Shiki – 09
So rather than going right into the resolution of lasts week’s cliffhanger with Natsuno, this weeks episode focuses entirely on Dr Ozaki and Monk Muroi’s stake out of the clinic. Most of the episode was pretty standard – build the tension, have a few info-dumping conversations, introduce yet more characters……but the latter section was really exciting, as I wasn’t expecting the dynamic duo’s stake out to actually payoff!
I was fully expecting Shiki to milk the tension a bit more; having Ozaki doubt himself and Muroi remain extremely skeptical and worried for a few more episodes at least, before letting these two actually catch a glimpse of a vampire. But instead in this episode, we have Ozaki’s stakeout of Setsuko, a supposed vampire victim, payoff very quickly as Nao pays a visit to her 2nd floor room. That scene was really well done – I got chills from the fingernails on the windowpane, and the vision of Nao seemingly floating outside the window with that wild hair, red eyes and fangs fully exposed. From the fact that Nao is staying outside, Muroi and Ozaki rightly come to the conclusion that the vampires can’t enter without an invitation, and Ozaki emphatically denies Nao one in a bid to keep Setsuko safe; and it works…..for a while.
I was really surprised that so many vampires showed themselves to Ozaki and Muroi, especially since it seems they have orders not to harm these two just yet. It seems a bit counterproductive to me, as surely now that Ozaki has had his suspicions confirmed, he’s going to step up his attempts to remove the vampire menace? Then again, Ozaki doesn’t seem to be as proactive as Natsuno in his attempts to pursue the supernatural – he’s been very ‘wait and see’ for the most part.
Muroi will be an interesting case though. He was originally skeptical about Ozaki’s whole ‘its vampires!’ theory, and I’d say that his main reason for going along with Ozaki’s stake out idea was to look out for his friend’s wellbeing. However now Muroi has been presented with indisputable proof that vampires do indeed exist and they are attacking the villagers. Now that he’s seen Tatsumi it will only be a short stretch to make the connection to Sunako & the Kirishiki’s, so it will be intriguing to see how he interacts with Sunako in the future.
Ozaki on the other hand, has always treated the deaths of his patients as a personal insult; the fact that a patient he was treating has been snatched right out from under his nose and sucked dry outside his clinic is going to be a massive blow to his pride – sensing personal vendetta incoming! For now Ozaki and Muroi seem to be safe though – orders from the Kirishiki’s are ensuring their safety in the short-term. My best guess is that this is to ensure the continued isolation of Sotoba. If the only doctor and a high-profile monk were to suddenly drop dead, that would definitely spark outside interference – which is something the vampires have gone to great lengths to avoid; by having Ishida the civil servant disappear, and by having certain victims move away to spread out the deaths a bit. Having Sotoba so isolated makes their feeding grounds somewhat safe in the short-term, however if they keep picking off residents and turning a percentage at the rate they have done, its only a matter of time before outsiders start noticing.
The behaviour of the vampires this episode was interesting. Nao seemed zombie-like and feral to begin with when Ritsuko caught sight of her in the woods, but at the end when feeding on her mother she was charismatic and self-aware. I’m not sure what kind of feeling they’re trying to achieve with the vampires in this series – having a character act in two very different ways is throwing me a bit. Megumi always seems to be in charismatic vamp mode – even when she was crawling out from under Tohru’s bed she seemed self-aware rather than animatistic. Mr Librarian who preyed on Masao also showed the duality that Nao displayed this episode; being quite feral in his initial attack, and charismatic in his subsequent feedings.
I wonder if the level of vampire that preys on you affects what kind of vampire you become? If you’re turned by a low-level vampire, do you have more animatistic personality traits, and if you’re turned by a high-level vampire, do you maintain more of your original personality and capacity for autonomous action? Will be interesting to find out once we get more insight into the Kirishiki’s themselves.
The rest of the episode was spent on some Ozaki character develop through introducing his mother and wife, Kyouko. I was pretty surprised to discover Toshio was married, but it seems that it was a marriage of convenience and Kyouko mainly lives elsewhere and runs her own business. Mother Ozaki seems to be extremely overprotective of her son, and very concerned about the status of the Ozaki family name in the village, its even said that she doesn’t like Muroi since the temple folk have a higher social standing than the Ozaki family. She doesn’t want Toshio overworking himself or dealing with anything too dangerous, like an epidemic. There’s also some classic mother-in-law tension between Mrs Ozaki and Kyouko – I kind of almost feel sorry for Toshio.
Dr Ozaki’s pride will probably be his downfall. He’s completely unwilling to ask for help from his staff, and only seems to really act like himself around Muroi. In front of the clinic staff and villagers, he’s a competent, confident doctor in control of the situation; in private he’s a wreck suffering from sleep-deprivation and riddled with self-doubt and frustration. Cracks are showing in his facade already as the clinic staff are concerned about his wandering attention span and rumpled appearance. His mother even sent for Kyouko, since she feels that it’s a wife role to look after their husband’s health. Unfortunately Kyouko ended up being the one to invite Tatsumi into the clinic and inadvertently further stressed her husband out!
This episode once again had a preview during the ED, and I’m really looking forward to next week since there was glimpses of Vampire!Tohru creeping up on a shaken looking Natsuno gripping a wrench. It will be very interesting to see what kind of vampire Tohru has become, and what Natsuno’s reaction to finding creepy ventriloquist loli sitting in his bedroom will be!