On “Shiki” Ground

October 14th, 2021 in Anime, General Reviews by

I often talk about what I don’t enjoy in anime. This is done more than to allow me to rant and rave about ‘slights’ foisted against me and more to let you know that even with this issues, I will not dismiss most anime out of hand (except “Initial D”; it would take divine intervention to plunk me down in front of that.) So when horror raises its head, I am wary.

Most horror is just an excuse to show people being executed in disgusting and painful ways (like “Corpse Party”, a show for the entire family….if you are a family of psychotic killers) and fill the screen with oceans of blood and gore. Now, this particular serving, “Inuyashiki”, at least tries to change things about. It doesn’t succeed, but there is still a good story to tell.

We start off with Inuyashiki Ichiro, a middle-aged, friendless man with an uncaring family. That guy is only 58. It’s not the age, it’s the mileage. He is truly a nameless faceless in society. Adding to his woes, he has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer and will die soon, but he cannot find the words to tell his family of this. Not that they really care about him one way or the other. He’s just old and in the way.

One fateful evening, wandering about in a daze, he is struck by a mysterious explosion in a public park, which is of extraterrestrial origin, and his body is replaced by an incredibly powerful, but still outwardly human, mechanical body. He is kind of like the Six Billion Yen Man, but he is not aware of these new changes and what he can really do with it all. Once he tumbles to it (after saving a homeless man from being beaten by a pack of teenagers), he decides to dedicate himself to doing good, using his powers to heal those with incurable diseases and to also fight crime.

However, at the same time he was squashed, another suffered the same fate. This was high school student Shishigami Hiro. He was aware of what he could do almost immediately but takes a far different path. He, instead, murders people, from classmates that annoy him to innocent families, including young children and infants, just for amusement. Because of both the depraved nature of the violence and the messy nature of it (he does a ton of head shots), his merciless cruelty brings him to the attention of the police. I mean, he does the deed and leaves it all behind for some poor unfortunate soul to stumble over.

The authorities can do nothing to stop him, as he uses energy as his weapons, and it does not take long for Hiro to become the most wanted and dangerous criminal in the country. No place is safe from him (There is one terrifying episodes that puts this to gory and gruesome effect.) The series follows their differing arcs and places them on a collision course to eventually decide their ultimate fates against each other.

Interesting idea, but a lot of toss-offs. The aliens who fix them know that they are doing wrong, but feel it is not their problem (so much for a ‘Prime Directive’) and since they won’t be back this way, it will have to fall to someone else to fix it. I cannot tell if Hiro was murderous before the accident, because his turn to amoralistic behavior is rather stunning and we had so little to go on before he got squashed. One doesn’t even know why he kills, except that he can do it with impunity. What, is karaoke boring?

It’s just when things go south for both of them, they both know what they have to do, resulting in a kill orgy by Hiro and an absolutely brutal comeuppance by Ichiro to stop the reign of terror. It is only when external forces threaten all that they come together to do the noble thing.

OK, you have to get around the violence, not only the sheer amount of it, but the mindlessness of it. There was an old Richard Pryor joke, when he gave a concert in a penitentiary. One of the felons he spoked to killed a house load of people: “Why did you kill everyone in the house?” “They were there.” That’s how I feel about Hiro; he does it because he can and nothing more. That is the true horror of it. It’s not seeing someone’s head explode by the cold-hearted nature of the killer. He does it this way because it works and it’s efficient. No torture, no begging, no second chances. If he wants you dead, you’re dead.

But Ichiro seems unable to turn him away from this path and has to figure out how to use the powers he’s been given to change the landscape, as it were. It’s just for all of Hiro’s awareness of his abilities, Ichiro has none and it really is flying by the seat of his pants. But it is at least one of the more reasoned horror offerings out there and worth a smidgen of your time.

My concern about binging is how much horror can you take in at once? This show is steeped in it and you may not get a break from it, but how things play out really suggests that you take it all in at once. Bring a sponge.

 

On a scale of 1 to 10:

Artwork           8 (The death scenes are produced well)
Plot                  7 (A nice take on an old approach)
Pacing              7 (Runs hot and cold)
Effectiveness   7 (Not enough motivation explained)
Conclusion      8 (It reaches an end)
Fan Service     2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Bingeability    9 (if you can withstand the killings)

Overall            7 (It could have used a bit less gore and glop)

And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. I am no one special.


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