous plane crashes (it could have had a single, action-packed episode all to itself... Or they could have made it into an entire series, and called it... I dunno, Lost or something), the series is now clearly more interested in getting to the real heart of its story (and I can't really begrudge it that), dropping some very heavy hints surrounding the claim that killing 108 corpses will allow a Shikabane Hime to go to heaven. Surely a religion would never lie about the existence of a sure-fire way to an eternal life of happiness? Perish the thought...

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