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.

27 Responses to “Shiki 22 – Burnin’ Away (END)”

  1. This was some of the most fun I’ve ever had blogging a current show, and such an exhilarating thrill ride. I enjoyed it from start to finish, and the ending was perfect for me for reasons I’m sure you’d know even if you didn’t read my post on SOS lol.

    Akira was announced alive way back, pretty sure they said Natsuno saved him.

    I hadn’t actually caught that Muroi was a werewolf! I thought he was just a Shiki at the end, but that certainly would make sense.

    Megumi had one of the best deaths in history. Jesus fuck.

    The whole box-loli thing seems to be pretty traditional to vampire stories. They did the same thing in Sola and I think some other anime I saw. It must have originated in some old-school vampire tale.

    • The whole “werewolves don’t die; they just get their powers” bit was introduced so that it would make sense for Muroi to be a werewolf, I think. He can’t be a shiki because he would have had to have been dead for three days beforehand. (I totally forgot that rule all the time when watching this lol.)

      • clinton Says:

        they actully told us about that rule back when Tatsumi met Natsuno in the manga

        anyway good finish however i do wish that Megumi and Masao had gotten away (don’t know why though)

        ok Tatsumi was shot in the head yet he can live through it and Yoshie can’t how

        • Was he shot in the head, though? The angles were obscured, so it was difficult to tell, but I don’t think any of the villagers got a head shot.

  2. Also, I rolled my eyes a bit at Muroi being a werewolf

    Yeah, same here. That was a pretty shameless bit of deus ex machina there. Werewolves are supposedly this extremely rare species, but conveniently two of them – both playing significant roles – are born in the same village within weeks of each other? Weak sauce.

    • lol, yeah, if I have a complaint about Shiki, it’s definitely the overuse of werewolves near the end. I don’t think it got as bad as it could have been, but still not great.

    • I’m actually fine with it precisely because I have a love of well-played Deus ex Machina, lol

    • I had the same problem with Seishin being a werewolf. Yeah Tatsumi was all up on him for several episodes, but I was just groaning when Seishin woke up and everything was blue.

      BTW, as we never saw Yoshie get staked, shouldn’t she still be alive? We saw Tatsumi take several shots like a BOSS and he was just fine. Making jinrou fight each other is just terrible, unless you have an MVP-caliber NFL season.

  3. In short, I pretty much agree. In not as short, I wish they’d done more with Natsuno’s character, I particularly liked his line about ‘who said I’m with the humans anyway…’ and think that this could have been explored more. However, his apparent ‘end’ was pretty awesome. Megumi’s murder was, as you suggest, pretty unforgiving, if only Ookawa had the chance to dispatch with Sunako in as deserving a fashion, eh (yeah, like RP, I’ve absolutely no sympathy with her or Seishin either). Interesting theory about the metaphorical nature of Megumi’s death scene. It makes me question Ookawa’s words about unwritten ‘rules’ to Sunako, rather than just agreeing with them… Hmm…

    • Rules only exist because people follow them. Ookawa followed the rules, and look where that got him. I’d say that’s a clear indication of the show’s stance on restrictive conventions in society.

      • There is no rule that says you have to make a long speech before staking someone. Or just stake while making the speech. Tomio is probably one of those guys who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

  4. adaywithoutme Says:

    Of course, Muroi becoming a jinrou would’ve played a lot better if Natsuno hadn’t already been kicking around as one. I feel like that took a lot away from Muroi becoming one, honestly. After all, it happened once already, so… well, who cares, in a way? Hopefully I’m getting my point across.

    Shiki… damn. I’m about to do a whole set of massive posts about it over the next few days. I just can’t stop thinking about it. There’s still so much there to sink one’s teeth into (pun not really intended). I barely slept last night because my brain just kept blipping along about the damn show and wouldn’t shut up.

    • Yeah, I think that definitely hurt it. I could accept it easily enough when Yuuki turned into one (though I was still a bit skeptical of the twist), but Yuuki AND Muroi is a bit much. It would have been better storywise if Yuuki had stayed dead.

      • clinton Says:

        like he did in the novel honestly the plot did not really need him too much

      • adaywithoutme Says:

        Natsuno honestly was the one character where I disliked him to start with, warmed up to him by the mid-point, and then ended up disliking him again by the end. Although I’m not sure I’d say I dislike *him* exactly – I disliked his inclusion in the second half. He didn’t really feel like a character to me any more by that point, so I can’t say I disliked his character in the second half. If that makes any sense. I’m anemic and boozing, so it may not.

  5. Hmm where to start. It was an awesome episode. The villagers rejected the idea of the Shiki which was ultimately their downfall. I liked the way they worked that in at the end there. Up until then I’d been wondering a bit. They might have highlighted that fact throughout the series more thoroughly.

    So, no mention of Tatsumi getting hit by a van, the scene cutting to Sunako running through the woods, and then showing him driving off in the van that hit him. I laughed out loud at that one.

  6. I jumped into this show in the last week and that itself was quite a ride. I have to thank you blogger fellows for talking about it so much or I might have ended up missing this little piece of awesome in a year that desperately needed it.

    All the girl shikis get the most sympathy-wringing death scenes, but no tears were shed for Masao, I’m sure.

    • I’m glad we were good for something! I listened to the Nihon Revue and was interested to hear that you didn’t think the beginning was slow. Maybe that’s because you jumped on in the final week and were able to burn through the beginning episodes?

      • That’s probably it. It’s one of the benefits of waiting the whole thing out then watching at my pace. Sometimes the week-long wait just kills me.

        • It was probably beneficial in this case. I love suspense when a story is really rolling along (I’m definitely a masochist in my consumption of fiction), but the early episodes are more excruciatingly slow than suspenseful.

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