WAUGH NIGHTMARE FUEL
Dear lord, gah, where is my Kuragehime?! After the way that ended…! I mean, yeah, not as bad as what happened with Kyouko, but definitely very close. Poor Akira.
They actually managed to cram a lot into this episode, although it was mainly of the introspective-type variety. I admire how Shiki has been able to really flesh out some of its more minor characters, and also to make it hard to fully hate them (Tatsumi? not so much).
Speaking of not hating, though, then you have Megumi. Wow. Megumi truly is a monster, isn’t she? But I can’t quite bring myself to fully hate her, because she’s just so awful. I’m impressed with how much effort has been put into making her fairly loathsome. Usually characters that have any development are imbued with even just a teensy little positive thing. But Megumi really hasn’t at all. However, her comment about her own parents was fairly telling – a good reminder that, ultimately, Megumi is fifteen years old and incredibly immature. If she weren’t a vampire, her behavior wouldn’t be nearly as damaging as a result. She’s just the queen bee with supernatural powers, nothing more.
Anyway, Shiki managed to make me feel sorry for all the following vampires: Tohru, Sunako, Mao, and Akira and Kaori’s father, Mr. Tanaka. All in one episode! And all without seeming rushed, either.
- Tohru’s still leaving flowers at Natsuno’s window; its gone beyond simply mourning, though, he’s now edged into this kind of strange worship-style thing with him
- Mao came from a bad home, so her life with her husband and son was something she was beyond thrilled with… and so she wanted them to rise up with her
Actually, Mao was a pretty interesting case. She believes that she only rose up because her parents were awful people, basically. And now she’s ended up worse than they were, as their vices don’t seem to have quite made it to murder. I liked how her bit ended, though, with her about to attack one of her friends out of spite; it… well, I’m not sure quite how to put it. It reminds you that she’s human(-ish), or, rather, that she was once. It didn’t make me hate her, even if its an awful thing to do. It made me even more sympathetic to her, honestly. Her anguish over the failure of her family to rise was very striking, just something about how her knuckles looked after she punched the water tower in anger.
Most of my theory about Sunako got blown out of the water – she is older than she looks, but probably only at the most in the 120-range in years based on her outfits and the outfits of others in her flashbacks when she was human and her age at time of death. On the other hand, she did head home after rising up, although she didn’t bite her parents. Her discussion with Tohru was an interesting one, as she spoke about why their killing of others isn’t wrong. This show really is trying to make us face a devil’s bargain, isn’t it? Because her argument was… well, it made sense, honestly. It didn’t seem outrageous or wrong-headed, exactly; in fact, it was fairly reasonable. It further muddied the waters; no matter who wins this little war, I’m going to feel sorry for someone.
Also: did anyone else find it as creepy as I did to see Sunako with real eyes after getting so used to her Shiki eyes? Or get this uncomfortable sense of pedophilia when they showed who turned her?
Sunako’s initial awakening in her coffin was fairly terrifying, particularly as it also speaks to an old – and very real – fear that people in societies which used full burials (as opposed to cremation) used to have, that of being accidentally buried alive. This is where the practice of wakes and similar practices first arose. In fact, ‘wake’ isn’t just a name, it refers exactly to the purpose of it – gotta make sure they don’t wake up! This is also why with the advent of mirrors is became very common to use that to help indicate whether someone or dead was not. The mirror was held over the mouth and nose facing downwards for a period of about five minutes; if it came back fogged, then you knew the person wasn’t actually dead.
There also were some cases of people who had a fear of being buried alive accidentally being buried with a small bell with a long pull cord. The bell was housed on a tiny stand, and the cord went down into the casket below through a shaft. Then a person, usually a child, would be hired to camp out by the bell so they could alert anyone if the person rang it. As you could probably have guessed, only rich folk got this kind of thing done.
And, of one last note, I had no idea that when the Japanese buried people they used to bury them with a wakizashi (or it could be a tanto, honestly – the shot we get of it isn’t terribly clear).
Mrs. Tanaka showed she is a faster thinker than her husband is when it comes to running into the dead. Too bad her husband was able to grab her leg and bite her anyway. I was kind of wondering if he’d bite the dog when he was first there, haha. Can animals rise up? We’ve seen no evidence for it either way…
I don’t see Kaori lasting much longer. I’ve been pretty quiet about it so far, but I’ve got a fairly big criticism of Shiki of relation to this – if Shiki has a weakness, its the fact that there really aren’t many good female characters. The nurses all seem really wonderful and competent, but we don’t see much of them. Megumi is interesting, but she’s also a horrible ‘person’. And despite running the show, Sunako doesn’t have a lot of screen-time. Kaori’s been pretty useless. Kyouko seemed to exist to just invite the vampires into the house and get staked by her husband. And, in general, older women are basically depicted as shrewish and petty – Mrs. Tanaka and Ozaki’s mother come to mind.
Meanwhile, Akira’s willing to take action (although it kills him), Ozaki has been trying to do something all along, and Natsuno’s back to save the day more or less. Muroi may be pretty useless, too, but his uselessness at least comes across as being more a matter of guilt and his personal beliefs about killing – contrast with the fact that Kaori’s worrying about missing school when her brother asks her to start carving stakes. Yeah, there are definitely some loser guys (hey there, Natsuno’s dad!), but the fact that our two leads are male changes the game a bit on their side of the ledger.
Anyway, poor Akira. I think he’s our object lesson in why its bad to rush into things. Seriously, kid, why not just light the house on fire? I doubt there are enough people to staff what is surely a volunteer force for the village and surrounding areas. And, even if he doesn’t know for a fact that this will do the job, its pretty logical to assume that if you burn the corpse then, uh, the vampire will, y’know, die. I guess the moral of this story, then, is that not only should you not sit around farting and doing nothing when things are going to shit, but that you should sit around and do some planning before heading out to slay the vampires.
Alternately, we could also read Akira’s fate as being evidence of the futility of struggle against our own mortality. Right before he goes to stake a vampire, he encounters some of the elder villagers sitting around, and they basically say that there’s nothing anyone can do about all the mysterious deaths, so why bother? So, either the show is going, “Geez, stupid people not doing anything!” or “Look, these older people? THEY get it. You’re fucked. Get over it. Everyone dies someday!” Time will give us a better idea of how fatalistic the message here is.
Either way, Akira’s fate is pretty grim. Tatsumi’s method of dealing with him is fairly inventive, I’ll say – he could’ve just bitten him himself. The inclusion of the watch in the flashlight’s beam was pretty good. I’ll pretend that I believe that a big flashlight like that could stay lit for that many hours without running out its batteries so as not to ruin the affect.
So, for next week, it looks like poor Kaori loses her shit and starts digging up her dead family. I’m thinking its not so that she can pre-emptively kill them. Muroi also runs into Tohru at night in the woods, since Muroi must have a deathwish despite implying in last week’s episode that he didn’t actually mean to attempt suicide when he was younger. Natsuno is shown running through the same woods at night, so maybe he finally reveals himself to Tohru, and maybe he prevents Muroi from getting bitten – ’cause, honestly, the one who tried to kill himself is probably going to end up as one of the last to get bitten. Just the way things work! We will also get to watch Ozaki whittle. AWESOME.
In other news, I am now a proud writer of Shiki
porn fanfiction fanfic porn. I am *SO* going places in life.
Oh, I forgot to mention this for the previous episode – the BGM really reminded me of who is doing the composition here, as Takanashi Yasuharu’s work is pretty easy for me to pick out in these kinds of shows given his excellent work on all three seasons of Jigoku Shoujo. There’s a reason I own all the Jigoku Shoujo OST’s, and a reason why I’m looking forward to getting the Shiki OST’s.
And, despite some of my sarcasm, I really enjoyed this episode. There wasn’t a ton of action, but all the backstory was pretty enthralling, and I definitely got the sense that things are about to speed up a bit given Ozaki and Natsuno’s conversation. I still don’t see this ending well for the humans, though, honestly. Doom doom doom, doomy doom! *dances* I love them all so much I hope that the vampires win so that no one dies for real! And, for the less pleasant part of me (and perhaps more honest?), I also would love to see an anime which ends in a totally hopeless fashion…