People often perceive horror as a medium of uncertainty. The science of mystery and the ability to spook people out based on a visual or textual context is what makes the element of horror appealing for many.
This means that anime in general struggles to find a good standing when it comes to the horror genre. The visual aspect is often compromised as many people might just view it as animated people dying on the screen. However, Shiki stands to be the better of the lot when it comes to the realm of physiological horror.
The anime starts in a small peaceful village called Sotoba where a series of bizarre deaths in the village start occurring at the same time as the arrival of the eccentric-looking Kirishiki family. Dr Toshio Ozaki, the director of Sotoba’s only hospital, gets increasingly worried that there might be an epidemic spreading within the village.
He decides to investigate further into the mysterious deaths of the village residents and digs out the true nature of the strange disease that is being caused by vampires or Shikis. At the same time, a young teenage boy named Natsuno Yuuki starts getting haunted by his stalker after she dies.
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The series is initially told from the perspective of three characters, Dr Toshio, Natsuno, and Seishin Muroi, a local priest. The three scrutinize the existence of Shikis and unfold the secrets of the villagers’ deaths one by one.
Seasons and Episodes
The series ran for a total of 22 episodes throughout a single season which started airing from July 8th, 2010 to December 30th, 2010. The anime itself has been adapted from the manga drawn by Ryu Fujisaki which was adapted from the original novel with the same name written by Fuyumi Ono.
Two bonus episodes were also released as OVAs during the following summer and were numbered as episodes 20.5 and 21.5. Aniplex was in charge of the distribution of the series while Daume was responsible for the production. Funimation broadcasted the series on their online platform and released the series on DVD & Blu-ray on May 29, 2012.
A teenage boy, forced to move to Sotoba with his parents. He exudes a cold personality and very evidently hates his village lifestyle and wishes to return to the city. However, he decides to save the village when it is raided with Shikis after he turns into a Jinrou (a superior species of the Shikis).
He later dies in a fight with Tatsumi (another Shiki), killing them both.
A young doctor and the director of the Ozaki Clinic (the only hospital in the village). He always prioritized his patients before anything else and becomes desperate when he is unable to save them. He became determined to save his village after he found out that the mysterious deaths were due to the existence of Shikis.
Throughout the series, Toshio is seen forsaking his morals and humanity as he experiments on his wife who turned into a Shiki to save humanity. In the end, he successfully escapes when the village is consumed by fire in the war between the villagers and the Shikis.
She is the main antagonist of the series but her history as to how she became a Shiki is unclear. Despite her young child-like appearance, she’s over 100 years old. She started her own fake family and set out to create a safe place for Shikis to survive and live independently.
Sunako chose to settle in Sotoba because she became a big fan of Seishin Muroi’s essays and novels after reading them. Towards the end of the series, she wishes to die but is convinced by Seishin to escape with him and survive.
A local priest in the village of Sotoba. He is well known as an author of multiple essays and novels which caused Sunako to be a fan of his. He is also the childhood friend of the local doctor Toshio Ozaki and Mikiyasu Yasumori. However, after he discovers Toshio experimenting with his wife, he starts hating him.
Later in the series, he becomes a Jinrou and escapes with Sunako to begin a new life.
Why you should watch Shiki
Shiki takes you on a psychological thriller journey which makes one question what is good or evil. The multiple gore scenes in the anime add to the element of horror which makes the series the better of the horror anime out there.
It also presents a very unique take on vampires unlike most stereotypical shows and proposes questions on the morality of the survival of mankind. It has been given a rating of 7.77 on MyAnimeList and is ranked 308 on popularity.
Shiki Season 2
As of today, there has been no official announcement for any remakes and it is highly unlikely that the anime will receive one in the future. So far the original series has a total of 24 episodes including 2 OVAs.
If you are a fan of Shiki and want to watch similar anime, here are some options for you:
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
- Seraph of the End
- Parasyte: the Maxim
I believe that Shiki is an underrated gem that has been overlooked by many anime fans. Understandably, the horror genre of anime is often overshadowed as people often find them unrealistic. However, Shiki is more so a physiological thriller rather than a horror anime.
If you ignore the weird art style and the horrible pacing of the show, Shiki presents a very creative take on the world of vampires. Sunako, the main antagonist, isn’t hostile and much rather prefers to stay indoors. She only kills for her survival, such as in the case of any person that has been transformed into a Shiki. Her wish to create a ‘haven’ for Shikis also comes from her deep yearning to have a family after she escapes the storage shed that held her captive for over 100 years.
Meanwhile, on the human side of things, Dr Toshio questions his principles as he weighs them against the survival of humanity. This ironically leads him to lose his humanity as he commits several atrocities to investigate more about the Shikis.
At the end of the series, I found myself questioning who was the actual antagonist of the story. Shiki also uses the ‘fear the unknown’ card very well as the vampires are essentially supernatural beings, the existence of which is known by any of the villagers.
Honestly, other than the extremely slow pacing of the anime and the wanky art style, the series proved to be quite entertaining. I say this as I am aware that some people might not be willing to sit through the beginning even if the later half proves to be very well written. Additionally, The horror music and the supernatural elements were put well to use, especially later in the series when the story finally picked up its pace.
In conclusion, I’d personally rate it a 7/10 because of the first half of the anime but other than that, it proved to be a great watch.