Shiki – 21
Good god its grim in Sotoba. As usual this weeks episode of Shiki was absolutely brilliant, but its damn tough going to get through the episodes these days – its disturbing to see what’s become of the characters. At this stage I’m hoping for a finale that just puts everyone out of their collective misery – there is absolutely no way anything good can come out of this bloodbath.
Muroi is the pivotal character this week, but we’ll get to him later – I want to talk about everything else before I go off on that tangent!
The scene at the beginning with the women cheerfully having tea & riceballs in the midst of what is effectively a mass-grave, just made my skin crawl. It’s so frightening to see how people have adapted to this situation. Its harrowing to see these ordinary women covered in blood, nonchalantly moving corpses about while chatting as if this situation is completely normal – nothing about this scene is normal, and that’s what really makes it disturbing.
Things continue to get worse throughout the episode. Nurse Lingerie fights off wild dogs to make it back to Sotoba, and once she lets slip where the rest of the shiki are hiding, the frenzied villagers immediately set off to dispose of them. Nurse Lingerie has been away from the slaughter for the most part, and her only real contact with the shiki has been with Ritsuko & Tohru – I doubt that she has a very bad opinion of the vampires. Nurse Lingerie actually looks rather put out when Ookawa & Ozaki stop listening to her and start preparing to storm the shiki’s last strong-hold.
It was actually upsetting to see the shiki hiding in this abandoned village be culled in such a brutal manner. The majority of these shiki are those that were too weak to hunt for themselves or outright rejected what they had become – people who never asked to rise from the dead and never harmed any humans. Did these shiki really deserve such a violent and horrific death? It’s particularly poignant to see Tohru & Ritsuko’s bodies get dragged out. Tohru has signs of sun damage on him, but Ritsuko doesn’t – clearly she was already dead from starvation before she was staked, and I doubt very much that Tohru put up much of a fight. I’m kind of disappointed that Tohru died here – I really wanted to see him and Natsuno reunited; it’s a bit frustrating that Tohru died believing he killed Natsuno, but that Natsuno actually rose and was, in a round about way, pivotal in the shiki’s ultimate destruction. At this stage of the series there are very few shiki left – the mountains of bodies are testament to how close the shiki came to realising their plan for a village of shiki, but the blood lust of the remaining humans has completely decimated their numbers in a matter of days…….humans are truly terrifying in their capacity for carnage.
The timeline was a bit all over the place this week – we get to see Yoshie hypnotising that man who shot Ookawa’s wife in episode 20, and we also get to see what became of Seishiro after his run in with Natsuno. Have to say that it was an absolute stroke of genius on Natsuno’s part to bite & hypnotise Seishiro Kirishiki into hunting down werewolves. Yoshie & Tatsumi are the biggest threats at this stage since they’re stronger than the ordinary shiki & have shown a great ability to lead & organise. Ordinary humans have very little chance against those two, but Seishiro is effectively their boss so they would let their guards down around him – which is why Yoshie was dispatched so easily this week when Seishiro shot her through the head. It was so unexpected, yet makes perfect sense – once again we see why Natsuno should not be underestimated (why the hell was he not in this episode? what is he doing!?).
Masao also seems to have met his end this week at last. His sister-in-law was one of the women at the start of the episode nonchalantly staking half-dead shiki & eating riceballs with blood-soaked hands, so it’s rather fitting that she should be the one to put an end to Masao’s miserable existence. Still I did feel a touch sorry for him when he was desperately trying to fight the instinct to sleep and find somewhere safe to hide for the day…….just a touch though, Masao was a repellant character that outstayed his welcome really.
This week also gave us a bit more on Tatsumi and why he’s so loyal to Sunako. Its been a question that I’ve wanted addressed for ages, so I was glad to see Muroi raise the issue, but the answer was remarkably simple in the end. Tatsumi just admire’s the way Sunako struggles against the way of the world. Sunako wanted to create a haven for shiki, something that really was a pipe dream – shiki aren’t really meant to live in one concentrated area. Tatsumi himself doesn’t need that kind of haven since as a werewolf he can blend into the human world perfectly, but Sunako’s passion for that dream appealed to him. Tatsumi’s loyalty ultimately boils down to him admiring Sunako as a person – very simple, very unexpected and quite powerful really. As hateful as Tatsumi can sometimes be, I still like him as a character and it was interesting to see this softer side to his character.
Now Muroi….good god Muroi, you are a messed up character! So we got a more satisfying reason for his suicide attempt than ‘I don’t know’ this week – Muroi was trying to escape. Escape his obligations, escape his own despair and escape from the closed world that is Sotoba. In Muroi’s Cain & Abel story, it turns out that both brothers were the same person – in trying to kill off an aspect of his personality the main character took his own life as well……and elaborate suicide, but suicide none the less. There is no killing without intent after all – Shiki keeps telling us that.
It’s amazing to see Muroi being so proactive. In the final part of this episode we see more life out of him than we have for the majority of the series! However its interesting to note that he’s not acting for himself – Tatsumi requests that Muroi protects a slumbering Sunako, and Muroi does so – desperately. But Muroi also massively underestimates the villagers blood lust – I don’t think he ever imagined that his attempt to hide in the temple would lead to not only his mother’s death, but the deaths of everyone associated with the temple! The temple people have hitherto remained outside the slaughter and are completely blameless & innocent – they have no clue that Seishin defected to the shiki’s side, or that Mr Muroi, in some misguided attempt at suicide, invited the shiki into his room and ended up rising as a shiki himself! The Muroi’s are a tragic family really – father & son’s attempts to escape their lives inadvertently destroyed all around them.
So now we have Muroi being terribly injured and yet still struggling on. If it weren’t for Sunako I’d imagine our self-destructive priest would have just accepted that man’s cleaver in the stomach and died happily, however since he’s responsible for Sunako (and likely feels similarly to Tatsumi about her) Muroi desperately clings to life and continues to try to protect her. Muroi is still alive in the preview (how I don’t know – he’s been dying for weeks now!) and looking quite resolute but at this stage I think its unlikely that Muroi will survive the series as a human – he’s too far gone to be saved now.
Next week is Shiki’s finale, and there are some very interesting things going on in the preview – looks like Day’s theory about Sotoba going up in flames is going to come true as there is a lot of fire. Natsuno also features facing off with Tatsumi again, so perhaps at the very end we’ll find out what he’s been doing behind the scenes. Sunako also appears – fleeing through the woods and looking like she’s about to be staked by Ookawa in the church. I also want to see Muroi & Ozaki come face to face again. Ozaki seems to have completely abandoned any attempt to keep the villagers in line this week – I don’t think Ozaki really holds any hope to survive the slaughter (just like Natsuno really) and is just letting things snowball now – he has also completely given up on Muroi since he let Ookawa go after the monk very easily.
At this stage it would probably be kinder to the characters to just let everyone die – I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to survive these events! Shiki’s finale will be something amazing regardless – I can not wait.