Anime Review: Shiki Episode 21 1/2

Anime Review:
Shiki Episode #21 1/2

What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! — Checking back on the new episodes of shows from 2010. For more information about me and my reviews, click here.

About the series: Shiki is a 24-episode anime series televised in 2010, based on a popular horror light novel series. In the backwater village of Sotoba, a number of unexplained deaths spread shortly after a secretive family moves into town. As the epidemic spreads, at first a disease is suspected, but the truth is much, much darker. More info about the series: Wikipedia Entry.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:

ep. tl;dr review: All work and no play makes Motoko a dull girl…

Episode Summary: Following the lives of a few of the side characters as Sotoba Village falls apart, starting in the heat of summer when Motoka notices that her father has been feeling listless. Soon he passes away, and Motoka comes under the hyper-critical eye of her unapproving mother-in-law. As rumors of an epidemic sweep the village, Motoka’s husband then succumbs, driving Motoka closer to the edge. When her daughter then falls listless, Motoka snaps and rushes to the clinic…only to find it closed. As more and more people pass away, Motoka’s daughter dies followed by the mother-in-law, leaving only her younger son. When he falls ill, she crawls into the bathtub, locks the doors and retreats from reality. Meanwhile, one of the other workers at the local cafe, Kanami, is dealing with her own problems when her dear mother passes away. When her undead mother returns, she tries to shelter her, and offers to supply her with blood to survive. As the fighting breaks out in the village, Motoka emerges after her long-dead son has “melted” in her arms, visiting Kanami, and then in a fit of jealousy over losing her entire family, outs Kanami and her mother to the mob. With revenge the only thought left in her mind, she stumbles through the village before setting herself on fire, ultimately turning the entire village aflame.

My thoughts: Shiki remains my choice for the second best show of 2010, but it also remains a very difficult show to watch as well. This is the second of the DVD-extra episodes, filling in some of the story that takes place between the penultimate and last episodes of the series from last year. While it does not necessarily add anything to the main story itself, this final “half” episode is a fitting end-cap summary of how the village goes from the lazy days of summer to utter destruction over the course of the season — all in just twenty minutes.

Mostly it is about Motoka as she watches her entire world fall apart, everyone she knows dies and her sanity escapes her. It seems she may have been a bit on edge to begin with (especially with the sharp pestering from the ungrateful mother-in-law), but pushed beyond her limits Motoka falls utterly to pieces. By the end, the only course of action is complete destruction as the entire village goes up in flames at her hand — burn everything to wipe every trace of evil off the face of the Earth. Burn, baby, burn!

If anything, this one episode is a blunt reminder that there were no winners in the battle over Sotoba, only a handful of survivors. Nobody wins. Everyone was greatly affected, with only a few escaping with their lives. I don’t think there was ever an episode where I left feeling “happy”, and this last-of-the-last episodes is no exception. Much like the last “half” episode, it was more like a punch in the stomach — powerful and emotional, not for the faint of heart.

The verdict:

For more information:

The Blog-Roll of Reviews:

  • “No other series can emotionally pummel me the way Shiki can. The sheer bleakness of it, the intensity of the wrongness that engulfs everything, is truly intense. And it doesn’t seem to have been blunted by the passage of time.” – Lost in America
  • “Though, this is the exact thing that makes me love Shiki, it looks at the deepest, darkest urges of humans and presents it as plausible course of action. Shiki has definitely been a fun ride for me and I can only wish for more of such series to release.” – Metanorn
  • “Her transformation from cheerful mother to smelly ranting lunatic is extremely rapid and disconcerting. Shiki proves yet again it is not for the faint-hearted. The episodes final moments – in which she is consumed by the flames, grinning from ear to ear – just gave me flat-out c h i l l s, something Shiki does a lot.” – Rabujoi
  • “In the end, Shiki isn’t an effective horror series, but ends up being something just as good, if not better, by sacrificing those chips for the sake of storytelling. I wouldn’t call Shiki a masterpiece by any means, and these OAVs haven’t changed that at all. But I thought it pretty damn good, and pretty entertaining, and this final Shiki Special only solidified that.” – Shinde Iie
  • “Sadly, what with this only having 20 minutes to retell the series, it IS a little bit rushed and extra time would have greatly been appreciated. However, if you’re willing to use a little bit of imagination, this was yet again, a brilliantly powerful episode.” – Meeping Anime
  • “Although this episode doesn’t have quite the same sharp, non-judgemental analysis of the human condition as it relates to both the living and undead, this second bonus instalment is nonetheless another grotesquely compelling take on its core scenario powered along by its largely individual focus to produce a disturbing and occasionally downright chilling depiction of a woman’s complete mental breakdown. As such depictions go it is perhaps a little over-the-top, but it nonetheless adds another layer to the show’s horror mantel to prove its worth as more than just a frivolous bonus episode, and again coming into the episode “cold” rather than as part of a week by week viewing of the series itself only serves as a stark reminder of just how brutal and unremitting the series could be.” – Hanners’ Anime Blog

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