Fifteen-year-old Megumi Shimizu dreamed of a glamorous life in the big city; however, her unexpected death in the quiet village of Sotoba marks the beginning of what appears to be a ferocious epidemic that turns the hot summer into a season of blood and terror. A young doctor named Toshio Ozaki begins to doubt the nature of the disease and comes to understand that to discover the truth, he must abandon his humanity. Meanwhile, Natsuno Yuuki, an antisocial youth from the city, is haunted by the sudden death of Megumi and must realize the pain of friendship in the face of his own tragedy. Toshio and Natsuno form an unlikely pair as they work together to save Sotoba before it transforms into a ghost town of vampires.
Shiki, adapted from the horror novel written by Fuyumi Ono, goes beyond the average vampire story. It tells the tragic tale of survival in a world where one cannot easily distinguish between good and evil. Abandoned by God, the Shiki, as the vampires call themselves, have only their will to live as they clash with the fear of the paranoid/unbelieving villagers. Shiki explores the boundary that separates man from monster.
Vampires have been enjoying quite a renaissance in Western media lately, mainly because of the advent of Twilight. In anime however, tales of bloodsuckers have been pretty constant over the years, but like the West there has been an increase in the number of stories involving the children of the night. The only problem is, they all seem to romanticise vampires by giving them kind, gentle personalities, good looks, a reluctance to drink human blood, or some other hook to make the viewer believe that creatures who look on humans as food can be considered friendly.
And then Shiki comes along and blows that whole idea
out of the water.
Originally a two part horror novel published in 1998 by Ono Fuyumi (which was later reprinted in five parts), Shiki was adapted for manga in 2007 by Fujisaki Ryu. Set during a summertime in the mid 1990s, several people in the small town of Sotoba in rural Japan are afflicted with a strange and incurable wasting disease, and the local doctor fears an epidemic may be starting.
Around the same time a new family moves into the newly built Kanemasa mansion .
Shiki may not look the part at first glance, especially because of the colour scheme, but don't be fooled as there is actually quite a deep plot to this series, and while there is a degree of predictability about the storyline, this is balanced some good scripting and a more reasoned narrative approach. One of the things that separates this anime from more recent offerings is that it harks back to older vampire tales, so unlike Fortune Arterial, Rosario + Vampire, and other titles of that ilk, the undead in Shiki are unable to venture out into sunlight, nor are they able to enter a home unless invited, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
In addition to this there's an intelligence about the story that materialises in some interesting ways, from the doctor's logical approach to the town's crisis, to the strangely normal reactions of the local women at the beginning of the penultimate episode. Shiki could readily be compared to Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni as it explores certain aspects of human psychosis over the course of the series, and it's pleasing to watch an anime that doesn't assume that the audience are blithering idiots.
The thing that may put people off though, is how everything looks. The town and rural scenery are nicely detailed and varied, but viewers may initially wonder at the incongruity of the bright colours, or even the European styled mansion sitting on a hill overlooking the town. Rather than a whimsical approach to the design, this is a purposeful nod at the stereotypical hilltop "castle" that is prominent in a number of European horror stories.
This slightly methodical approach to design also manifests itself with the characters as it seems as though there has been an attempt to include just about every body shape into the series. Now while this adds a nice touch of diversity, there are some rather ludicrous additions which seem a bit out of place in a rural setting (one example is Ookawa Tomio, the owner of the liquor store, who looks like he was built in a shipyard). That said, the one glaring issue is that the vampires are easily recognisable because of their eyes, which is a bit of a shame as there are several scenes where the effect would have been heightened if there was less of a difference between the undead and humans.
As for the animation, the production company Daume isn't really well known in the West, but the work they've put into Shiki bodes well for the future of the studio. The characters generally move well, and while there are some slightly ridiculous body positions and actions at times, there's also a bit more realism about the series since none of the undead can leap over buildings or fly through the air. The action sequences also benefit from this more realistic approach, but there are still a small number of scenes that "bend" the laws of physics at the very least.
One thing that does bear mentioning is the quality and impact of the visual effects, especially the colour scheme, partly because of the variety, but mainly because they provide a number of scenes with some much needed emphasis.
Speaking of which, Shiki features some pretty decent acting, and a number of seiyuu really do put effort into their roles, even if they only have a minor speaking part. Now one could argue that this is to be expected from professionals, but sadly this isn't always the case as there are many anime out there that simply haven't understood that a poorly executed supporting role can spoil the performance of the leads.
The downside is that there are times towards the end of the series where the actors and actresses seem ... a bit too enthusiastic. Fortunately the seiyuu playing the main roles are there to steady things, and their performances are very good indeed.
Shiki is well served by a variety of incidental music, ranging from quiet yet slightly ominous music box pieces to haunting choral anthems, all with some slow techno beats thrown into the mix to round everything out. The series has two opening and ending sequences that, in all honesty, are a bit of a mixed bag. The first OP, Kuchizuke by Buck-Tick, is a pretty angry piece that actually fits well with the theme of the show, but sadly the second OP, Calendula Requiem by Kanon x Kanon, doesn't really work as it's a bit too J-pop for its own good. As for the EDs, the first one, Walk no Yakusoku by Nangi, is a slightly bittersweet track that echoes of triumph, and in all honesty it's difficult to judge how fitting the song is with this anime. On the other hand the second ED, Gekka Reijin by Buck-Tick (again), really does work well with Shiki, and the track is reminiscent of the music produced by some of the "darker" European rock/pop bands of the 1990s.
As for the effects, they're suitably gory when the occasion demands, but even poor effects would be raised by the quality of the choreography throughout this series. Everything from the music, including the OPs and EDs, to the pitch and cadence of the speaking roles, is timed very well, and it's clear a great deal of effort has gone into making this anime an aural experience as well as a visual one.
Now one of the things that is clear from the opening sequence is that Shiki has quite a large number of characters. Normally this would mean that much of the developmental aspect of the storyline would focus on the leads, with the supporting characters reinforcing this growth, but Shiki takes a different line, and it's one that will hopefully be seen a lot more in the future. The main strength of this series is characterisation, and from the bit parts on up, every single role is clearly defined. The advantage to this method is that it's not always necessary to develop a well defined character, and Shiki follows this path almost religiously. While some growth does occur over the course of the series, what's most interesting is how each character adjusts and adapts to the events in the town. Probably the best example of this ethos in action is in the latter half of episode 14, and the methodical approach taken by the local doctor Ozaki Toshio is reflective of the fact that there is a degree of logic and intelligence in the plot.
In all honesty Shiki managed to surprise me. After the recent run of poor horror anime it's pretty obvious that I ventured into the series half expecting more of the same, so when I encountered actual intelligence in the plot, it came as something of a shock. That doesn't mean this anime is perfect though, as aside from the more obvious audio and visual flaws (like not washing off blood), there are several elements in the story that could have been resolved. That said, it's nice to watch a show that sets out to tell a story without assuming that the viewer is afflicted with the moe bug.
The main reason I like Shiki though, is because it doesn't fall foul of the drivel produced by authors of "dark romance", but instead postulates some moral and ethical dilemmas for the viewer to ponder. In addition to this it also highlights the human capacity for adaptation, something which is often overlooked in anime. If you're looking for an intelligent horror, then this series is right up there with the likes of Ghost Hound, Ghost Hunt, and other equally worthy shows.
Given that this is effectively a throwback to the type of horror that epitomises Bram Stoker's Dracula (without certain supernatural shenanigans), Shiki is something of an oddity in anime as the general trend leans heavily into romanticism and moe, and in all honesty I haven't seen a vampire tale this good since Kurozuka, which says a lot more about the anime industry than I can put into words.
"Who's the real evil?" Who cares? It seemed pretty black and white to me logically. (Personally: If you're dead, stay dead.) I didn't feel any sympathy for either side. So I didn't end up contemplating life. Also I already knew humans are terrible. I guess a reminder didn't hurt? (Concept was good enough for bonus points in story rating. But, mainly, the endless blood showers ♥)
I still remember when my brain just said, "Deal with it, it's episode 17 already." The drawing style is unique but I didn't find it beautiful, it was bizarre. I guess it suits how messed up the anime
is but it doesn't change things for me; didn't like it. Bonus points: Managed to live with it.
I actually liked the music and anything sound related, it was the one thing I couldn't complain about. It wasn't painfully out of place or too weird.
Oh wow. In one word, UNLIKEABLE. Most of them were painfully annoying or despicable. Even the kind ones were annoying to me, like that best friend guy that kept crying. I can't explain without spoilers but ask yourself, "Is it worth ruining my day for?" Not really. "Why do that?!" or "Just do it!!" moments are too many a person should ever experience in a single series.
I managed to sit through 24 episodes overall so it's compelling in its own way. Who's gonna die next?? Is everyone a piece of *** or will they actually grow as characters?? Tbh, it actually took me a few episodes to understand what was going on so there's some major potential this could have been shorter than it was.
100% would not rewatch. 6 is actually generous but I base my ratings on concept potential usually. Don't get me wrong, it was compelling enough to keep me interested, BUT, it was compelling in a bad way. I kept watching to see if anyone of those fudgers actually pulls through for me.
Conclusion: If you like messed up stuff, this could be for you.
Everyone's review seems to be raving about how good Shiki is and so I'm just wondering maybe there is something wrong with me. (Well, there must be if I managed to get through this bloody anime without losing my appetite but that's another issue.) Why did I bother to write this you may ask?? I think it might be nice for other people to have some closure that they're not abnormal for not raving about it and that it's not for everyone, I'm like Batman of the anime world. Thanks for reading.
Humans have two sides, the animal side which keeps us alive and human side which builds societies, laws, art. This side makes us what we are. Shiki tries to touch this subject. However, Shiki fails to achieve that on so many levels.
Shiki has one of most boring starts I have ever seen in anime, first episodes are sluggish and uninteresting. While viewer knows what the hell going on from as early as episode 3, characters in anime simply can't figure it out even with such huge evidence. Every character is god damn idiot. Even these Shiki's are idiotic they don't even try to hide their
Characters in Shiki are annoying at worst and uninteresting at best. Given the Shiki's premise, it should be a very character driven show. However, characters are the worst part of the show. It seems people working on this had the competition of How can you make each character as unrealistic as possible while making them as annoying as possible? This is unacceptable. It is not like that Shiki didn't have enough episodes, rather than showing how each character is a douchebag, they could have shown the relationship between various characters making climax more heartbreaking. If characters had enough development for me to care about them, then this would have been very good anime, sadly that is not the case. The only likable character for me was Tomio Ookawa, the person who was killing Shiki's left and right and killed his dead son, probably the smartest character too.
Shiki liked by many because it shows moral ambiguity, let me debunk that myth. Now imagine that this entire village either died or people turned into Shiki's. These Shiki's still need to feed on other people and when they do, that person either dies or become Shiki. Now this will spread like an epidemic, how long do you think human population will last as more and more people will turn into Shiki's and others die. Shiki population will grow with increasing rate and human population will decrease with increasing rate. Soon there will not be enough humans to feed all Shiki's and hence Shiki's will die out. The conclusion is simple that Shiki's are unnatural as they dig their own grave, either way, they are doom for extinction. There not a single carnivorous in the world which would naturally do that kind of thing. Hence by definition humans have more right to live than Shiki's. Because of slow reproduction of humans, Shiki's will eventually run out of food. This premise is very well handled in Parasyte the maxim. There is no moral ambiguity here.
For me, Shiki is a mess of stupid characters playing kingdom kingdom.
Shiki had such an awesome premise, however, from my perspective it fails to do that premise any justice. I will try my best to give a feel for the story, spoiler free of course. The story and artwork just weren't my cup of tea, but I understand some might enjoy this type of story / cast so I will attempt to avoid outright trolling.
I was very disappointed in the story for a lot of reasons. It progresses painfully slow, and the character development eventually drops just about everyone in the 'gray area' between good and bad. So basically by the time the climax comes
around you have nobody to root for. You don't care if any of the main characters survive, shiki or human.
ART / SOUND
This is what ruined it for me. I probably would have enjoyed the story more if the art wasn't so ridiculous. The hair on some of the characters...the hair. It's like Super Saiyans on crack. Gravity defiant, logic defying hair that makes the living humans look undead even though they're still alive. The elderly and even some of the young characters (Masao in particular) look hideous right from the start. It's not scary, in my opinion it's just unpleasant to look at. There's not much to say about the Sound. It didn't really leave an impression. The sound effects weren't always used the best way (I.E. Excessive cracking noises coming from a Shiki that is barely moving it's neck)
A lot of the characters are so incessantly obnoxious to the point where you want them to die. Then they die. Then you realize crap this is Shiki, I have to wait for them to die a second time before I'm through with their BS. Even the characters you like in the beginning betray those good qualities by the middle / end. One more thing, chain smoking doctors aren't cool. You're supposed to be a doctor dammit, save those cigarettes for us non-doctors.
Shiki failed to live up to my expectations. I feel like Shiki never intended to give you a likeable cast. The point of the story is to submerge you in moral ambiguity with a bunch of mediocre characters and slow moving plot. Most likely the goal was to have the viewer ask him or herself in the aftermath of the climax "What was (morally) good? What was bad? Was anybody really in the right?". It's left up to the viewer to decide without the anime deciding which side was 'right' for you. Unfortunately, at least in my case, by the time I got to that point I didn't really care enough about the story, the characters, or the ending to think too hard about it.
Blood sucking, coffin dwelling, and deathly afraid of garlic? While the modern vampire formula has changed, the creatures remain just as scary. Come check out our list of the best 15 vampire anime of all time!