Vampires and horror. These two characteristics we often see in anime, and the series Shiki decided to combine both. How did it go?
I am Satoshi Furude from Anime Monogatari and this month we are going to talk about the vampires of the 2010 series, Shiki.
Anime doesn’t really adapt into good horror. Particularly, there isn’t a single horror that has jump-scare content, like the ones we see in Hollywood productions that are considered successful. When I discovered that Shiki deals with vampires, combined with the fact that the production is from studio Daume, a studio with not very strong résumé, the possibility of failure was very great in the back of my mind. The most successful series in that genre are Higurashi no naku koro ni and Another, but these are more psychological thrillers, which means that their content are “darker”. The pacing is slower and they have completely different styles compared to the classic jump-scare. In what genre does Shiki belong?
The story takes place in a peaceful, pretty but isolated village called Sotoba. The plot begins when the family of Kirishiki’s move into the village and at the same time a series of back-to-back mysterious deaths of the villagers begin.
This series has lots of characters and in the first few episodes there is no clear protagonist. It is not easy to predict which character among them is going die next. The series handles this many characters very well, albeit most lack background information, but as the story goes on the viewer feels compassion for them and the situations they go through later on. As for the main characters, the only doctor of the village, Toshio Ozaki, quickly becomes one of them, as he is called to solve the mystery surrounding the deaths. Toshio is a very interesting and well-written character and his “coolness” level is very similar to Emiya Kiritsugu’s (from the Fate/Zero series). In general, the series has a large variety of well-written characters, with different personalities and realistic attitudes.
The biggest drawback of the story is the ending. The way the plot develops, it is quite obvious that the series would end in that way although it isn’t that bad at all.The pace of the story is mostly smooth, but the ending happens suddenly without any satisfactory explanations.
This anime doesn’t have impressive soundtracks in proportion to its length (22 episodes + 2 extras). The music and the sound effects fit perfectly with the atmosphere of the series, but the tracks are very similar and many of them are used too many times. Nevertheless, the track “Eau de Vie” stands out, as it is very atmospheric and dramatic and when it is played during the right scenes, turning everything into magic!
The voice acting didn’t impress me very much, but that was because the series doesn’t use the usual Japanese exaggerations they always do in other anime. The series includes well-known voice actors that voiced in series like Fullmetal Alchemist, Madoka Magica, BokuDake ga Inai Machi, Sword Art Online, Durarara!.
The animation is something I don’t like. The characters, the scenery and the movement aren’t bad; they are just average. The characters are designed tall and very thin (most of them at least) and what I don’t like most of all are their hair. I suppose that the animation is the way it is so it will add to the art style of the series, but even so, I still don’t like it. The best feature are the characters’ full eyes.
The series Shiki belongs to the psychological thriller and mystery genre and I believe it is a very good series. The drama, the moral issues, and the story aren’t anything special abut they are all handled very well. The vampires feels normal. They are cliché vampires that don’t go far from what the viewer expects (they die in sunlight or when they get decapitated, they cannot enter a house uninvited etc.) and the series doesn’t lose a chance to even mention that (in many cases, the characters themselves say that “this is like the movies”), but all that ends up is adding the tension and horror to the series.
Another thing this series does very well is that it focuses on the human element. Even the character of Natsuno Yuuki, a very despicable character at the beginning eventually becomes more congenial. His personality doesn’t change, but he adapts based on the situation he finds himself in. All characters adapt and develop; they are all realistic including the relationships between them.
I enjoyed this series very much. The comparison with my favorite horror anime Higurashi is inevitable. Although it didn’t manage to reach its level, Shiki offers some amazing horror scenes and good sound effects and music. The pace of the story offers good mystery. The viewer, along with the villagers of Sotoba, don’t know what exactly is going on. They only have a general idea. They discover along with the doctor Toshio what the truth behind the events is. The viewer and Toshio understand that something big and dangerous is going on, but they don’t know what, so that adds to the agony and horror. All horror fans have to watch this series.
Are you a fan of the horror genre in anime? What other good horror anime can you suggest?
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