Anime Review: Shiki Episodes 10, 11, and 12

(Originally published on Livejournal on 10/30/10)

Anime Review:
Shiki Episodes 10, 11, and 12

About The Series: Tucked away in the mountains, isolated from the modern world is the small, sleepy village of Sotoba. Nothing much seems to happen here, until one hot summer when the residents slowly and mysteriously begin to die. As the deaths mount, the town doctor suspects it might be a dangerous epidemic, but the evidence just doesn’t seem to add up. Others think it might be related to the strange, reticent family that recently built a mansion on a high hill outside of town. Can the mystery be solved before the town is doomed?

ep.10 tl;dr review: Natsuno realizes he’s the next target; Megumi and Tohru close in, under the watchful eye of Tatsumi.

Episode 10 Synopsis: Through a series of flashbacks the events leading up to the attack on the clinic and immediately following are transposed against the events surrounding Natsuno. When the strange child with the life-size doll had entered his room, Natsuno realizes that he’s been targeted. Watchful of intruders, he is surprised when the undead Tohru arrives at his window, who runs away in shame and embarrassment. Natsuno follows, where he encounters the leader Tatsumi, who challenges him. Directing Megumi to come out from the shadows and attack, the two of them slowly corner Natsuno, when he is unexpectedly attacked from behind by Tohru.

ep.11 tl;dr review: Town crazywoman realizes the truth, but the townfolk are doubtful because…she’s bonkers; She leads a mob to the Kanemasa mansion, where she is discredited.

Episode 11 Synopsis: The villagers are getting increasingly desperate for an explanation surrounding the sudden deaths and disappearances. Consulting he doctor offers no comfort, and he does not dissuade them of the idea of an epidemic, realizing telling them the truth would be pointless. Reluctantly some of them turn to the town crazy-lady, who has been ranting about the Rising Dolls, and leads a mob (sans pitchforks) to the Kanemasa Mansion. She confronts Mr. Kanemasa directly, who calmly denies the accusations. The doctor, wisely realizing this is not the right time to reveal the truth, goes along and confirms that Kanemasa is indeed human, making crazy-lady appear crazy after all.

ep.12 tl;dr review: A weakened Natsuno warns Kaori and Akira to save themselves; Natsuno understands his end is nigh.

Episode 12 Synopsis: Natsuno meets with Kaori and Akira, explaining that he has been bitten and warning them to leave while they can. But the two kids are unwilling to listen, vowing to fight on. That night Natsuno once again confronts the reluctant vampire Tohru, frustrated that he acts so much like his former self. Natsumo appeals for some sort of rational co-existence, but the blood-lust is overpowering and Tohru *must* attack. Kaori and Akira visit an ever-weakening Natsuno, much to the disapproval of Natsuno’s father who looks down on the local superstitions. Natsuno does not want to give up, but the strength-sapping ennui is too strong and he can see his end is soon approaching.

My Thoughts: In the battle of “Man vs. Vampire”, it is quite clear that the undead have the upper hand. The Kanemasa Clan have prepared well, specifically picking Sotoba village because of its isolation and local customs, and have placed all the pieces on the chessboard to put their plans into motion. It is clear now that they intend to create their own enclave of the undead, and they might pull it off. The only ones that have any power to stand in their way are Toshio, the doctor, and Natsuno. Up to now, both of the protagonists are the only “rational” people who have figured out the truth of the “epidemic”, working separately to figure out what is going on.

Color me surprised when they decided to essentially kill off one of the protagonists, Natsuno! He’s always been a bit too reckless for his own good, and now bitten in episode ten and weakened to the point of near-death by the end of the twelfth episode, I would be really surprised if he does not succumb. Then again, now that the undead have been more open, we can see that they are not really brainless zombies, but rather very much like their former living selves, so even if Natsuno is turned I wonder just how much of a follower he will be. The blood-lost has so far proven overpowering, if Natsuno does become one of the undead (as I suspect), I predict and epic fight with himself to control his sense of self and attack the clan from within.

A few quick thoughts:

– I really dislike how the show sometimes jumps back and forth in time to present events out of order. I understand the reasoning behind it, to avoid revealing too much of what is really going on as it is happening, but I don’t have to like it.
– The villagers are sheep, Natsuno’s father is a hardheaded idiot, and no one is willing to embrace the possibility of the Risen Dolls. Then again, when confronted with adversity most people are more likely to intentionally *not* accept the truth, because doing so is just too much for them.
– So far Toshio’s wife (who is building an affair with Tatsumi, who in turn is using her to get to Toshio) has only played a tiny role, I’m sure that scheming little witch will show up more in the future.
– The thinly-veiled conversations between Seishin and Sunako take a bit of a dangerous turn as Seishin all but says he realizes Sunako’s secret. Of course, by this time it’s too late, I wonder what Seishin can really do other than observe at this point.
– Heh, Megumi is just as much of a self-absorbed little brat in death as she is in life. You *want* to feel for her, but christallmighty is she a bitch.
– There was a month-long break between the 11th and 12th episodes, and the opening/ending sequences changed at well. That marked the halfway point in the series — we’re now well into the second act, and the mood and pacing are holding up very nicely. Following the shark-jumping events in the final episodes of Occult Academy, this show is replacing the spot as my favorite show of the season. I have high hopes it will continue to improve as it builds to a climax in the upcoming months.

The Verdict: – delightfully dark and moody.

Up Next for Spring and Summer 2010 shows: Legend of Legendary Heroes (10-12), Shukufuku no Campanella (3), Kuttsukiboshi (1), MonHun Diary: Felyne Village in Danger (1-3), Armored Trooper Votoms: Phantom Arc (1), Hen Zemi (1), ToHeart2: adNext (1), Kaichou wa Maid-sama (25-26), Occult Academy (13)

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