Friday, 5 November 2010

Shiki - Episode 14

While Shiki's trail of death continues apace as per the rest of this series so far, we can't help but have our attentions focused in one specific direction for the show's fourteenth episode, that being what happens next to the now-deceased Kyoko.

Before that however there are still other important moments of progress for the wider series.  For starters, further misery inevitably befalls Kaori and Akira's family, as the former is woken by Megumi outside her room in the dead of night to inform her that her father is dead - a claim that is revealed, unsurprisingly, to be absolutely true.  It looks like things won't be getting any better for that household given the nature of the visitor from the Ebuchi clinic who comes to check on the victim.

Then of course there's Natsuno, who is still nowhere to be seen - what is his fate to be, and indeed where is his body?  Megumi in particular is distraught at the possibility that he may have been cremated rather than buried, thus denying him any chance of becoming one of the Risen, but as I mentioned last episode it seems hard to imagine that we've seen the last of him.  With other victims lured into the Risen's plans and yet more people going missing entirely, the sense of despairing inevitability is hard to avoid.

Which brings us back to Kyoko, whose dead body is kept in secret by an increasingly fatigued Ozaki as he waits to see what happens next.  Days after her death it appears as though he may be clutching at straws, until he finally begins to detect some brain activity from his deceased wife.  As Kyoko slowly regains her faculties, Ozaki sets up a video camera to record everything that happens next, as he uses this newly "born" member of the Risen to learn more about what makes them tick, and perhaps more important what makes them stop ticking.

It's these scenes that really throw this episode of Shiki absolutely into the "horror" category - animation or otherwise, watching Ozaki experimenting on and effectively torturing his wife in such a calm and collected manner makes for hugely uncomfortable viewing that is both distressing and spine-chilling.  What perhaps adds to that feeling of abject horror is the fact that it all makes so much sense - can you really begrudge Ozaki this opportunity to save the village and rid them of the "Shiki" threat, even if it is his wife on the other end of his experiments?  What would you or I do if presented with a similar situation?  It's a horrible decision to even contemplate, and that's exactly the point, which makes for a hugely compelling if uncomfortable experience.  Put simply, this is the best episode of Shiki so far, and it doesn't become so by accident - its credentials as the peak of the show to this point is entirely by design.

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