Sakaki Shio was always one of the more enigmatic characters in the main cast. We’ve seen little bits of his personal life, but not to the degree of the other masters. I thought it was a shame, since he was always one of my favourite characters. Now we’ve finally seen what made him the person he is, and I have to say, I liked his flashback a lot.
You have to hand it to this series for keeping People-Who-Kill vs People-Who-Don’t fairly fresh after nearly 300 chapters since Yami was introduced. I don’t remember any of the other relationships being exactly like that of Sakaki and Hongo Akira, a pair of old friends torn apart by the ideals of Yami itself. I can imagine that everyone in this series has their reasons for following their beliefs, but this flashback worked so well for me because it was perfectly clear why these two ended up the way they did. The thought of killing one of their allies to prove themselves to Yami put everything into perspective for them, but in very different ways.
I once thought about why someone like Sakaki would choose a style devoted to saving lives. For me, the most shocking thing in this flashback was not that Suzuki was going to die (because, you know, flashback), but that Sakaki actually was considered for Yami at one point. This goes a long way to explaining his way of life, because even his masters wanted him to take up the Killing Style. The fact that he chose his current path despite everyone encouraging him against it is a good indicator of his character. It shows the kind of strength and determination someone like him really has more than any fight could.
One of the strongest points of Kenichi, I feel, is the intense weight given to the most important fights, and this flashback has helped cement what I hope will be another of those classic battles. I’m aware that Kenichi himself hasn’t been involved much lately (as he’s between mortal enemies at the moment), but it’s also important to give the other characters their own time, and it’s good that Sakaki is finally getting his.
Of course we could enjoy it a little more if you stopped showing Miu’s ass every chance you got!