The first story. OK. Buddhist holy man is dying, and doing it rather publicly, with his four limbs tied to four pillars do not ask me why. Crowds of invited religious and psychic experts surround his death bed, which strikes me as unlikely. Evil spirit he subdued fifty years back and contained within his own body is due to come out, and various monks and nuns and such-like are there to see that the right precautions have been taken. Uncle Kai attends as representative of the company (the real estate company) that insures that there are no small animals about that the youma can take refuge in. (Possibly fake) psychic guy from the withered branch story, last seen in vol 17 as a sidewalk fortune teller pressing his phone number on Akira, is there too, suddenly presented as the brilliant and talented creator of the animated wooden puppet into which youma's spirit is to be lured. Ritsu is there, don't ask me why again, and Aoarashi in R's dad's body. Is A there as youma-disposal-unit if the doll doesn't work, or is he just jonesing for a meal?
Monk reaches death throes, youma emerges, starts for the wooden puppet and then is startled into flight. What startles him is sensing Aoarashi's vast powers, something Ritsu and Kai didn't take into consideration. It takes refuge in the body of a crow that was apparently on the roof. You'd think Kai's company might have considered the birds as well.
And after that I'm lost. A dead crow comes crashing into Ritsu's garden and he takes it (he thinks) to the temple for safe keeping. One assumes it's the possessed crow. But Kai traces another dead crow to the house of a neighbour and seems to imply *that's* the possessed crow. Whatever, youma has exhausted the body of its first host and finds itself another. Took me until this reading to twig that its new host is the neighbour, an old woman whom Kinu visits weekly as part of the Housewife's Society Charitable Works. Neighbour has become an unpleasant fault-finding shrew who lies to the HSCW people about Kinu's visits.
And there's a cat that wasn't there a week ago. Either this cat is possessed and unpleasant too, or Ima doesn't like cats, because it's not a nice cat. There's a youkai who lives in the hollow spaces in the wall where the rain shutters slide during the day, who regularly closes all the rain shutters in order to make room for itself, but I have no idea why it's mentioned in this story and what connection it has to one of grandfather's stories Kinu was taking to the publisher for a new edition of Uncollected Works, and what it does in the end, unless I'm supposed to conclude it closes a rain door at an opportune moment. Because the puppet is there too, calling the neighbour his mother and urging Kinu to leave because she's in danger and looking like a human being right up to the end; and being totally ambiguous as to whether it's a friend or a foe. And maybe getting caught in the rain door and maybe not: I think an assistant drew that panel.
Why is the youma attached to the dead body of the crow Kinu's unwittingly carrying? Why did all Grandfather's books except the one with the Rain Door Youkai in it disappear from Kinu's parcel? Why did it look like the youma did enter the puppet's body even after we see the crow flying away? No one's telling me.
You can say this for Ima Ichiko-- she does give you your money's worth. Hours of entertainment, quite literally.