Just a summer cold?
So, I’ve spent the past few days catching up with a few different shows I’ve been following, namely Yumeiro Patissiere and UraBoku (something which I persist in watching despite not knowing why). Once that was done, though, I decided to go check out the summer’s offerings… at which point I realized that the only things I had any remote interest in were all the horror shows =)
I love horror. I also find that, for whatever reason, it seems well-suited to the summertime – something about the heat, I’m not sure why, really. Perhaps its the stifling feeling that can so often accompany that heat? There are numerous horror tales set in snowbound places, but the cold weather has never evoked quite the atmosphere that hot weather does to me – although this may say more about my adoration for Ethan Frome than about anything else. However, all those why’s don’t really have a lot of relevance – suffice to say that I really enjoy horror anime, so I was happy to see that there were three offered this season… and that they were the only three shows for this season that I thought had any promise.
First off, Occult Academy. I mention it first because I really can’t get into it – the switches in tone are too jarring for my tastes, and I’m just not crazy about the recurring cast. I might go back and poke it a few more times if I’m bored, but I don’t think that I’ll be re-visiting anytime soon.
Highschool of the Dead. What an interesting one this is! I say that more from a removed view, though; the show itself isn’t bad, but I can’t quite bring myself to call it ‘interesting’. No, rather, what is interesting has more to do with the kind of show it is, the type of horror on display. Because, quite frankly, the show strikes me as being very Western. I’ve seen people complaining about all the tits and ass panties, stating that it prevents one from taking it seriously, but fanservice has been an integral part of Western horror for decades now, and zombies have been merrily chowing their way through Western horror for decades as well; the two operate cheek by jowl. Yes, this isn’t Western, but the kind of horror on display here is to an extent -very gory, not terribly subdued, more in the vein of outright scariness as opposed to creepiness. Think of Japanese horror movies and anime; here be the deviation, not the norm.
At the end of the day, though, I think Highschool of the Dead finds itself more comfortably classed as action primarily as opposed to horror primarily – it reminds me most of Shikabane Hime, and I’d classify that secondarily as horror with action as its main genre. The Western-feeling of HotD and the argument of whether it is horror or not is something I’d be more interested in exploring if I had an interest in continuing to watch it. I don’t; zombies just aren’t really my thing.
Finally we find our way to Shiki.
Shiki is… well, I’m not sure what to make of it, honestly. I like it, but I’m not finding it particularly creepy. I was impressed with the level of pathos it inspired with Shimizu’s funeral, but overall I find the characters difficult to make any connection with, which in turn makes me not terribly concerned with the fact that they’re all getting a weird ‘disease’ and dying. So far, the only character I genuinely like is the little girl (presumed) vampire, Sunako – here we have a little girl in a horror piece who isn’t merely ‘creepy’ by dint of her young age and her behaviors’ clash with that age. This is different, since that’s usually the full degree of characterization such figures get. Sunako instead comes across as a precocious child who clearly isn’t human… but she isn’t especially creepy.
Then we have the Buddhist priest, who I would like to like (I’m sympathetic to suicidal characters), but, good lord, what the hell is up with his eyes?! His eyes remind me of Kikuri from Jigoku Shoujo, a.k.a. one of the worst characters ever. Ugh, make it stop!
Anyway, one of the things I’ve found very curious is that when people talk about this show, they mention that Fuyumi Ono, who wrote the original novels and the manga adaptation (but wasn’t the illustrator), is the creator of The Twelve Kingdoms. Why is this odd? Well, she also is the creator of Ghost Hunt, something that Shiki has much, much more in common with, and is still of recent enough vintage that I would expect most people to at least be aware of it – it also saw an American release within the past year. But popularity trumps everything, so…
Shiki is just weird to me. I find it intriguing on some level, but I find it lacking as horror since it has failed to make me feel even the tiniest twinge of fright or unease. Guess its time for me to return to my corner and continue sending psychic rays at Japan to convince them to have a fourth season of Jigoku Shoujo. Note to self: attach long Jigoku Shoujo fanfic to said psychic rays, as obviously sending one’s own fanfic – in English! – to Japanese studios is the way to cajole them into doing what you want them to.