Shiki Episode 17 – Village of the Dead
It seems with every episode of Shiki as of late, I go in thinking, “Well, at least things can’t get worse.” At this point, with only six episodes left in the series, I figured that they have to let the good guys win at least a few battles here and there, if only to keep their ultimate victory realistic. I don’t know why I keep thinking that. If there’s one thing Shiki proves time and again, it’s that things can always get much, much worse.
Last episode revealed that Natsuno and Ozaki were going to play a waiting game. The forces against them were such that they needed to delay, whatever the cost, until the vampires lowered their guard. I thought that their resolve would be tested this episode, forcing them to make hard choices regarding the fates of Akira and Kaori. Instead, they are given no choices at all.
The choice instead lies with Muroi, who realizes that a letter his father sent out to the Kirishikis was a specific invitation. His purpose was to let the vampires take him, although the why is unclear. Perhaps, being in poor health, he wanted to try his luck at immortality. Or he might have wanted to offer himself as a sacrificial lamb. Whatever the case, Muroi has been given yet another bit of personal incentive to side against Sunako.
The plight of the village of the whole is also forcefully brought to his attention in the form of Kaori. Coming to him terrified and disheveled, she informs him that while she’s already dug her own grave, but needs some assistance with some other Shinto burial practices. With her entire family dead or missing, she’s just trying to prepare for death as best she knows how.
Muroi realizes that he can’t honestly comfort her while he’s sitting back and letting the vampires overrun the town. He heads to the clinic to join Ozaki … or so it seems, but then he turns around at the last minute to march over to Kanemasa. Late that evening Chizuru Kirishiki shows up ahead of schedule to feed on Ozaki, letting him know before she does that Muroi tipped her off about his continuing plan to fight.
Muroi’s had his pacifist ideals put to the test throughout this whole ordeal, but I cant really follow his train of thought here. The closest thing I can think of is that he’s adopted the nihilistic outlook of Sunako, viewing all deaths as equally horrible. With that vision in mind—with no way to distinguish between “innocent” or “guilty”—it makes sense to side with vampires. Those killed by them have the chance of coming back to a world without death; any staked vampires are gone for good. And the vampires might well outnumber the humans by this point anyway.
The truth, of course, is that some deaths are far more terrible than others, just as some lives—like the “lives” of the vampires, depending on death for sustenance—are more terrible too. The remaining clinic members get picked off one by one this episode, with Ritsuko trying and failing to rescue her fellow nurse Kiyomi from being “moved out of town,” and then getting snacked on by some passing vampires. The tears that pour from her eyes as she robotically refuses treatment vie Kaori’s pleas for “most heartbreaking thing of the episode.”
Another townsperson finds himself chased by vampires down the street, only to find all houses dark and all doors closed. Finally he comes to a possible sanctuary, only to discover that the elderly couple residing there are a pair of returned villagers, who greet the hunters as they drag down their prey. The undead already took over government offices and replaced key services; now they are occupying the town itself, with the dead going to claim the houses they had when they lived. Sotoba is truly becoming a village of the dead.
Is anyone in Sotoba going to make it out alive? That’s no longer an idle question. Muroi and Kaori are the only two major cast members that haven’t been bitten at least once, and I wouldn’t place heavy odds on either of them making it out alive given the current state of play. Absent some form of deus ex machina, I don’t see how humanity can pull out a win here.
What hope there is lies in either Muroi having a secret agenda and only pretending to side with the Kirishikis here, or with Natsuno having a very clever plan up his sleeve that somehow slips past Tatsumi’s watchful gaze. Given that Tatsumi has noticed his existence, the latter is going to be very difficult. Natsuno claims a need to wait until the vampires feel they’ve won. Perhaps he, or someone else in the show, can demonstrate that the vampires aren’t perfectly justified in having that very feeling, right now.
You can watch the episode here.