Nothing To “Shiki” a Stick At
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?
The only one who has a firm grasp on things is Natsuno Yuuki (the purple-tressed person above), who has an inner sense of things, but is somewhat apathetic to events overall, as it really doesn’t involve him.
For me, here is where the frustration comes in. I, as the audience, know more as to what is going on, (and by the end of the first episode) than everyone else. Whether it is because they cannot see it or refuse to see it, it just compounds the situation. True, in this modern age, can one honestly speak of vampires and not have people roll their eyes at you? (Trust me; just say you like the ‘Twilight’ films and watch the reactions).
Even when people are confronted with the truth, they still turn a blind eye to it, as the body count mounts. It is only when Ozaki’s wife dies that he learns the painful truth (and subjects his undead wife to a hideous series of ‘tests’ that challenge who is more of a savage.)
Now, like in any horror movie, there is the climatic bloodbath at the end and it is something of gigantic proportions, which I have seldom seen, and, quite frankly, may just be honestly too much to take in.
The art style in this show is a bit off. Perhaps it is in keeping with the off-kilter stance of the show, but I have never seen such strange and bizarre hair styles anywhere and that includes “Glass Fleet”. I found myself distracted by a coiffure that openly defies gravity. Also, there were a lot of ‘look into my eyes’ shots that got to be equally nettlesome, as they came five and six times a show.
Now, if you are the kind of person who feels that bloodshed equals good viewing, you will like this show, although it is very slow and deliberate as the course of events unfold. I wished for a slightly different ending, but if I want that, I’d need to write my own anime.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 6 (Odd hairstyles and overall fair character design)
Plot 7 (It’s weak)
Pacing 7 (Intentionally slow)
Effectiveness 6 (Gets frustrating)
Conclusion 7 (It ends, but nothing prepares you for it)
Fan Service 2 (A similar shows would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 6 (A good attempt that falls short)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Your teeth in my neck?