Review: Considering the story, Shikabane Hime Kuro is an immediate continuation from the first season, Shikabane Hime Aka. Since the first series has done superbly on building up the characters and the setting of the show, the chance of things going wrong is very slim. Nevertheless, I was a little disappointed because, eventually, I found it to be a mixed bag.
After his brother’s death, Oori becomes the new contracted monk for Makina. In order to keep his bond with her, he must get through training to be a true monk and learns the skills needed in the battles with the Shikabane. On the other hand, Makina must deal with the loss of Keisei and try to establish new bond with Oori which is very hard for her because for Makina, Keisei is more than just a comrade. Contrast to the end of the first season, Shikabane Hime Kuro takes a very sluggish start. The first few episodes fails to provide any substantial progression but focus mostly on recapturing of the previous events, explaining more rules about the Kugon and exploring the changes inside Oori and Makina’s minds. It isn’t totally bad but it’s somewhat boring.
To my delight, after the initial slow start, the show quickly turns back to its original form with fast pacing and mind blowing actions. There is no problem with the characters since they are all well introduced from the previous installment. In this series, lots of new information about the Kogon and the origin of the Shikabane Hime are revealed. The protagonists, the Seven Stars, play much bigger roles and their connection with Akasha, The Kogon and Makina comes as a big surprise. Ultimately, I believe that hidden under the rules and the lore of this anime, the real message is that human differs from other beings because human live according to their wisdom, not by following their true desires or natures and by doing so, they suffer. There are also several interesting minor themes including the corruption and conspiracy that seems to plague every organization. Even inside the temple, there are many dark secrets and sins hidden in every corner.
During the series finale, when all the facts are openly laid on the table, we learn about the cruel fate waiting for all the Hime after they finish their tasks. Logically, the best ending for this show, especially after its consistently dark tone, would have to be something really tragic. To my dismay, at the very end, the anime takes a big turn towards another road by choosing the heart-warming ending. So instead of a perfect sad ending which fits with the other part of the show, Shikabane Hime runs into dead end with happy yet illogical conclusion. After all the preaching about how the Hime are not human and how their existences are driven by unrequited desires, everything is completely forgotten and at the end, everybody becomes friends and comrades and lovers and they seem to be planning to live happily for eternity. Makina who eventually has her wish granted, will now live on with Oori. But what is her purpose now? She is still the undead but Oori will eventually die. It seems like the creators just can’t let Makina go lest the viewers will be hurt. It’s quite hard to explain how I feel about the ending because in my heart, I don’t want any of the Hime to die but my brain says that letting them linger around aimlessly would ruin a perfect ending. Nevertheless, please note that this is purely my opinion and I’d be happy for anyone who finds the ending satisfactory.
Conclusion: Despite the lackluster start and somewhat frustrating finale, Shikabane Hime Kuro still does well in keeping balance between crazy actions, intriguing drama and interesting ideas. Recommending this series is hardly necessary because once you start watching the first season, you won’t be able to resist watch this one immediately.
Title: Shikabane Hime Kuro
Genre: action, supernatural, horror
Released date: October 2, 2008 – December 25, 2008
Director: Masahiko Murata
Animated by: Feel, Gainax