Genre: Horror, Mystery, Supernatural
Summary: During a fiercely hot summer in Sotoba, a peaceful and quiet village with a population of 1300 people, a series of bizarre deaths begin to occur. At the same time, a strange family moves into a long abandoned mansion in the region. Hospital dean Toshio Ozaki cannot figure out the cause of death in the deceased, suspecting an epidemic.
Review: Shiki was one of those anime that started off poorly and ended up pretty good. Sadly it didn’t have the substance for me to give it any higher of a rating. I would say that it was headed in the right direction, but got a little lost before it reached its destination. The art, characters, soundtrack, and story all lagged a little behind many other series. Probably its only redeeming feature was the supernatural aspect and giving a new edge on vampires while keeping some of the classics.
The art style irritated me so much, since the first episode I couldn’t stand how things were drawn. It wasn’t the lighting, or backgrounds, but the fact that everything was so pointy. I felt like the artist just took a ruler and started making lines to resemble body parts. The characters had the most unnatural look to them. That’s fine and dandy for the vampires since they are technically “unnatural” but the humans looked just and creepy. The hair… Oh God the hair… At first it was amusing but then it became annoying. I don’t know what they were thinking but the hair on the characters’ heads was in a world of its down. Baby blue, grassy green, hot pink, violet purple, what were they thinking? To top off the trippy colors their hair styles looked like they went through a fire, spiked, gelled, and then messily stapled to the characters’ heads. The guys generally had pretty normal hair, but the women were not so fortunate. The entire anime I sat there thinking “For f*** sake someone use a comb! Take a shower and wash all that hair product out!” Other than the character designs the art wasn’t too bad, average I would say. So average backgrounds, coloring, lighting, etc. with poor character design leaves the overall art below average.
The soundtrack wasn’t that great either. The first opening song wasn’t bad I really liked how they did the animation in the background, matching the blood drops with the piano keys. The ending, second opening, and second ending weren’t great though. I hardly remember them and always skipped them after the first listen. The anime didn’t have any background music that I can remember either The anime did have an scary little track you can check out here. I felt that the song was just a way to play off the episode rather than to set a mood. I think that adding sound effects in the least add to the anime. Shiki was mostly heavy dialogue in place of music. I would say that the series overall had an average soundtrack because on average I do tend to skip the openings and endings of anime.
The story is where Shiki did best, but it wasn’t all that exciting. I really liked how the story showed vampires. Usually in recent years you see “loving and caring” vampires *cough* Twilight *cough* Fortune Arterial. Shiki brought me back to what I remember about vampires, blood thirsty monsters that use whit and strategy to survive. Lately there have been a lot of different types of lore about what a vampire really is, their weaknesses and strengths. Most new-age lore as I like to put it tend to over exemplify vampires. On top of being caring they seem to have very few weaknesses. It is as though they are the perfect human and only fault is the need for blood. This anime on the other hand had all the classics like burning in the sun, steak to the heart, and fear of religious items. They also had the classic strengths like amplified strength (probably not enough to dent a van though) and hypnosis. Some of you may be fans of the “new” vampire generation, but I’m a fan of the classics. So for that I give Shiki brownie points. From there though there really wasn’t much going for it. The story was very simple, vampires are slowly killing off members of the village and beginning to take over the territory. Of course humans don’t believe in such supernatural creatures at first, but soon find themselves retaliating. The series starts off rather slow and the entire first episode basically consisted of me laughing at serious moments and stupidity of the characters. Almost every character was annoying. I don’t know if it comes back to the annoying art design or what, but I just had a feeling of dislike toward everyone. The characters that I liked were the ones that were so ridiculous they made me laugh, and the rest I felt neutral toward. Over half the season was really boring because you find out they are vampires right away so the mystery is gone, and nothing really happens. You see people die left and right in the exact same way. Hardly interesting if you ask me. There were a couple great scenes that send chills down your spine, but too few for my taste. As the series was coming to a close though things got bloody, fast. The final six or so episodes really got the ball rolling and made for an intense climax. I’m not sure if it was because the previous episodes were so slow paced, but the fight against the vampires was pretty entertaining. Something about watching an underdog retaliation group got me waiting to see the next episode. It might have been because of the twisted scenes and gore though (enjoying that makes me sound like a freak but hey, I was looking for something to entertain me as I watched this). Despite the series getting more entertaining it soon fell short again. The ending wasn’t that great and kind of hard to remember. People died, things happened, blah blah blah.
Final statements: As you can see this anime is easily an avoid watch because it was so hard to find anything worth while about it. Even though it got pretty heated at the end, it isn’t worth the slow build up. The occasional horror scenes were a nice touch though. I’m disappointed that my childhood memory of what a vampire is couldn’t make a decent series.