Friday, October 10, 2008

First Impression: Shikabane Hime - Aka

I expected the art of Shikabane Hime - Aka to be much better. I don't really know why I have that expectation. Maybe because this anime is by Gainax of End of Evangelion fame? When I saw the promo vid, I felt midly disappointed. I didn't like the style and the action scene didn't look that great. So when Episode 01 came out, I actually hesitated over downloading it. But finally, I did give in to my, err, more primal urges.
Shikabane Hime - Aka 01: The Dancing Dead
OP: Beautiful Fighter by Angela [4shared]
ED: My Story by Angela [4shared]

The episode opens at Kougonshuu Dairinkan Orphanage where a talking spirit cat wakes a boy named Ouri up and leads him to a Buddhist temple nearby. There, Ouri finds a seemingly dead girl lying in front of a Buddha statue.

While attempting to revive the girl, some monks arrive, forcing Ouri to hide. He then witnesses a severely-wounded monk, Keisei, who is referred to as "Sentinel" by the other monks but whom Ouri knows as the chairman of the orphanage, pick the girl up and hug her close, apparently in order to revive her. It works and the girl starts to move.

A few days later, the city is all abuzz about a man who keeps a harem of women in his apartment, all of whom died under mysterious circumstances. But when the police comes to arrest the guy, he suddenly jumps out of the building. Instead of dying, however, he turns into a "shikabane" (undead?) and acquires strange new powers, enabling him to fly and wreak havoc among the populace.

When news of this new menace reaches Keisei, he contacts Makina, who immediately proceeds to the apartment of one of the shikabane's women. Once there, she discovers the shikabane. Believing himself to be an immortal vampire, he is trying to drink the blood of his former mistresses, "turning" them into "vampires" like himself.
Keisei and Makina

Meanwhile, Ouri has decided to finally move out of the orphanage and live on his own. However, on his way to his new place, he unexpectedly stumbles upon Makina. She is unconscious after falling several feet from the sky when she fought the shikabane.

Adopting what he saw Keisei do, Ouri picks her up and hugs her to him. Eventually, Makina regains consciousness and immediately goes back to battle (of course, only after slapping Ouri).
Shikabane Hime

With Keisei's help, Makina tracks down the shikabane to the rooftop of a building. Before letting her go to fight, Keisei warns her not to harm the women around the shikabane as they are not dead. As an undead, she is bound by a rule not to harm the living.

The shikabane uses the women to take down Makina first. But Keisei helps by knocking them out, without killing them. With that out of the way, Makina then takes out the big guns to stop the shikabane once and for all.

That was a fairly action-packed episode. I did enjoy the whole gung-ho approach to the fight scenes. Then again, I've always been partial to girls with guns.

But the thing about the innocent, well-meaning boy and this strange, moody girl who occasionally goes on a killing spree reminds me much too much of Kara no Kyoukai. I suppose there's nothing wrong with that...but you see, when something reminds you of something, you can't help but compare, which then opens another can of worms.

Kara no Kyoukai is a great OVA. Fascinating concept, impeccable production values and a storyline that you can only barely grasp. Perhaps it suffered a little from its cerebral approach but that was part of its charm. I don't think Shikabane Hime - Aka has that going for it. Its straightforward plot tells me it's more on the action than anything else.

The info about Shikabane Hime - Aka says that this is about an undead girl who has to kill several undead in order to go to heaven. By "undead," I immediately thought "zombies." I loooove zombies so much it's completely senseless how much. But when I saw the "undead," I had to LOL. I don't think I've ever seen anything that looked more ridiculous. And the stupid, non-aerodynamic wings? Like, how, for the love of anime god, do those things even make anything fly?

Le sigh. I don't know if I am going to watch this series after all. I'll wait until episode 3 to finally decide whether I'm going to blog about it or ditch it completely.


Wikipedia Entry
Anime News Network
WATCH "Shikabane Hime - Aka" Trailer @ Youtube
WATCH "Shikabane Hime - Aka" OP clip @ Youtube