Corpse Princess (屍姫?, Shikabane Hime) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yoshiichi Akahito. Premiering in Monthly Shōnen Gangan on April 12, 2005, the series centers around the "Corpse Princess" Makina Hoshimura, an undead girl who is hunting down 108 undead corpses in order to gain entry into heaven with the help of a secret society of anti-corpse Buddhist monks.
Feel and Gainax partnered together to adapt the series into a thirteen episode anime series. The first season, Aka (赫 Light?), premiered on AT-X on October 2, 2008. A second season, Kuro (玄 Mystery?), aired between January and March 2009. The anime is licensed for North American distribution and release by Funimation Entertainment, which has already started releasing the episodes in subtitled form as Shikabane Hime through various online distribution companies and through its own website.
After being murdered, Makina Hoshimura turns into a "living corpse". Armed with dual MAC-11 submachine guns, she must kill 108 other corpses in order to gain entry into heaven. She is assisted in this task by Keisei Tagami, a Buddhist priest with links to an anti-corpse group known as the Kougun Sect. Her ultimate goal is to avenge the death of her family, by destroying the corpses known as the Seven Stars.
- Ouri Kagami (花神 旺里 Kagami Ōri?)
- Voiced by: Tatsuya Hasome (Japanese), Aaron Dismuke (English)
- A normal high school boy who was raised at Keisei Tagami's temple. He treats Keisei as his brother even though they are not blood related. Ouri is able to appear where the Shikabanes are because of a mysterious cat who began to talk to him. After the second time talking to the cat, Ouri knew that when he saw the cat he had to follow it, leading him to the corpses. He has also been nicknamed by the children at the temple "Hanagami". Later on after Keisei's death he became Makina's new contracted monk.
- Keisei Tagami (田神 景世 Tagami Keisei?)
- Voiced by: Keiji Fujiwara (Japanese), J. Michael Tatum (English)
- Keisei Tagami was a Buddhist priest under the anti-corpse organization known as the Kōgon Sect. He found Ouri Kagami as a three-year-old child and raised him at his temple orphanage. Keisei was an orphan himself, raised by Makina Hoshimura's father. When the Hoshimura Family was brutally murdered, he agreed to become Makina's contracted monk. He was something of a pervert, often offering (or forcing upon) Ouri sexual posters or skin mags. He died near the end of the first season.
- Rika Aragami (荒神 莉花 Aragami Rika?)
- Voiced by: Saeko Chiba (Japanese), Cynthia Cranz (English)
- Rika Aragami is the only female contracted monk. She is one of the ten great holy Families. Which are the descendants of the ten senior disciples of the Founder and obligated to become contracted monks to a Shikabane Hime. Not only is she the contracted monk of Saki Amase, but she is well known for her ability to heal others.
- Takamasa Sogi (送儀 嵩征 Sōgi Takamasa?)
- Voiced by: Tokuyoshi Kawashima (Japanese), Joel McDonald (English)
- The contracted monk of Itsuki Yamagami. Their relationship is a complicated one. While the two seem to have a romantic relationship, they claim that is not so. He often fights along side with Itsuki, using a bow.
- Sadahiro Mibu (壬生 貞比呂 Mibū Sadahiro?)
- Voiced by: Junichi Suwabe (Japanese), Eric Vale (English)
- When the series starts, he is introduced as Ouri's manager. We soon realized that he is the contracted monk of Akira Tōoka and is working undercover to keep an eye on Ouri and Keisei.
- Shuji Isaki (伊佐木 修二 Isaki Shūji?)
- Voiced by: Tomokazu Sugita (Japanese), Mike McFarland (English)
- The contracted monk of Minai Ruo. He does not care about others, especially Minai, who he treats like a tool. In the OVA its revealed little of his past and his hatred for his older brother. Isaki was made a contracted monk due to his brothers contacts. He intended to use Minai to kill his older brother, and claim the reasons that Minai killed his brother was because he was unholy and became a Shikabane. Isaki and Minai both knew they did not have a bond, but before Minai would turn into a Shikabane he wanted to become higher status to be even higher than keisei and even be the main monks, to bring down his brother. In the end both Minai and Isaki accomplished to have a bond. In the end it turns out that they had a bond because they had a met a long time ago. In Isaki's family store, which Minai young went their frequently. Isaki doesn't show compassion for Minai, but he actually did care for her.
- Sougen Takamine
- Voiced by: Hidenori Nakamura (Japanese), Kent Williams (English)
- The contracted monk of Kamika Tomoroki and the former mentor of Keisei Tagami.
- Kanechika Umehara
- Voiced by: Masaki Terasoma (Japanese), Christopher Bevins (English)
- The only contracted monk that has two Shikabane Hime. Although in the series, we only follow one of his Shikabane Hime, Flesh. The other's name is Touma. Umehara is known for his perverted nature. He does also have the reputation of being well versed in Shikabane.
- Makina Hoshimura (星村 眞姫那 Hoshimura Makina?)
- Voiced by: Nana Akiyama (Japanese), Luci Christian (English)
- Makina is the main character and a contracted "living corpse". She is tasked with killing 108 corpses to gain entrance to heaven. She has formidable physical skills and her weapon of choice are two Ingram MAC-11 machine guns. Her contracted monk was Keisei Tagami before he died. Later in the story it is revealed that her family discovered the process of making a Shikabane Hime. Later on after Keisei's death Ouri became her new contracted monk.
- Saki Amase (天瀬 早季 Amase Saki?)
- Voiced by: Mika Kikuchi (Japanese), Monica Rial (English)
- Rika's partnered Shikabane Hime. Saki is a 10 year old mischievous girl who enjoys teasing Rika. She is usually seen munching on chips or drinking juice. Her weapon of choice is a massive hammer. Unlike other Shikabane Hime her contracted monk happens to be one of the ten great holy families, which means that no ordinary Shikabane can defeat her.
- Itsuki Yamagami (山神 異月 Yamagami Itsuki?)
- Voiced by: Sase Nakamura (Japanese), Cherami Leigh (English)
- Takamasa's Shikabane Hime. She died in an automobile accident and came back with the regret of not living the life of a teenage girl. She bonded with Takamasa because she thought he was a powerful monk and would help her get to Heaven faster. Unfortunately, Takamasa knew nothing about the Shikabane Himes before that. Regardless, the two continued to work as a team. During their time, they began to develop romantic feelings for each other. However, they were unable to act on them because Itsuki was a Shikabane Hime. She fights with a pair of M945 Combat handguns.
- Akira Tōoka (遠岡 アキラ Tōoka Akira?)
- Voiced by: Aoi Yūki (Japanese), Anastasia Munoz (English)
- Sadahiro's cynical Shikabane Hime. Often, she hits Sadahiro to stop him from saying something. Almost nothing is revealed about her past, except for her cause of death by some men. She fights using a sniper rifle.
- Minai Ruo (瑠翁 水薙生 Ruo Minai?)
- Voiced by: Yuka Hirata (Japanese), Colleen Clinkenbeard (English)
- Isaki's Shikabane Hime. Her weapon of choice is a pair of brass knuckles. It was revealed throughout the first season that she committed suicide for killing someone. She believed that her becoming a Shikabane Hime was punishment for her sins, but after meeting Ouri, she came to see it as a way to save others. She did grow close to Ouri, but before a relationship could be formed, Isaki was killed; despite Sadahiro's offer to help her transferring her bond to Ouri, she ultimately allowed herself to be terminated rather than taking up the offer or reverting to a rogue Shikabane. In the OVA of Shikabane Hime, Minai's past is revealed of how she became a Shikabane Hime. Minai was in an abusive relationship and she struck him with a knife which killed him and then she committed suicide. Soon after, the Kōgon Sect got ahold of her. She was intended to be Keisei's Shikabane Hime but Isaki volunteered to be her Priest. From the start Minai was doubted as to whether or not she could be a Shikabane Hime due to the fact that her contract was incomplete. Isaki and Minai had to have a bond before the contract or else it would be meaningless. So Sadahiro and his Shikabane Hime were both sent to investigate. Later it was revealed that Isaki didn't lie about he having a bond with her; they had indeed met in the past.
- Kamika Todoroki
- Voiced by: Yui Horie (Japanese), Terri Doty (English)
- Takamine's Shikabane Hime. Nicknamed "Sword Hime," Kamika has been referred to as the strongest shikabane hime not necessarily for the level of her strength, but her regret and will.
- Flesh Backbone
- Voiced by: Aya Endo (Japanese), Alexis Tipton (English)
- One of Umehara’s Shikabane Hime is Flesh Backbone, who is as much an otaku as Umehara himself, although the two can have even more passionate arguments than normal Makina and otaku Keisei would have had over conflicts on two-dimensional vs. three-dimensional or doujinshi vs. figurines. In fact, she was a foreigner who had died in a plane accident on her way to Akihabara. The other Shikabane Hime of Umehara is Touma, who is away on a vacation of sorts and seems to strike fear in her contracted monk. She was the unknown female that was peeking outside Makina’s cave, and she has brought news about Makina.
- Voiced by: Kazuya Nakai (Japanese), Z. Charles Bolton (English)
- A vampire like Shikabane who kidnaps women and kills them in groups. His power appears to allow him to control people he bites. He can also transform into bats. It is speculated that he made some of the women kill each other.
- Kun Osaki
- Voiced by: Mayumi Iizuka (Japanese), Brina Palencia (English)
- A J-Pop star who died of a heart disease. She became a Shikabane because she wanted to keep singing. Her manager used his mob connections to keep Osaki's death quiet, as well as any deaths that occur around her. She is angered when her song is interrupted or when someone does not listen to it. Her response to this is usually to kill the person who caused it. She can use her voice as a weapon.
- A Shikabane that takes on the form of an SUV. It lays in wait for people to get into it and start driving. It then takes control and forces the passengers to kill each other.
- A nameless Shikabane that was formed from a robber who killed his partners and himself when they were surround by the police. He was protective of the money he stole and uses it to attack people.
- Tomoharu Kishibe
- Voiced by: Anri Katsu (Japanese), Scott Freeman (English)
- Initially a normal teenage boy and a friend of Takamasa and Itsuki. He died in a car accident with his parents and sister when a group of teenage drivers made them swerve off the cliff. He gained the power to control the engines of 4WDs and 2WDs. He used his power to kill those teens. After that, he began targeting teenagers who liked to drive fast and their spectators.
The Seven Stars were seven Shikabane who work together for a common goal. They were extremely powerful.
- Voiced by: Chika Fujimura (Japanese), Brina Palencia (English)
- A special Shikabane who has no regrets, obsessions or even nature within her. Her death however, makes her one of the most dangerous, yet powerful undead being around. She was raised as a sacrifice, born to be killed as a child. She never experienced grief, pain, sadness or even happiness. Right after being killed, she is reborn as a Shikabane.
- Voiced by: Takaya Hashi (Japanese), T.A. Taylor (English)
- Known for his ability to open portals.
- Voiced by: Toru Ohkawa (Japanese), Christopher Sabat (English)
- Hazama has giant centipedes for arms. At first glance, most assume that he was the leader of the Seven Stars. In reality, he was the right hand of the true leader, Hokuto.
- Voiced by: Yuki Hayashi (Japanese), Bob Carter (English)
- His curse allows him to change the make up of his body. He was killed by Makina Hoshimura near the end of the first season.
- Voiced by: Michi Niino (Japanese), Todd Haberkorn (English)
- Ena was obsessed with beauty. His curse allows him to switch from one corpse to another, as long as they are near by. He was killed by Makina Hoshimura.
- Voiced by: Tatsuhika Suzuki (Japanese), Jerry Jewell (English)
- Ouri's mother was responsible for his death. Hizuchi was determined to make Ouri pay for what happened to him. He was killed by Ouri and Makina.
- Voiced by: Sumire Morohoshi (Japanese), Jamie Marchi (English)
- The most bizarre looking of the Seven Stars. She appears to be a man covered in a coat, but where a head should be, there is a cluster of balloons. Her curse allows her to manipulate the minds of people. She can also place balloons on people that cause their happiness to grow, until it reaches its peak. At that point, the person dies. It is revealed near the end that Toya was a little girl from a very poor family. One day, she and her parents suddenly went to an amusement park for a fun day before they committed suicide. As a result, Toya views death as happiness.
- Akasha Shishidou
- Voiced by: Mitsuru Miyamoto (Japanese), Josh Grelle (English)
- Perhaps one of the pithiest villains after knowing the reason behind his betrayal against the Kōgon Sect. In his younger days, he was one of the top aces in the Kōgon Sect. He was proud and strong in his faith, until he was forced to kill his Shikabane Hime, who was his fiancee when she was alive. Afterwards, he went into exile for 5 years. No news about him was heard till series of recent events resurrection of many Shikabane cases. He was killed by Hokuto near the end of the second season.
- Black Cat
- Voiced by: Yui Horie (Japanese), Greg Ayres (English)
- A mysterious black cat that can at will be seen or unseen and also can be incorporeal. It always seems to be around Ouri Kagami and he seems to be the only person the cat talks to. It shows up at moments that involve the Shikabane and Shikabane Hime, and gives Ouri clues about them. The intention of this cat is unknown as to whether it is friend or foe. The cat is identical to a pet that Ouri cherished as a child, which died after being run over by a vehicle. Soon afterwards, this cat appeared. Near the end of the series, the cat revealed its true nature with the help of a foe Shikabane who was once a fellow orphan along with Ouri. The cat was made up of a number of children who Ouri's mother had kidnapped trying to fulfill her attachment to this world: to hold her child in her hands. Later, the cat engulfed Ouri in a monstrous form only to help him in the end later disappearing without a trace.
- Nozomi Kasuga
- Voiced by: Miki Maruyama (Japanese), Tia Ballard (English)
- A classmate of Ouri, nicknamed Omune-sama or "Breast Goddess". In the first chapter of the manga she and a few other students visited a "man-eating house", where she was attacked and injured by a group of corpses. She was saved by Makina, and since then she's developed a fascination with death. This fascination leads her to stalk Makina and later Ouri. She also becomes attracted to Ouri and desires to become a Shikabane Hime, so she could be with him forever. In the anime, she was manipulated by Toya because they both thought death was beautiful. Kasuga used Toya's power to kill people at her school, until Ouri and Makina stopped her and Toya. However, they were unable to save Kasuga's life. With her last breath, she asked Ouri to make her into a Shikabane Hime. Her last wish goes unfulfilled as she did not meet the requirements.
- Mizuki Inuhiko
- Voiced by: Fuyuka Oura (Japanese), Clarine Harp (English)
- A classmate of Ouri. She tends to be very observant and dreams of becoming the president of the student council.
- Voiced by: Masayuki Shouji (Japanese), Sean Michael Teague (English)
- Another classmate of Ouri's. Very innocent and oblivious to the world of Shikabane.
- Hiroshige Ushijima
- Voiced by: Tooru Nara (Japanese), Micah Solusod (English)
- He is the girl-obsessed friend of Ouri Kagami.
- Voiced by: Yui Horie (Japanese), Stephanie Young (English)
- Riko is like the "Mother Hen" of sorts. She is in charge of the Dai-Rin House, which is where Ouri grew up with Keisei.
- Sometimes referred to as corpses. When a person dies with a powerful regret or obsession, they may become a Shikabane. As a Shikabane, they are undead but retain some degree of memory and intelligence. Their appearance may also differ greatly from that of a human. Shikabane are given superhuman strength and a unique ability or attribute called a curse. Shikabane have no feeling towards living and tend to kill them as driven by their regret or obsession. A Shikabane can be killed by destroying or otherwise severing their brains.
- Shikabane Hime
- Shikabane Hime are Shikabane that follow the Kōgon Sect. So far only girls of a certain age group can become a Shikabane Hime. Each of them is partnered with a monk, who provides them with life energy called Rune. In exchange, the Shikabane Hime act as shields for their monk. They are used to hunt and kill rogue Shikabane- in fact, once they kill 108 Shikabane, they receive the reward of going to Heaven (this number may be from the number of sins in Buddhism). Shikabane Hime keep their human form but do still have their own curses that occasionally manifest, and unlike rogue Shikabane, Shikabane Hime are not driven by their regrets or obsessions to the same degree of madness. If their partner monk dies and a replacement is not forthcoming, however, the Shikabane Hime usually die or become Shikabane. Despite their contribution to the fight against the rogue Shikabane, they are shunned by most of the Kōgon Sect followers due to their nature as Shikabane.
- Contracted Monk
- Contracted Monks are the partner monks of the Shikabane Hime. They usually provide their Shikabane Hime with support and is linked by via a bond.
- A curse is a unique power that a Shikabane possess. Generally, it has something to do with their obsession or regret.
- A monk who acts as support for Contracted Monks. They usually do not have a contract of their own.
The manga series premiered in Japan in the April 12, 2005 issue of Monthly Shōnen Gangan where it is still on-going. Individual chapters are collected and published in tankōbon volumes by Square Enix. The first volume was released on August 22, 2005; as of January 2010, eleven volumes have been released.
Produced by Feel and Gainax, Shikabane Hime: Aka (屍姫 赫 Corpse Princess: Red?) is a thirteen episode anime adaptation of the manga series. It premiered in Japan on AT-X on October 2, 2008. The episodes also air on BS11, Chiba TV, KBS Kyoto, Sun TV, Tokyo MX TV, TV Aichi, TV Kanagawa and TV Saitama. The opening and ending themes, "Beautiful fighter" and "My story", had a single release from angela on November 12, 2008.
The series is licensed for North American distribution and release by Funimation Entertainment which is releasing the series as Shikabane Hime. On October 24, 2008, the thirteen episodes began airing online with English subtitles through Funimation's official YouTube, Joost, and Hulu.com channels, with higher end downloadable versions released on the company's own website. Funimation noted that they hope this relatively quick release through online means will help prevent piracy. Traditionally, according to the president of Funimation Entertainment Gen Fukunaga, "by the time a licensing deal is signed to bring a series from Japan to the U.S. the episodes are already available as illegal downloads."
A second season, titled Shikabane Hime: Kuro (屍姫 玄 Corpse Princess: Black?), aired in Japan between January and March 2009. Episode 26 of the series, or Kuro 13, was released as a DVD only episode in August 2009.
- "Shikabane Hime comic list" (in Japanese). Square Enix. Retrieved 2008-11-26.
- "Shikabane Hime Confirmed as Gainax's New TV Series". Anime News Network. 2008-05-25. Retrieved 2008-05-27.
- "Shikabane Hime: Aka (TV)". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2008-11-26.
- "Official Starchild's CD Release Page" (in Japanese). Starchild.
- "Funimation Confirms Shikabane Hime: AKA Acquisition". Anime News Network. 2008-10-20. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
- "FUNimation Entertainment Acquires Shikabane Hime: AKA for North American Release". Anime News Network. 2008-10-20. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
- "Shikabane Hime: Kuro TV Anime Confirmed for January". Anime News Network. 2008-11-12. Retrieved 2008-11-12.
- "屍姫 第八巻(仮) 【初回限定版】 (DVD)" [Shikabane Hime Volume 8 (limited edition) (DVD)] (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
- Official Square Enix Shikabane Hime website (Japanese)
- Official MX TV Shikabane Hime anime website (Japanese)
- Official Starchild Shikabane Hime anime website (Japanese)
- Official Gainax Shikabane Hime anime website (Japanese)
- Official Funimation Shikabane Hime anime website
- Corpse Princess (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia