We have always lived in the castle.
Horror reference, get!
So you all thought that you’d finally come to the end of me having weekly Shiki posts… but fear not! Caraniel and I have been plotting away behind the scenes to bring more weekly Shiki coverage to the masses! And thus begins our manga blogging. We are currently planning to move at a rate of two to three chapters per week, so at the very least all of you will have to deal with our Shiki lovefests for the next eleven weeks (there currently are thirty-seven published chapters, thirty-five of which have been scanlated).
Anyway, I didn’t blog the first ten episodes of Shiki, so it’ll be a bit interesting to get to go back and comment on the manga material that was covered by the first ten episodes. At the same time, I obviously will not be having the same reaction to this material as I would’ve had I blogged from the first episode. However, I will try to not comment directly through the lens of what comes after. I will note that the manga is still on-going, so the final few episodes of Shiki will probably be different than the final few chapters of Shiki will be. At the same time, I do not intend to shy away from commenting on differences between the manga and anime as they appear.
I think that the opening of Shiki is much more of an act of misdirection than the anime was. At the start of the anime, we find the villagers searching for Megumi in the woods, whereas the manga presents itself initially much more as if it is going to be from Megumi’s viewpoint. The manga also makes a more sympathetic character out of Megumi; yes, she still utters some nasty lines, and, yes, she’s still stalking Natsuno, but overall she comes across as a fairly normal teenaged girl, and not even a particularly annoying one at that (fact: I think teenagers are mostly annoying. other fact: I thought this when I, too, was a teenager.). In fact, I’d go so far as to say that she’s even likable, given that she does her own thing even though the villagers think she’s being silly. She isn’t happy with Sotoba, but there’s definitely no self-loathing here. I like characters like that. Although I could definitely do without the stalking habit – really? Hiding in the bushes outside his window?!
On the converse, Sunako seems a lot more sinister right from the get-go, as she directly refers to Muroi’s scar instead of simply saying that humans can’t die from such a thing. It just is a lot more direct than she was in that conversation during the anime, and Muroi himself is much more visibly disturbed by her words.
Speaking of Muroi, the circumstances of Muroi’s attempted suicide are dealt with right away here: he slashed his wrist in college after a night of drinking with friends. He still claims to have had no reason for it, and states that he probably knew it wouldn’t kill him even as he did it, but I’m not convinced, and we’ll surely find out going forward.
Muroi’s eyes look just like Shiki eyes here. Was this intended as foreshadowing, I wonder? Assuming, of course, that the manga does the same thing with him that the anime does.
The most interesting thing to me, though, in reading the Shiki manga is in seeing the similarities between it and ‘salem’s Lot. As I’ve mentioned a few times before, Fuyumi Ono named Stephen King’s book as having been an inspiration to her for writing Shiki. I’d been thinking of writing a post after finishing it talking about the similarities and differences between the two, but I have been concerned that I’d have to re-watch all of Shiki… and, given that, I probably would never get around to it. I do intend to re-watch Shiki, but despite claiming I was going to ASAP, I actually have come to believe that I need to have some down-time before going through that all again.
Anyway, even knowing that Ono was influenced by ‘salem’s Lot, the similarities are a bit astounding. Both stories take place in small towns, and feature two different types of newcomers, sinister vampires and clueless humans. Both utilize the blameless outsider as one of their main characters. Both feature mysterious people moving into big houses on hills. In both the first noticeable victims are children (I say noticeable since Shiki has three older victims before Megumi; however, it is with Megumi that the story truly starts as it is the first case that seems truly out of the ordinary). Both have main characters who are authors who write fiction others consider unsettling and disturbing. Both have a doctor and a priest who become part of the main cast, along with a teenaged male character.
Well. Ok, maybe I will still have to do that standalone post about the two, honestly. There’s just so much they have in common, even though they ultimately have very different takes on their stories. ‘sL is a good book, but I would argue that Shiki is a deeper narrative. But the two stories seem to have different goals, so this isn’t a slight against ‘sL.
To get back to the Shiki manga: we get a lot more warped faces in the manga than we did in the anime this early on. The manga also has moments that are rendered in a much more humorous fashion than they are in the anime. Or, rather, the manga has humorous moments that the anime doesn’t play as being such.
In reading these chapters, I am remembering how strongly I disliked Natsuno in the first four or five episodes. He’s a much crueler character than anyone else is this early, and while Megumi’s unkind acts or thoughts seem more like a maturity problem than anything, Natsuno’s own come across as an attitude problem. Rejecting the postcard Kaori tries to hand to him and telling her that he only came to the funeral because his parents did is flat out mean. Kaori’s actions, after all, aren’t entirely for Megumi’s effort, although I’m not alleging that she herself is consciously being selfish. Her actions are pretty standard fare for a person who has lost someone to death. Basically, what I’m trying to say is – if Natsuno had accepted the postcard and not admitted his real reason for being at the funeral, it would’ve made Kaori feel better. In a normal world, it would make zero difference to Megumi any more, and he has no reason to suspect yet that he isn’t in a “normal” world. So his behavior just serves to hurt Kaori, who hasn’t done anything wrong. Its mean.
If anything truly caught my attention, though, in these initial chapters, it was the flashes of Ritsuko’s past during a conversation she has with Natsuno. Looks like she was engaged in the past, had met someone else perhaps when she was in school who proposed and said he’d move back to Sotoba with her. But he’s obviously not on the scene any more, as Ritsuko talks about living with her mother and sister and having to support them. So… did he die? Or just leave? I’m really curious about this! I really liked Ritsuko in the anime, so I love the idea of getting to know a bit more about her.
I’d also like to know how old she is. A lot of the characters have their ages noted, but not so for Ritsuko. Tohru, how much of a cradlerobber were you trying to make this woman?!
By the way, Tohru’s dad works at the Ozaki Clinic. I don’t remember this getting mentioned at all in the anime. Not sure if it’ll make a difference at all or not yet.
Wow – just think: I started this post thinking I didn’t have much to say! Guess I was wrong. Anyway, going forward you can anticipate these weekly posts to appear on Fridays.
I’ll be adding a link to Caraniel’s post when it appears, hopefully soon. Here’s Caraniel’s post.