Anime Review: Shiki Episodes 13, 14, and 15

(Originally published on Livejournal on 11/14/10)

Anime Review:
Shiki Episodes 13, 14, and 15

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.13 tl;dr review: Toshio’s wife falls victim to the vampires; Natsuno, too weak to resist any longer, gives in to his fate.

Assorted video captures from the episode – click on each picture for a full-sized view in a new window:

Episode 13 Synopsis: Natsuno, weakened and unable to move from his bed, appears to give in to the inevitable, accepting his death at the bite of his friend. The doctor, still trying to find a way to thwart the vampire threat, learns that his wife has fallen victim, and decides to take care of her alone. Seishin suspects that his invalid father, the head monk, knows more that he is letting on. Kaori and Akira, saddened and angry at Natsuno’s passing, vow to fight on, but Megumi has other ideas. As Toshio continues to alienate those around him, his wife passes away in secret, and he awaits the impending transformation.

ep.14 tl;dr review: Death comes to Kaori’s door; Toshio goes all mad-scientist on his wife.

Assorted video captures from the episode – click on each picture for a full-sized view in a new window:

Episode 14 Synopsis: Kaori and Akira’s father, who has been targeted by Megumi, has fallen dead, and they call upon the strange new clinic on the edge of town to take care of him. Megumi, anxious to see Natsuno rise from the dead, is horrified to learn he may have been cremated instead. Sleep-deprived and emotionless, Toshio begins his clinical study on his secretly-hidden dead wife. As she begins to show signs of revival, he records the observations, then begins heinous medical experiments on her. Completely disregarding her pleas and cries of pain, he tries to find ways to kill her permanently, ultimately driving a stake through her heart. Seishin, arriving at the moment of her ultimate demise, is shocked beyond words by the blood-soaked scene.

ep.15 tl;dr review: The good doctor learns that he is truly alone in his fight; the night is always darkest right before dawn.

Assorted video captures from the episode – click on each picture for a full-sized view in a new window:

Episode 15 Synopsis: As Toshio asks Seishin to help clean up his wife’s mutilated corpse, Seishin simply turns and walks away without a single word. Later, he tries to feel out some of his friends at the local cafe, who outright refuse to listen to him. Visiting the local health department, Toshio discovers is is now completely controlled by the Kirishiki family, who are manipulating the information to prevent the outside world from learning what is happening. Furthermore, he learns he has personally been targeted by Mrs. Kirishiki and may not have much time left himself. At a village meeting all the elders try to act as if everything is normal, avoiding dealing with what they do not want to believe. His blunt and careless attitude towards his staff cost him a trusted nurse, as another one scolds him for his boorish behavior. Just as he has completely given up, believing he is all alone and helpless, Natsuno quietly walks up to him and asks him if he believes in the Rising Dolls. Toshio basically answers yes, and Natsuno walks away, informing him that “You are not alone.”

My Thoughts: Poor Doctor Toshio, pushed the the breaking point, and he realizes it. The only other person in the village who was actively fighting the undead was Natsuno, who has been killed. A rift is growing between him and his best friend and confidant Seishin. His wife is targeted and killed. He has alienated most of the people he knows, the town does not trust him and his staff are distancing themselves as well. Furthermore, as the Kirishiki family entrenches their operations, most of the townspeople think that the best way to combat the problem is to pretend it doesn’t exist. And the only reason he has not been killed so far is because he is personally being saved for Mrs. Kirishiki herself — and he doesn’t have much time left. At the end of the fifteenth episode, he is completely alone and isolated, exhausted and checkmated, all but given up.

But, as the saying goes, it is always darkest before dawn. And I think we may have hit the lowest point in the series. At the very end, Natsuno (undead yet not part of the Kirishiki group) cryptically informs Toshio he is not alone. I bet this is the turning point, and it’s time to fight back.

A few quick notes:
– I understand that Toshio’s wife was one of the undead and that the doctor no longer viewed her as human any more, but the whole torture scene was really difficult to watch. Cutting away with the scalpel made me squirm, the cold, clinical, emotionless approach to it all, she may be undead but as we have seen that doesn’t mean that they are not conscious, thinking individuals capable of feeling pain. The emotional charge was harder to deal with that the graphic depictions.
– Yup, Megumi continues to be as much of a bitch in death as she was in life. Cripes, it’s hard to feel sorry for her tragic, short life when she’s 99 44/100% pure evil.
– The Ebichu Clinic, the Sotoba Funeral Home (even with it’s insipid pink-suited manager), the health office — the Kirishikis have plotted their takeover of Sotoba Village quite thoroughly.
– Wonder why the Doctor has been spared so far? Mrs. Kirishiki considers herself a “gourmet killer”, only targeting certain youthful individuals. Even her acid teasing is a way of toying with her prey before killing it.
– I wish I could say the whole “Let’s ignore the elephant in the room” phenomenon taking place by the villagers was a “Japanese cultural thing”, but I would be willing to bet you’d see the same thing if it occurred in some backwater American town as well. It is so much easier to ignore a problem than to confront it.
– I never realized that Tatsumi (the blue-eared guy) was a werewolf. That explains a few things.
– All in all, I am guardedly considering this the best show of the Summer 2010 season. Of course, impossible to make that judgment until the show has concluded. After all, it could go all stupid-silly like Occult Academy did in the end.

The Verdict:

Summer/Fall 2010 Series Up Next: Legend of Legendary Heroes (13-15), Agriculture Angel Baraki (1), Super Street Fighter IV (OVA), Bungaku Shoujo (Movie), Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru (2-3), My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute (2-3), The World God Only Knows (2-3), Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt (2-3), Psychic Detective Yakumo (2-3), Shinryaku! Ika Musume (2-3), Letter Bee Reverse (2-3), Bakuman (2-3), Otome Youkai Zakura (2-3)

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