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Shiki – 02

July 17, 2010

So Shiki will be the only series I’ll be consistently blogging this Summer – nothing else really appealed to me, but may make the odd post about various series if something interesting happens.  Other than that I’ll be starting a few of my Top 10 lists that I’ve been wanting to work on but haven’t had time/been well enough to type.  Anyway, enough off-topicness – onto episode two of Shiki!

This week there’s more unexplained deaths and the adults are starting to gather for some wild speculation….just what is going on in Sotoba?  Well if you’ve read the series synopsis you’ll already know – but its fun to watch people speculate!

The majority of the episode deals with the fallout of Megumi’s death; the grief of her family and friends, the guilt and confusion Dr Ozaki feels, and the fact her sudden death sounds alarm bells in the minds of  the monk and doctor.  The rest of the episode is spent following Natsuno around as he goes about his daily business of being a self-centred prat who’s pissed off at the world.

First off lets talk about Sotoba village itself.  This episode gives us a much better idea of what this village is like.  Its hedged in on three sides by dense forest (the trees of which are traditionally used to make grave markers), takes a spear-head shape, is very isolated and has a population of about 1,300.  Like in most small communities, everyone seems to know each other and gossiping appears to be the sole hobby of many of the older generation – Natsuno notes that they don’t appear to be happy unless they’ve pigeonholed people.  There aren’t many youngsters in the village, the majority are elderly and middle-aged; seems like most of the younger adults leave for larger towns/cities and only a handful stay in Sotoba.  I can see why Megumi and Natsuno seem to dislike living there so much – I think I’d be pretty pissed off too!

It’s this isolated rural setting that provides the tense atmosphere in this series.  In a larger town ten deaths in the space of a month wouldn’t really rouse any suspicion, but in such a small community ripples of unease start to appear quite quickly; especially when young, perfectly healthy people start to drop dead – like Megumi last week.  As you would expect its the medical and religious personnel that first start to feel that something sinister is going on; afterall they’re the first people you contact when there is a death.  Dr Ozaki seems to be particularly determined to get to the bottom of things as he is treating it as a personal insult that he was unable to save Megumi, but the monk Muroi seems to be very intuitive and sharp as well.

I can’t help but feel that these inital episodes would have had so much more impact if the series synopsis hadn’t of mentioned vampires.  Half the fun of horror/mystery series is the speculation that ensues when you are trying to figure out what’s going on.  Dr Ozaki and monk Muroi come to the sensible scientific conclusion that people in Sotoba may be dying from a new epidemic disease – that’s the conclusion I’d automatically jump to as well.  Victims only seem to have one thing in common – they are all drowsy and dazed before they pass away.  The death certificates may say things like ‘acute heart failure’ and ‘kidney failure’, but since there hasn’t been any autopsy’s carried out on victims, these causes of death are only educated guesses – Dr Ozaki even says the actual cause of death is unknown when pressed by Muroi.

Sotoba for such a small village, seems to have a pretty decent clinic staffed by a number of nurses, a pharmacist(?) and a doctor.  Although I’d only reckon on Ozaki and nurse Ritsuko having any real impact on the plot. Why?  Well they’re the ones with properly crazy hair, a clear indication of how important a character you are in this series (unless that’s a subversion and its the normal haired people you need to look out for!).  I suppose with an aging population you need a decent sized clinic but I was surprised that it was that large and so well staffed (clearly not NHS funded – they’d have half those nurses out on their ear!).

Just a few other things to comment on.  Sotoba seems to bury their dead rather than cremate them (I’m sure that’s going to be important at some point if there’s a risk of the dead coming back as vampires), also the burial plots seem to be in the forest, which I found odd since most graveyards seem to be clearings/fields (although having the burial plots well out of sight means that any disturbed graves won’t be immediately noticed adding tension I suppose).

The stuff centred on Natsuno only served to make me dislike the boy more.  He’s got this massive chip on his shoulder and its rather annoying to see him treat others with such contempt.  Sure he had plenty of reason not to like Megumi (she did stalk him afterall), but that’s no reason to be a dick to her obviously grief stricken friend.  I’m kind of hoping something nasty happens to Natsuno since he’s still getting the feeling of being watched, and there was something in the bushes outside his window; however not getting my hopes up – he features prominently in the OP afterall!

So no sightings or mention of the Kirishiki family this week – hope they make an appearance soon.  Since we the viewers already know the issue is vampires, it would be nice if things could get to the point were they’re introduced quickly.

So very much a set up episode, establishing the village and giving us a feel for the characters – not overly exciting to watch but necessary for setting the scene and laying the groundwork for the main plot.  I love the feeling of tension this show has – the music is just brilliant at building the atmosphere; it’s not a standalone melodic score, but its great for creating a spooky atmosphere.  Character designs are growing on me now.  It still niggles how the main characters are drawn so much more outlandishly than the background characters – the contrast is a bit extreme, but I generally like the character designs and their mad hair now.

Looking forward to next week!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 18, 2010 1:41 am

    I totally agree about the music. There was one scene where Natsuno was writing and the crazy music started freaking me out.

    • July 18, 2010 11:38 am

      Oh yeah with all the crazy drums! I fully expected something to jump out of the bushes at that point! 😆

  2. September 7, 2010 1:00 pm

    Loved this line. “The rest of the episode is spent following Natsuno around as he goes about his daily business of being a self-centred prat who’s pissed off at the world.” 😄

    Also I forgot the series was about vampires, you ruined that part for me. 😦

    • September 7, 2010 8:14 pm

      Sorry for ruining that for you, but really, tis mentioned in most synopsis for the series.

      And that line just about summed up Natsuno in the early episodes 😛

      • September 8, 2010 1:59 pm

        oh well not to worry, the next ep pretty much confirmed it with the “insect bites” and the freaky people showing up, who are also stupidly out of place…

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