Shiki 14 – One Step Below the Human Centipede Guy

Right from the beginning (and from the last episode, really) you could see that Kyouko dying was just what the doctor ordered. (Sorry.) Muroi understandably reacted in horror to what Ozaki has wanted to do for a while now — get one of the Risen and dissect the living hell out of ’em to see what makes the Risen tick. Because of that reaction, Ozaki secrets Kyouko away after her death in the hopes that she will come back to life, and when she does, what follows is perhaps the creepiest horror sequence I’ve seen in anime.

The scene where Ozaki experiments on Kyouko play on two things that really creep me out: A total lack of control (Kyouko can’t do anything about Ozaki cutting her up and whatnot) and an ordinary, even good person committing unspeakable acts (uh, like, everything Ozaki does to Kyouko) . . . with the added gray area of the fight against the Risen combined with Kyouko’s relative innocence in all this.

We’d probably still be creeped out if Ozaki did these experiments to, say, Tatsumi, but we also might not object as strongly because the guy is an asshole who is clearly taking pleasure in the high body count in the village. But Kyouko didn’t really do anything purposefully wrong. She likes tweaking her mother-in-law, but that ain’t evil. And she of course had no way of knowing Tatsumi was a vampire. Kyouko is an innocent victim, and for that she is punished with a cruel fate, the subject of Ozaki’s bloody experiments.

Of course what adds to the fright factor of this sequence is the cold, clinical manner in which Ozaki goes about his experiments. Ozaki despises the Risen so thoroughly that when his own wife even threatens to become one, she is dead to him, both physically and emotionally — he can do this to her because she is beyond saving. She is only a monster and tool which he can use to discover the secret to destroy the other monsters. The obsession and frustration has pushed Ozaki over the edge into a fairly horrible place.

The whole thing filled me with the sort of skin-crawling dread that only the most terrifying pieces horror are capable. It shows that the most terrifying thing of all is not a monster, but rather what the monster inspires in people who ally with it and go against it. What the Risen represent to Ozaki is so terrible that he can cast away any feelings he possesses for his wife and tear her apart. That is true horror.

Is what Ozaki does the right thing to do? To me, that question is a bit less important than the fact that Ozaki felt compelled to go to these lengths in the first place. That he faces a horror so black that “right” and “wrong” have no real meaning anymore — just survival. And it’s probably even beyond simple survival for Ozaki at this point.

One particularly effective touch in that scene is when the tape stops recording midway through. It’s as if the camera itself is so repulsed by what Ozaki is doing that it cannot put his actions to tape. I don’t know how many people would want to watch Ozaki slowly dissect one of the Risen, anyway.

The mad scientist/doctor character is fairly common in horror fiction — Dr. Frankenstein is the classic example, of course. In the movies, you’ve got examples as wide ranging as Dr. Caligari, Dr. Moreau (though he was in the H.G. Wells book first) and that dude from Re-Animator. Ozaki fits among them, but not totally — he’s taking science beyond ethical boundaries, but he’s not really drowning in ego or power or trying to become God or something. He’s just a regular dude . . . which makes it all the creepier to me.

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15 Responses to “Shiki 14 – One Step Below the Human Centipede Guy”

  1. When I was in advanced paramedic schooling, I had surgery clinicals to complete. The doctor would administer anesthesia, I would intubate, and proceed to assist with minor details. When in the OR completely scrubbed, I really didn’t bat an eye as I saw the surgeons make an incision in that young black lady’s abdomen and proceed to remove several tumors near her ovaries, one the size of a softball. I had witnessed something that most would consider extremely horrific, yet the thing I paid the closest attention to was the surgeon’s technique in suturing.

    Of course, I have a lot of trouble sleeping when I keep thinking back to how that girl’s eyes were open the entire time.

    The human mind is fascinating in its ability to compartmentalize emotions and thoughts. When I wore my uniform, my mind worked in a different mode and was able to absorb and brush off some of the Eldritch images in front of me. Out of uniform, while watching a movie or reading a comic or book, I was just as susceptible to these things as anyone else. The fact that Ozaki can flip a switch between showing affection for his newly Risen wife and then coldly vivisecting someone who is confused and truly does not understand what is happening struck me as abjectly horrifying because of how relate-able it is to someone who used to be in the medical field.

    She was a resource, and as such needed to be exploited for the benefit of knowledge. This sounds cold, but I would do the exact same thing.

    • That’s an interesting comparison to make. Emotionally, most people would make a difference between the two situations — you’re learning and doing these squicky things while also presumably helping someone you don’t know (assuming that the tumors didn’t just return later or something lol), while Ozaki obviously has a personal connection with the woman he cuts up (not to mention how ruthless he is with the experiments). But in his mind, Ozaki IS doing this for knowledge by any means necessary, even if he has to sacrifice someone for whom he cares (even if that sacrifice is made “easier” by her becoming one of the Risen).

  2. On a kinda unrelated but related note: This concept of survival reminded me of the story of Aron Ralston. He was out canyoneering when a boulder became dislodged and pinned his arm to the canyon wall. Faced with death, he made the decision to do the unthinkable; to break the bones his arm (by twisting his body to an angle so the bones would break). He then went on to amputate his arm with a dull swiss army knife.
    So all in all, when humans are faced with a life or death situation, there is no knowing what lengths one is willing to go in order to survive. Same with Toshio, his wife was ‘dead’, and in the long run the shiki were going come after him. He made the choice to survive by doing what he did.

  3. Clinton Says:

    The only Problem i really have with him ripping Kyoko apart (other then the fact its creepy as hell) is that she had no idea what was going on and did not know that she was a vampire

    also we met Yoshie in this episode the Shiki co commander with Tatsumi according to Toharu she can be scarier then Tatsumi when she wants being the same type of Vampire as Tatsumi and all

    • Yeah, I didn’t think about it that much, but of course Kyouko doesn’t know she is a vampire — she just knows she is awake for some reason and Ozaki is torturing her. What a horrid experience.

  4. I couldn’t agree more. Tatsumi did a good job setting Ozaki up. He probably would have preferred it if Ozaki couldn’t bear to do anything to Yoko, and in that sense, I guess you could say that Ozaki won.

  5. Like VucubCaquix has mentioned, Toshio’s reversion to cold, clinical snippy snippy mode was not so surprising in itself, but it was interesting that he had to tape Kyouko’s mouth shut when she started to call his name. The whole thing, as you say, was certainly creepy as hell though, and probably made it one of the best episodes so far. Still waiting to see if Natsuno will rise up or not, if so I certainly can’t wait to see what he does.

    • Yeah, can’t really take the vampire leaders’ word at face value concerning Yuuki, although she does use “probably” instead of being definite about the guy being cremated.

  6. her name is Yoshie (you know Mario’s mount just with a diffrent spelling)

  7. […] “Anime of the Year” lists, Shiki has picked up its feet with some of anime’s most terrifying moments, and Kuragehime might be the feel-good comedy of the year. Hanazawa Kana's second best performance […]

  8. The compartmentalization of emotion that VucubCaquix spoke of is a truly frightening thing. One would think that with all the moral education we receive on a daily basis, something like this would be deeply entrenched in the way we act, but when it pushed onto a corner none of that matters anymore. We can discard all of our subjective thinking and act on a purely objective basis.

    I think it’s even more surprising that people do this all the time to deal with the hardships of life. In Ozaki’s case his motivation was the village’s survival but a person who loses a close relative or suffers a traumatic experience may react by closing off all emotion. In “Fifth Business”, one of my favorite books, the protagonist participates in world war 2, and he manages to keep being the same person by compartmentalizing his emotions. At one moment he infiltrates a bunker and kills three of four people, and in the other he’s reading the bible, drinking scotch with his unit captain and making impersonations for entertainment. The end result was that, opposite to many, he came back from the war changed yes, but retaining his personality from before.
    Other examples of similar events I can think of are a dream from the game Lost Odissey(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFtn1j4czus), war stories and I think I experienced something similar when my grandfather died, but the reason I talked about Fifth Business specifically is because the protagonist returns to normal after closing off his emotions. It seems that prolonged exposure to this “numb” state permanently affects a person’s personality, and that, for me, is the truly scary part: the fact that one can disregard all of his morals in order to accomplish something.

    Anyway, sorry for the ramble but I just watched this episode and I just had to write something about it.

    • Yes, humans can adapt in truly frightening ways sometimes. Helps us to survive, but sometimes there’s a huge cost to that survival. Recent episodes have shown that Ozaki hasn’t lost all of his empathy (though it’s kind of murky if he feels for EVERYONE who might be controlled by the Risen, or if he’s just trying to come up with an excuse to keep Muroi from being killed), but this moment is definitely a game changer for him.

  9. […] the second question, I agree with Unmei Kaihen‘s Shinmaru, in that, it’s a question of lesser importance. The same goes for the first question: the control with which he conducts the experiment indicates […]

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