Shiki 22 – Burnin’ Away (END)
I know this was a serious scene, but I could not help but burst out laughing at this. Oh, Ozaki . . .
It’s very strange to know that Shiki is finished; yeah, there are the two extra episodes that will come out when Shiki is released on DVD in Japan, but for all intents and purposes, the show is over. It’s pretty sad, but at the same time satisfying because it has been the best show I’ve followed weekly for a good while now, and while the final episode is not perfect, it’s about as good as it could have been given the course of the story. A solid ending for a damn good series, possibly my favorite of the year.
The episode as a whole is quite gruesome to watch. Even if I were totally on the side of the humans, I don’t think there would be any pleasure to take in the deaths of the Risen. I was even cringing at the treatment that asshole Tatsumi received; I mean, good god, he was struck by several vehicles (and went flying through a couple of them), shot several times and blown up by dynamite. A memorable way to go out, for sure, but not at all easy to watch because the violence is so matter of fact and not embellished much, if at all.
And Megumi’s death . . . Jesus fucking Christ. She was the one who was fun to hate through the series because she so relished the freedom being a shiki gave her, and took full advantage of it, but I didn’t hate her nearly as much as one of the Risen as I did when she was an actual human. (Mostly because she was so much more interesting and fun as a vampire.) Even if I did, though, getting slammed by tractors and run over by another tractor is a pretty awful way to hit the road. Like Day, I actually felt anger toward the villagers because of the cold brutality of how they dispatched Megumi. When that one dude pleaded that they should kill Megumi quickly — right after her head had been smashed by the tractor — I almost thought there should have been a laugh track to go along with the statement.
Thematically, Megumi pushes her beef with the town right out into the open — they reject anything that’s different, anything that signifies change of some sort. And seeing as Megumi was one of the people who most despised the village and wanted something different in her life (and approached her day-to-day life as such), it’s not really a stretch to say that the villagers torturing Megumi is a violent metaphor for their rejection of outsiders, their stubborn clinging to the same life.
Quite a few vampire stories — and a good deal of horror in general — have been about fear of outsiders, of the unknown world creeping into our own quaint little lives and completely fucking them up. There’s a deep paranoia that runs through people when change is brought up, and the Risen represent that extreme, deep-seeded fear of change: Those outsiders come in and destroy our way of life, so we have to destroy them in return and cling harder to what we have. But that doesn’t totally work here. All the villagers do is destroy what’s different; they still lose their way of life because the village burns to a crisp. They were stubborn enough to not adapt when change first arrived (i.e. nip the Risen problem in the bud before it spread), and they paid the price.
Anyway, to get onto another subject, I wasn’t the only one who breathed a heavy sigh of relief when Akira was shown to be alive with Kaori, right? I don’t even care how he managed to get away from pedo!Risen. I’m just glad that he’s still safe, even if the poor little guy’s life is totally fucked up from here on out unless the villagers somehow band and help each other through their troubles. (Or maybe they’ll just make snide comments about how Akira tried to take the vampires on by himself.)
Also, I rolled my eyes a bit at Muroi being a werewolf. Thematically, it makes sense, but the execution wasn’t the best by any stretch. I did dig the Let the Right One In kind of relationship that developed between Sunako and Muroi, though. (Even down to the suitcase, haha.)
Overall, I’m actually a bit amazed at how much I have enjoyed Shiki, considering I started out making fun of its looks, characters and the glacial pace of its plot. (Does that make me like one of the villagers? I shudder at the thought.) But the pace enabled the series to really dig its claws into the viewer to the point where the truly horrific moments (and take your pick at any of them) became that much more affecting. Shiki really is the type of anime series we need more of — the story is smartly built, the characters are interesting and the horror is truly horrifying. I’m pretty sure this is my pick for the best TV anime of 2010.