Home > Episode Reviews, Shiki > Shiki Episode 8 – And the Little Children Shall Lead Them

Shiki Episode 8 – And the Little Children Shall Lead Them

I’m not certain if Shiki has a thematic reason for emphasizing the role of children and adolescents in its plotline, or whether it was done solely for narrative reasons. Ordinarily, the reason is to appeal to the adolescents who make up the show’s main audience base, but this is a show aimed at adults based on a book aimed at adults, so that explanation doesn’t make sense.

A more likely reason is to emphasize the horror elements: that Natsuno and other adolescents are on the leading edge of fighting back against the vampires only highlights their weakness: They lack the resources and authority that adults would have. Likewise, creepy little children are always more creepy for being little children; there’s something about the corruption of what should be innocent and pure to heighten the sense of wrongness about the situation. (Children may not be all that innocent or pure in real life, but we think they should be, and that’s what matters.)

Sunako continues to push the limits of sympathy, even for an audience who has every reason to find her terrifying instead

Certainly Muroi feels the situation is wrong. It turns out he was, in fact, willing to listen to Ozaki’s theory about the dead rising from the grave, because he has a suspicion about who those dead people might be. He wonders if Sunako’s condition, being unable to go out in the sunlight, is just too perfect a match for it to be a coincidence. And his conversations with Sunako do nothing to assuage his fears.

Muroi has no realized that Sunako’s interest in him may not be all that healthy. Sunako realizes that, old suicide attempt aside, Muroi doesn’t really feel forsaken by God, abandoned or alone. The themes in the books he writes do not, in fact, apply to the author. Meanwhile, Muroi comes to realize that Sunako does feel isolated and alone because of her condition, and that she is also desperate for a friend. She likely came in part because she expected that Muroi would be able to empathize with her; instead, he can only sympathize.

The show continues to use Christian imagery in unique ways. I'm curious if the history of the church will get more attention

Well, sympathize and worry, for Muroi, spurred by the suspicions of Ozaki, doesn’t like where the logical conclusion of that theory lies. He does clearly care for Sunako, and the prospect that Sunako may indeed be a creature forsaken by God is hardly a comfort to him. Even aside from the obvious danger, he doesn’t want for his new friend to be one of the damned.

The main focus of this episode, however, is on Natsuno, Akira, and Kaori, who do dig up Megumi’s grave to find it empty. In some ways, they didn’t even need to open the coffin, as Kaori’s burial gift for Megumi was found in the trees near the grave, and the coffin, when uncovered, had obviously been pried open. Megumi is loose.

I don't know why Tatsumi thought sending a single vampire to stop three people was a proper solution, even if they were only kids

No sooner have they finished than Kaori is dragged away by a vampire, who nearly gets in a bite before Natsuno smacks him in the head with a shovel. The trio leave him there half buried in Megumi’s grave, which seems rather stupid, as he just gets up and walks away later, having cleaned up the site.

The effect it has on the three is considerable, however. Kaori and Akira are too terrified to sleep alone (and don’t sleep well together, either), while Natsuno begins to suffer from the beginnings of PTSD. Thinking for a moment that he had cracked the skull of a living person, and realizing the other things he would have to do to really fight back against the vampires, Natsuno has to come to terms with the nature of fight ahead. He seems to do so, however, and the next day they are out to halt the rise of another potential vampire.

Of course, the kids' solution isn't that much better thought out either. The least they could have done is bury him up to his head and hope he couldn't get himself free until morning

Being outside the house means that he misses a late night guest to his house. His father responds to the door to find an odd looking child there, who insists on talking through a doll (nearly as large as she is) and on seeing Natsuno in person. Yuuki is at first amused, then annoyed, then outright angry, as the child refuses to go home, come back in the morning, or do anything other than wait for Natsuno to return.

Eventually, at the coaxing of his wife and with a desire to get the kid to shut up, he agrees to let the child in, and then agrees to let her brother visit later. (I still don’t know how these second hand invitations work, but no matter.) And then, seeing the gleam in the child’s eye, he moves on to a fourth stage, fear, even if he doesn’t understand the reason. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too late for that to be useful.

I don't know where the Kirishiki's are getting their feeding stock from, but the ones who have come back all seem ... quirky

We did learn some about the weakness of vampires, at least in a practical sense. They may only be killable in specific ways, but that doesn’t mean that they are especially strong or tough otherwise. A blow to the head can still render one unconscious, and a child vampire is still a child in need of someone stronger (a “brother”) to help with the kill. Against a group willing to use lethal force, they can be incapacitated long enough to be rendered harmless.

But when the group opposing them is a bunch of children and even the oldest and strongest among them needs considerable psychological toughening to make it to the end, that concession isn’t going to mean much. Despite the rather glacial pace of the show (barely over 24 hours of “real time” was included in this episode), the protagonists are in a race against time. And how many of them survive could well depend on how fast they can move.

Natsuno is smart enough to know how little he knows, but trying stuff at random is probably better than doing nothing at this point

You can watch the episode here.

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