Home > Episode Reviews, Shiki > Shiki Episode 3 – Inviting Evil

Shiki Episode 3 – Inviting Evil

Well, I’m not quite sure why Funimation delayed releasing the third episode of Shiki for a week, but it was worth the wait: This episode not only corrects my main complaint from last time (the absence of the Kirishikis and the lack of creepiness in general), it goes the extra mile in building a sense of dread at the likely fate of our protagonists. We only have one more death this episode, but new victims have already been singled out.

The death is very important, finally revealing to the audience what was only suspected before: Vampires have come to town. They may not go for the neck, or kill their victims in the act of feeding, but despite these and other discrepancies from the usual model, they are certainly the charismatic yet creepy bloodsuckers of yore. And they are at this town to stay.

If Ozaki knew he's in a horror series, these marks would mean something to him

The victim this time is Nao, seen briefly last episode exhibiting several of the symptoms of the “epidemic” Dr. Ozaki is trying to identify. When her frantic husband realizes her condition has worsened and brings her back to the clinic, Ozaki does a better job of documenting her condition, but knows the situation is hopeless. So he tries, without any success, to see how the “disease” was transmitted.

While our doctor looks in vain for natural causes as the latest resident dies, he misses the crucial hints that point to a more malevolent source. The two odd marks on Nao’s arm? Probably insect bites. That the only odd contact her husband can recall is a house call of the Kirishikis, which ended rather oddly? They never touched, so that can’t be a source of transmission. And who can blame Ozaki for missing the clues? Vampires don’t exist, of course.

I don't speak medical babble, but what Wikipedia checks I've done indicates that all the terminology is being properly used

The major development is how the Kirishikis secure “invitations”: by showing up, making pleasantries with neighbors, and then securing an open offer to visit them some time in the future. Given the almost gloating responses that the Kirishiki’s give upon receiving such invitations, it’s clear that the old restriction that vampires require an invitation to enter a home does apply. Having moved to a small town where inviting new neighbors is just the polite thing to do, they’ve secured an ideal feeding ground.

That’s not the reason they’ve come to Sotoba, however. It is actually Muroi, who receives a nightly visit from the Kirishiki’s daughter Sunako. Muroi, it’s revealed at the start of the episode, is a horror writer, who sets most of his novels in locations clearly modeled after his own home town. Both Sunako and her father Seishirou are fans, and they wanted to meet him in person.

I'm guessing most horror writers don't expect that actual monsters will admire their work—much less imitate it

Sunako comes off alternately as charming in the way that all precocious children are, and deeply disturbing. She’s observant enough to note Muroi’s scarred wrist from a old suicide attempt, and co0ly comments that the marks from the wound show he wasn’t trying seriously. Both her and her mother’s character designs feature dark pupil-less eyes, but like their servant Tatsumi’s ears, no one seems to find anything amiss about it.

Apparently she really likes Muroi’s novels, as she was determined enough to pin down his location based on just his name and descriptions of the village. One gets the impression that she and her family are fans of the most demented kind, who intend to act out one of his novels throughout the village as a twisted display of affection. They intend to make his stories of “a village surrounded by death” into a reality. And so far no one knows enough to stop them.

Natsuno's misanthropy isn't caused by frustration and arrogance, like Megumi's was, but instead feels like a defense mechanism

Natsuno’s role in the episode still seems somewhat disconnected from the rest of the proceedings, although one can see how he is slowly being entangled. It becomes clear in this episode that the distance he maintains from everyone isn’t just a matter of showing that he’s better than the local country bumkins; he’s very eager to avoid any level of emotional contact. His refusal to let others call him by his given name is just one example of this.

Why he does this isn’t clear, although it might have something to do with his family situation, but he’s no longer able to get away with it. Feeling increasingly hounded by a presence outside his window and unable to sleep, he slowly accepts the friendship of high school senior Toru Mutou, who seems an all-around decent guy. Using Toru’s place to sleep, however, might be a mistake, as Toru inadvertently dooms himself by offering an invitation to Tatsumi and an unnamed friend to visit in the future.

Toru is the nicest guy in the show thus far. That's not going to help him

I said last time that I wanted the Kirishikis to make themselves known and this episode gave us exactly that. Our villains finally have names and faces (disturbing ones, at that), and their intentions are increasingly clear. The house alone made it obvious that they intended to set up shop for a while, but now it seems like Sotoba is going to become their own personal playground. They don’t intend just to feed for a while and then move on; they want to kill off the entire village, just because they can.

The one sticking point for me is their appearances. Of course, with the “normal” character designs being what they are, it’s hard to know for sure exactly how bizarre Sunako or Tatsumi would look in “real life.” But no matter how polite country folk are supposed to be, someone is going to find a guy with animal ears odd, and Sunako’s actions are sinister enough even without her having dark pits for eyes.

Masao Murasako also has a creepy character design, but in a more natural way. He hates Natsuno, perhaps because he was jealous that Megumi liked Natsuno more than him, or just because he's the sort of jerk who delights in Nao's death and has an irrational dislike of his sister-in-law that sabotages his relationship with his whole family

I suppose that’s an element I’m just going to have to live with—and believe me that I can live with it. Shiki might be a bit cliche in its premise (I’m not well read enough horror literature to know), but it’s well-researched, carefully plotted, and knows the difference between depicting horrors and instilling dread. And there’s more of both to come.

You can watch the episode here.

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