Shiki Episode 13 – Too Close to Home
There are three main protagonists in Shiki: Ozaki, Natsuno, and Muroi. Last episode confirmed that Natsuno was more or less doomed, but Ozaki and Muroi have remained surprisingly insulated, even as they fail to stop the horror unfolding around them. Perhaps due to Sunako’s interference, Muroi and his friend Ozaki have seen both their lives and their livelihoods untouched.
Until now. For whatever reason, the former sanctuaries of the clinic and the temple are now clearly hunting grounds. An assistant priest shows clear signs of being fed on, and Ozaki’s mother comes to her son with disturbing news: Ozaki’s wife Kyouko, who has shut herself in her room for the past few days, now seems to be in a terminal state. The last remaining sanctuaries of Sotoba are being infiltrated.
The infiltration seems to have gone far beyond home invasion. Pawns of the Kirishikis have already set up an alternate clinic in town, and taken over the main records office. Now a funeral parlor joins the list, perhaps for the sake of irony (or to ensure that the bereaved don’t cremate their lost family members). Combining that with late night attacks in the increasingly deserted streets, and there are few places where the vampires can’t reach.
Unlike in some of the previous episodes, all three protagonists get roughly equal time. Natsuno finally expires, a part of him still hoping that Toru will choose to do the decent thing and flee Sotoba with him, but he knows in the end that he’ll never leave alive. His father finds Natsuno’s body after reading a note from his wife (written under vampiric compulsion) explaining that she’s leaving him for letting his son die.
Muroi accompanies his ill father, Shinmei, to visit Tokujirou Yasumori, the last living member of Nao’s immediate family, and thus the last victim on her feeding list. Based on the lack of words between the two, it’s clear Shinmei understands that his friend Tokujirou will die. And based on the questions Shinmei asks on the way home, Muroi begins to wonder if his father has seen a situation like this before.
He also calls up Ozaki to see if he wants help protecting his wife from further attack. Ozaki says no, just as he waives off offers from his staff to help treat her. Such an insistence toward his staff could be explained by keeping them ignorant (and thus off the vampires’ radar) until Ozaki is ready for serious counter-measures. But turning down Muroi’s assistance seems unwise in the extreme.
Of course, Ozaki can’t protect his wife by himself, and some vampire (probably Tatsumi) finally drains her dry while Ozaki is outside of the room. The catch is that Ozaki doesn’t announce this to his staff at all. Instead, he pretends that things are going fine, even as he surrounds Kyouko’s body with ice bags to preserve the body and keep it from smelling up too badly.
It is only in this final scene that Ozaki’s stubborn insistence on going it alone starts to make sense—a horrifyingly cold-blooded sense. What has Ozaki wanted all this time? A “live” shiki on which to experiment, to test and torment until all their weaknesses are revealed with scientific rigor. And now, in the person of his dead wife, he may very well have one, all to himself. Muroi, with his reservations, is not around to stop him.
It’s a solution of staggering simplicity, and cruelty. Natsuno died because he couldn’t turn on his only friend, even as that friend turned on him. In the end, his humanity got in the way. Muroi, in his sympathy for Sunako, finds himself unable to respond to the shiki infiltration with the ruthlessness required to keep his town or coworkers or friends alive.Yet Sunako plans to eat him too, in the end.
Only Ozaki has committed himself fully to defeating the monsters, even at the risk of becoming a different sort of monster in the process. Will he be strong enough to torture his wife back to death, even as she returns to him clueless and pleading for help? In a show which has often provided moments of genuine horror and despair throughout its run, that might prove the king of them all.
You can watch the episode here.