Shiki Review

Shiki (Fall/Winter 2010)

Shiki is first and foremost a horror story, but it also presents its audience with an interesting social experiment to digest long after the show ends.

It's set in a remote area in Japan, in one of those small, close knit villages where everyone knows just about everyone else. Well, vampires begin to make their move, people slowly disappear, and crap starts happening to everyone in the village (humans and vampires included). What happens afterwards really impressed me.

I'll try not to spoil anything, but the town literally goes bonkers. It's the darnedest thing I ever saw, and throughout all the ensuing chaos, I really couldn't pick a side. Everyone (and there were a ton of characters) has a story to tell; the author of Shiki did a really good job showing both sides of the coin in almost every situation and of escalating them to their extremes, eventually leaving each character to face their personal, desperate crisis. In the aftermath, I really just had to empathize with everyone; from the obsessively driven Dr. Okazaki to the wayward pink-haired Megumi, and even the vampire leaders.

If there's one thing for me to criticize - the build up was really, really slow; throughout the first third of the series (it runs an odd length of 22 episodes), I was bored out of my mind. Once the stage was set and the curtains dropped though, I discovered that the payoff was well worth the dreariness. And if there's two things for me to criticize, it's the fact that people just didn't get the hell out of the village ... "I grew up here", was a relatively weak reason to maintain this village's sandbox community; although in retrospect, most horror stories follow that same formula.

Overall though, this was a well thought out story full angst, regrets, and moments of twisted triumph. The look on Dr. Okazaki's face as one of his traps comes to fruition was priceless. The show really juices irony to the max, and produces some really thoughtful moments (and some disturbing ones too), but if you also just want to sit back and enjoy the show, you really won't be disappointed either.

I loved one of the ending lines of the final episode: "So, did we win?" Haha, so awesome.

kenholic rating: 7.5; a story with some real and clever substance; not quite classic quality though, since this show would be hard to re-watch once you've seen its tricks revealed.