Tuesday, December 25, 2012


It's winter break time, so Kathryn and I can properly marathon anime in decent company! We recently barreled through Shiki, this horror anime from 2010 that various Things have been yelling at us to watch for a while now, so here is a nice dual post.

Shiki is the best horror series I've seen in a long a time, and easily the best vampire anything I've ever seen, ever. As a general principle, I really really detest vampire stuff, considering what our Modern Generation tends to do with them, etc etc. No, not only the Twilight bullshit; I think my loathing began somewhere with the Interview with a Vampire series? I don't really care at all about vampires and their vampire society bullshit and in general it just pisses me off. But I liked Bram Stoker's original novel well enough, and the really old traditional horror/superstition stuff is pretty nice. Shiki is more like that kind of stuff-- weird shit going on, mysterious deaths unexplained by conventional reasoning, things that go bump in the night, increasing body counts, and so on.

Basically what the first part of the series does is reclaim vampires for the horror genre as opposed to the whiny sparkly emo bitch genre. It's a bit slow at first, kind of like the first part of Dracula: you want to smash the characters over the head with something heavy and yell at them "IT'S VAMPIRES YOU DUMBASSES" but you only do that because you're expecting the vampires to begin with.  Villagers start dying at an increasingly rapid rate, people start seeing their relatives wandering around who are supposed to be dead, etc.

And then..... terrible things start happening.

The turning point of the show seems to begin when Tohru dies.  Natsuno spends the first few episodes bemoaning how much he hates the backwoods town and wants to move back to the city, and from his interactions with his terribad stalker Megumi and the rest of the townspeople, it becomes apparent that he is quite the loner.  And probably also kind of a dick. Then we are introduced to Tohru, Natsuno's best (and ostensibly his only) friend.  And here begins Shiki's motto, "everything is terrible forever."  Tohru dies before Natsuno even realizes he is sick, and he almost can't even bring himself to go to his wake.  Even worse, Megumi kills Tohru out of jealousy, because Natsuno would rather spend his time with a friend than a creepy undead stalker fiend.
Who needs sleep, right?
The worst things happen to the nicest characters. You finally start getting narration from the vampire's perspectives. And yes, some of them are bastards as expected, but then you get the nice ones who don't want to kill people and the ones who just want their families with them. And Tohru. Poor Tohru T____T.  He comes back as a Risen, and Tatsumi the sadistic über-prick with terrible fashion sense orders Tohru to kill Natsuno by threatening to go after Tohru's family.
He doesn't want Natsuno to see his EYES I'm CRYING

Tohru eventually bites Natsuno, but even afterward, Natsuno can't bring himself to kill him, and he even offers to run away with Tohru and escape the village and Tatsumi.  
Suddenly it becomes a tragedy that Shiki and humans can't coexist peacefully, and although killing Natsuno is  awful for Tohru, he really doesn't have any choice.
Oh god he's putting out flowers for Natsuno in lieu of his grave I just I can't-
And then. And then. This happens:
Up until this point, Ozaki has been relatively distanced from all of the people who have died.  They were his fellow townspeople, yes, but not people he was probably very close to.  He always seems more disturbed about the "epidemic" from a medical perspective rather than showing any feelings of horror or disgust, but I suppose that is not unexpected from a doctor.  In fact, he seems more upset that he hasn't managed to get a specimen for autopsy, as the social convention in this town treats autopsy as some sort of sacrilege.  But then his wife is introduced, and she is (of course) bitten.  Knowing that she is going to die, he insists that the hospital staff leave him alone and let him be the only one to "treat" her.  Believing that he is distraught over his wife's condition, the nurses leave him alone.  ...And then we see what kind of person he really is.
Oh gee, I dunno, you could have NOT TORTURED YOUR WIFE
What the fuck, hero. Let's purposefully let our wife die, watch calmly and a bit gleefully as she revives, perform torturous experiments on her while ignoring her screams of pain and terror while recording it for science, kill her brutally, and then call up your best friend who is a monk to help clean the massive amount of bloodstains that we left from all that. Yes, that is a fantastic plan.
At this point on you see the narrative noticeably shifting. The vampires start getting more and more sympathetic and the village start getting less and less and oh god how.

By the last couple of episodes there is an all-out vampire hunt and it's basically the vampires who are all dying in the most horrible ways possible as the humans get more and more monstrous themselves. It is a really, really fantastically smooth reversal of "monsters" that maintains the same excellent sense of horror throughout. The body count keeps increasing massively, there is blood everywhere, relatively innocent bystanders get killed, and there's a sense of nothing good ever happening again, which, yeah, is basically completely correct by the time you get to the end. T________T  SUNAKO JUST WANTED A PLACE WHERE SHE FELT LOVED AND HAPPY AND WHYYYYYYY
Also the nicest characters in the series die terribly, and they keep showing their bodies in EVERY subsequent episode for at least one shot. JUST TO RUB IT IN. you bastards!!
And then the specials. Oh god, the specials. They focus on minor characters, which initially sounds like it would be less angst-inducing, but boy was I wrong.  The first special focuses on Nao, who is miserable because she killed her entire family in the hopes that she would less lonely as a Risen, but not a single one of them came back from the dead.  Humans corner her and a few other Shiki in an irrigation pipeline, and start dragging them out and staking them one by one.  When they run out of stakes, they just tie up a bunch of them in the open and wait for them to burn.
The humans are all just milling about making chit-chat like NOTHING IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE
I can't- the FEELS- just have to lay down and die
On a more general note, regarding the art in this series-- I personally thought it was fantastic, but it takes a lot of getting used to. Shiki was originally a novel series by Ono Fuyumi (of Twelve Kingdoms fame) but was adapted into a manga by Fujisaki Ryuu, most noted for the ridiculously wonky but surprisingly good Houshin Engi (more on that later). The anime is done off of the manga version, so a lot of the, ahem, more quirky bits of Fujisaki's art comes through. It is stylistically very distinct from a lot of the more popular recent animes! Also. The very special character designs:
It's like he put all of the craziness that he could have put in the character's outfits into their hair instead
Also I have to say that, to me, despite all of the fantastically terrible screamy and sad moments, this was still kind of the high point of the anime:
Just walking down the street, being totally inconspicuous in this fabulous outfit
In summation, everything is terrible forever, and I'm going to go cry in a corner now.  kthxbai.
And on that note...

~Alice and Kathryn (now guess who did what)

1 comment:

  1. hey! sorry, i know this is an old post but i searched but couldn't find the anime that "FEELS gif is from. do you know what that is ?