Shiki Episode 15 – Choosing the Wrong Side
Ozaki’s actions last episode were, to say the least, controversial. The chilling brutality of his acts, however, gave him the information he needs to work for the salvation of Sotoba village. He and he alone is in possession of the knowledge of a shiki’s strengths and weaknesses; what he needs now is a critical mass of people willing to help him carry on the fight.
His attempts to find them, however, prove fruitless. Muroi, shocked by the scene of violence inside the clinic, walks away from his friend without saying a word. Muroi is too dedicated of a pacifist to raise his hand against even a murderer. That those committing the murders aren’t even human doesn’t affect his calculations.
Ozaki finds no better luck within the town. His regular group at the cafe refuse to listen to his declarations of a supernatural threat, even as he offers to provide proof. And his visit to the village office, which now only runs at night, reveals a happy, bustling place filled with very cheerful vampires, who give him a complete runaround.
Taking over the office, like producing the illusion that many of the victims “moved away,” is all part of the Kirishiki’s larger scheme. By controlling the flow of information to the outside world, they’ve covered up the fact that so many people in Sotoba have died, keeping the district or prefecture governments from taking notice. In such a centralized political environment as Japan, that basically means there is no possibility of outside assistance.
The reluctance of his friends at the cafe is much more difficult to understand. By this time the town is seemingly aware that things are seriously wrong, and has started to take precautions, like staying indoors at night, that indicate at least a latent awareness of the threat. Despite this, and despite Ozaki’s trustworthy status in the community, his friends make every effort to discount his warnings.
What’s particularly odd is that his friends note that their reluctance to accept his words—even coming up with wild counterfactuals to explain the possibility of missing bodies in the graveyard—is based on a priori assumptions. They’ve just been raised not to believe in the supernatural. Yet they clearly know that something is going on that they can’t explain, and that something threatens all their lives. If anything would wake them from their dogmatic slumber, one would hope this would be it.
There seems instead to be some form of fatalism infecting all of them. They know a storm has come, but they hope to just weather it out and hope it eventually passes by. Facing the threat directly would involve not just a challenge to their worldview, but also would force them to direct action. They’d rather go home early and take their chances.
A similar threat, the Kirishikis think, should be enough to keep Ozaki in his place. As he harangues the vampires at the town office, Chizuru Kirishiki makes a personal appearance. She explains that Ozaki is being kept alive because she’s reserved him for herself (she only eats men who tickle her fancy), and she hasn’t gotten around to him yet. If he makes a further nuisance of himself, however, she’s willing to offer him up to her underlings.
Why she doesn’t capture him right there seems like a rookie mistake that any reader of the evil overlord list would know to avoid, but her expectations seems to be justified in the aggregate. Most of the town, after all, has committed to not offering resistance in the hopes of living just a little bit longer, of submitting to evil rather than fighting. Wherever Ozaki turns, he finds people choosing to believe a lie rather than face the
Ozaki, of course, is willing to fight even if it involves seemingly evil acts himself—although the Kirishikis don’t seem to know that yet. The only other person in town with a similar resolve, Natsuno, was killed a week earlier. But as a risen Natsuno approaches the demoralized Ozaki, he is there not to hunt, but to encourage. Ozaki does have an ally, after all.
The story behind Natsuno’s return is still a puzzle to be solved. Where was his body taken? Why didn’t Tatsumi and company take care to keep track of the one person most likely to turn against them when raised? What’s going on with his father? Again, it wasn’t a surprise that Natsuno would rise again, yet still side against the Kirishikis—plot logic could hardly allow otherwise. That doesn’t mean we won’t need details eventually.
Unsolved mysteries aren’t problematic so long as they are eventually resolved. Misfiring attempts at comic relief are problematic, and that’s the best explanation I can give for the carnival that is the new Sotoba funeral parlor. Ostensibly built to pick up the slack for the over-worked (and understaffed) temple, it’s actually to allow the vampires easier access to the corpses, so they don’t have to dig up the bodies of those who will rise every single time. It’s yet another example of how the vampires are trying to cement their position while also maintaining some semblance of normalcy.
And it also joins Chizuru’s wardrobe and many of the character design choices as one of the most bizarre moments of the show. The head of the funeral parlor seems to view his duties as to provide a circus performance, much to the shock and outrage of his audience. Tatsumi has to take him aside and point out that the place should comfort the humans, not aggravate them.
Is this scene meant to show the incomprehension most shiki have to the human concepts of death and mourning? To be a reminder that the Kirishikis are interested in keeping up appearances, even if their subordinates don’t always get the message? I can’t really see any point to it, and it completely ruins the mood. Last week’s episode of Shiki was absolute perfection, so I suppose a drop in quality was inevitable. That doesn’t mean it had to fall this far.
What this episode does do successfully, however, is to remind the audience why Ozaki did the horrible things he did. Unlike practically everyone else in the village, he will not sit idly by while Sotoba becomes a graveyard. When compared to the fatalism of the other villagers, Ozaki’s dirty hands seem somewhat more excusable. For he has chosen to fight. Whatever moral ambivalence the show manages to interject, it still seems clear that this is the right choice to make.
You can watch the episode here.