Shiki Episode Eleven

Om nom nom.

Did that meme die? Or do I just really confine myself in terms of where I go on the internet, such that it appears to have died?

I would like to begin by saying right off the bat that I am extremely leery of episodic blogging. It just isn’t my cup of tea; if anything, I find it to be fairly wearying as it generally requires a level of commitment I don’t really wish to give. Essentially, once you start blogging episodically, you are forced to blog the show week in and week out, regardless of whether or not you have much to say about it. The only show I ever blogged episodically with any true dedication was Nabari no Ou, although I gave it up when the show was licensed. And while I did enjoy being able to speculate and analyze every week, I found the synopsis portion fairly wearying.

However, I have really been enjoying Shiki. In fact, I love it, and I would also make the argument that it is easily the best show the summer had to offer to us. I would even tentatively say that it is the best show currently airing. At the very least, it is the only show that makes me anxious about when the next episode comes out – yeah, I’ve loved watching Yumeiro Patisierre on a weekly basis, and I do look forward to new episodes, but I’m never anxious about them.

So I’ve basically arrived at the point where I do actually feel compelled to start blogging it every week. However, I will dispense with the summary portion completely – there are about half a million bloggers out there doing that already, surely you don’t need me to get a decent summary of what went on in the episode. Also, quite frankly, I doubt that many people read episodic reviews solely for the purpose of gleaning information about a episode; people read reviews to get the opinion portion of it, and often to then have something to square their own reactions with. (By the way, I suspect that this is another one of those shows which bloggers are loving but which aren’t really performing terribly well with the watching population at large.)

So, episode eleven. Despite having gotten bitten last week, Natsuno does not make an appearance here, although given the show’s format thus far I cannot say that this came as much of a surprise. The folks at work here certainly understand how to torture us heighten tensions, and as I’ve said before, drawing things out will do that, as the audience is left on their toes for much longer than they would if everything moved more quickly. I do think that we will see a bit of an increase in the speed of the show, though, after we crest the halfway point; in fact, things have already sped up a bit as it is.

I feel sorry for Ikumi. I was actually surprised that anyone listened to her at all, though, although now her credibility is completely shot. But she’ll be dead next week, and I don’t see her becoming one of the risen. But the episode did such a good job of fleshing her out and making her a sympathetic character, especially after how crazy she seemed in her first appearance. But Shiki sure seems to like to humanize its characters before dropping axes on them – see Natsuno, and Masao to some extent (although he still remains largely too strange and emotionally/socially retarded to become fully sympathetic; his rotting in his room without anyone noticing initially, though, did make one feel a bit sorry for him).

Right after my complaining about the lack of mention of Muroi’s past suicide attempt and misery yesterday in a post, we were once again treated to a very brief look at the scar on his wrist, although still we lack quite a bit of context. I’m happy Sunako didn’t actually bite him; I was convinced she was going to, and I don’t think I’m really ready for him to become a vampire himself (assuming that the protagonists are destined for that). Sunako’s reaction to the description of Muroi’s manuscript and the term ‘shiki’ came across as startlingly realistic, by the way – her excitement is that of a person who has finally found something that seems to accurately describe what they are or how they feel or reflect it accurately. She’s happy because Muroi has put a name on it and is telling a story of ‘people’ like herself. Yet she still calls Muroi a romantic because its too good to be true, even if the story is about a man who has killed his younger and thus isn’t exactly a happy story itself. Muroi’s depiction of the ‘shiki’ is ultimately romanticized since he himself is not a shiki.

This is also why she doesn’t bite him. He’s too innocent, in a sense. She just can’t bear to even if he’s basically told her that he knows what she is, and so is potentially dangerous. And also even though I am sure she would like to bring him over to the vampires if only to assuage her own loneliness a bit.

I personally find the Sunako-Muroi relationship dynamic, by the way, to be the most interesting and compelling of the relationships in the narrative. It is the only human-vampire relationship which involves consistent conversation; really, the only human-vampire relationship in the show which is a full-fledged relationship as opposed to a one-sided obsession (Shimizu) or a set of very short interactions (Toshio-Tatsumi, all the people who get bitten by relatives or friends or neighbors). It also is just much more intriguing than any of the relationships between the humans, including Toshio and Muroi, who have the most established of the human relationships. They feel a sympathy with each other for different reasons, and at least on Muroi’s side I would argue that he feels a sense of common ground with Sunako he does not feel with his closest friend, Toshio, particularly as demonstrated by how Muroi parts ways with the other man in the previous scene. Toshio hasn’t felt the kind of despair Muroi apparently has before – and possibly still does to some extent.

Speaking of the previous scene, Muroi made a very good point to Toshio: even if they manage to trap one of the vampires, it is highly doubtful that the villagers will be entirely on board for medical experimentation to then be performed on them. Natsuno chases after his dead friend in the woods despite all the reasons he absolutely shouldn’t; why would any of the villagers be any different in how they felt if one of their relatives or friends came back from the dead?

To return to Ikumi briefly, I’m getting curious about what, exactly, this show is saying. With the cavalier pooh-poohing of religion and folk beliefs by many of the villagers (including Natsuno’s apparently fundamentalist atheist dad) and the fact that Ikumi’s isn’t being taken seriously, it appears as if Shiki has a very conservative core, one which seems to be making an argument against modernism. I could be reading into it a bit much, but I was a religion student, so you can’t really blame me. We’ll see where it goes with this.

By the way – why bother kill Ikumi at this point? She was made to look foolish in front of the entire village, so I don’t really see why the vampires decide to target her for attack after that. Wouldn’t it look suspicious if she died of the same mysterious disease after she’s accused the Kirishimas?

P.S. – No picture since apparently I’m the first to blog this episode (how???) and the computer I’m using at the moment won’t do screencaps. Awesome. Second. Screencap snatched (but not hotlinked!) from Tenka Seiha’s post on episode eleven.

P.P.S. – Oh yeah, how could I forget to mention that the BL fan in me loved the end of the scene in the burial grounds when Muroi almost faints and then basically runs away from Toshio/Ozaki? Dammit, folks, isn’t anyone else out there seeing this?

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10 Responses to Shiki Episode Eleven

  1. H says:

    They’re killing Ikumi because they’re scared of what she can do during the day time. The only protection they have then is dogboy and, after episode 11 I guess, Mr. Kirishima. The two can’t be everywhere, what happens if she gets the crazy idea to burn the house down around their ears at noon? Better safe than sorry.

    Yeah I am absolutely loving this show too, the break can’t go by fast enough.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I don’t think Ikumi really poses any threat to them even if Mr Kirishima and Tatsumi aren’t around. Witness how she was just pounding away at the door – they could’ve easily just ignored her, and she couldn’t’ve done anything about it. Ikumi is fairly powerless despite her knowledge.

      • H says:

        The perception of danger and actual danger are often two entirely different things. You don’t see her as a threat and she may not be but I do and seemingly the vampires do.

        There’s also what was remarked on last episode where Tatsumi said that they mustn’t suffer hunters. Anyone with the knowledge and will to act on it must be dealt with. Unless of course the person is too important to disappear like the Doctor.

      • adaywithoutme says:

        Well, I don’t see how the villagers aren’t going to view Ikumi’s death as suspect itself – it seems like they solve one “threat” but creating yet another, which is greater suspicion around the Kirishimas, regardless of what the doctor or the Kirishimas themselves have said. Natsuno is one thing – after all, the only ones that he’s voiced his concerns to have been two children who were last seen cowering in their bed. Ikumi’s practically screamed her accusations from rooftops. If none of the villagers go, “Hmm…” after she herself dies, I call bullshit on the show.

  2. vucubcaquix says:

    Believe me, I saw the BL at the end from a mile away.

    But I do have to say that the scene between Seishin & Sunako was my favorite. Every single beat and syllable uttered was pregnant with power only heightened by the crescendo-ing background music and the mandolin(?) that stopped at the very pinnacle of the tension in that moment. Sigh, the direction of that whole scene was just great.

    As an aside, once that scene ended, it made me wonder what the state of the SeishinxSunako shipping fandom was like…

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Ugh, I don’t even want to think about those shipping Sunako and Muroi. I can see why they would ship them, but it is absolutely not my cup of tea.

      While I think that all of the scenes with Muroi and Sunako talking together have been strong scenes, I agree with your assessment of this particular interaction, and I also think its been the best of all their conversation pieces thus far. I think that they both think that they are Cain and the other Abel, so its such an intriguing thing to watch. I see it becoming more and more prominent in the second half.

  3. Shinmaru says:

    Definitely agreed on Shiki being the best show of the summer … it’s not even close for me, really.

    I don’t think you’re reading too much into Shiki’s seemingly conservative values — that is, unless we’re both looking into it too much, haha. But it does seem skewed in that direction, particularly where Natsuno is concerned, although I can’t really take it too seriously since his “I JUST WANT TO MOVE TO A BIG CITY AND LIVE A NORMAL, HARD-WORKING LIFE IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK” speeches have been utterly goofy.

    I can’t really tell if we’re supposed to take that stuff seriously since it throws away the subtlety that marks the rest of the series. I’m just waiting for Natsuno’s dad to proclaim, “SON I WAS WRONG YOU CAN HAVE YOUR CROSSES AND GOOD FAMILY VALUES TO WARD OFF THE VAMPIRES NOW.”

    But, yeah, conservatism in horror isn’t really new, as I’m sure you know. There’s a ton of horror fiction that when you look past the gore and sex and whatnot, pretty much extols basic, conservative values. Whether that’s good or bad is up to debate, of course. :p

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I am wondering, though, if Shiki’s apparent affinity for conservative values is not as it seems, though – given the way Sunako has been positioned to us, that is, of being fairly sympathetic, I suspect there may be something along the lines of “Ignorance is bad.” floating in the background which will become more apparent with the passage of time. So, while folks like Ikumi are being shown to be correct while folks like Natsuno’s dad are being shown to be misguided, I feel like we’re moving toward something more complicated than that.

      I also am leaning toward this in part since this show seems hardly a love letter to the rural life. But we shall see!

  4. hashi says:

    Just a brief note to say that I think Shiki is the best show of the summer,and one of the two top shows of the year, along with House of Five Leaves.

    Of course, I am almost as eager for each episode of the wonderful YumePati as for Shiki — but not quite, as you say.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Hmm, maybe we can get a second season of Shiki, too, then… I can just see it now ‘Shiki: Professional… Vampire!’.

      Joking aside, I need to finish House of Five Leaves. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of it, but it hasn’t been much (yet).

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