Come the end of the last episode of Shikabane Hime: Kuro, Ouri and Makina somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, with the latter finding herself kidnapped by Shichisei while the former seeing Nozomi die right before his eyes. Does she have enough to become a Shikabane Hime? Bzzzt... nope.
It's been a long time in coming, but at last this episode begins to tackle the question of "Who is Ouri?", a question which only brings forth further queries. The one thing that is made clear is that Ouri's mother was, or became, a corpse, but exactly what happened? Is Ouri in fact a corpse as well? There are plenty of questions being posed here that the coming episodes will doubtless tackle. If you've ever pondered whether Ouri is an only child, then this too is revealed in this episode.
Elsewhere, Makina is still in the hands of Shichisei, where they are very kindly letting her "play" with an ever-more unpredictable (and downright creepy) Hokuto, with the slightest hints coming forth that there may well be some kind of link between the two of them. The exact reason for Makina's kidnapping is also revealed, with Shichisei looking to kill Ouri, thus turning Makina into a straight up corpse... I'm sure I don't need to point out what kind of havoc that could wreak given her powers.
All in all, this is quite probably the best episode of Shikabane Hime: Kuro thus far, as it starts tackling the really juicy heart of the matter now that both Ouri and Makina's pasts seem to be coming into sharp focus. It's taken a while to get here, but things get more intriguing by the minute in this episode as we move towards what I imagine will be the series climax, with this episode doing enough to draw me in and get me hooked once again.