Shiki review

natsuno human[1]

By Nathan Danczak, Class of 2015

It has been quite mysterious in the village of Sotobamura.  Three deaths have mysteriously occured on the same day as apparently a strange family has moved into the residental Kanemasa mansion, which hasn’t really set well the village.  Ozaki, a kind yet frustrated doctor, thinks of it as nothing more than a typical occurence.  However, when another victim of the epidemic, Megumi and several other soon follow, he realizes that this is happening every single day now.  This is happening so often that it quickly becomes a normal occurence.  Ozaki, being the head doctor in the only hospital clinic of the whole village, tries to figure out why this keeps happening so often.  He decides the most rational of solutions….the undead have risen back up from their graves and are now out at night in order to eventually turn the whole small village into Shiki, or corpse demon for translation.  At the same time, a great resenter of the village, the young Natsuno Yuuki, tries to figure out what the Shiki are really capable of and what their appearance has to do with all the mysterious deaths in town.  Has this all started with the family moving into the mansion?  Are they the reasoning behind all the activity that’s been going on and if so, just who is this kind of family.  Are they actually Shiki masquerading as humans, or is there something more dark to this little tale than what the villagers think? 

On the plus side, I applaud Shiki for using subtle narrative to tell this story. You get the feeling of almost being claustrophobic every time you watch this series because of how the creepy tone can get and find the concept of vampire-like creatures being  responsible for the deaths in the small town village.  It’s well written because it takes time to explore this place of Sotoba and what causes some of the people to dislike it entirely, and second, it takes what could have been just another run-of-the-mill vampire anime and brings life to it, giving numerous back stories and little bits of character development.
The series uses all the tricks  one would expect from horror like this:  distorted angles, eerie music and the sound of whistling leaves help gratify this little horror title to work on it’s own. That’s not to say it’s bad, but it’s nowhere near complex as people claim it to be.  Still, considering  the lack of horror we’ve gotten in anime these days, it does what good horror tries to do best, stand out on it’s own.
The music of Shiki can range from being decent to way too over the top loud-banging sting sounds whenever something happens.  I personally thought the music could have been a little bit better, I mean with all the horror crammed into it you would think a show with the premise I just mentioned be a bit more eerie and creative then the one we have here.  The first opening is memorable enough, while the other opening and the two ending themes are okay, it’s just they don’t stand out as much.
I mentioned earlier how subtle the show was  and how it makes you feel like you have dementia when you watch it.  Well, in all honestly Shiki is nothing more than that in terms of story telling.  We get no explanation of what the Shiki actually are, what reasons they would have for taking over a small town that isn’t even connected to any public highway, but to be fair, I don’t think it needs an explanation. Good horror always makes you think, and that’s what makes the premise of Shiki more inviting to some people, because you don’t need an explanation, it’s already there.
For the voice acting in English dub and Japanese, both are equally good and I suggest you watch both to see what you think sounds better.  The English dub is more appealing to the ears with voice actors such as Jerry Jewell as Natsuno and David Wald’s natural sounding Ozaki to add a little to it. Not to mention, the endless string of supporting characters that are in this show.
For the characters, I mentioned all the endless side characters so let’s move on. The characters are decent, just adding the right bland of the nice tone of it all and being likable as well. Though the series doesn’t really give any explanation of why they’re staying in the village, this is a series that forgets so much about everything, the show would not work if it gave everything away too quickly.  I particulary enjoyed the series as if it was trying to say something more. Not to say I didn’t like the show, I did, but too many questions being there throughout the show, along with the long list of questions that Shiki ended up giving us as well.  I would have given it three stars had the story been fully straight on it’s approach back to the vampire genre of anime and to not focus on anything other than that. I would still recommend the show though, but pay attention to what your getting into.
I give Shiki 2.5 stars out of 4.  Shiki is produced by studio Daume and available from Funimation

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