Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Shikabane Hime: Aka

Oori is an orphan who was raised by Keisei, a man he considers to be his older brother. One night, Oori finds a strange wounded girl in the temple of the orphanage. Cold and covered in scars, Oori initially thinks that she is dead – that is, until a mysterious talking cat tells him that she is a Shikabane – a corpse. After secretly watching Keisei heals the girl without explanation, Oori decides it's time to leave the nest. However, he has picked a poor time, and he soon realizes that he's tangled in a strange, supernatural web. Why does Oori continually meet this girl as she hunts monsters? What does Keisei have to do with it all and what exactly is her mission? Source:


First episode and already I was confident that this series would be oozing with action. All I could hope for was that it will have a solid plot to go with it. And I was glad it did, though it wasn’t apparent for the first 5 episodes. Character introduction was a little abrupt with characters appearing non-stop out of nowhere so I had to be a little creative with my imagination and assigned them roles which I thought they would play. Only during later episodes will things be better explained.

The down-toned and pale choice of colors didn’t really sit well with me. I would have sat by it but it was used too much to feint ignorance. The dark range of palette did, however, successfully bring out a sense of spiritual mystery throughout the series. The soft outlines made it feel a little old skool. Seeing it was “just” a 13 episode series, it was safe to assume that the animation would be on par throughout the episodes except the sudden change in style and only in episode 5. For a moment I went “Huh?”

Episode 1 and 2 showed the typical “kill a monster an episode” format which didn’t give me much confidence at the beginning. I also couldn’t help but speculate that the cat haunting Oori is another “Yoruichi” (from Bleach) in the making. The cat and how it’s linked with Oori was really what kept me going through the first few episodes in the series. It is not the main plot but it is definitely something that this anime couldn’t do without.
Episode 3 was another episode to episode killing. Episode 4 too, with the addition of a script where Shikei confessed to Oori about his mysterious injuries and Makina, his Shikabane Hime.
The sudden change of animation style in episode 5 was a little abrupt, especially obvious during the action scene which really surprised me. Unfortunately, that doesn’t feel like an improvement to me. I enjoyed the animation in the episodes before that way more. Luckily the later episodes reverted back to the previous drawing style.
As usual, it always takes me a while to feel attached to a title and in this case, episode 6 did it. The action scenes brought satisfaction and the plot thickens! Revealing more bits of background check on everyone and more importantly, Akasha. Got to give him a reason to be a hater… Right?
Episode 7 and the anime got all weird on me. What was going on between Isaki and Minai? And all of a sudden, comedy attempts? There was minimal comedy in the previous episodes but did they just decide to crank it up a notch from now on? Cause the increase in comedy attempts was really noticeable. I called it “attempts” because I didn’t find it funny.
The best this series had to offer was definitely what episode 8 was about. The action scenes got me all excited. The story touched my heart and felt heavy. This episode gave Shikabane Hime characters a lot more depth showing their capabilities of emotions on a higher level. Was a little heart wrenching though, killing off a character just when I was starting to get attached to her (Think biker chick).
Episode 10 and Bing! I pretty much knew how the last few episodes are going to turn out. That is, until I found out that there is another season following exactly right after this series. And boy… was I wrong, the ending was totally something I didn’t expect, making sure that I knew that there IS gonna be a second season (As of time of this review, second season is already out and until episode 12. Lol!)

Throughout the anime, the plots were quite predictable but I still enjoyed the way the story was told. Initially I had my doubts that, for a 13 episode series, there were way too many characters. I could actually name a few characters that could have been easily scripted around making their appearance rather redundant. But this is only applies before I watch the second season. So for now, hold that thought!

Shikabane Hime: Aka
Rating: 4-Stars
Torrents: UG-TMD-Teki

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