Shikabane Hime: Kuro (Black) is the continuation of the story from Shikabane Hime: Aka (Red), so this author will assume that readers are familiar with the plot. This season brings the battle between Makina and the Seven Stars to its conclusion.
Shikabane Hime: Kuro is more plot-driven than the first season. There are far fewer "random" battles, if any at all; our heroes' main enemies during the course of the show are the Seven Stars (a group of particularly strong Shikabane) themselves. The writers demonstrate reasonable skill, as the pacing and escalation of tension are well done. There are several revelations during the course of the twelve episodes. Some of the talk about the bond between Shikabane Hime and their contracted monks feels cheesy, but it never becomes unbearable. The ending is fairly epic in scope and felt satisfying.
Whoever made the character models for Shikabane Hime does not understand the saying that "less is more." The apparent need to demonstrate the large bust sizes of certain secondary characters took away from the show's relatively strong plot. Thankfully, Makina (the heroine) is not particularly over-sexed, though her chief enemy--Hokuto of the Seven Stars--regrettably is, near the end of the show at least.
Combat remains fluid but is nothing spectacular. The show generally uses a darker color palette, which I appreciated, but this is not true at all times. I believe the use of these dark tones continuously would have contributed to a more suffocating atmosphere, which would be desirable in this show.
I enjoyed both the beginning and ending themes, with one exception: the ending has such ridiculously unchaste artwork that I couldn't bring myself to watch it more than a few times. It simply degraded this otherwise good show.
I watched the English version of the series, and most voice actors were good. It felt as though Aaron Dismuke (the voice actor for Ouri Kagami) was struggling during the more intense scenes. Also, I had to laugh when I heard Jerry Jewell as Hizuchi, one of the Seven Stars. Mr. Jewell also plays Kyo Sohma in Fruits Basket, which conjured up all kinds of funny images while I was watching. I particularly liked the voice of Isaka, though he didn't get that much screen time. Saki's VA just annoyed me.
One has to appreciate some of the stranger villains in this show. Toya--a sort of balloon creature--was one of my favorites, both for "his" interesting method of killing people and his backstory. Hazama, a creature made up of centipedes, was also very likeable. Akasha (the Traitor Monk), however, was my favorite antagonist. He was well fleshed out by the end of the series.
Ouri and Makina as main characters do fairly well. Makina seemed far more intriguing than her one-sided partner, thoug. Her struggle to live as a person is a strong aspect of the series.
If you've made it to Shikabane Hime: Kuro, you probably know whether you want to keep watching or not. If you're on the fence, I would recommend that you finish off the series. The second season is superior by a fair margin to the first.
THIS ANIME HAS NO ENDING.
DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME.
I cannot believe this. The premise was okay, and I even overlooked it when it got a little cheesy towards the end. But the last episode of the series, which should have finished off the epic battle that just began in the second-to-last episode, was actually a background story of a character that had died early on in the series.
DON'T DO IT.
After watching the last episode of Shikabane Hime: Kuro, I was a bit disappointed. They have built a great backdrop of story and characters of Makina and Ouri, but did not end in any satisfying way. Basically, they did not end the series. Almost as if they left the series as “the Battle Continues…”thing. Very disappointing.
I would still recommend the series because it was very satisfying overall theme and anime was top notch. It just had a disappointing ending. I watch both dubbed and subtitled. As usual, subtitle was better. I can see one more season to wrap up the loose ends.