Felt like I turned the corner on this one.
Emotionally, I took the fun loving character of Himawari, and developed her into an agent of the shadows. I think that highlights her evolution in character and skill-wise into the elite. Story wise it signified development into one of the future torch bearers of the next generation.
Technically, I remember diverging from starting with line-art and jumping into swathes of colors. Instead of staying in the lines, it made me think more in terms of saturation and hues, and with the grey scale nature of the image, I think I could really focus on the values and lighting.
I tried to focus on minimal colors to bring attention to the eyes, and give the feeling of someone emerging from the shadows. 'Shunshin'-esque.