Hidden in the depths of the Horror fandom are many titles from the Land of the Rising Sun. Japan has always had a special place in our dark, little hearts with a unique brand of twisted tales. The little island of horrors is not shy to produce some of the most cringe worthy cinema we’ve seen, such as The Audition and Apartment 1303.
But, I ask you to turn your eyes to a more two-dimensional realm and see the wonders that it holds deep in the digital forest of video streaming. Now, before I begin waxing poetically on the amazing story behind Shiki, here’s a little information on it.
Shiki was originally a novel series written by Fuyumi Ono and published in two parts in 1998. It later inspired the Manga (Japanese Comic) series by the same moniker and finally was turned into an Anime. Armed with this knowledge, you can now make an educated decision about whether or not to make the investment to watch this show. And, I’m not joking when I say it is an investment.
Having stemmed from a novel, Shiki is very much about the build-up. The first episode starts with a search party calling out frantically for Megumi Shimizu, a fifteen year old girl who wants out of her small town and to be somewhere glamorous and fashionable. The main focus of the first episode details the quiet mountain town of Sotoba from its remote location to the character of its residents, as well as Megumi’s avarice. The next main character we meet is Natsuno Yuuki, fifteen year old boy from a large city and Megumi’s crush. Though, it’s apparent that Natsuno wants nothing at all to do with her. Not only do we get a glimpse of the entitled, bratty Megumi and the seemingly callous Natsuno, but we’re also shown several deaths that have occurred over the past few days. Ooooh, spoopy!
As the season progresses we are slowly introduced to more and more characters, all of whom play an important role throughout the series. But, first, we meet a new family who moves into a large mansion settled above town. Their arrival happens to coincide with several mysterious deaths in the town. By the end of the episode we see Megumi succumb to what the village authorities have begun assuming is an epidemic. Hint: It’s not.
The first series ends at twelve episodes of excruciatingly detailed introductions, sub-plot set up, and all around suspense. But I promise you when I say that, if you miss something in the first season, you will be very sorry once the second season begins. For all it’s slow progress, Shiki has a wonderful way of developing characters that make lasting impressions, especially when it appears that no character is safe from the Okiagari (Corpse Demons) that are beginning to overrun the town.
The imagery in Shiki is very powerful and its literary origins are exceedingly evident in Season One. We honestly see very little of anything, but there is enough to keep suspense and intrigue tightly coiled around us during each episode. The wild tangle of stories is really what excites me about this show. Each episode is carefully plotted with suspicion and realization growing faster and faster as we near the end of the season. Classic monster themes are very evident in this show, and I’m all about that.
If you like long, highly detailed stories filled with Corpse Demons and classic horror suspense, I highly suggest you give this series a chance. I think you’ll find it quite refreshing.
As, far as Season Two is concerned, I will be writing a separate review on it once I’ve finished the entire series. Look forward to more coming soon!