I’ve been planning to do this post for ages but it’s late to no one’s surprise. I’m half-afraid I’ve forgotten most of Shiki but that’s what re-watching is for, yes?
Shiki is a vampire horror anime that I’ve already gushed about a couple of times on this blog. It starts slow but is brimming with atmosphere from beginning to end, and the overall product is something wholly unique. This list contains the parts from Shiki that I found really striking. I wouldn’t say that they represent the best of this anime. That’s for you to decide yourselves. This is, as always, my own taste.
Megumi biting Tohru in front of Natsuno
Though Shiki’s undoubtedly a horror anime, it’s not scary in the traditional sense. There are few jump scares or gory deaths or fearsome monsters. Shiki’s horror is a slow, creeping thing, much like the vampire invasion of Sotoba. And while there are hints of this in earlier episodes, it’s this particular scene at the end of episode 4 that really drives home the fact that there’s more to Shiki than sleepy towns and strange newcomers. We have Megumi entering Tohru’s home and then his room where he and Natsuno are sleeping and biting him while Natsuno watches, paralyzed. Put like that, it doesn’t sound like much but it’s Natsuno’s perspective of the incident that gives it its impact. He’s on his futon, in a hazy dream-like state, sensing and then watching as Megumi creeps inside. For a moment, he’s allowed to dismiss it as a dream but the grim reality soon makes itself knows when Megumi pulls herself out from under Tohru’s bed, all odd angles and cracking joints like a broken doll, and attacks a sleeping Tohru. She even states her reason as jealousy over Natsuno’s closeness to him, more or less putting the blame for her actions on him. And yet, Natsuno can’t do anything but watch, terrified but passive. It’s a truly terrible situation and the way the shots are presented is brilliant.
Natsuno’s first encounter with Shiki Tohru
Thanks to the above scene, Natsuno is the first person to figure out that vampiric creatures are causing deaths in Sotoba. And he deals with it rather intelligently, reading up on countermeasures and using them well. He handles himself wonderfully until Tohru, now undead, pops up. Then his good sense goes out the window because emotions are pesky like that. It’s not a touching reunion so much as a messy, tragic one. Natsuno can’t summon the same hostility he feels for the other Shiki towards his dead best friend and ends up chasing after Tohru to talk to him while reliving memories of their time together. Tohru doesn’t want to hurt Natsuno but his family’s and his own safety is on the line and he also knows that Natsuno will be hurt by someone else if not him. It culminates in a three way confrontation between Natsuno, Tatsumi and Megumi that Tohru breaks up by biting Natsuno amidst a floating torrent of tears. No, really, Shiki does odd things to tears. It’s a dick move for certain but probably kinder than letting Megumi have her way with Natsuno. Not to mention that Tohru is literally the only person Natsuno would let passively attack him. It’s a sad end (sorta) to a sweet friendship.
Toshio killing his Shiki wife Kyouko
Toshio is one of the most interesting characters in Shiki which is really saying something but up until this scene, he just seems like a good-natured doctor who’s being driven to desperation by his own helplessness. It’s when his wife rises from the dead while under his watch that the ‘good-natured’ part of that description becomes moot. He actively prepares for her to rise and when she does, he just straight up experiments on her. He methodically goes through vampire myths and finds out all that he can about their biology while his now-undead wife has no choice but to endure everything he’s doing. Keep in mind that Kyouko herself has no idea what’s going on. She just wakes up from a long sleep to find her husband doing fun things like cutting her up, injecting pesticide into her, shoving religious things into her face and eventually staking her alive. It’s torture, pure and simple. It’s an uncomfortable scene and doubtlessly twisted but it’s also a pivotal moment in the story. Without Toshio’s experimentation, he would never have figured out how to stop the Shiki for sure. But I like it mostly for the way it shows how drastically this man has been changed by his recent experiences.
Toshio and Natsuno working together
This more like two scenes that one but ssh. These two are very different characters who’ve only had one significant encounter prior to episode 15. Natsuno is preoccupied with the Shiki and Tohru before he dies and Toshio is focused on his patients and then on the Shiki until the incident with Kyouko. But proving to himself that the Shiki exist and are slowly taking over the village doesn’t mean that others are willing to work with him or even believe him. Even Toshio’s best friend abandons him. Other people are simply unwilling to entertain the idea that vampiric creatures exist. It’s a low point for Toshio and for a while, it seems like he’s going to give up hope but then Natsuno shows up to let him know that he’s not alone. This new partnership is interesting for more than one reason though. Natsuno died a couple of episodes ago and we know that he can’t be human. Yet, he can walk around in daylight and is actively conspiring to kill the shiki. It’s revealed soon enough that he is indeed one of them but plans to save Sotoba anyway, even if that involves his own death. It’s a triumphant return for two characters who seemed to be on the verge of disappearing altogether from the story.
Toshio’s and Chizuru’s ‘date’
It seems like most of the Toshio moments in this list are those that paint him in a villainous light but to be fair, he’s at his best when he’s ruthlessly efficient. His manipulation of Chizuru isn’t all that smooth but she falls for it anyway, mostly because she’s high off near-triumph. Naturally, it doesn’t end well and actually marks the stage where the tide turns against the shiki. It becomes clear halfway through the date that Toshio is leading Chizuru to a trap and honestly, she deserves it, but at the end of it all, I was left feeling a little conflicted. Yes, the shiki did a terrible thing to Sotoba and its people needed that drastic wake-up call in the form of a public mobbing but Chizuru’s ultimate fate evokes a measure of pity towards her, though not outright sympathy. This is probably very deliberate since the minutes before her death are used to flesh her out as someone who’s a little desperate for a life where she can be ‘normal’ in spite of her nature. This and her momentary infatuation with Toshio make her appear quite endearing in her final moments. Of course, this all helps make her death scene all the more striking and that’s why I love it so much.
Ritsuko sticking to her guns till the end
For most of the story, Ritsuko was notable only for her fabulous hair. She’s one of the last characters to become a shiki and her new existence doesn’t last long but damn if she isn’t awesome in the mean time. By this point, we’ve seen a fair number of people rise and turn on their former friends or families. Some do it enthusiastically while others do it guiltily but they all do it all the same. Then Ritsuko rises and displays a strength of character that’s incredible in both senses of the word. She herself phrases her stance in the best way – if she were okay with people dying, she’d never have become a nurse. Even when her own survival hinges on others dying, she refuses to budge on the matter and straight up starves herself so that she won’t hurt her human friend. When her hunger peaks to the point that self-control is on the verge of failure, she persuades Tohru into letting the human friend go. Unlike the other shiki, Ritsuko sounds like she’d truly have been happy to never have risen and it’s clear that she’d never be suited to a life of predation. It’s still sad to see her die for good but there’s no denying that she seems content in death.
Natsuno dying while being awesome
I got attached to Natsuno pretty quickly while watching Shiki, which turned out to be a bad idea since everyone suffers in this show. Still, Natsuno was interesting from beginning to end, and wow, what an end it was. Unlike Toshio who fights for the sake of the village and his own attachment to it, Natsuno’s prioritizes the few people he cares for. Of course, this is the same thing that keeps him in Sotoba even when he could have escaped and leads to his eventual death, resurrection and final death. But the point is that Natsuno is a curious blend of selfish and selfless and this is best illustrated during his fight with Tatsumi and their death at its end. His actions are pivotal in the shiki’s downfall and it’s a glorious moment for Natsuno when he claims that he did it not for the human villagers but out of sheer spite. How can I not appreciate someone who does that? It’s sad that Natsuno kills himself (and takes Tatsumi with him) but he’s made it clear early on that he didn’t want to live as the same creature that ruined his life. It’s an extreme decision but it’s ultimately his choice and there is something admirable about the way he orchestrates the whole thing.
Shiki has one of the most memorable endings I’ve seen in any anime. Even when the conflict between the humans and the shiki began, I expected the humans to come out on top in a neat reversal of the beginning events. And sure, they manage to kill almost all of the shiki and get revenge but in the end, their precious village which they were trying to protect ends up burning to the ground. It’s a stunning twist. The moment the fire starts, you know it’s not going to end well. By the time it reaches the point that it’s guaranteed Sotoba is doomed, I had to just take a moment to marvel at the way it all turned out. Everything the shiki do is in order to establish Sotoba as their safe base. Everything the humans do in retaliation is both revenge for the shiki’s attack on Sotoba and also an attempt to protect the village. Both parties are, by the end, extremely unsympathetic (though very entertaining). When the very place that they’ve all fought and killed and bled for ends up getting destroyed anyway as an indirect result of both parties’ actions, it’s hard to see it as anything but poetic justice. Really, this anime is brilliant.
In other news that has little to do with this post:
- I’m still busy with grad school things though it doesn’t seem like classes will start any time soon
- I haven’t been watching much anime and at this point, I’d like to just finally finish Ghost in the Shell SAC
- Sorry I haven’t been to your blogs as much as I used to but sadly, this might last a while