Shiki, which means death spirit in Japanese, is a tragedy horror anime adaptation of the book series of the same name. The series was influenced by horror writer Stephen King Salem’s Lot. The source material from which Shiki was adapted was originally a two part horror novel which was later turned into a manga series in the late 2000s. The story is set in the mid 90s during the summer in a fictional village called Sotaba.
(In this series there are no true heroes or villains)
Each of the episodes is related to bodily corruption or death related terminology and uses Japanese numerical system which was really fitting for the show. In the story, there are a series of mysterious deaths that has been going on in the Sotaba with many of the victims being senior citizens.
(In this series as well nobody is spared any mercy.)
One of the main characters of the story is Natsano Yuuki who is something of a punk and he hates the boring small town life of his village. He’s a nice guy to his friends but he has not time for anyone else. Nao, one of the murder victims found in a nearby forest happens to be an old flame and Natsuno is haunted by her untimely death. Around the time of the deaths, a new family recently moves into the area taking residence in the abandoned mansion at the top of a nearby hill.
(One of many shiki in this story)
Toshio Ozaki is a doctor in Tosaba’s only hospital believes that the deaths are result of some unknown epidemic. But as he continues to investigate, he suspects it’s the work of a supernatural creatures known as “Shiki”. So Toshio must find a way to stop the Shiki from killing everyone in the village.
(peaceful but just keep watching and you'll see how dark it is)
The morality is grey no one is fully good or bad and it is up to viewers interpretation to decide if the characters are villainous or heroic as they are all flawed in some way or the other. The story shines some light as to what people would do to survive in dangerous times and how far they are willing to take get to their goals.
(expect the unexpected in this series)
One of the best character in the series is Toshio Ozaki as he’s a well-meaning doctor who tries to save the lives but at the same time, is constantly questioning whether or not what he is doing is worth the risk and what if he ultimately fails. He is forced to make moral comprises which causes great internal struggles. He has a strained relationship with his family since they want him to put the family name before anything else as they are prominent in their village.
(The show's camera angles like this one can make feel very unerverd and thats a good thing)
Shiki is similar to vampires as they are revived corpses with deadly supernatural abilities and like vampires, they will be weakened and die when exposed to sunlight. The origin of the Shiki is unknown but the process of how Shiki is made is similar to how vampires in traditional lore are created. One bite could turn a person into a Shiki while multiple bites could lead to death, and on some very rare occasion, some people can survive a bite and not turn into a Shiki but the chances are pretty low.
(Every episode is suffering for everyone)
Not all bitten humans rise up as Shiki. None of Nao's family reanimated, despite having their blood drained. Those whose parents didn't rise actually lack a chance of rising themselves. ( Spoilers Nao was adopted after her birth parents disappeared).
(And every episode your fave could get killed)
On occasion there are hardly any humans that turn into Jinrou which are a superior subspecies of Shiki. Jinrou are almost indistinguishable from ordinary humans, do not fear sunlight and are much stronger and more durable. Jinrou are the similar to werewolves but are not necessarily shape shifters.
(Tatsumi while an interesting character yeah it stood out like a sore thumb his character design)
The atmosphere is very bleak and so are the visuals. The art direction and character designs were superb and the animation was well executed. The 22-episode series was well paced with lots of suspense. The musical score is really good and the voice acting for dub and sub was fair. The series is violent and bloody with a high body count which fits the grim nature of the story. At the end of series, the levels of blood are at its highest which also does make sense given the high stakes nature of the series.
(also yeah the pink hairstyle Megumi had did kind of gave me an eyesore)
The series has shortcomings but not much of them. The character designs for Megumi and Tatsumi were outlandish and weird looking and there were some unlikable characters here and there and it wouldn’t be of any loss if they were killed off. This is really one of the best horror anime that is out there.
It gets 5 out of 5 stars.
Horror anime fans would really like this show.