Shiki – 04
I say it every week, but the atmosphere in Shiki is amazing. This episode sees the boundaries of nightmare and reality start to blur – how much is fact and how much is the product of sleep deprivation and guilt? The last 5mins or so were excellent, pity so much of the rest of the episode were taken up with medical jargon that made my eyes glaze over (I have to listen to/type up/read medical jargon 5 days a week, it’s a conditioned reflex now).
Kaori’s little brother seems to be the first to make the connection between the Kirishiki’s moving into the area and the sudden spike in mysterious deaths afflicting the town. Kaori herself is still grief-stricken over Megumi’s death so she’s not particularly receptive to her little brother’s conspiracy theories. Still, its nice to see that someone is looking at things from another angle, the adults seem to be pretty stuck on the idea of an epidemic and that’s blinkering their ability to think creatively at the moment.
The latest victims are Nao’s husband Mikiyasu and son Susumu, bringing the current death toll to 19. That’s a pretty big number in such a short time. Also it seems that the families of some victims are just up and leaving in the middle of the night with nary a word to their neighbours; highly unusual behaviour in such a close-knit community. The same moving van has been seen clearing out their homes in the middle of the night too – what kind of removals company works such anti-social hours? Are the Kirishiki’s abducting people now? Tatsumi was driving a removal truck when the family moved in – it’s a bit too much to dismiss as coincidence.
Meanwhile over at the clinic, Dr Ozaki seems to be reveling in his new role as leader of the epidemic hunters. It’s weird to watch him posturing to his staff, sprawling out on the sofa while everyone else sits round the table, dropping a few facts and waiting for everyone else to come up with the theories; I’d have thought that he’d be a touch more upset by the death of his childhood friend (although perhaps this bravado is his way of coping?). The nurses are all very knowledgeable and easily come up with a number of plausible medical conditions, while the poor ordinary staff and the viewers go glassy-eyed at all the technical mumbo-jumbo. It’s not surprising to me that the nursing staff is so knowledgeable, I work in a hospital and its usually the nurses that keep the doctors in line! Still this scene was pretty boring as we all kind of know vampires are to blame, not some new disease that causes acute inexplicable anaemia and multiple organ failure.
Muroi has another run in with Sunako out in the woods surrounding the temple, in the middle of the night. That child is so creepy, yet Muroi doesn’t seem as perturbed by her as he did the last episode. Once again Sunako demonstrates a level of thought much more advanced than her appearance would indicate, going off on a tangent about the nature of death and how everyone is equal in its eyes. She’s perfectly right of course, but Muroi is grieving Mikiyasu’s death and a philosophical debate about equality in death is the last thing he wants to hear.
Muroi also asks the obvious question of what such a young girl is doing wandering around at night. Sunako informs him that she has a condition that prevents her from going out in UV light, and part of the reason why the family moved into the area was for her treatment. A convenient cover story for a family of vampires eh? 😛 Unfortunately Muroi then makes the mistake of inviting Sunako to come back to his little church hideaway whenever she wants – don’t invite them in!!
Things with Natsuno seem to be getting steadily worse. He can’t sleep without having disturbing nightmares about Megumi coming back from the dead to get him. A combination of lack of sleep, paranoia, a reluctance to talk about his issues with anyone and a vague feeling of guilt about being such a prick about Megumi’s death; all culminates in Natsuno being pretty out of it when he finally asks to stay over in Tohru’s again. Tohru does himself no favours when he trips another death flag by declaring his intention to ask out Ritsuko the green-haired nurse – planning a date/confession is a sure way to get yourself killed in horror series!
The final part of the episode is brilliantly directed; we’re not sure if this is another one of Natsuno’s Megumi themed nightmares, or if Tatsumi has finally taken Tohru up on his invitation and brought a Megumi as his +1. I’m thinking its some combination of the two, as Natsuno has yet to meet Tatsumi so seeing him outside the window doesn’t really fit. Megumi’s return was delightfully creepy though – crawling out from under the bed with those jerky movements really is the stuff of nightmares! Megumi has also acquired the void-eyes sported by the Kirishiki women, as well as the glowing red eyes favoured by Tatsumi – the combination is chilling; can’t really blame Natsuno for being utterly frozen in fear.
Megumi’s jealousy and stalkery ways remain with her beyond the grave, as she turns her new fangs on Natsuno’s only real love interest – Tohru. It’s a pity the episode ends on that cliffhanger, guess we’ll have to wait until next week to see if this is a dream or not!
The soundwork and direction during tense scenes continue to impress, but there is still way too much time spent on nothing. The amount of time given to Ozaki’s medical conference and Natsuno’s jittery brooding behaviour in this episode was ridiculous. The last scene with Megumi’s return and Muroi’s second meeting with Sunako made up for the slowness somewhat, but the pace is still painfully slow. Still at least we’re going somewhere now – kind of hoping this is all real and not a product of Natsuno’s imagination as I think having Tohru die would be kick Natsuno needs to become a proper protagonist. Perhaps he’ll team up with Kaori and her brother like the OP vaguely suggests?