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Shiki Episode 22 – Apocalypse Now

December 30, 2010 5 comments

The woes of Sotoba have been long and heavy, but Shiki continually seeks ways to make the situation worse. The latest offering: a fire, in the recently-cleared-of-vampires Yamairi. There’s no indication as to what starts the fire, but it quickly becomes a full-fledged conflagration.

After all that Sotoba has suffered so far, a fire seems like insult to injury. But it’s a problem even beyond the usual way: a fire will attract outsiders from the neighboring town of Mizobe, who, if they come early enough, will discover blood drenched villagers and mounds of corpses. Or, they can try to stall bringing in the fire crews, only to risk having all of Sotoba burn.
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Shiki Episode 21 – Escape Routes

December 28, 2010 1 comment

For the last two episodes, the question hasn’t been whether the humans will win, but how many more casualties they’d suffer in wiping out the vampires and what moral lines they’d cross in the process. Strangely enough, we don’t see any repercussions from Ookawa’s murder of a poor hypnotized villager; but (with one flagrant exception) we don’t see the practice expand either.

This episode, mostly, isn’t about the hunters at all, but about Muroi and the pull Sunako exerts on him. Muroi’s own personal regrets and fears are finally outed in this episode, and as well as at least some some of the repercussions of them. Needless to say, none of it is for the good.
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Shiki Episode 20 – Heart of Darkness

It’s hard to tell how many humans are fighting against the shiki, but we do know that there are lots of them. With the shrine as a night-time base of operations—so full of religious images that the vampires can’t approach it—and virtual immunity during the day, the preliminary scouring of the town eliminates (by Tatsumi’s estimation) 30% of the nocturnal nightmares, and that’s before the villagers discover an underground lair. The hunt is going surprisingly well.

Perhaps too well. In the flush of victory, the living population of Sotoba is getting far too comfortable with making human-looking things dead. No one is painting themselves or dancing around bonfires with spears, but the veneer of civilization is rubbing off from the villagers. And each line crossed makes the next one easier.
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Shiki Episode 19 – The Other Side of War

I said last time that an open war was about to break out between human and shiki, and on the surface that’s what happens here. The residents of Sotoba are woken from their dogmatic slumber and come to grips with the vampiric assault on their town; the vampires go on the defensive as they plan to retaliate, and both sides prepare to a campaign of attack and counter-attack following the cycles of day and night.

But even now, there are resisters. Even now, there are those who balk at the prospects of facing loved ones on the other side, of the physical act of hammering a stake into a writhing, screaming victim. Ozaki calls it nothing more than putting corpses back in the ground, but not all townsfolk agree.

And, unlike with zombies, or even the vampires of other tales, these vampires are human enough, close enough to what they were before, that this hesitation makes sense. In the end, war—particularly given the openly brutal elements through which this particular war must play out—requires a violent resolve beyond what some of the villagers can stomach.
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Shiki Episode 18 – Being Kind to Be Cruel

December 2, 2010 2 comments

Last episode took the situation in Sotoba to as low a point as it could reach without ending the show entirely with the vampires triumphant. In fact, I specifically noted that if Ozaki and Natsuno couldn’t make their move until the vampires felt assured of their victory, then that time had come. As it turns out, they agreed.

The episode begins with some glimmers of hope. Tatsumi visits Natsuno, residing in his family home alongside his now insane father, to confront him about his various acts of defiance toward the Kirishikis. This includes the suspicion of helping Akira escape, making it likely that both he and his sister are somewhere safe. That’s the first piece of good news in while.
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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.
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Shiki Episode 16 – Family Matters

November 19, 2010 2 comments

Shiki continually challenges the basic expectations of exactly what becoming a vampire does to someone. On the one hand, the personalities of the recently deceased seem to mirror what they were when they were alive. So Toru is still something of a softy, Megumi still a vicious brat, etc. Mr. Tanaka, just recently risen, still places a keen value on his relationship with his family and their well-being.

Yet they are monsters now. What makes the existence of Shiki so troubling is not that they turn into soulless things upon arising. Were they just demons wearing the skins of the dead, then we wouldn’t need to feel pity or sorrow for them. Rather, it is the hunger for blood that leads them to damnation. Their need drives them to commit atrocities again and again; the only distinction between Megumi and Toru in the end is that Toru still feels regret.
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