Shikizakura ep 12: Hero’s End

We’ve arrived at the conclusion of the series. And what do superhero series do when facing off against the last boss? Call everyone of course! Episode 12 of Shikizakura is a fantastic all-in beat-’em-up montage that makes you feel pretty bad for the last boss

Well, at least Shuten got one good hit in. He sent Kakeru and Oka into another world where their lives are very fulfilling and happy, with their parents all there and no ritual responsibilities on their shoulders. Basically they pull a Gurren Lagann dream-like stage. But of course, without the things that they have experienced, without the pain and struggle, they would not be who they are today. Kakeru who aspired to become a hero and Oka who resolved to save the world from the Onis. But just like before, the ability to manipulate human’s emotion of the Onis are really really scary, that they almost got Oka and Kakeru to indulge in their illusion. But fortunately, everyone’s voice has managed to reach them. A hero cannot stay on his path alone, he needs comrade to help him choose the right path, and the people that helped him were the people that Kakeru helped before.

Then comes the slug-fest. Once everyone’s present and pose in epic Sentai-style, it’s time for the Shuten beatdown. Since he’s a giant target, the team went ham on the guy. The attack combos were beautiful, especially the blade users like Ryo, Benio and Ukon. Although Shikizakura’s normal human model need improvement, but when suited-up, they are top-tier! The attacks are super fluid and dynamic, with actions exaggerated enough to feel quite…extravagant just like your Tokusatsu show. There are also some 2D effects mixed in that looks really nice as well.

And lastly, the conversation between Ibara and Kakeru. Ibara’s change in the first place was a bit forced and cheesy, but it is quite typical in shows like this. He has lived with the humans and learned of their humble, gentle yet courageous nature and came to respect that. He was also shown the spirit of sacrificing oneself for the good of many, just like the Shrine Maiden has done for many generations. And this time, he once again take on the role that he once forget. But even after Ibara’s departure, Kakeru will definitely continue to be a hero. A very nice moment between the two.

Shikizakura is a well executed average hero show. It didn’t do anything groundbreaking but it did the tropey thing well. As a series to pay homage to Tokusatsu and promote the Nagoya province of Japan, it did a very nice job cramming in the references while not losing itself in those tributes. The Oni concept is very basic and simple, yet it managed to pull some surprise twists on us. I always watch series with a fresh perspective and I definitely think that Shikizakura can stand quite well on its own. The animation is a very mixed aspect, some sequences are absolutely gorgeous while some are janky. The good thing is that where it matters, the animation team really pull through.