Monday, 25 July 2011

Shiki - Episode 21.5

As per the first of its two special Blu-Ray only instalments, episode 21.5 of Shiki (which slots between episodes twenty-one and twenty-two, in case you hadn't figured it out) takes on a side story from the main events of the show's final few episodes to add some individual flavour (albeit a decidedly brutal one) to proceedings.

While episode 20.5 dealt with its immediate chronological surroundings, this second bonus episode takes a broader view as we follow it mostly through the eyes of Motoko Maeda.  Indeed, before we know it the clock is turned back to before the threat of the Risen was anything more than a folk tale, as we soon learn that Motoko is a doting mother - perhaps overly so as she frets over the safety of her offspring and generally worries too much as a whole.

It's this personality trait that looms large over the episode as it progresses and the "epidemic" begins to take hold in the village - first Motoko's father dies, but it's only when her husband is taken ill and passes away do things really begin to unravel.  As time goes by and the rest of her family succumb to the Risen (unbeknownst to her of course), so Motoko breaks down, teetering on and then passing the brink of insanity as she almost literally loses her mind.  By the time the truth has been outed to the village and the hunt for the Shiki begins, she's little more than a vengeance-fuelled husk who blames her father for everything and cares about nothing more than somehow getting her revenge.

Although this episode doesn't have quite the same sharp, non-judgemental analysis of the human condition as it relates to both the living and undead, this second bonus instalment is nonetheless another grotesquely compelling take on its core scenario powered along by its largely individual focus to produce a disturbing and occasionally downright chilling depiction of a woman's complete mental breakdown.  As such depictions go it is perhaps a little over-the-top, but it nonetheless adds another layer to the show's horror mantel to prove its worth as more than just a frivolous bonus episode, and again coming into the episode "cold" rather than as part of a week by week viewing of the series itself only serves as a stark reminder of just how brutal and unremitting the series could be.  I'm sure I've said this before, but Shiki really is horror "done right", and these additional episodes have certainly been a powerful reminder of what it is capable of achieving.

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