Friday, 19 November 2010

Shiki - Episode 16

Just as Doctor Ozaki looked as though he had run out of options, so I bolt from the blue has put him well and truly back in the frame when it comes to ridding the village of the Shiki menace.  However, that's something to keep largely on the back burner for the duration of episode sixteen, as our roaming eyes wander elsewhere.

Indeed, this particular instalment really turns things around somewhat by primarily focusing on some of those Shiki themselves during the course of this episode - perhaps most prominently, we get to hear Sunako's story and come to realise just how central she is to what is going on if we hadn't fathomed it already.  Just as (if not more) importantly in terms of adding a little more texture and thought-provoking material to the show, we also see the moral and emotional dilemmas that torture the Risen as they find themselves conflicted between their instinct to survive and their morals, topped off with the results of an almost over-bearing loneliness.  Of course, we've already seen some of this on Tohru's part but things certainly aren't getting any easier for him, while Nao Yasumori finds herself in a very dark place and Akira and Kaori's father is left torn as his requirement to find his way in the world as one of the Risen manifests itself.

Indeed, it'sYoshikazu Tanaka's actions which set the wheels in motion for the second half of this episode, as his first attack upon his wife to feast on her blood leads to Akira and Kaori realising that what remains of their family is in danger.  Akira swears to avenge both Natsuno and his father and is the first to take action as he sets about planning how they should defend themselves, before a throwaway comment within the village puts him onto an attacking footing as he learns the whereabouts of one of the Shiki - a rather knee-jerk reaction in hindsight which could well have severe consequences...

All of this adds up to another excellent episode of Shiki - it succeeded in being creepy and worthy of a shudder or two as it went about its business, but it also gained a lot from giving us an alternative perspective on the lot of the Risen for a while, mixing just a tiny edge of sympathy towards these serial killers who are given very little choice in what they do; if you haven't asked yourself the moral question "what would I do if it were me?" yet, this is the episode that outright prompts you to do so.  Throw in some intriguing developments regarding Akira on the one hand, and Natsuno and Ozaki on the other (Natsuno in particular is going to become a hugely important and influential character from now on, it seems), and I'm once again left impatiently waiting for the next episode as this show's payload really starts to pay dividends - and how...

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