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Shiki – 15

November 13, 2010

Once again Shiki fakes us out with the previous episode’s preview – this was definitely more a Toshio episode rather than the Seishin one we were expecting!  After last weeks horrific events, episode 15 feels a bit dull in comparison, but there are some extremely interesting developments – we’re definitely setting up for the counterattack!

The rift between Toshio and Seishin is well and truly irreparable at this point.  Seishin takes in the gory scene of a blood splattered Toshio and a staked Kyoko, and can’t even speak he’s so disgusted and angry.  Toshio’s defense is that there was nothing else he could do – Kyoko had turned into a shiki and there is no other way to put an end to those abhorrent creatures, but Seishin still sees the shiki as living beings rather than complete monsters so he can’t condone Toshio’s actions – these two have extremely different mindsets at this stage.  Seishin is still content to sit on his heels, he has shown absolutely no inclination to fight back.  Even when its clear that someone (probably Sunako) has been in his room and gone through his story annotating the margins, Seishin seems more likely to turn inwards and angonise rather than go out and get answers for himself.

We still have no clue why he attempted suicide, but we do get a bit more on Seishin’s mentality this week – the key notion is that he doesn’t want to kill anything, be that humans or any other living creature.  When you consider that Seishin is a buddhist monk this makes a lot of sense, respecting the sanctity of all forms of life is a key tenet in the buddhist faith after all.  It still begs the question of why Seishin attempted suicide if he feels so strongly about respecting life, but he does say that perhaps he had no real reason to try to kill himself back then.  Since he obviously survived (and didn’t slash his wrist properly to begin with) perhaps his action could be construed as a cry for help rather than any meaningful attempt on his own life?  As the notes left on his story state, a death can not be considered murder if there is no intent to kill – a suicide without intent will not succeed.  I do hope we get more on Muroi’s backstory soon though, as a protagonist he is sorely lacking any depth or determination at the moment.

I was pleased that Seishin did agree to conducting Kyoko’s funeral though, even if the tension between he and Toshio was palatable its clear at least that Seishin does value their friendship even if he can not reconcile with Toshio’s mindset.  Toshio for his part seems to be more frustrated at Seishin’s compassion and unwillingness to take action against the shiki than anything else; he probably can’t understand why Seishin can see them as anything other than vicious creatures that should be wiped from the face of the earth!

The other notable event of Kyoko’s funeral is the fact the ordinary villagers are now shunning the clinic workers to a certain extent.  People know that there’s something going on in Sotoba, they don’t venture out at night and they’re avoiding contact with the clinical staff – clearly thinking that the clinic must be the focal point of an epidemic.  It all gets too much for one of the nurses, and between worry about her missing friend, frustration at Toshio’s cold attitude and the attitude of the villagers, she ultimately quits – I don’t think she will be the last either.

The majority of the rest of the episode serves to show how far Sotoba has fallen to the Shiki, and highlights how isolated Toshio now is. Spurred on by his discoveries during his dissection of Kyoko, Toshio finally makes his move in trying to bring the shiki’s attack into the public eye.  Unfortunately he’s left it too late, and not only are the villagers are starting to view him as a nutjob, but the town office is now completely infested with shiki, rendering any attempt to notify the outside authorities null.  Interestingly the shiki have managed to tamper with the records so that the death count reads as zero – all those that have died conveniently transferred out of Sotoba prior to death – at least on paper.  Just to further hammer home how useless his struggle is, Toshio is also informed by Chizuru Kirishiki that she has him pinned as her prey and to consider his days numbered!

The attitude of the villagers is frustrating, but understandable.  Toshio’s cafe friends even go so far as to spell out exactly why they’re unwilling to listen to his tales of the dead rising from the grave.  Essentially as people with modern mentalities, explanations grounded in the occult or religion hold no attraction or sway, the people would much rather pretend nothing is wrong than entertain the thought of something beyond their understanding being responsible for the deaths – of course they know that something is wrong, but its the classic ‘if I ignore it, it will go away’ approach…….although the fact I understand this doesn’t make it any less frustrating to watch!

We also get a look inside the Kirishiki controlled funeral parlour at last, and by god was it nothing like I was expecting!  I know that Kirishiki’s don’t really do subtlety in their actions, but funerals held in this place really take the biscuit for flamboyance and sheer inappropriateness!  Really, what was Tatsumi thinking when he picked this Willy Wonka wannabe to run the funeral parlour!?  Sacrilegious funeral’s aside, behind the scenes is a pretty slick operation, with bodies being switched out of coffins and held on site  to see if they’ll turn or not – saving Tatsumi valuable time digging up all those graves!  Still, they definitely need to work on toning down the Vegas style ceremonies!

We’re also enlightened as just why Tatsumi is different to the other shiki – he’s not a daywalker, but rather a werewolf (if umee’s translation of ‘jinou’ is correct).  Now I didn’t much like the theory that Tatsumi was a werewolf when it was bandied about in the early episodes, but if its true, its true – I’ll just have to get used to it.  I suppose it does make sense, vampires and werewolves tend to go hand in hand in the old stories after all.

Finally we come to the revelation that will have the most impact on the story – the return of Natsuno to Sotoba.  This was done in quite a subtle way – at the very beginning of the episode we see him watching Tohru laying flowers outside his window, and then we don’t see him again until he pops up in front of Toshio informing him that he’s ‘not alone’ at the very end.  Its unclear what circumstances Natsuno is returning in, all we know is that he’s been ‘dead’ for a week and now seems perfectly healthy again.  Natsuno doesn’t have the telltale red eyes of the Shiki, and its difficult to tell if his skin colouring is paler given the light he’s shown in, but I still think its safe to assume that he has indeed turned.

I hope that his appearance to Toshio prompts some kind of counterattack, as prior to Natsuno’s arrival Toshio seemed to have completely given up as he asks ‘are you here to kill me’ before realising who Natsuno is – Natsuno has always been the protagonist with the most drive so hopefully he will spark the same motivation in Toshio……although its debatable if Toshio will agree to work with a shiki, renegade or not.

The preview shows some extremely interesting scenes, and it appears like the focus will be switching to Akira.  Akira is the only other protagonist who has shown any real intent to fuck up the shiki’s plans – unfortunately without Natsuno’s stabilising influence it appears like Akira will be getting himself into a world of trouble by taking the shiki on without any kind of plan.  There are also a few interesting shots of Sunako, suggesting we’re getting a bit more on her background and there’s also some shots of Tohru with blood on his fangs and with the Kirishiki’s – very interesting indeed!  Looking forward to next week, but beginning to fear for the pacing of the show – will everything get resolved in the handful of episodes we have left?

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. adaywithoutme permalink
    November 13, 2010 10:15 pm

    I’m unsettled on whether Muroi’s distaste of violence is a matter of personal conviction or religious belief, honestly, as I am not well-learned on the matter of Buddhism in Japan to be able to make an actual guess. While Buddhism began as a pacifistic faith, its history in Japan hasn’t adhered terribly well to that doctrine – the sohei, who were Buddhist warrior-monks, were clearly in violation of that tenet, and most of the Buddhist institutions of pre-WW II Japan were strongly in support of the militarization of the country. Its also difficult to suss out what Muroi’s religious beliefs regarding suicide and killing because it isn’t clear what branch his temple of is.

    I say all of this since Muroi honestly hasn’t struck me as being particularly religious, which is curious considering that he is a priest. I’m not sure if this is a cultural thing on my part, though, as the varieties of religious devotion which with I am most familiar as an experience are Christianity and Islam. I’m having a hard time explaining it exactly. His actions as a priest read more as actions taken because they are expected as opposed to a belief that they are the correct actions in a moral/spiritual sense. We don’t really see him ever acting in a priestly manner except when there are others around him who themselves harbor certain expectations of a Buddhist priest.

    More tangentially, vampires would present an interesting challenge to Buddhism as their existence would directly question the notion of reincarnation. If some people die, but then they come back to life and become immortals, where does that leaves samsara?

    • November 14, 2010 6:47 pm

      What we really need is a proper Muroi-centric episode in order to get into his head and figure out where he’s coming from. We really have very little to go on when it comes to Muroi – he doesn’t really say much and tends to let others take the lead in conversations. It’s entirely too easy to go off on tangents when trying to suss the man out! 😆

      Coming back to the religion thing, I’m pretty much in the same boat as you – most of my knowledge of Buddhism is just superficial stuff picked up over the years. Completely agree that Seishin appears to be just fulfilling a family obligation rather than being a strict practioner of the faith.

      Also thats a very interesting point about the shiki being outside the cycle of reincarnation – perhaps thats another reason why Sunako feels the shiki are an abhorrent existence abandoned by god.

      • adaywithoutme permalink
        November 14, 2010 9:51 pm

        Well, I’ve studied Buddhism, but only in the context of South Asia, which leaves out huge swathes of it including that of Japan and China (and China is worth mentioning since, to my understanding, it is the Chinese variants which Japan’s different Buddhist sects draw largely from).

        I don’t see much changing with Muroi, though, as by the chapter listings for the manga he only gets his own POV chapter at the very end of volume nine of the manga, which just came out in October. I think part of the problem is that a lot of us saw him as one of the main characters early on when he really isn’t; he’s important, but Ozaki and Natsuno are our heroes, for better or worse.

        Muroi’s vagueness may be part of why quite a few of us find him so interesting. Its very easy to make endless conjectures about him! We know just enough about the right things to make us curious; the scar on his wrist comes to mind in particular. Whereas with some of the other characters, like Akira and Kaori, we may know roughly the same amount about them, but neither of them are sporting any clear issues.

        I vote for a Muroi-centric OVA in which he angsts-angsts-angsts and then sleeps with Ozaki at the end. Err, I mean, what?

        • November 14, 2010 11:07 pm

          Yeah seems we jumped the gun in declaring Muroi one of the primary protagonists, but considering how much time he spent with Ozaki and Sunako in the early episodes, its an understandable mistake 😄

          Indistinct characters are always more fun to speculate about, especially indistinct characters with obvious trauma in their pasts!

          I support this OVA idea. Wholeheartedly support it.

        • adaywithoutme permalink
          November 15, 2010 5:42 am

          If I had any drawing skills at all, it would at least be a doujin. And I would dedicate it to you as my fellow shipper, especially as a lot of English-language fans seem much more in favor of TatsumixOzaki BLEARGH YUCK NO

          Uguu~ I think I might cave on writing fanfics, though…. O_O

        • November 15, 2010 9:15 pm

          Haha! That would be awesome 😄

          Not overly fond of Tatsumi/Ozaki pairing; Muroi just works so much better!

        • adaywithoutme permalink
          November 16, 2010 6:34 am

          Ok, it happened… I just somehow managed to write a 4,000+ word OzakixMuroi fanfic. I am at a loss as to how it got to be so damn long… I’d only set out to write some smut… argh, dammit. And after I’d resolved to do a smutty one and a serious one! Now its just both! And I still want to do the other serious one! *tears at hair*

        • November 16, 2010 6:27 pm

          Oh wow! 😆 I’m impressed with how quickly you managed to get that written! There is no resisting the draw of serious/smutty BL fanfiction 😄

      • November 15, 2010 12:29 am

        “It’s entirely too easy to go off on tangents when trying to suss the man out!”

        Yes. Even when we get some internal dialogue from him, it is something non-committal, like, “I wonder if he knows the Kirishiki are behind the deaths?” We don’t get value markers (like, “Good, so he knows…” or “Damn! He figured out that…”

        Personally I see Seishin as using his religion as an excuse to take no action. I could see a Buddhist argument along the lines:
        – The world is a place of illusion and suffering.
        – A holy man renounces the world. Compassion for the living is merely selfish indulgence in the illusion, which promotes suffering.
        – Toshio is lost in the illusion of the world. His selfish indulgence in the illusion of loved ones and his responsibilities to the village only serve to bind him fast to the cycle of violence and suffering.

        Despite that, I don’t think Seishin is being honest about his motives. I think he wants the village to suffer. I think he wants it so badly that he writes out extended fantasies about the destruction of the village, and he is secretly thrilled that the Kirishiki are killing everyone. Although, as you said, it is tough to know whether one has gone astray when guessing about the younger monk’s motivations, so perhaps I’m wrong.

        • November 15, 2010 9:19 pm

          I don’t think Seishin is actively hoping for the destruction of the village so he can be free of his committments, but he’s certainly not tripping over himself to find a solution to the shiki problem in the village.

          Gah! Its entirely too easy to conjure up theories about this man!

  2. November 14, 2010 5:38 pm

    What was Mrs Kirishiki doing in the records office like that :|, all of these guys stand out way too much. If the villagers wernt sitting with their fingers in their ears they might think that these guys might be up to something. That “funeral” was hilarious though. 😄

    Natusuno’s eyes are interesting, since toshios wife proved that once they rise their eyes change. But his have not and he definitely died :/ He’s probably acting on his own like you guessed before, turned elsewhere and come to fight back.

    • November 14, 2010 6:55 pm

      I don’t think the Kirishiki’s understand the word subtle – they’re so lucky the villagers are currently burying their collective heads in the sand!

      The shiki definitely do have different eyes when they turn, and most seem to retain the red ring when they don’t have the vamped out void eyes. However there are exceptions – the Kirishiki’s don’t have the red ring and Chizuru & Sunako seem to have permanent void eyes. Tatsumi’s eyes change colour from gold to red, but since he’s a werewolf things might be different for him. Tohru and Megumi definitely have the red ring and void eyes, and they’re our best examples in the series……looking forward to getting a bit more on Natsuno’s situation.

      • Envy permalink
        November 15, 2010 7:25 am

        Yoshie (purple haired girl from the last episode) has eyes like Tatsumi and she can go out during the day so my guess is that she is a werewolf like Tatsumi

        • November 15, 2010 9:21 pm

          We haven’t really been shown anything about Yoshie in the anime yet through, other than the fact she has a certain amount of seniority among the Kirishiki servants.

  3. November 15, 2010 1:02 pm

    Kinda off topic, but do animes ever show the proper way of suicide by wrist cutting? I always thought movies didn’t show it because people might try it at home, and this was a way to reduce people from dying if they did try. Does this apply in anime?
    So maybe Seishin’s attempted suicide was real, but not shown as such..

    =)

    • adaywithoutme permalink
      November 15, 2010 7:24 pm

      Ok, I shouldn’t pimp my own blog in the comments section on another blog, but I am planning to do a big post about the way in which Muroi’s suicide attempt has been depicted within Shiki and about the ways in which suicide is depicted in anime in general. Sooooo hold tight! I’m trying to hold off until we actually get some more details on his attempt.

      • November 15, 2010 9:24 pm

        Haha! Pimp away – looking forward to that post……but need some more Muroi in Shiki first 😛

      • November 16, 2010 12:27 am

        Will be looking forward to it as well…

        =)

    • November 15, 2010 9:23 pm

      Interesting point. I would have thought that in this digital age the vast majority of people would know the ‘proper’ way of slashing wrists, but that censor seems to have been hardwired into the media now.

      Need Muroi backstory episode now!!

      • November 16, 2010 12:37 am

        I only heard about the proper way from friends years ago. It isn’t something I’d actively go look into to confirm. If I knew nothing about the ways of suicide, I probably would have assumed that it was the correct way of cutting.

        and whether or not they show the proper way, it still has the same type of impact when you see the scars and the implied blood loss in the flashbacks. You feel for the guy who felt he was at such a point in life that suicide was the only option.

        • November 16, 2010 6:31 pm

          I think I was a bit of a morbid child – I’ve always known the ‘correct way’ to slash wrists o_O

          I suppose in the grand scheme of things, it really is all about the impact rather than the correctness of the method. I’m still interested in what approach is being used in Shiki though – if using the wrong method was deliberate to show that Seishin didn’t really want to die, or if it was just media censorship.

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