As the town continues to change, the realizations begin to hit and the window for opportunity to strike back shrinks.
What They Say:
When citizens of a secluded village begin dying off in alarming numbers, the sole hospital’s head doctor tries desperately to save his patients – but his efforts are in vain. Entire families are wiped out while others desert their homes. All hell breaks loose as the villagers discover their loved ones’ corpses are rising from the grave with an insatiable thirst for human blood. Who is safe when the urge to kill in order to survive blurs the line between man and monster?
Contains episodes 13-22 plus episodes 20.5 and 21.5.
The audio presentation for this release is fairly straightforward for FUNimation in that we get a pair of lossless tracks using the Dolby TrueHD codec with the original Japanese in stereo and the English getting a 5.1 bump to it. The show makes excellent, excellent use of its score to create the right mood with plenty of quiet scenes where the ambient sounds of the village or the houses come to life in an engaging way to enhance the moment. It also uses the music very well with some strong buildups throughout it to create the proper mood. It’s not big on action or anything, but when it hits those moments, there’s a sense and feeling that it’s all coming together very well and it makes the moment bigger because of the sparseness and careful application of sound. The encoding here makes very good use of it and it helps to make it a thoroughly engaging mix.
Originally airing in 2010, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes in this set is spread across two discs with eight on the first and four on the second, which also has the extras on it. The show has a very distinct feel to it with its animation design, one where it was called cheap looking at times, but it’s done with a purpose. With it taking place in a remote mountain village, it has a lot of natural colors and uses the greens and earth tones well while not coming across as murky. Blacks are distinct and strong, but when it goes to the big colors, used vibrantly in small ways, it just has a very strong impact. The look of the show is fantastic here and really captures the mood and ambiance perfectly.
The Blu-ray case holds both the DVD and Blu-ray discs with a hinge to allow it all to fit compact in the standard sized case. The front cover artwork is a really intriguing one as it gives us a murky image of Toshio bathed in red light as he does his research in an otherwise dark room. It’s not an easy sell kind of piece of artwork, but it definitely is appropriate for the show and looks great. . Unfortunately, the back cover doesn’t get any additional artwork and just uses the subdued logo along it. There is artwork on the reverse side though with one panel showing off the promotional image of Seishun in a similar bit of darkness as the front cover here with others in the background the adds to the menace. The other panel breaks down the episodes by title with a listing along the bottom of what format has what episodes. No show related inserts are included.
The menu design for this release is about as I expected as it uses some of the standard instrumental music from the series to set the mood with lots of dark and ominous clips that filter in and out, giving it all a murkier look than the series actually has. The menu navigation is simple with a darker red strip along the bottom that blends into things which has the standard selections. Submenus load quickly and effectively and without any problems and the language submenu has the subtitles locked out, so you can’t get full translation subtitles while watching the English dub, nor can you turn them off during regular playback which is unfortunate but not a surprise as the license restriction is becoming more and more common.
The extras for this release are pretty good overall in addition to the always welcome basics. We get the clean opening and closings and a couple of commentary tracks by the English language adaptation team are included as well which has some good fun about how they worked the show. The main extra to check out here are the preview featurettes, which are basically two minute promo pieces about the show that are done simply with narration and without going big or flashy to describe certain aspects of the series. They’re curious pieces but definitely welcome since they came with the Japanese home video releases.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Back when it aired, Shiki completely wowed me and drew me in week after week. What made it feel even more special was that it seemed like almost nobody else was watching or talking about it because it was just another vampire show and you could feel the distaste for such things after the whole Twilight deluge and other properties for a few years that watered down the whole thing. Going from the simulcast to the half season sets only reinforced my views of the show though and watching that first half awhile ago definitely showcased exactly what made it a strong series. Great designs, a sense of slowly creeping oppression and not holding back in dealing with how such a situation would unfold in one of these somewhat remote villages in the countryside. It built up a great level of tension and worked the cast well and left me wanting more and more. Through circumstances, I ended up missing the second set and only recently realized it and corrected that situation.
This season is one that carries forward what happened before and that’s definitely worthwhile, though it changes and ramps it all up along the way as well. With more and more of the village having fallen to the Kirishiki family and what they’ve brought there, the changes in the town are getting more pronounced. Some families are moving away during the day, others go quiet for awhile before the houses start to spring to life at night while others have a series of deaths that go on and cause a bit of trouble. The funeral home, which has been taken over by the vampires who have orchestrated a rather flashy way of handling so many sessions while also using it as a way to secret away the bodies of those that are turning so they can have them easily accessible when they do change and come to life again. It’s a pretty good setup overall but the flashy aspect of it just feels a bit weird.
While the vampires are definitely furthering their takeover of the village, person by person in a pretty literal way, they also have their main opponent to deal with. The things that Toshio has discovered as the “junior doctor” over the course of the series has been interesting, but the more he learns, the more depressed he gets over it. Even more so when his wife is taken ill and she ends up in much the same situation as all the others as she turns and comes back to a sort of life. But because of the timing and the connection to her, he instead uses it as a sad kind of opportunity to hide her away in the clinic and perform all sorts of experiments on her to see if they can be killed. He knows that while she is still who she was, she’s died and is no longer who she was. Rather than let her death go to waste, he films himself doing all the experiments and it’s enlightening since there are so many ways they don’t do and end up healing. You know he wants to find a cure, but there truly is no cure. There’s only finishing them off and sending them to a true death.
That kind of work that must be done takes its toll and it’s really engaging to see how Toshio copes with it, at first being completely disconnected from everyone and then opting to be the core and leader for what must be done. He doesn’t suffer a depression per se with what he learns and handles it, but you see him for awhile where nothing registers when others talk to him as he tries to come to grips with what he’s learned – and what he’s done. His disconnect has an effect on others in the clinic though and that causes a splinter effect to happen as there are those there on the nursing staff that truly look up to him and losing him like that makes for a very difficult time for them, enough so that some do leave because of the cold nature he has at that point. As a story point, it’s well handled and definitely advances his mindset and overall progress of what’s going on here. But from an audience perspective, you want to smack him to try and get him to realize what he’s causing around him.
Conversely, when we see him come through it and really begin to engage the world, it’s a sight to behold. Because of the progress that’s been made by the vampires and his own in figuring out how to eliminate them, he’s got a big target painted on him by the Kirishiki’s. But they’re giving him a bit more time, which is a mistake, since Chizuru sees him as a bit of a plaything. That proves to be her undoing, literally, as he knows that in order to save the town, they all have to realize the truth. So many have had blinders about what’s going on there, even as some realize the truth of it, that it’s simply continued to happen because nobody knows what to do. But with Chizuru, he uses her in a very public way to make clear what she is, what she’s done and what the others like her are responsible for. It’s one of those moments in a crowd where you see how things can change in almost a heartbeat, especially when some of the village elders like Ookawa grasp it, that the path becomes clear and defined and achievable. Which they do with incredible gusto.
The final four or five main episodes of the series are some of the most intense episodes of an anime series I’ve seen. Though the show built up a great deal of tension throughout its run, when it hits that pivot point and it becomes a real battle, a hunt on both sides for different reasons, the series rises to something even more intense. That tension finally breaks in this orgy of action that has so much bloodshed and violence, wholly appropriate to the situation and story, that the flow of it carries you through in a nearly mad rush. When the villagers find out how to deal with them, they go at it as best as they can even as some hide away in their homes unable to participate because of the emotional issues. The men and women that deal with it handle it well, some more than others, and it all ties in with the bigger fights with the more name characters, including the sad arc that brings resolution to Sunako’s very long life story. The series has such a payoff to it which helps reinforce everything they did to build towards this. It’s not a simple couple of minutes or even a single episode of fighting and it’s all resolved. It’s a true bloodbath and worth every moment of it as the ebb and flow of it unfolds.
With its twenty-two episode run, Shiki does some amazing work. It has a strong beginning, middle and end, but not the kind of loud and boisterous one that you might think it needs. In addition to this run, the show also got a two OVA run with the home video release of it, which are 20.5 and 21.5 episodes. The first one is a great piece that shows some of what went on in the village during the final arc with all the action but without any of the main characters. We see the hunt that the ordinary villages went on to find the vampires and it’s brutal, sad and just incredibly bloody and tense, especially when they were fishing them out of the underground tunnel. The second OVA is a bit different as it follows just one side character, the wife from the roadside restaurant, as it goes back to the very beginning and shows what her life was like as all the chaos over the summer ensued and how she walked through the background of the final arc as it all went to hell – and how she contributed to a huge amount of it without anyone knowing. Both are side stories but involving non-main characters while greatly enhancing the overall story.
I adored Shiki when it first aired and I was won over again when I got into the first half of the series on Blu-ray. The second half is a different beast in some ways, but it’s one that is a proper, gradual build towards what must happen. And it’s not just a short and abbreviated ending, but one that makes every kill count in a significant way. The progression of the story across several key characters and arcs with the interconnected nature of so much of it reaches its conclusion here and does so in really the only way possible. It doesn’t feel like it skimps in the slightest and the way so many things happen, so many smaller characters have emotional and important moments, highlights just how well all that tension and foundation laying early on pays off. Shiki is a quiet and unknown classic, one of the best series I’ve seen in the last decade and one of the best horror shows I’ve seen.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episodes 18 & 22 Commentary, Preview Featurette Vols. 5-9, Textless Opening Song, Textless Closing Song
Content Grade: A+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: May 29th, 2012
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.