Saturday, 25 December 2010

Shiki - Episode 21

Shiki's penultimate episode begins with people going about their business; laughing, chatting and eating together as people are want to do.  This wouldn't be quite so chilling if these same people weren't casually handling masses of bloodied bodies, some still twitching with life, while they do so.  Thus begins another day in the current life of this village's inhabitants.

As is unavoidable by this point, episode twenty-one of Shiki is a bloodbath, plain and simple - on the one hand you have scared yet confrontational villagers willing to do anything to protect themselves and their way of life, and on the other you have the remaining Risen who are desperately continuing their struggle (their insurgency, if you like) in the face of the force now massed against them.  Throw in what seem to be wild cards in the form of Seishirou and Natsuno (the latter of which we don't see this episode), and you have yourself... well, even more bloodshed, basically.

The violence only accelerates further with the escape of Yasuyo, who is in turn able to let Ozaki know where she's come from, turning the massed hordes of remaining humans to tear the place apart and add another huge pile of bodies to the Risen "dead again" count.  While some voices (well, one) cry out for this to be the end of the slaughter, there's nothing to stop this runaway juggernaut now, and the hunt for Sunako soon reaches its peak as the possibility of a hidden basement at Kanemasa dawns on some of the residents.  This leaves Muroi in charge of Sunako's escape while Tatsumi distracts their would-be assailants, but even this angle of the series doesn't look likely to end prettily as it causes yet more brutality and pain to heap on to the pile.

It's tough to know what to say about this episode of Shiki - it's masterful in what it does, but it's also relentlessly depressing just as it sets out to be.  After all those weeks of despair at the growth of the Risen, as we hoped for a way back for those remaining, now we have that way back to normality for the village only to find that it's one which involves sister killing brother, living humans being torn apart as "traitors" and mass destruction all around.  What makes it all the more depressing is that this is simply the way it has to be - kill or be killed and hunter versus hunted is pretty much nature in a nutshell, and it's only a bit of luck and evolution that has allowed humanity to break that cycle somewhat.  So, what should we think or feel as Shiki comes to a close?  Honestly, I'm not sure, but I'm thoroughly enjoying trying to figure it out thanks to this eminently cunning series.

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