Shiki – 20
Holy god Shiki, what are you doing to me!? I really do not know how this show keeps going above and beyond my expectations every damn week – but it does, and I adore it for that. Really nothing too unexpected happens this week, rather its just a direct follow to see how Ozaki’s suggestion of a Shiki hunt actually goes down; but the execution! Oh my god so good!
Shiki has never really pulled its punches – it’s a horror series after all, but this episode was utterly brutal as Sotoba was gripped in a frenzy of bloodletting. Once the villagers get over their initial discomfort of having to stake the shiki, the floodgates open and it’s a free-for-all of slaughter – very little hesitation is shown, with little room for hesitation or sympathy for the shiki’s plight. Those that show any kind of empathy are quickly cowed by peer-pressure and the sheer force of personality that is Tomio Ookawa. Toshio may have suggested this witch hunt, and he’s still the brains of the operation, but Ookawa is the brawn and impassioned heart.
Ookawa is quickly consumed by the urge to purge Sotoba of the monster’s threatening its peace. Like Toshio he also shows little hesitation when confronted with his undead son, driving a stake through Atsushi’s heart with his bare hands when the man tries to flee. Ookawa says that as a parent he must take responsibility for his son’s sins, and takes the job of putting him back among the deceased upon himself. Of course unlike Toshio’s clinical disposal of Kyouko, Atsushi kind of brought his demise upon himself by murdering Mrs Ozaki in cold blood as Chizuru’s revenge, and then hiding in a wardrobe in the clinic!
Speaking of Mrs Ozaki’s murder, I was amazed by how little emotion Toshio showed when her body was found. Mrs Ozaki was an unpleasant, domineering woman, but she was still his mother and you would think Toshio would be a bit more upset, rather the random villagers in the background seem more emotional than Toshio is. It seems that Toshio’s clinical separation of his heart from his head is still in full effect; given he was a perfectly well-adjusted human being before all this killing happened, Toshio could well be a ticking time bomb waiting to happen. The moment he lets himself feel anything again will be his undoing – Toshio is a meltdown waiting to happen.
It was always going to happen from the moment Toshio stirred the villagers up into a frenzy and painted a religious varnish over the purge, but things quickly spiral out of his control in this episode. There is a clear Us Vs Them mentality, and the villagers do not accept that there is a middle ground were some humans are being controlled and acting against their will. Ookawa is the pivotal figure in things getting beyond Toshio’s control, the man’s strength and forceful personality make him an ideal leader in this kind of mob – we’ve reached a fever pitch were the villagers are out for the blood of anything that wrong them, regardless of whether they are human or shiki.
The impetus for this is Seishiro Kirishiki. The villagers know that he is human and has sided with the shiki from the start and out of his own freewill. Ookawa can’t see the difference between a human like Seishiro and those that have been bitten and hypnotised – it’s a subtle difference after all, and the villagers want things to be as black & white as possible (it doesn’t help that Seishiro sniped massive beard guy and then hypnotised dude shot Ookawa’s wife!). We got a surprising insight into Seishiro this week too – I would not have expected him to share so much information about his mindset to Natsuno, but as Sunako says later, with Chizuru’s death Seishiro isn’t thinking too clearly.
Seishiro’s revelation that he wants to be in a position of power due to his serial-killer fathers influence was unexpected, as was his ascertation that he wanted to be a shiki. I wonder why no one has bitten him yet? Tatsumi says that Sunako is fond of Seishiro because he’s a human that accepts her as a shiki – perhaps its the uncertainty of his becoming a shiki himself that prevents her from biting him and potentially losing that rarity. It’s a shame we don’t get the conclusion to Natsuno & Seishiro’s skirmish (it’s a shame we don’t get more of Natsuno full stop!), but since Seishiro is in the preview (sans cape) I can only presume that he managed to escape. Doubt that Natsuno was killed, he’s been way too important a character to snuff it off-screen from a gunshot wound!
In this episode Ookawa has already stepped over that line and killed a man under shiki hypnosis, despite Toshio’s pleas for these humans to be captured and held in the shrine until the hypnosis wears off. I liked that Toshio makes this suggestion upon remembering that Seishin may be among these humans on the shiki side, its a nice reminder that Toshio hasn’t completely lost his heart in the slaughter – Seishin may have betrayed the village, but a life long friendship is difficult to erase (also since I ship these two I can’t help but read too far into these things!).
Speaking of Muroi……..urgh, the man is a walking (or in this case sitting) frustration! He’s really not looking too hot at the moment, being a very disturbing shade of pale gray, sitting like a limp rag doll and offering very little reaction to anything (including Sunako’s heart wrenching sobbing and Tatsumi nipping at his wrist). Yet Muroi must have some sort of fight left in him, saying he’s still alive and does make an effort to shield Sunako when he hears someone coming down the stairs. However he’s still annoyingly passive – good god man, please do something – even if was just patting Sunako on the head while she cried on his lap, that at least would have been something!! But no. Muroi just sits there in angsty silence while she pours her heart out – its like Kaori all over again……clearly Muroi doesn’t know how to comfort little girls who are in obvious distress (even if Sunako is actually old enough to be Muroi’s grandmother). Muroi is looking much more determined in the preview (but he’s also leaving a substantial trail of blood so that may not be a good thing) so maybe he’ll finally be spurred into action by something or other. But then again given his track record, it could be the thought of finally succeeding with his self destruction that’s making him actually move!
As for Sunako herself, oh my! I felt so sorry for her! Sunako’s pained expression and heartfelt speech about sin & abandonment, cut right to the heart of why it’s so difficult to support any one side in Shiki. The shiki can’t help what they’ve become, its become their nature to hunt in order to survive;
It’s not like I wanted to become a creature like this; but if I have life I don’t want to lose it!
Sunako’s question of whether she should have starved to death instead of living by taking other’s lives, and the way she practically begs Muroi to tell her why god has abandoned her, just made me feel terrible for her. Being a shiki is a terrible existence, all the more so for one trapped in the body of a child. Sunako’s visible fear of being killed, and the stake going clean through her frail little body was a powerful moment. Its quiet little moments like this when Shiki’s dialogue really shines.
Finally we have the resolution to Ritsuko’s story – she really did hold out and starve herself to death. Tohru finally caves to Ritsuko’s pleading and lets Nurse Lingerie go, staying with Ritsuko until she eventually expires. This scene probably would have had a bit more impact if the whole Tohru X Ritsuko thing had of got a bit more development – it feels a bit shallow as it is, since Tohru has always been much more vocal about Natsuno. Still I had to admire Ritsuko’s guts for seeing this starvation through, and continuing to think of others right to the end in spite of how much pain she was in – its a pity Ritsuko never got more screen time really.
I liked how Ritsuko could see right through Tohru when she says “I don’t want to detest myself like you do” when Tohru questions why she won’t just feed and get rid of the pain. Tohru is clearly cut to the core – he really has done nothing but hate on himself and cry since he was turned, perhaps Tohru will be the next to try to find the willpower to starve to death (although since Nurse Lingerie knows where they are, Tohru could well find himself on the pointy end of a stake sooner rather than later). I’d really like to see Natsuno & Tohru’s reunion before either of them die (again) though – its something I’ve been wanting to see ever since Natsuno came back!!
So a powerful episode this week – it’s taken me ages to get this post straight, and think I’ve still left some stuff out! Now to start the long wait for episode 21! Its going to kill me~!