Probably the last thing Shiki needed just as it was hitting its stride was a three-week long break, but that's exactly what it got to allow itself to realign with the new autumn anime season for its second half. So here we are again, ready to return to the world of the Risen with gusto.
After putting Natsuno in a decidedly tight spot a couple of episodes ago, it's about time we revisit him, and understandably we find him looking a little peaky at best as he meets with Akira and Kaori only to urge them both to leave the village - something that they point-blank refuse to do despite the fact that they must realise they're in almost as much danger as Natsuno himself.
Although Natsuno still has the strength to escape or protect himself, he nonetheless finds himself torn as to how to deal with Tohru, while Tohru himself seems equally troubled by the thought of having to ultimately kill Natsuno. This results in a tense face-off between the two, with Natsuno looking set to use crosses and wooden stakes against his friend but finding himself unable to go through with his plans, while Tohru's wavering emotions are soon pushed aside by his instinctive hunger.
With Natsuno weakening, his father also proves to be a further obstacle to any chance of his son's survival on account of his refusal to believe in the village's superstition - a believe set further bolstered by both his wife (who appears to be the subject of some Risen blood-sucking herself) and the head of the Kanemasa family, as they agree that there's no place for such stupid ideas as part of their own agenda. Thus, Akira and Kaori are pushed away from helping Natsuno, while their own father looks set to "teach them a lesson" at the behest of Tatsumi.
So, despite those few weeks on hiatus, Shiki has come out swinging by continuing with its darkening tone and delivering another excellent episode. Refocusing on Natsuno's plight was always liable to make things interesting, and so it proved here as he stoically tries to help his Risen friend while also staying alive in the hope of finding an answer that will allow both parties to benefit and survive - quite the idealist is our Natsuno. While things still aren't moving particularly quickly within the series, we're now at the point where this slow build-up of tension and a seemingly hopeless scenario for those remaining is adding to the sense of the series worth rather than detracting from it, and by the look of things there's a whole lot more fascinating and horrific things to come. Bring it on!