Home > Episode Reviews, Shiki > Shiki Episode 14 – The Many Different Ways to Die

Shiki Episode 14 – The Many Different Ways to Die

I knew what was coming. The foundations were laid weeks ago; the needed trigger came last episode; it was obvious, lacking a delay due to a switch in perspective, where the latest episode of Shiki would lead.

I knew what was coming. That doesn’t mean I was ready for it.

I think the makers of the show are aware that the audience might not be ready for it either, for the first half of the episode is spent pressing home how dire things are for humanity. In particular, Kaori and Akira—having been tipped off by a gloating Megumi hanging outside Kaori’s window—find their father, dead, on their living room floor. At first it seems like Megumi is just being malicious, but there’s a deeper purpose at work.

I would hope that Mrs. Tanaka would be at least somewhat suspicious of this, but the townspeople are just too trusting as a whole

Their clueless mother, seeing her husband’s body but not fully grasping the situation, proceeds to call the new clinic; as if he were waiting for it, a doctor is instantly at the door, asking to be let in. While Mr. Tanaka had been taken while walking home at night, the rest of the family is normally inside, and apparently even an enthralled victim can’t extend an invitation to enter a house. But the new clinic isn’t just to provide an in-town feeding safe zone; it’s to secure entrance to unsuspecting homes. And it’s obviously working.

The vampires are also getting bolder about preying around the town as well. Obviously, that’s how Megumi claimed Tanaka; Mrs. Kirishiki is also getting bolder (in more ways than one) about finding prey. As the village grows more and more unpopulated, and people increasingly grow uncomfortable with leaving their houses at night, the ones who are still out become easy targets—one of Ozaki’s nurses, just for starters.

Speaking of suspicious: Chizuru Kirishiki knows how to vamp it up in more ways than one, but when beautiful married women head into town like streetwalkers, it pays to be skeptical of their flattery

Meanwhile, the vampires are also extending their reach beyond Sotoba. They’ve been sending teams into some nearby larger cities, to kidnap victims for the newer vampires who haven’t acclimated themselves to hunting on their own. I suppose this reveals their long term plan: to turn the village into a permanent outpost and safe haven, and hunt the surrounding communities as needed. With enough time and patience, they could possibly extend their reach even more.

All this is juxtaposed with Dr. Ozaki, waiting. He knows that it has to take at least three days for a vampire to rise, because otherwise they’d come back before they were buried. But as the fourth day rolls around, he’s beginning to lose his nerve. Concealing her body is problematic enough, and the lack of sleep is getting to him. He’s about ready to call it all off, when the EEG machine begins to register blips of brain activity.

One scene manages to confirm that a) Masao is still around, and still isn't hunting people, b) the vampires' reach is expanding, and c) the Kirishiki's maid is also human. Where these collaborators come from is almost as interesting a question as what will happen to them when the vampires are defeated

Ozaki calls the staff to let them know that the clinic will be closed the next day, and then sets out to work. Seeing the effect of sunlight on her, he quickly realizes that keeping her in a room with windows will be a problem, so he shifts her to the OR, which winds up being far more convenient for a variety of reasons. Setting up a camera, he begins to conduct his research.

And it is research. There is no aggression or hatred in Ozaki’s manner, but no empathy either. He does, in a small concession to humanity, attempt to sedate and anesthetize her, but when none of the drugs he gives her work, he just goes ahead anyway. When she begins to figure out how to talk (and more importantly, scream), he takes the simple expedient of taping her mouth shut. His wife is dead; what is on the table is an object of study.

Just so we're clear: This is not an episode for the squeamish

His studies uncover some very interesting facts, mainly related to their blood. Despite not having a heart beat, blood does flow through the veins of a shiki, and appears to be the catalyst which triggers their regenerative abilities. It slowly drains of potency, however, but is refreshed when mixed with ordinary human blood. A shiki which does not feed will eventually lose the ability to rejuvenate, and die.

Aside from that weakness, the blood makes shikis remarkably difficult to cripple or kill. Sunlight obviously works, but while Ozaki identifies many weaknesses—shikis are uncontrollably afraid of religious images and certain sounds, for reasons Ozaki can observe but not convincingly explain—only keeping the blood from flowing will put a permanent end to things.

Whether religious iconography causes real pain or just ordinary terror is unclear; either way it's an instrument of torment

That means decapitation, which separates the brain from the blood supply, or blocking the main flow of blood through the body to the head by destroying the heart. So, research concluded, Ozaki finishes off his terrified, pleading wife, and invites Muroi over to help with the cleanup. I doubt the latter will respond well.

I said, a few episodes back, that I didn’t think Shiki came back from its multi-week break with a dramatic enough opening to make up for the hiatus. Well, now it’s reached that point—and a part of me wishes it hadn’t. This episode is not terrifying in a scary-monster-jumping-out-from-the-bushes sort of way, but it is chilling in a manner which illustrates exactly how much of a gem this show is, and why I normally shy away from these sorts of stories.

The last thing Ozaki documents is that it takes several blows to properly drive a stake in

We’ve known for a while how easy it is for humans to die, and how as the Kirishikis’ plan unfolds the ways by which Sotoba’s residents can come into their clutches grows more and more expansive. We’ve known since episode seven what it takes to kill a vampire, and now a human knows it, too. But this episode bore witness to Ozaki letting a part of himself die, in order to ensure his own survival and the survival of his village.

The stakes don’t make the events here any less horrifying, or diminish the impact of the deadened eyes with which Ozaki now views the world. He made it through his work only by making everything clinical and detached, as if it were a real corpse he worked on, rather than his wife writhing on the table. He suppressed his feelings entirely, and he’ll likely never be the same again. There are now many ways to die in Sotoba. Ozaki has chosen the hardest.

Muroi arrives to find two corpses. One of them happens to still be able to talk

You can watch the episode here.

  1. Envy
    November 8, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    The kirishiki’s maid Yoshie is actully the same type of shiki as Tatsumi not human

    • threeheadedmonkeys
      November 9, 2010 at 6:03 pm

      Ah, interesting. I’ve been doing my best to avoid any unnecessary spoilers about the show, so I was going off her eyes. I’m looking forward to when they explain the specific differences between shiki types.

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