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.
I've seen my fair share of vampire anime; and I have to say, it was under vast number of genres, as well as themes. Shiki however, pulls you back in to what the traditional myth of vampires; added to it that it's a thriller, it will move anyone who's a vampire fan.
Compared to many other vampire themed animes, such as Blood+, Rosario + Vampire, Vampire Knight, and Trinity blood; this anime comes back to the roots of vampires and their myths. In this anime a town is plagued with death with no reasonable explanation; though thought of a possible epidemic, Doctor Ozaki,
the head doctor of his clinic cannot find any actual symptoms related to any known disease, besides Aplastic Anemia, which is the loss of red and white blood cells. As the body count rises, he becomes desperate to find an answer until he comes up to a conclusion, albeit a far fetched one, that it might be a work of Okiagari, or vampires. His next problem then is to convince the village; of course such a mythical conclusion would "never" exist in the rational world. As he tried desperately to prove the existence of okiagari, death sweeps through the town faster and faster, until soon, more than half of the population has been wiped. Still they did not believe him. That is until he killed a vampire, named Chizuru, in front of everyone. Then the vampire hunt begins. There are mini plots within the whole series that I will not divulge, go watch it to see. At first, the anime's plot progression might come up as slow to most people. Even I had a hard time dealing with the first 3 episodes. But it get's really good. The fact that the anime went back to the original vampire myths alone made me smile, such as that they can not enter a home until they are invited in, or that they die if stabbed with a stake at the heart, and the fact that they are UNDEAD; just including those classic myths already got me hooked. This anime has definitely gave back the respect of vampires that Twilight has taken away. And contrast to the other animes I've mentioned, very little gore is shown, at least until the way later episodes, even then, it was there as part of the ambiance, and not for its own sake.
The lines were sharp, and the colors were almost fluorescent. The art of the animation just didn't look like it fits with a subtle setting and plot like that. Not to mention the crazy hairstyles that almost every relevant character had. It was like watching bakemonogatari but with better details. The animation would be more fit for shounen anime in my opinion.
The1st season OP got me the first time I heard it. It was almost celtic, and goes perfectly with the whole theme. The BGM, it was not intrusive, but yet it'll make you want to jump at times; some even sound like something out of the catholic church, which is awesome due to the ties of religion to vampires;the good thing about it is that they also barely use BGM. The 2nd season OP for some reason reminded me of one of the OP's of Rozen Maiden, i don't know why, but I didn't like it as much. The 1st season ED is that like something off a romance anime though, but once you get to the later episodes, you will figure out why. The 2nd season ED I liked because it was indie/soft rock for me, and it was calm yet eerie, which what the anime was about.
There were really only 4 main characters in the anime; Sunako, Ozaki, Seishin, and Yuuki. However, you will definitely be able to tell that EVERYONE is important, even the ones who died, or risen. This is because of the sub-plots, as I mentioned earlier, and they are awesome. However as much as that's a good thing, the downside is that no one really has any room to grow. The viewer really can't see if there is any character progression. However, that really isn't necessary due to the big-picture nature of the plot.
Like I said in the Story section, it is at first slow, but as the people die, and the vamipres close in to the main characters, it becomes a classic thriller. At one point I actually jumped off my seat. This take on the classic vampire is really something that needed to be done.
Basically, if you hate twilight, you would love this. It puts back the vampire's reputation of being mysterious, scary, and are considered "monsters". It went back to the classics of vampire myths, and made it work quite well. I really do hope that this anime becomes a classic; in case everyone needs to refresh that vampire actually DIE under the sun, and not sparkle like a disco ball.
"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.
This is my first review.I'm going to write it because so much people are talking bad about Shiki.But I think Shiki is awsome.It's unique,it has a great storyline.I enjoy watching it !
The story takes place in a village named Sotoba.Sotoba is a quite and peaceful village,till the chain of bizarre deaths started to occur.Nobody knows the reason but more and more people are dying.Toshio Ozaki is the hospital dean and he suspects an epidemic. But what first starts as an epidemic, turns out to be much more. The first episodes might be boring.I didn't really enjoy watching them but later the show really gets
good.There is nothing such as an epidemic the reason of the deaths are Okiagari ( Some people might call them vampires ). Dead ones who come back to life. I'm really glad this anime is here. Because I'm sick of the shows who show only romace between humans and vampires. This anime is different. If you miss old school vampire animes,this is for you.
The art is very abstract and I think the style is unique. Please don't be one of this people who hates Shiki because they say the art is weird. What? They are having interesting hairstyles.Really I never saw so much crazy hairstyles but this is not bad.The art could be better but I like it like it is.
I love the openings! The first opening really fits the anime. To be honest I didn't like it at the beginning but later I just started to love it ! The endings are ok to,but they look like endings of some romance animes. Shiki is just amazing. It has everything !
They aren't much main characters but that doesn't mean other are not important. You don't like Shiki because much people die? Well this is a part of this anime and if you give Shiki a chance you will see that everybody is important. The dead ones to.
Like I said the story is amazing. It's just to good to be ignored. If you still didn't choiced to start watching Shiki you're going to miss something. Clannad or Death Note didn't get popular in one day and look at them now ;)
What is the next thing you have to do? :O
Right go and watch Shiki you will make me and every Shiki fan very happy. If you don't like the anime I'm sorry that I wasted your time. But I think it's worth watching.Do you love Twilight and hate vampires who kill and are "scary" you won't like this.But if you miss old vampire storys without a vampire and werewolf who are fighting for a girl,vampires who can go outside days and they sparkle -__- and stupid " I love you " that is every second sentence in Twilight. Sorry to all Twilight fans but I just want to tell you there is no romance in this anime. Well not that much,but sure there is,so Twilight fans there is something for you to ? ~ :)
Something strange has been going on in the quaint village of Sotoba... Ever since those wealthy outsiders built their lavish mansion at the top of Kanemasa Hill, there has been a succession of mysterious deaths... People of all ages will become lethargic and anti-social, refuse to go to the doctor, and then die after only a few days... Could it be an epidemic? Some new disease? And are the rumors true that the dead are still walking around?
Those newcomers are certainly strange, and Sotoba does have ancient legends about Okomiyagi, or the dead coming back to life...
But those are just stories, right?
Based on a series of novels from 1998, Shiki tells the story of an entire rural Japanese community as it deals with one mysterious death after another, slowly whittling their population down as their efforts to explain it... And hopefully put a stop to it... yield no results, no answers, and an ever diminishing sense of hope. It isn’t until a few open-minded individuals start to consider the supernatural that they finally begin to make some real progress... Unfortunately for them, it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
With a cast of hundreds like this show has, it’s essential that you set aside a special handful of characters for the audience to follow, so we can explore the story from several different perspectives. Shiki has this requirement covered, as it gives us three very different pairs of eyes to look through. First, we have Natsuno, a disgruntled teenaged boy who’s been forced to move into this village with his new wave, idealistic parents. He despises the village, and refuses to make any long term connections, believing that doing so will make it difficult when they finally move back out. Of course, despite his best efforts, a close circle of friends do form around him. In fact, Megumi... One of the very first people to be killed by the mysterious epidemic... Had an obsessive one sided crush on him... and it seems that even death can’t take her away.
Our second leading role is Toshio Ozaki, the director of the primary hospital in Sotoba. Having taken over the clinic from his deceased father, he’s a driven and tenacious doctor who’s initially baffled by the amount of people inexplicably dying around him, and having come up against a challenge like this, he will stop at nothing to overcome it... And I mean nothing, as his quest for a solution leads to him experiencing and performing some of the cruelest acts imaginable.
And our final lead is Ozaki’s childhood friend, Seishin Muroi, a local priest and a moderately successful author. His novels tend to be on the poignant side, dealing with subjects like loss, betrayal, and abandonment by God. This attracts the attention of Sunako, the little daughter of the newcomers, who’s apparently a huge fan of his work. He forms a connection with her over time, as his pacifist religious beliefs gradually lead him to develop a sense of sympathy for the beings that his best friend Toshio has sworn to destroy.
The rest of the cast is made up of smaller roles, the basic types of people you’d expect to see in a tightly-knit little community... You have business owners, rebellious teenagers, concerned parents, comfortable elders, nurses, teachers, happy go lucky children... All of whom deal with the growing problem in their own unique ways. And for such a large cast, the dub is surprisingly on point. It”s a Funimation effort, but it’s a really odd Funimation effort, where the lead characters are all portrayed by actors that you normally wouldn’t see attached to such high profile roles. Toshio is played by David Wald, a long time actor who’s somehow stayed completely off of my radar until just now. I’m going to have to keep an eye out for him in the future, because he rasps and grumbles his way into the jaded, chain smoking doctor as though he was born to play the part.
Seishin Muroi is played by John Burgmeier, a man who rarely ever steps out from the technical side fo a dub for anything other than a bit part... He directs, he writes, but when he acts, his subdued performances are normally outstanding. He plays down-trod, broken men as though it were a second language, and his role in Shiki is probably one of his best voice performances since Gunslinger Girl. Jerry Jewell also does a commendable job on Natsuno Yuuki, and you’ll find pretty much every Funimation voice under the sun sprinkled here and there... Hell, even Anastasia Munoz gets an appearance... but the star of this dub has to be Cherami Leigh, who plays the ominous Sunako, who looks very much like she was taken directly from a Katy Towell cartoon. I wish I could tell you why her performance in this role is so perfect, but to go into detail would mean giving away some serious spoilers.
There’s at least one bad egg in the dub, however, and surprise surprise, it’s Tia Ballard. Tia plays the role of Megumi Shimizu, a sixteen year old girl who dreams of getting out of her quaint, suffocating home town and going to a college in the big city. And she will not shut up about it. I know that in anime, non conformists are often portrayed as loud, disruptive nuisances, and they did a very thorough job of it with this character, but when you combine that archetype with tia’s shrill, screechy voice, she single-handedly renders the first episode almost completely unbearable. Thankfully, she only really has a strong presence in this episode. Spoiler... She dies in it.
Now, when I tell you that this story is about a small group of protagonists struggling to put a stop to the mysterious deaths happening all around them, with ticking clock being their worst enemy, you may think that concept sounds suspiciously familiar. Well, that’s because you’ve seen this same plot before, as Another and Hell Girl: Two Mirrors have both tried... And failed miserably... at making you care about it. But where those two regrettable shows failed, Shiki succeeds with flying colors.
Unlike Another, Shiki doesn’t make over-the-top, ridiculous spectacles of it’s death scenes, choosing instead to focus on word of mouth and the sad faces of relatives, so that it can liberally float between tragedy and statistic depending on the tone that any given death calls for. And unlike Hell Girl Two Mirrors, Shiki paces itself, putting just enough time between each death so that it can drain the hope of the viewer, little by little, as it spirals down towards one hell of a catastrophic ending.
And with that manipulation of hope, Shiki is one of the most well executed horror anime titles that I have seen in a long time. There’s almost no filler in it’s entire 24 episode run, as every single event that occurs has a distinct purpose, and is placed exactly where it needs to be in the narrative. The first ten or so episodes are admittedly slow, building up the tension in the village to an almost OCD-like degree. Very few answers are found here, as tragic death after tragic death drives the residents to either blind paranoia or complacent acceptance of fate. By the second half, the nature of this menace has been all but revealed to the audience, even as our three main characters slowly come to terms with a truth they know they shouldn’t accept, and with a terrifying threat that comes to face them almost immediately after they come to face it.
It’s a brilliant, gripping story that will have you skipping through the otherwise beautiful openings and closings just so you can catch the next development as quickly as you possibly can. While you may find yourself hard-pressed to experience any emotional reactions through the majority of the story, as death will inevitably become commonplace in this kind of story, there’s enough disturbing, unsettling material in the final act that will not only horrify you, but will also completely subvert your expectations of a horror story.
As much as I would love to continue to praise this series, and call it one of the most excellent horror titles i’ve ever seen, I can’t. It’s time to talk about the artwork and animation, and I can already feel my hand reaching out to grab hold of my bottle of Haterade. Why? Because this is one butt ugly show.
Okay,. maybe that’s not fair of me... It’s not the artwork itself that’s bad, as it doesn’t look sloppy or anything. If anything, the backgrounds and environments are easily on the high end of the scale. No, what I really have problems with is the art design. The characters look ridiculous, with angular faces and giant, cartoony eyes, and so many bizarre, gravity defying hairstyles that even a Pokemon animator would say “Hey, dial it back a bit!” No, you know what? Forget Pokemon. Looking at Shiki’s character designs is like watching someone from Clamp come up with their own Yugioh Spin-off. It would be okay if this were some wacky comedy, but it’s not... Shiki is a mature, poignant show that asks you several profound questions and dares you to come up with your own satisfactory answers.
And if you really want to see this show go from ridiculous to horrifying in the blink of an eye, just wait until one of the characters starts to cry. These characters don’t cry the way normal anime characters cry... They cry thick, opaque marbles of liquid that could make a serious claim at being one of the scariest elements of the show. If you were to take a frame of it out of context, you’d think you were looking at an image from some ill advised Eiken sequel... And no, I am not even remotely joking about that. The art design of this show is distracting as hell, and took me out of the story more times than I can count. And the animation quality is no prize either... It’s one of the cheapest looking shows that Bones has ever produced, and if you know Bones, you know how big a claim that is.
In spite of this, Shiki is a very strong anime title that has a lot to offer you... It’s bold, thought provoking, and without a single hint of pretense. It succeeds at exploring ideas and concepts that cause other shows to flop face down onto the floor, and if you’re looking for a very broad hint at what these ideas are, one of those floppers is my old arch-nemesis Blood C. Unfortunately, with an irritating first episode and a constant assault of distracting and sometimes even inappropriate eyesores, you have to put up with a lot of abuse to appreciate this show, so I really can’t see it reaching the level of quality that it deserves to. It’s still a great show, and I strongly recommend checking it out, but I can’t give it any higher than a 7/10.
Shiki, or Corpse Demon, is effectively the story of a village in the middle of nowhere being subjected to a mysterious string of unexplainable deaths. If you want to watch this anime and go into it 100% spoiler-free, even though this is not much of a spoiler at all, look away now.
The deaths are, of course, being caused by vampires. While they take their sweet time coming out and saying it, it's pretty obvious from a really early stage. But don't tell any of the characters that, because they don't half take their sweet time working it out. Over half the story is dedicated to
watching the cast struggle to grasp something you worked out by the second episode, which is effectively this show's most crippling weakness.
Now stop. Do not hit the "Not Helpful" button just yet. Before you have a knee-jerk reaction to this, let me clarify my point quite firmly: No, I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, think that assuming the existence of vampires to be true is a logical conclusion. Not by a long shot. However, there are several very simple logical steps they should have gone through that would have lead them to it.
The most glaring of these is shown through Shiki's focus on the medical aspects of the show. One of the few things that sets the story apart from every other vampire story is that we see the doctors dealing with all the deaths trying to work out and explain what is going on. This would be a lot more compelling if they didn't miss an obvious sign. They promptly go through every aspect of the deaths, but leave one thing out: every victim shares a pair of bitemarks on their neck. Aside from the symptoms themselves, this is the only thing that every single victim has in common. But the medical staff don't even try to explain it. On top of that, every patient died of severe anaemia, but had no rational way of losing so much blood. Except the bitemarks, the only possible explanation and a plain and simple way of putting the only two loose ends together.
Now, once again, let me clear this up: I do not think that the bitemarks shoudl have instantly made them realise vampires were behind this. But so much about it makes it clear that vampires would have crossed their minds. Even if they initially brushed it off as implausible, they would have thought of it. Instead, this thought takes a long time to occur to anyone, and when it finally does, they are bizarrely accepting of it.
But even once they do realise it, they have to spend a long, long time convincing everyone else. In troper terms, this effectively leads to the villagers Dying Like Animals from sheer stupidity. Which leads to a highly drawn-out stretch of episodes consisting of Dr. Ozaki trying to stop the villagers from essentially jumping headfirst into their own graves.
On that note, the characters of Shiki are, to put it generously, less than likeable. There is only one personality in the entire series that is simultaneously interesting and does not make you want to punch them in the face, and that is Dr. Ozaki. The remaining cast are either boring, or sociopathic for no apparent reason. There are also a small handful inbetween who are mildly interesting but very stupid. Effectively, this is both the best and worst thing about Shiki. On the one hand, the cast is utterly insufferable. On the other, they die. A lot. And it manages to be gloriously, gloriously cathartic.
It is also what makes Ozaki such an empathetic character. Ozaki is the only sane man in the entire village. And he is just as frustrated as you are at their complete lack of survival instinct. Also, despite some earlier absences of common sense, Ozaki really manages to pull out some incredibly impressive tactics. And I mean REALLY impressive.
In spite of all the show's failings, in the final act it really gets it together and does a complete 180. This leads to an incredibly impressing finale, that is nothing short of a war. It leads to the point that anyone can (and probably will) die. Sadly this is only for the last 6 episodes, and at this point it is too little, too late. While these episodes were absolutely stellar, they don't quite justify watching the previous 16 episodes.
From a technical aspect, Shiki ranks to the latter on the scale of good vs OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?!. The art style is about as awful as they come. The hair on the characters is the most stupid I've ever seen. Anime, as a medium, is known for its love of stupid hair, but even among them Shiki manages to be unbelievably appalling. The sound is quite a bit better, being a user of eerie ambient music. The first OP is also quite an excellent song, excellently merged with the animation. The remaining OP/ED themes are fine, but unremarkable.
I mentioned earlier that there were three ways that Shiki attempts to stick out from the vampire crowd, the first being the medical aspects. While none of these were very well-executed, they are still interesting: The other two being that the humans vs. vampires war is portrayed as simply being two opposing forces simply trying to survive, rather than good humans vs. evil monsters... and the third, being that they focus on the angst of those forcibly turned into vampires, having to kill people they once knew to survive.
Overall, Shiki has a lot of good ideas but in the end doesn't really execute them every well. It's a mixed bag, with enough upsides to keep it watchable earlier on, and with an excellent finale. Still, it really isn't worth watching in the long run.
Animation/Graphics: No seriously, what?/10
For Fans Of: Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, Dance in the Vampire Bund.
I was directed to Shiki by a fellow anime fan who, like me, enjoyed more horror based anime. He insisted that Shiki was superior to shows like Another or Higurashi, since it created "characters you cared about".
Having now watched it, I am wondering what he was smoking.
I'll go through each aspect individually. Tharrrrr be spoilers (at least in the plot section), so read at your own risk.
Art = 5
I'm torn on this one. On the one hand, the backgrounds are great. It looks like a small village. They are beautiful, though a bit colourful at times for an anime which is supposed to be "dark".
Points also go to this one for mixing up the character designs and not having all the characters as beautiful supermodels. Though not excessively gory, the blood and gore aren't skimped on either, another important point.
On the other, there are big problems with the character designs. Some of the characters look utterly ridiculous. Seriously, what is with their hair? It detracts from the "horror experience". The best horror anime have characters who look vaguely like real people, not people who have had their hair styled by Ronald McDonald. Okay, enough about the hair.
Another nitpick I had about the art was how obvious it was when a character was turned, so to speak. Red eyes, glowing white skin, just unnatural looking. It might have been more interesting if it was hard to tell the two groups apart.
I am pretty forgiving when it comes to art so I can ignore a lot of ugly if the story is decent.
Sound = 7
Credit where credit is due here. The majority of the voice acting worked for me. Everyone had a distinct voice and most of them were fitting. I couldn't tell you what any of the minor characters voices sounded like (or if they were "off") but that doesn't bother me in the slightest.
The music is ... interesting. The openings are fine, for the most part. Ending songs aren't quite as good but still passable. Some of the in-show music works very well, in a creepy subtle way. By that token, there is also some that are too subtle and fail to evoke any mood. And then there's the weird pop-techno blend song that comes in once in a while. Each time I heard it, I spent the entire time trying to figure out what popular song it sounded like.
The sound is pretty good. It works. No real problems here.
Character = 3
We start off by sticking close to a pink haired girl named Megumi. She is a stuck-up bitch who hates the town she lives in (and many of the people, including some who go out of their way to be nice) and has an unhealthy obsession with a boy named Yuuki. Think she's the protagonist? Nope.
What about Yuuki? He's the outsider who's just moved to a new town and is slowly making friends. Again, not really the main character. We spend a good portion of time with him until about a third of the way in.
The people we spend most of the time with are the Doctor (Ozai) and the Junior Monk (Seishein). This is a mixed blessing, since Ozai is perhaps the most interesting and likeable character in Shiki. Megumi is, for the most part, annoying as all hell, though she gets better as the series goes on (and her role is downplayed). Yuuki is tolerable but never really breaks out as a character. He's the stoic (semi-)badass who says he doesn't want friends but has a good heart. Seishein is ... horrible. I know I'm supposed to agree with or sympathize with him since we spend a decent chunk of time with him, but he's a drag in every scene he's in. Ozai is perhaps the most logical and realistic of the characters. He realizes something is wrong and he ATTEMPTS TO FIX IT!
The problem with the characters is development. There is a large cast of characters, the majority of which aren't important anyway, which means we don't spend enough time with any character to get too attached to them. And very few of these characters change in any meaningful way. Most of the characters are the exact same whether alive or dead, though the dead do angst a bit.
The character I had the most sympathy for was the girl in the track suit. She's young, unprepared for this, forced to choose between doing unthinkable things and dealing with friends and family who have risen. Her increasing instability is one of the few interesting changes within the series. Too bad she's downplayed in the second half.
Plot = 3
There are spoilers now. You have been warned.
Shiki is about vampires. If you didn't know that going in, you would have figured it out by the second episode at the latest.
It takes the rest of the characters at least another three or four episodes to catch up. The plot is sloooooow. Most of the mystery, if there was any to begin with, is dispelled right away. Every once in a while, something interesting would happen and I felt like I wanted to see what was next. Then the plot would drag its feet a few episodes with no substantial progress being made.
To sum up the first 2/3rds of the plot, the vampires are killing people. A lot of people die. Only Doctor Ozai, Seishein and a few kids realize what's going on. Then the kids drop off the face of the earth for a while and barely factor in again (with one exception). Most episodes in this bit focus on Ozai trying to do something, the townsfolk doing nothing and Seishein being tormented. Should he do something? (YES!!!!)
To repeat, the vampires kill a good portion of the population and no one is all that disturbed about it.
In the last 1/3rd, the show does a 180 and tries to make us sympathize with the vampires. This might have worked if they hadn't been mercilessly slaughtering townsfolk for half of the series. There are some moments where you genuinely think the vampires have been dealt a shitty hand (not choosing to become one but being forced by whoever bit them), but they are few and far between. Suddenly, the humans are the bad guys for protecting themselves and their families against the immortal people who have been murdering them.
While many of the humans who are cleansing the vampires are obviously enjoying the experience waaaay too much, it's hard to argue that they're wrong in doing it. Should the vampires survive, the humans will just be mined for blood until there are none left. You can complain that the vampires want to live too and they've retained their memories, but the bottom line is that their existence is just to kill former neighbours and friends.
And then there's just moments of incredible stupidity.
-At one point, it's suggested that the Shiki want to convert all the humans they can so the village is entirely Shiki. This would make sense, if you forgot that they NEED the humans for sustenance. Without them, the vampires starve.
-A third to half the town is wiped out and everyone is content to believe it's an epidemic, yet make no effort to do anything about it.
-No one questions why there are now large populations of people who work only at night, why many families have just disappeared and where the death records have went.
-Ozai makes a tape of him dissecting his wife, proving the existence of Shiki .. then shows it to no one.
-If you can figure out Seishein, you deserve a cookie, his entire character and motivations make no sense.
-The technology problem prevalent in horror. Why does no one phone about this?
The final few episodes make an attempt to tie everything together but it only partly satisfies. Many of the characters motivations are still stupid and there are jumps that we're never shown.
This isn't to say that there isn't ANY depth in Shiki. There is. It just happens to be muddied by other aspects. In the second half of Shiki, we start being presented with questions about the value of life, whether it is ethical to kill (if your life is on the line), the propensity to deny rather than act. The questions are interesting. It's the way they're executed that doesn't do them justice.
Enjoyment = 4
I wanted to like this series. I really did. And there were some positives. I liked that they used some old-school vampire tropes (not being able to enter buildings without being invited ect). I liked the tracksuit girl. I liked Doctor Ozai, who has a couple of badass moments (though not enough!).
It's the pacing and the plotting that really let this series down. For every thought-provoking idea ("is it right to kill someone else so I can live?") or genuinely nice/interesting moment, there is much more padding. And stupidity. No one (besides a few characters) seem to ever catch onto what's happening before they kick the bucket. Everyone is so complacent that you wonder whether they're all too stupid to live. I was ready to scream at these characters sometimes. DO SOMETHING!
Overall = 5
See above, really.
Shiki has potential, but squanders it by dragging everything out and failing to make any compelling characters.
Death is terrible for anyone. Young or old, good or evil, it’s all the same. Death is impartial. There is no especially terrible death. That’s why death is so fearsome. Your deeds, your age, your personality, your wealth, your beauty: they are all meaningless in the face of death.
Shiki is a very hard series to talk about without spoilers. It’s a show that you really need to see for yourself. Still, I consider this to be the best show to have debuted during the past half year, so I’ll at least try to vaguely explain why I consider it
such an awesome and unique series.
Shiki is another one of those series set in a tiny Japanese village that’s set in the middle of nowhere. One thing that immediately stands out is how well it manages to colour that village: even the simplest of residents are given an identity. The entire town has about 1200 residents, and this show manages to make them so life-like that you actually feel like part of the village as the series goes on. It creates a truly excellent backdrop for the series to take place in.
First and foremost, Shiki is a horror series. It’s got a really thick atmosphere and most of the time it’s just building up and dragging the viewer within this atmosphere. It’s got plenty of disturbing scenes though, and that’s really where it’s at its best at. Now, there are times at which this show feels like this series is moving a tad slow and that it’s building up a bit too much. But trust me: it all pays off in the end with a fantastic conclusion. That’s all I’ll say about it.
The character designs in this series are… unique. I admit that they take their time to get used to, but that’s not really a problem considering the charms of the different characters. It’s perhaps not the series with the best characterizations, but they are written really well: when they’re developed, it’s done very boldly. The characters are also incredibly diverse, ranging from teenagers to adults well in their thirties, forties and fifties and that overall makes it into a great and huge cast to watch.
Most of the best episodes of Shiki are located at the end so it takes some perseverance to really get to great parts of the series, but the weak moments are very few and far in between. It’s got a haunting soundtrack and a stunning atmosphere. It’s not something you should watch when you can’t stand gore, but it’s a must-watch for anyone even remotely interested in horror.
If you want vampires done right then this is the show for you.
The story of Shiki takes place in a rural Japanese village called Sotoba that the only thing the residents do is gossip. New residents called the Kirishiki's moved into town and from then on mysterious deaths occur throughout the town and there are reports of the dead coming back to life. The one that suffers the most because of this is Toshio Ozaki, the doctor of Sotoba, because he wants to know why these mysterious murders have been happening. He later believes that the cause of the deaths are something more supernatural and
decides to investigate. Until he reaches a conclusion that the vampires are the cause of the murder and from there on it's just mass genocide of the vampires where the town decides to eliminate the epidemic and reclaim their town.
The major problem with this show is the first half. Not gonna lie I almost fell asleep during the first half of the show, but after episode13 then the show gets really good.
Shiki has a really disturbing tone. The one soundtrack that plays throughout the show is a little girl sing "Lalalaaaaa, lalalaaaaa" while a piano note plays in the background. That just gave me the creeps.
The characters that I am going to give mention to is Toshio Ozaki because he arguably the best character in this show. Another character is the local priest Seishin Muri who develops a relationship with Sunako Kirishiki and the bond they share is believable. The other character is Natsuno who is one of the few characters who believed early in the series that there were vampires and eventually becomes a jinrou, a vampire that possesses human traits like walking in the sun and eating regular food.
There is one character that is voiced by Todd Haberkorn that is just so FUCKING annoying. Now he is one of my favorite voice actors, but god dammit is his voice annoying in this show.
Like I said this is a show that does vampires right. It also adds a few layers to modern day vampires like different types of vampires and the process of turning into a vampire. The series starts out slow, but picks up towards the second half. Shiki also towards the end makes you feel really sympathetic towards the vampires because they are suffering not being human. In addition this show has very graphic scenes that I can remember just how grotesque the art and animation was for this show. However, the second half of this show is best part. That's why I'm giving it a 8/10 and give it a recommendation.
As the Sun sets below the mountain peaks, the rural village is masked completely in an inescapable darkness. Silent. Untouched. Tranquil. Unknown to them, the horrors that lurk outside, the villagers sleep on in blissful ignorance, as the creatures of the night gather in the confines of the woods. Darkness is broken; tranquilly smashed, to the sudden crimson red glow of eyes, illuminating the area with the red allure of blood. Ghastly laughter fills the once still air, as each of these beasts flare their fangs whilst producing a bone chilling smile. The Shiki have arrived for their next meal...
Horror and anime are rarely
synonymous with one another, and, despite the medium barely producing anything horror related to begin with, the few horror titles that are out there don't exactly evoke fear in me. They either become unintentional comedies, such as in the case of Another; a show that took itself way too seriously, having the plot of a B-movie, while I laughed my ass off at every single stupid plot revelation and death (as I type these words, I feel more like a sociopath since I keep repeating the scene of the girl falling down a flight of stairs unto an umbrella, with it piercing her throat, as I chuckle to myself in amusement), or the character designs for the show are too distracting for me to take seriously and end up ruining the horror element for me, such as in the Higurashi series, but, to be perfectly fair, there were some scenes that did excel in creating a creepy atmosphere. The only anime that has ever evoked actual fear in me, through its horror elements, is Shiki, a show way back from 2010, and is one of the few vampire-esque anime I can think of that doesn't use their vampires to create pretty gay boys (bloody Twilight!) However, while excelling in the audio-visual department to create a genuinely creepy atmosphere and setting, Shiki's narrative is less than stellar, reducing it more so from a show with themes about morality in regards to the idea of survival and human instinct to a campy B-movie, with a finale that is an absolute blood bath, reminiscent of the level of gore found in 90s OVAs! Anyway, I've talked for too long now. Let's grab our stakes, our torches, and slaughter some Shiki!
During a particularly hot summer in a rural, isolated village in Japan, a young, 15-year-old girl dreams of a glamorous life in the city, free from the hardships that come from living in the country , until she mysteriously dies, causing a stir in the once quiet community. This triggers a series of mysterious deaths within the village, coinciding with the arrival of a new family by the name of the Kirishikis (no surprise, that, from their name, this family are indeed the Shiki, the family of vampires who have been indulging in the blood of the villagers), and, as this unknown epidemic begins to grow more dominant, taking more lives, the town's doctor slowly loses his own humanity in order to solve this mystery. The final stretch of the series is essentially, as I previously mentioned, a complete bloodbath, with an all out barbaric war between both the humans and the Shiki for survival. Shiki's narrative can be divided up into three main arcs essentially, that is, the first arc where is everyone trying to figure out what this epidemic actually is, and what is causing all of these deaths, mainly used for tension and mystery, the second where we see the Shiki transforming other people into vampires (when bitten, some people either die, or come back to life as Shiki), and the giant fight right at the very end. While this concept does sound fine on paper, it's execution leaves a lot to be desired.
For starters, Shiki's pacing, especially at the beginning, is rather slow and tiresome, although the slow pacing can perhaps be argued as a positive element as it helps to build narrative tension, resulting in a rather fun payoff, and helps to create more mystery surrounding the Shiki themselves. Not only that, but the setting of the narrative complements this idea. Since it is set in a rural village, deep into the mountains, it creates a feeling of paranoia and isolation, which only grows more and more as the episodes go along, so the slow pacing actually helps create its atmosphere in that regard. However, the anime's build-up and slower pacing comes across as more aggravating to me, than anything else, since many of the characters are stupid beyond belief. It takes them an insane amount of time to realise that, what they believed originally about the cause of the epidemic, the mosquito bites, were not actually the cause of so many deaths, since the bites always appeared in two, at the same distance from one another, on their necks. Of course, I'm not expecting them to jump to the conclusion straight away that vampires are indeed behind this, since that seems rather farfetched and silly to assume in reality, but the amount of time they spend on the Mosquito bite theory is truly annoying, since, we, as an audience, already know what is happening and just want the plot to actually go somewhere. The narrative attempts to try and hide the fact that the Shiki are vampires, and slowly stretches out the answer, which, not only ruins any chance people may have of possibly re-watching the series since the revelation is so obvious and stupid, but is also tedious to watch. Hell, Stevie Wonder could have figured it out before these guys could!
Another problem the narrative faces is the sheer amount of characters introduced, and the lack of much time to flesh out anybody, making it hard to remember who is who. That's not to say that there aren't some decent characters, because there are, most notably the doctor who I mentioned before, Ozaki, who is the only character actively trying to figure it all out, and his transition of losing his humanity for the survival of the villagers is easily one of the most interesting parts of the show. We see him slowly transition from man to monster and this handled well enough to never feel forced; the transition feels natural and well paced, making for an interesting character study of a man's internal turmoils regarding ethics and survival. Another somewhat interesting character is the leader, so to speak, of the Shiki, a young girl (only in appearance mind you!) called Sunako, whose back-story was actually pretty interesting and was enough to somewhat justify why she acts the way she does, and was one of the few characters I could feel any sympathy towards. The rest of the cast were just unlikable twats, who I didn't care about, nor could I care if they survived the ordeal. The worst example is a girl called Megumi, who I mentioned at the very start of the review, and was the first person to "die". I put die in inverted commas, because, even though she did technically die, she came back as a Shiki. While the other characters who do come back as such are played out in a tragic way, represented as victims of circumstance , and while Megumi falls under this to a certain extent, she takes active pleasure and delight in killing the humans with very little justification on why she would do this, aside from, perhaps, because she had a crush on a guy who paid her no attention, as we are told in the forth episode of the show (woopdy-fucking-doo!) By the time she inevitably kicks the bucket, the show try to convey it as a tragedy and expects us to feel sorry for this twat, which doesn't work since she had been such a horrible cunt the entire time. It's this sudden juxtaposition in victimisation that rubs me the wrong way and is present a lot in the show. Every time a character in Shiki does die, they expect me to be sad, through the use of victimising them, instead of actually building up a character I can care for; it feels more cheap and lazy if anything else.
It's hard to care about the tragedy in the narrative since most characters acted like idiots, and got what they deserved, with the humans killing their reborn loved ones, without any remorse or sympathy. The show tries to convey the idea of who the real monsters in the show actually were, the humans or the Shiki themselves, but since each bunch of characters are so unlikeable, I didn't give a damn really. In order for this tragedy story to work, we needed to have characters we could care about as people, instead of the cheap victimisation the show utilises to try and manipulate us into feeling something for these cardboard cut-outs. That's not to say that the show is completely devoid of emotion however, since it is effective in one or two places, in particular, in the first episode of the Shiki OVA, but the scene was mostly enhanced by the music and voice acting than the actual writing itself. It's not as bad as some of the other moments in the show, like Megumi's final scene which uses cheap writing, since, in the OVA scene, Nao's character, a human turned Shiki, is given enough time for fleshing her out, thus making her tragedy actually emotional. The show really needed to flesh out its characters more and contain more scenes of this quality like the aforementioned one. There is also mentions of a werewolf and a fairy in the show as well, but either element is hardly utilised to any substantial merit and is not fleshed out enough in the narrative for me to care.
As a spectacle however, Shiki is entertaining as fuck! The bloodbath at the end of the series is extremely entertaining to watch unfold and is pure blood-shed, fan-service in its purest form. Not only that, but the music and the atmosphere this show evokes is fantastic! Each track is eerily creepy or heart wrenchingly sad, enhancing each scene wonderfully. My favourite tracks being "Day and Night", "SHI-KI" and "Requiem". The two openings end endings are also of a pretty high quality, with both openings representing their respective story arcs very well. As a fan of horror, Shiki was a treat to watch, and there were many scenes in the early parts of the series that were handled very well and made me feel genuinely frightened. The best example is the ending scene of episode four, where we see Megumi, now a Shiki, stalk her crush, one of the other main characters by the name of Yuuki, who remains completely apathetic and boring during the course of the series, who is staying over at his friend's house. The scene builds tension perfectly, and, after both we and Yuuki let our guard down as we believe we are safe from Megumi, she appears from underneath the bed, sliding and twisting her body; the sounds of bones and joints clicking into place, staring intently at Yuuki, red crimson pupils, filling her black holes for eyes. Everything about the scene is creepy and scary, and has stayed as a vivid image in my subconscious for years, and there are many scenes like this too! Visually, Shiki is consistent but also pretty bizarre in terms of its character designs, with each character having insanely strange hairdos; it feels pretty gothic-like, which is something I can always dig; it's like a romanticised version of Bram Stocker's classic novel.
When it comes down to it, Shiki is a fun show to watch due to the sheer amount of blood and death, while genuinely creating a horrific atmosphere and the music is amazing. However, the script is not really the strongest, and aside from maybe three characters, I didn't care for the rest of the cast at all. It's one of those shows you watch for the spectacle of it alone, rather than a well-written narrative or developed characters, and I certainly believe Shiki achieves its goal on that end. While its use of victimisation to make the audience feel for a character that hasn't been built up is not as bad as other series I have talked about before, such as Elfen Lied, it does feel somewhat lazy and cheap to do so, but, despite all that, I still had fun watching the show, even during the rather slow, and admittedly, boring, build up (although the payoff for it is quite well earned), and if you're looking for something with huge amounts of blood and death; something to turn your brain off with, then I'd recommend this. Just remember that, when a new family moves into town, you're FUCKED!
“Death is impartial to everyone, be it the young or old, rich or poor. Thus death is not particularly tragic.”
Shiki is by far the most riveting, suspenseful and thought-provoking series I have seen all year. Truly a category of its own, it not only contains elements of horror and mystery but also makes you question what truly is considered good or evil?
The story is set in a small village where a string of unexplainable deaths start to occur. What is suspected to be an epidemic proves to be something the villagers would never suspect. The main plot and characters are introduced
in the first few episodes, while pacing is slow, it provides an important backdrop to the rest of the episodes. As the story progress, we start to see what is really going on. What I like most about this series is it’s nack for detail and realism. Even as some of the characters gradually figure what is going on, there is a vehement disbelief from the villagers in general. The anime pays tribute to vampires well, but even better it addresses our society’s inability to accept those who are different (be it humans or the supernatural). In addition, what I think is the highlight of the series has been the last few episodes where the line between good and evil, humans and vampires have been crossed. What defines a ‘human’, can someone who still feels emotions be considered a ‘monster’? Shiki makes us questions that.
With Shiki’s large cast, it seems likely that characters who don’t get as much screen time to be very shallow and two-dimensional. However, I didn’t get that feeling in this anime. Most of the characters have enough background story told to ‘flesh’ them out. And they aren’t ridiculous or unbelievable background stories, you could say we all knew these kinds of people at some point in our lives. I would say the two most intriguing characters are Muroi and Ozaki. Both carry the great burden of knowing the truth behind the deaths but make completely different decisions in the end. And many other characters surprise me by fighting against expectations.
Rich colours, dark lines and detailed shading. Some of the horror scenes are reminiscent of Higurashi with its emphasis on the eyes.
Gothic opening song and melancholic ending. Background music is very appropriate and adds to intensify the scenes.
I literally marathoned 18 episodes non-stop. It always kept me guessing as to what would happen next. Shiki is also one of the few animes that has underlying meanings to them, it really made me think about the actions of some characters and what some characters have said (particularly Sunako). I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the series.
I highly recommend this anime to anyone who has a fondness for thought-provoking shows. It’s definitely not comedic, if that is what you’re looking for. But if you appreciate mysteries, dark themes and some psychological reasoning, then do give Shiki a try.
EDIT: Now that I've finished the series, I'm dropping the score from a 10 to a 9, simply because the ending wasn't as great as the middle. Perhaps my expectation were too high for the ending, I just found it wasn't what I expected. It is also is pretty up in the air, which might suggest a second season.
Alright, this is my first time with a review so bear with me!
Shiki did pretty well in this category. It was refreshing to watch a vampire story that didn't make you want to become one. They went back to the old school myths, where vampires can't be killed unless you put a stake through their heart, and they fear things like relics and crosses. They were actually the bad guys. There are already a lot of great romanticized vampire stories out there, so it's really nice to find the opposite.
The episodes were well paced, and the anime as a whole did a great job
at keeping you on your toes and making you want to watch the next one. It did start out a little slow. The first few episodes were mostly just to give you a perspective on what the villagers were like and how future events would effect them, but at the same time you couldn't really skip them because there were bits and pieces you would need to see in order to understand anything that happened later. Once that was past though, the anime picked up really fast, so much so that I had a hard time waiting to see what was going to happen next. Watching an anime that's like a book you can't put down is a huge plus.
The plot itself was a little holey. As someone who likes a little science behind their fiction, I was disappointed that they didn't delve into the facts about why the vampires hated sunlight or what made them rise. But that's a minor mishap. My real problem was that there was no real back story to the Kirishikis at all. The main antagonists in the story were completely left without any context. While they hint at things here and there, you never really know anything about them. Especially Seishirou, and that really bugs me!
I have to applaud them for not being afraid to kill of characters, though. Far too many horror anime are hesitant to actually kill anyone, and sort of beat around the bush, instead. Especially when it comes to prominent characters, or younger ones. That probably sounds harsh, but it's really frustrating when characters just barely make it out alive, by miraculous events, over and over.
This is where the anime really falls apart. To be fair, the art wasn't truly bad. It was clean and well drawn, and the backgrounds were definitely on a higher scale. The real problem was the style. This especially in the character designs. Almost every character in the show, whether main or just a filler, had the most ridiculous, gravity defying hairstyles. It was annoying to say the least, and incredibly out of place in a horror anime. Even in a comedy, these hairstyles would be considered over the top. The eyes were just as bad. Not only were they too big for most of the character's faces, they were so awkwardly colored. Especially Muroi's, I will never understand why his were so different from everyone else's. The eyes also took away an element of surprise that the show really could have benefited from. If only they hadn't made the vampire's eyes such a dead give away.
The animation was on the crappier side, as well. It seemed to be quickly, and cheaply, thrown together. Many shortcuts were taken. In many scenes the people don't even walk, they just sort of fade in and out across the screen. And there was a lot of still pictures that just slowly zoomed out.
Overall, the art was way too distracting, and I almost dropped the anime because of it.
I don't normally pay as much attention to this category as the rest. The music sounded okay to me. Nothing I'll be putting in my iTunes, but it worked with the show.
What really brings this category's score down was the dialogue. Now I only watched the dubbed version, so I can't speak for the original Japanese! But Christ, this was terrible. So many of the lines were awkwardly placed, or seemed to be missing a lot of context. And a lot of the characters would say things that completely clashed with their personalities. Again, this could just be because of poor translation, but as an official dub I really think they should have done better.
I was so disappointed with the main characters in this anime. All three of the most important ones had almost the same personality. Distant, a little cold, and angry (at either themselves or just everyone in general). There was no diversity! I know it's a more serious anime, but they should have branched out a little, at least between characters. The amount of generic personalities nearly killed me. Other individuals seemed a little displaced, especially Megumi. I know she was supposed to have an outsider kind of feel to her, but they went a little too far with it, and she seemed like she didn't even belong in the story at all.
The worst part out of all of it is they never gave you a character you truly got attached to. There was no emotional connection, none of the characters were really likable. Megumi was obnoxious, Natsuno was too reserved for you to even really get to know who he was at all, Dr Ozaki was way too cold, ect ect ect. There was at least one reason to hate every character. I really could care less who died and who survived, and that really took a toll on my experience with this show.
That being said, I did still enjoy the series as a whole. Yes, they could have done better in a lot of areas, but I still kept watching regardless of it all. It's got it's own way of making you want to watch it. If not for any reason other than who's gonna die next, will that person rise up, and is everyone kind of evil or will there actually be some character development? I will definitely never re-watch it.
I'm not entirely sure I'd recommend this anime, though, especially if you're new to it! Don't ruin your first experience with something that's so-so. If you're really looking for an intriguing, gory horror story, go watch something like Mirai Nikki instead.
There will be spoil at the end of this review. Nevertheless I think that even if you didn't see this anime, you will still be able to see it.
The huge good point on this anime is it's art. The backgrounds, the foregrounds, the chara-designs, all are beautiful. Unfortunately, this is the ONLY one good point.
The story is absolutely pathetic and obvious. Nearly all the characters have a personality or even if they have, it has absolutely no impact in the story. The actions scene are poor and the emotional scene are empty of feeling.
And the worst (and that the reason of this note), A LOT
OF EPISODES ARE COMPLETELY USELESS.
There are a lot of better Vampire anime. But I think that you have to make your own idea of this anime (Yes, I recommand an anime I find absolutely bad).
I will put here the list of episodes which are needed to understand the whole anime with a small description :
- ep1 : a family arrive in a rustic village
-ep2 : first death
USELESS : ep3 to ep13 : serial death
-ep14-15-16 : discover cause of death
USELESS : ep17 : confirmation of the cause
-ep18 : first execution
USELESS ep19 : talk about strategy
ep20-21-22 : fight against Vampires
2 things containing spoil :
At a moment the village suspect the arrival family. After a suspicion based on global belief (Vampire exists) and a diagnostic based on global belief (Vampire is dead and don't breath), the family is found innocent. What is unbelievable is that they suspect after month and amount of weird deaths and they give up just because only one diagnostic. Sudden death are started since the family arrive and the village didn't immediately suspect the family. It could be written on the family house "We are the guilty", they won't believe (a whole village completely stupid, I think they should all die, and at least the anime should be really more psychological).
The way they discover the cause of death a BIG JOKE. It's serious ? They have all the clue to think that the death seems to be caused by vampire and they find it just in asking the question ? As same, the dead could write "A vampire kills me" they won't believe it. The vampire don't even try to hide the cause of death.
This anime is just a fight between 2 stupid camps.
A little girl stumbles through the woods, her path lit by encroaching flames, her merciless pursuers intending to serve as both judge and executioner. She is fully aware of her own guilt but she runs just the same. The temple offers no divine intervention to atone for her sins, nor sanctuary from impending judgment. The very walls themselves are not safe from the inferno.
Shiki is the story of the inhabitants of a small town struggling to withstand ruin, both of body and soul. It does not portray an idyllic village only shattered by the arrival of the shiki (more commonly known as vampires), but a
normal town with as many members already possessed of such human qualities as jealousy, snobbery, resentment, rejection, and the tendency to gossip as those of kindness and decency. The extraordinary circumstances simply draw out what these people are already made of.
The metamorphosis of this town begs the question, What would have happened had all this horror never come to pass? Would the members of this village have led peaceful, fulfilling lives despite their ordinary faults? Probably very few of them would have known that their neighbor, their husband, their daughter, or even they themselves might be capable of such horrors. They would have gone on loving, hating, hurting, and forgiving each other trivial matters throughout their day-to-day lives without ever knowing what monsters might lurk beneath their skin. The slow infiltration of the Shiki within their society puts each one to the test in its own way, though the paths of some, as is the case with fickle reality, are easier than others.
It is a difficult task in any story to cause the audience to sympathize with the antagonistic side of the conflict. Any attempt to do so can easily come across as a shallow, saccharine effort to defend horrendous acts on account of special circumstances or tragedy, usually on the part of writers who have doubtless never experienced such horrors. However, Shiki manages to tell its story impartially by refusing to choose a specific lead to serve as a moral compass for the series, instead portraying each character’s motivation, choice, and action from its owner’s perspective, with all their convolution and next to none purely innocent. Shiki does not tell you how to feel, and there is no hero from whose reactions the audience can take its cue. It demonstrates any moral questions it might pose rather than asking them in some cryptic dialogue, and no attempt is made to fully answer.
However, for all its impartiality, Shiki is anything but dispassionate. Never forgetting or neglecting any character’s pity or horror inducing moments, each one is given weight suitable to its level of grotesque and tragedy. This is aided by the soulful orchestral themes of the series. Although there are really only one or two of these that play throughout the soundtrack, each version is varied in its tone and level of passion. There are moments in which the main theme is played in such a way that it emulates a music box, speaking of lost innocence and childhood.
Being a horror story, Shiki has its share of graphic images and creepy moments, often accompanied by a chilling, wordless vocal solo, but it moves slowly enough to allow you to grasp what you are seeing, perhaps too fully, causing dismay more effectively and subtly than jump scares. However, it is the circumstances of such horrors that bring about more distress than the actual images or creepiness itself. Family members and friends pitted against each other and the seemingly most kindhearted of people driven to heinous acts lend far more power to the bared fangs, voided eyes, and bloody stakes than these things innately possess. Furthermore, Shiki refrains from excessive or gaudy displays of gore, with hardly any to speak of until the final episodes of the series, by which time it has earned its right to the ensuing bloodbath.
Not only this, but Shiki has a bit of fun with its horror elements. Although the show takes itself seriously, it does dabble in the impish, especially in certain pieces of the soundtrack, which have a devilish pleasure and beat. Not all evil acts are committed in sobriety or shame, and certain characters often crack a smile or take a caper when circumstances allow. Although one such character is portrayed with almost cartoony selfishness, this tone is generally used in moderation and is effective in dispelling a bit of the series’ heavy tone at proper moments.
Similarly, the series sports creative and somewhat goofy character designs. Their hair stands up stiffly in completely unnatural shapes, retaining its rigid form for the most part even as it blows in the wind. The humans’ eyes give a weird and sinister impression with a ring of lighter color between the pupil and an outer circle of darkness, emulating those of the Shiki, which are black but for a thin red line surrounding the center. This coupled with their crazy hairdos and overly angular faces adds to the overall otherworldliness and creepiness of the series.
Shiki is incredibly slow-moving, with the advance of calamity gradual. During the first seven episodes, the characters are oblivious to what is obvious to the audience. As frustrating as this might seem, it is realistic in that no ordinary person would accept the possibility of the existence of vampires without plenty of plausible proof. And even once some have accepted this reality, it would take a great deal to convince others, and so many things must be done and tried before any counterattack can be made.
However, throughout all this realistic delay, the series never loses focus. While many anime tend to lose their way toward the ending, often with the introduction of some new element that causes the conclusion to feel disconnected from the start, this is not the case with Shiki. Each slow and detailed episode that came before provides support for the finale, which more than delivers as every character, forced to face the choices they have made, grapples with their fate.
As with all of my other reviews I decided to write a review about the anime Shiki because I found it to be really enjoyable (so far) and wanted to spread some of the love by hopefully persuading people to try it out for themselves! In my review I will talk about what I find to be good about the show and which aspects could do with some improvement.
I’ve watched a total of 16 out of 22 episodes of the show and have so far loved every single episode of it! Vampires singling out a small remote town and picking off each of the
(mostly) unsuspecting residents one by one, the story may seem clichéd when presented to those who haven’t watched the show, after all vampires are no new occurrence are they? But the vampires featured in this show (referred to as Shiki or moving corpses) are a breath of fresh air to those sick and tired off the angsty, misunderstood veggies vampires rife in today’s media. These vampires return to their original Stoker-esque roots, not being able to go out in sunlight, fearing crosses and not being able to enter a home unless invited making the show far scarier overall than if it were just another cheap imitation of the Twilight saga.
There’s no single main character in this series, every character no matter how minor plays some kind of role in adding to the rich tapestry of the overall story. However the story mostly revolves around the Shiki and those with direct experience with them. The three main protagonists, Natsuno, Akira and Kaori are you three average teenagers until the Shiki strike. Yet they’re forced to grow up pretty sharpish as they start to work out what’s really been going on behind the facade of a supposed epidemic and go about trying to save the blissfully clueless town. That’s about it for character development which is a shame but necessary as if the show were to focus on each and every character it’d never end!
It’s important to note that everyone in the show’s expendable, even the main characters. This I love as it helps to increase the tension felt by the viewers as their favourite characters are caught in rather sticky situations.
Frankly, I’m not a fan of the kooky art style. It kinda ruins the overall look of the show to plop crazy looking characters (sometimes with hair bigger than them!) into such beautiful backdrops. But if you’re into art a little bit unique and out of the ordinary you may find you like it! The show has a good range of ugly and beautiful people, making it far more realistic than the average anime which could be considered a positive I suppose! The animation of the show however is superb. It’s hard to describe but it was great to see scenes in which the animators would try to do something a little different to keep things visually exciting!
All four of the opening and ending themes are so beautiful it’s almost impossible to say a bad word about them. The second opening is in my opinion the best as it adds puts a beautifully eerie spin on the show capturing it rather nicely. The insert themes are pretty creepy too. They’re not noticeable to the point of annoyance yet you hear enough of them to know when shit’s gonna hit the fan!
Overall enjoyment: 9
I’ve immensely enjoyed this show so far. After recovering from an arguably slow start the show keeps getting better and better and the character’s situation becomes increasingly dire. Each episode ends with an edge-of-the-seat cliff-hanger leaving me desperate for yet another episode each and every week. I’d definitely recommend this show to any fan of the horror genre of anime, lovers of the traditional vampire, and haters of Twilight alike. I hope this has helped you a little on your decision of whether or not to watch this show! Bye~!
Based off the light novel written by Fuyumi Ono in 1998. Shiki is not your typical vampire themes, it is a rare breed of an anime. If we discuss vampire in anime, many words that come out. The phrases that often comes out are romance (Rosario to Vampire etc), and action (Hellsing and Trinity Blood) Many vampire anime got mixed up by those set-up while Shiki did a different thing than the others. Shiki throws tons of mystery to the plot, the story itself is more focused to the plot and fewer fillers. The story set-up in Sotoba. A village with large numbers of mysterious
deaths that never happen before. The villagers didn't know what threat that will come to haunt them.
Another interesting from this story are they take a different viewpoint of the storyline. It's just so rare to found an anime that does that in the right place.The story has 3 leading roles, with a different point of view. While the pacing is different, The story goes with medium-slow pace, while the individual elements of mystery discovered one by one. Shiki has a little dull feeling in the early episode , but as the story evolves with mysteries & excitement in the air. My eyes just ask more, and more. The enjoyment shines in the finale. In just the end of 10 seconds of this anime, I saw a cyclone right in front of my eye.
I know that many viewers dislike the art of this anime. It's similar with 90's anime.
But, if you looked deeply, the art really represents the feeling of the story itself. The animation is done well, it represents fear and darkness in the night, and bring bright feeling when the morning in the story comes.
The sound settings are one of the most brilliant ideas. I'm not talking about quality, I'm talking about how much darkness feeling that spit out from the opening theme. While the ending was decent. The seiyuu did well in bringing such characters to the screen.
With millions of peoples within Shiki, it's really dangerous for the balance of the story. While other people think Shiki need do more development in their character, and they do have.. But, if we think logically, "How can we make a deep character in just 22 episodes, while the cast is crowded?'', even the best writer will be confused with this kind of question. But Shiki answers that ''We just need the major development in the essential characters, and throw a proper role to the rest...". The characters had their own proper roles, it's not perfect but it's enough to balance the story up.
And that's all about Shiki, a rare breed vampire theme. The anime do more to the plot although have some lack of points in the characterization, but it's worth to watch. If you seek a deep character, you won't get a bonus. But, if you interested to see a serious plot with a real vampire in the anime form, then the anime is for you.
First three episodes of the show will get you wondering as to what's really happening to the village and it's inhabitants that are dying one by one, with no hint at all as why such disease that resembles "Anemia" was turning into a widespread epidemic throughout the village when victims show no signs of internal or external bleeding at all.
But I have to say, for anyone who's actually seen or read either Bram Stoker's certain novel or Fright Night, By Episode 3, you should now be aware of what's going on.
This is probably one of the only firsts in Japanese anime & manga wherein the
contents of the story are actually quite accurate to it's reference, Vampires not being sparkly as twilight or as godlike as hellsing, but vampires that actually go by the actual vampire myth, first one would have to be this:
"Some traditions also hold that a vampire cannot enter a house unless invited by the owner, although after the first invitation they can come and go as they please."
More polished than Higurashi, which had a similar setting, this is quite a good show. Overall I'm quite impressed with the author's ability to go by the whole myth regarding vampire myth without twisting anything at all, regardless, I would've given this anime a 10 if only Stephen King's 'Salem's lot didn't do it first.
While Shiki is definitely not the best thriller anime out there, I wouldn't go as far as saying it is a complete waste of time.
Despite the fact that the story is not really original (vampires and werewolves, yeah), it still manages to not be a copy/paste of others fictions (at least from the ones I know). The rule for people to "rise" (aka becoming a shiki) is actually a bit different from what you can usually see, and makes the plot more interesting.
Also, the characters are not that original either (or unforgivable), but they still manage to make the view more enjoyable. The
doctor and the teenage lead are the characters you can identify the most, and both make an acceptable job to advance the story. Then, you have the bitch girl, the pathetic teen, the scared-but-decided-to-act children, the 50-year-old brute, the nice-mean-guy, the seductive succubus, the little girl a bit scary, etc. The only one I don't get is the Junior Monk, which personality and motivations are unclear from the beginning and all along the story ; but he still manages to bring something to the plot.
I think the main problem of the anime is its pace : even if they shortened it by 5 episodes, it still would be too long. It would have been better to go for 12 episodes. Indeed, it starts ridiculously slowly, and NEVER accelerates ; consequently, the narration becomes quickly unbearable. Besides, they have the annoying habit to shelve the important facts, and sometimes you have to wait for 3 or 4 episodes to get your answer to what happened - and it's often very incomplete.
Anther thing I disliked is the way they want to make you sympathize with one or either side ; I know it's usual in this kind of show, but still, their arguments are so shallow that it just bores me. Yes, the shikis have to kill humans to feed and survive - yes, the humans have to defend themselves from their former friends if they want to survive too - but the way both are presented successively as monsters or as people who can't do otherwise diminishes the impact of the show. Should I remind that the point of a thriller is to scare the viewer, at at least to make him feel uneasy ?
Well, there are also some details that are not really explained, which is quite annoying too.
The last critic I would make is about the art : what the hell is wrong with their hair ? I mean, I could handle their funny (not to say ugly) faces, but the haircuts are too much. One guy literally has ears on his head, like a dog, and nobody notices a thing ! And what about the girls whose wig look like gravity doesn't exist ? Or the old guy with a beard going up ... You get used to it after 20 episodes, but it's still unsightly.
Well, I made a lot of critics, however the show is still somehow enjoyable and perfectly fulfills the job of distracting you for a few evenings. It's probably better to watch it at night (with an open window), and to not split the views too much - but don't expect too much from it either, since some parts might get you bored anyway.