Shiki and Satisfaction

Shiki was one of the two shows I wanted to marathon from the last season. It’s particularly notable to me for its lineage, being another anime adaptation of Fuyumi Ono’s works. Yea, I liked Twelve Kingdoms, and no, I passed on Ghost Hunt, too. Now that I’ve watched it as it’s almost all out and all done, hopefully I can put it down as fast as I’ve finished it. Naturally, minor spoilers are ahead.

In terms of genre, I think Ono writes for a horror-for-girls kind of thing in Shiki. In some ways that makes sense in Shiki, there are some pretty obvious elements where it feels natural to graft BL things onto them. I think typical for a girl-focused/mainstream work, also, there is a lot of strong poetic justice plays. There is a theme about retribution, divine, natural or man-influenced. Also I wonder how would anyone get the abandoned by God thing without knowing Cain and Able’s story.

Anyway, I don’t have a lot to say about Shiki except that during the whole build-up to the gruesome end to the series, I was being fed lines and after lines of how these vampire people are more people than vampires. And this happened not only as plot material, but as some kind of thematic element. I thought it was trying to speak a message that is about sympathy. In the end I realize it wasn’t the case. It was more a message about doing the right thing that is laced with sympathy. Shiki’s justice is swift and poetic; I can’t really say much bad things about that.

The problem is I have few good things to say about Shiki. Seishin’s plight as a human being might be the only angle, but I don’t quite get it in that ultimately his kindness lead to the death of those who probably didn’t deserve to die. Remember: Cain is the transgressor! In as much part of that become a purified, if meaningless, struggle against and for selfishness, it is just a little too calculated.

Speaking of calculated, Natsuno is clearly Able. In fact his circumstantial werewolfing is kind of a huge break, making him pretty much the victim the entire way through the show. It’s kind of nice to see the guy who was mean as the guy who is doing the right thing, for a change. A foil for Megumi for sure. I guess revenge is okay if they’re a bunch of undead bad guys?

Character analysis aside, Shiki just didn’t deliver enough. It got to a point where it is campy, and it just didn’t mix with all these serious characters. Well I should say, there were all these comical characters not contributing much to the overall impact of the series. There were some turning points in the plot where satisfaction, pity and other things they wanted to solicit just didn’t really come out of me. I guess there were a couple “Don’t invite them in!” or “Don’t open that window!” moments where it worked out okay, but I didn’t watch in a group where that dynamics was present to make the effect enjoyable.

I suppose after all is said and done I can understand why some people thought this was an anime-of-the-year caliber show, but to me it’s just your average Toradora-7/10 kind of fare. And that is being really generous, largely on the account of its production values.

Lastly, whoever edits Shiki’s Wikipedia entry should be slapped around a bit for putting major spoilers in the character descriptions, as it is in-line with the main article. Oh well, maybe you won’t believe it’s true.

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7 responses to “Shiki and Satisfaction

  • Kurogane Shiroikaze

    I caught up with Shiki on the last week of airing and it’s a pretty compelling show throughout.

    I’ll avoid the comparisons with the manga for now, but in the context of the anime, there should have been a little better pacing in introducing the villagers for the first 10-odd episodes of the series.

    Shiki is really quite an interesting show in terms of showcasing the Human Condition, especially when confronted with horrible enemies like your dead loved ones.

    While I can understand the gripes of the Shiki, I still can’t quite bring myself to totally be on their side due to their very nature.

    Conversely, I stand with the villager’s rights to take back their village from the Shiki, I can’t really fully support their actions in doing so. I think the tipping point was when they killed Seishin’s mother and caretakers that they started looking more like monsters than the Shiki themselves.

    But in the end, I guess the village burning down was both a poetic justice and a huge relief for the Shiki and villagers alike. It would be a pretty hard time to explain everything that has happened.

    As for Sunako and Seishin… man, those two deserved much worse.

  • V

    s/Tatsuno/Natsuno/;

    Also, bad omo for trying to bring Toradora down to Shiki’s level!

  • omo

    Ah, thanks.

    I don’t have a (very) high valuation for Toradora, as much as I liked it like everyone else did. It’s a shining example of competence, I guess, but not an example of excellence.

    @Kurogane
    To me the vampires lost any sort of ground to argue for sympathy when they systematically indoctrinated their new kind with they way they did. The fact that Seishin didn’t confront this aspect is kind of a big miss, in retrospect. I chalk up the death of his household on the kind of cheesy poetic justice that dots Shiki (the anime), which drags it down rather than brings the audience any kind of satisfaction. I guess alternatively it suggests some source of motivation to explain why Seishin did what he did, but eh.

    Ah well, it’s kind of lame and cheesy, sort of failing to realize all the nuggets of opportunity. But it did try.

  • Martin

    Good work (I only recently noticed you’d changed url!). Heh, you must’ve read my mind, or my Twitter feed perhaps, because I just finished this show yesterday evening and I’m now feeling it deserves to be written about at length.

    The moral ambivalence was a surprising (and surprisingly brutal) touch, but I also appreciated the small town setting because that gave its own particular angle I got a lot out of.

    I also agree it didn’t do itself any favours stylistically. The character designs were a stumbling block, mainly because the viewer is too preoccupied with thinking “Dat hair!” even when something serious is happening. For every moment that hit the spot it felt like there was another that was clunky, sloppy or…actually, ‘camp’ is a good way of describing it. It was a bit frustrating at points, because the writers seemed to know what they were doing yet stumbled over the final hurdle.

    I was left with enough food for thought to declare it worthy of the NoitaminA stable but still…perhaps my personal liking for vampire stories made me judge it a bit too harshly, but reading your post here and the comments that follow perhaps I haven’t.

  • omo

    That hair didn’t look very good for Ms. Nurse Moe. But moe is more about her virtues and not so much her neon aqua do. I think. And maybe her youthful, shapely bosom. Actually all the nurses in the clinic are pretty amusing. The one round-table talk they had on diagnostic the disease was great.

    It did get me thinking–maybe it has to do with the fact that we marathoned it instead of taking it weekly.

  • Kabitzin

    In terms of genre, I think Ono writes for a horror-for-girls kind of thing in Shiki.

    Reminds me of how the Twilight series is completely unscary.

    Anyway, I don’t have a lot to say about Shiki except that during the whole build-up to the gruesome end to the series, I was being fed lines and after lines of how these vampire people are more people than vampires.

    I always thought this part was silly. It’s not like the Shiki were nice or at least dispassionate (like eating a burger). Many of them were downright cruel, although I suppose this might be carryover from their time as human jerks.

  • omo

    Carry over in more than one sense. I think it’s more like they don’t even realize they are being cruel. In a way at least Natsuno bears the weight of that cruelty. Same with Megumi, on that note. Except she’s just kind of dumb and all deluded.

    There’s also a theme of delusional idealism that plays for Seishin and Megumi, but I think that’s a common thread or plot device in all Ono’s books.

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