I started watching Shiki sometime this past week. It had been on my radar for a while and I figured it would be a good show for the Halloween season. Last night I ended up binge watching at least the last third of the show. I would really recommend people watch this show if they have any interest in the horror genre. I wouldn’t call it perfect or anything, but I felt it was pretty damn good and I thought those last episodes hit pretty hard. I wanted to get some thoughts down about the show. There be spoilers of course, so if you want to go in with only minimal knowledge I would stop reading here. Fair warning though, there are a LOT of named characters, so it might be hard to keep track of them all.
One of the reasons I think the show isn’t perfect is the fact that it seemed like they wanted to show the Shiki as sympathetic throughout most of the series. Showing Masaou and Tooru not wanting to feed at first, repeatedly making the point that the Shiki are only doing what they need to survive. While I feel the show’s intent was to make us sympathize with those characters I really just didn’t. I don’t know if it was just because I was watching the dub and some of it was lost that way, but given the fact that the Shiki claim to be doing what they need to do in order to survive their goal is still the conversion of the town. When the option of willing donations is even broached by Natsuno the idea is dismissed, though there is the possibility it’s mostly because Tooru thought he could save his family by following orders. And seriously, I get Megumi wanting to get away from the village, but damn was she unlikable for the most part.
The end of the series is when I started to feel more sympathetic towards the Shiki. I guess pity might be the better word though. Those last episodes were rough, and the first of the two special episodes particularly so. You really start to feel sorry for all the Shiki that are dragged out into the sun and staked. I think a part of that feeling comes from the fact that while you know in the back of your mind that they must have fed on a human at some point, you don’t actually see most of them do so like you see Megumi attack several people. I think that disconnect helps you pity the nameless mass of Shiki during the extermination.
Of all the Shiki in the forefront, the only one I really felt bad for was Nao. I thought they did a good job of giving her a backstory, a woman with a horrible childhood who found happiness as an adult with her family as a married woman. When she is killed and rises up she systematically kills that family one by one. We are shown though that this is not a case of mindless killing for food though. This is a woman who doesn’t want to be alone, she is hoping that she can be reunited with her family only to have none of them rise. The special episode I mentioned primarily deals with hunting down the vampires hiding in an irrigation system and how the humans take on the job(here’s a hint, sometimes not in the best of ways), but also deals with Nao breaking down.
Another interesting side story in the final episodes is that of Ritsuko. While the show had made a point earlier in portraying Tooru as someone conflicted with his new nature, Ritsuko is not conflicted at all. Instead, she adamantly does not give in to her new state of being, and suffers through the hunger in order to save her fellow nurse. Thinking about it now, it’s actually pretty well done the fact that she is paired up with Tooru upon awakening. Early in the series it’s shown he has a crush on her, but looking past that it’s the fact that Ritsuko actually follows her conviction and doesn’t feed in the short time she is a Shiki. He fought his urges but eventually gave in, where she suffered until the end to keep to her conviction.
Before I watched the show I had watched some of the clips that Funimation has for the show. One of those clips is the experimentation by Ozaki on his wife. Watching the clip the first time was kinda messed up, but given a little more context made it more so. One thing that was missing from the clip is the fact that his wife had just awakened and had no idea what she was. Here she is, strapped down without any knowledge of whats going on. She can’t even speak at first, and when she start regaining the ability to speak the doctor tapes her mouth closed. There isn’t even any attempt to explain the situation to her either, the doctor just goes about his job like a robot. I thought it was a pretty powerful scene.
I LOVED the scene where Ozaki FINALLY reveals the existence of the Shiki. I was actually getting angry at the show when shortly before the doctor had been bit, even though I knew the scene was coming up. It was just great, him baiting Chizuru into going to the festival, a crowded place surrounded by religions imagery. When the reveal is made that he has two bites, the one Chizuru gave him and another previously unknown bit on his arm, and the smile he gave her when she saw that he was not under her control was perfect. I actually said out loud, “Tear her apart”, when the villagers turned on her. Like I said, I don’t think the show made most of the Shiki that sympathetic.
Fuck Seishin. Seriously, fuck that asshole. He was a traitor to the humans most definitely. For a while I wasn’t sure how long he was going to waver, but I thought he would eventually fight for the humans in the end. Seeing Kaori covered with dirt, half crazed after digging her own grave and asking for a posthumous name(not quite sure about that right there) would be the turning point where he realizes that he needs to stand with the humans despite the Shiki only doing what’s in their nature, right? Nope, the bastard essentially says a distant goodbye to his friend and goes to the Shiki. I understand not wanting to kill either side, it would have been a noble goal to attempt to achieve. But to me it didn’t even look like he attempted anything like that, he essentially listened to Ozaki and Sunako and chose Sunako. Maybe there was some depth I didn’t catch on related to his suicide attempt before the show started. If so I don’t think it came across that well.
Some minuses about the show are a few parts that I felt were kinda missing. The two kids, Kaori and Akira, were a big part of the show for a while. Then Akira goes missing and nothing is shown of his fate for a while and Kaori breaks down. After Kaori kills her father, neither kid is shown for a while until it shows Kaori waking up in the hospital with Akira by her bedside and Natsuno standing there as well. You can only guess that Natsuno had something to do with it, but no explanation is given.
It’s also sometimes a little confusing sometimes keeping track of what events are going on when. The show has some slight non-linearity in what it shows, grouping some events together more as they are related as opposed to when they happen. That coupled with all the names, besides the most minor of villager or Shiki it seems that everyone is named, that are thrown at the viewer add a little difficulty keeping up sometimes. Not that big of a minus really, it just means you have to really keep up or admit to yourself that you are never going to keep all the names straight. Guess which option I chose.
Who’s idea was it to put Willy Wonka in as a vampire. Seriously.
Well, that’s enough writing now.