Horror has a big problem: balance. Show too little horror and people feel cheated. Show too much and they get turned off by the gore. Shiki tries this balancing act and it ultimately falls apart, but it did its best.

The story opens up in Sotoba, a rural village in the mountains, one of those ‘the road in is the road out’ type of town and everyone knows everyone and everything about everything. Another hot summer has descended and school has concluded for the break. Megumi Shimizu wants out of this place, longing for the bright lights and big city, perhapsTokyo, but she knows that is not going to happen, now or later.

She runs into the mysterious Kirishiki family, who has moved into the massive and impressive Kanemasa mansion that overlooks the town. Megumi disappears and later turns up dead, for no really apparent reason. She was anemic, but not enough to kill her.

Then slowly, ever so slowly, people are dying off. In a place where one or two deaths a year are expected, we are getting into one or two deaths a week. Is there an epidemic? Some kind of contagion?  An undefined disease?

The local doctor, Toshio Ozaki, who took over the clinic from his father, is baffled at what is going on and has no immediate answers. Not even the priest, Seishin Muroi, has an answer. Or does he?Continue reading