Posted by psgels on 30 December 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Shiki




Shiki is a very hard series to talk about without spoilers. It’s a show that you really need to see for yourself. Still, I consider this to be the best show to have debuted during the past half year, so I’ll at least try to vaguely explain why I consider it such an awesome and unique series.

Shiki is another one of those series set in a tiny Japanese village that’s set in the middle of nowhere. One thing that immediately stands out is how well it manages to colour that village: even the simplest of residents are given an identity. The entire town has about 1200 residents, and this show manages to make them so life-like that you actually feel like part of the village as the series goes on. It creates a truly excellent backdrop for the series to take place in.

First and foremost, Shiki is a horror series. It’s got a really thick atmosphere and most of the time it’s just building up and dragging the viewer within this atmosphere. It’s got plenty of disturbing scenes though, and that’s really where it’s at its best at. Now, there are times at which this show feels like this series is moving a tad slow and that it’s building up a bit too much. But trust me: it all pays off in the end with a fantastic conclusion. That’s all I’ll say about it.

The character designs in this series are… unique. I admit that they take their time to get used to, but that’s not really a problem considering the charms of the different characters. It’s perhaps not the series with the best characterizations, but they are written really well: when they’re developed, it’s done very boldly. The characters are also incredibly diverse, ranging from teenagers to adults well in their thirties, forties and fifties and that overall makes it into a great and huge cast to watch.

Most of the best episodes of Shiki are located at the end so it takes some perseverance to really get to great parts of the series, but the weak moments are very few and far in between. It’s got a haunting soundtrack and a stunning atmosphere. It’s not something you should watch when you can’t stand gore, but it’s a must-watch for anyone even remotely interested in horror.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Gripping atmosphere, excellent use of build-up, everything horror should be.
Characters: 9/10 – the cast is HUGE, diverse and surprisingly engaging.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Good animation, great soundtrack, excellent artwork.
Setting: 10/10 – The village this series takes place in really feels alive and constantly changing.

Suggestions:
Ghost Hound
Jigoku Shoujo
Shikabane Hime

13 Responses

  1. darkmoon-chan says:

    I can’t stand gore, and I don’t think Shiki is this hard… I mean, there isn’t any organs or anything (except for the doctor exprerience), but it’s truly a horror series. It really has a frightening and sad athmosphere !

  2. Diasen says:

    Completely agree with you that Shiki was the best series to air in the last six months

  3. tanukichan says:

    Oh, the character designs are what brought me to this series in the first place. After weeks of viewing screenshots from the show I began to feel that this is just the right show for me, and it turns out to be true. xD

    The thing I like the most about this show is its atmosphere, complimented by the excellent use of BGM. That alone is enough to carry me through the first slower part of the story.

    Still not enough horror for me, though I have to admit I felt very sick watching the last two or so episodes (save for the last ep which I haven’t watched yet).

  4. Souther says:

    It’s been a long time since I actually completely agreed with one of your reviews and its ratings, but Shiki is a wonderful exception.

  5. windy says:

    Won’t there be another episode?

  6. m says:

    Yeah, this show turned out to be great. I didn’t like the character designs, but it didn’t matter in the end. Once the story starts moving the show is always interesting, and they manage to pull off quite a few scenes that are quite captivating. There’s one especially good piece in the soundtrack that I’ve never gotten tired of (and, from its use, I assume they realize is pure gold).

  7. windy says:

    Forget my question, the second two will be released later and will complete the story, so you’ll probably review them separately at that time.

  8. AKI says:

    We still have two more DVD episodes left. Man, Shiki was truly epic. I might re-watch this over the weekend now that it’s finished – a great way to start my new year.

  9. Sebz says:

    pretty awesome that we could end the year with epic Shiki.

  10. Irene says:

    Shiki is the best thing that happened to me this year!

  11. Ncky says:

    Thank you soo much for blogging this serie! First I dropped it, but after your review I had some hope again! You know, I’ve watched this serie in 2 days and I think it is together with Higurashi the best horror serie! I am really faithfull reading your blogs everyday =) Your blogs are the best, there are so many anime that I’ve seen thanks to you!

  12. marktheknife says:

    Just watched this show well after the fact – truly excellent (with the exception of some slow episodes from around 7-14, sadly). One of the better tragedies I’ve seen, along with some decent horror.

    Plus it actually did a great job of illustrating some very interesting themes! Which always blows me away to see an anime do, as animes tend to make themes very shallow and lost in mere style. Two I liked:

    1) The difference between character quirk and monstrous evil is just circumstance and ambition/power: This gets played out a lot, from Megumi’s fairly innocent but conceited desire for an exciting life spiraling into murder, to Epic-Beard-Man’s humorous alpha-male personality giving way to some truly monstrous actions in the last act. Simultaneously, one of the characters with the most flawed personalities (Masao) never is able to become powerful enough to act in any really destructive fashion, instead merely staying pathetic, and unlikable.

    2) Nature vs. morality: The story ended up pretty existentialist in a lot of ways.
    -Priest guy’s switch from despairing follower of religion to (spoiler) realizing he wants to live in a world where he can act on his darker nature (as revealed when he discusses the end of his story). Further, he realizes the religious ideology that pains him so is something he can just…drop.
    -Furthering the “following nature over morality” theme, much of the violence is seen as inevitable – some things/ideologies cannot coexist, and there is no evil in the two attempting to wipe each other out as a result.
    -The story also argues for “morality over nature” too – the other person surviving the church fire has a moment of deciding to reject her nature, and briefly deciding that dying so she can commit no further sin is the answer. See also Ristuko, Motoru.

    Thanks for reviewing this. Truly outstanding.

  13. reenaxans says:

    thank you for your awesome review. i had watched the first 2 episodes of this series. sadly i dropped them due to unknown reason. *i actually forgot why i dropped them*

    i do love horror series, and your review plus comment from others really makes me wonder if this anime is really that good.

    anyway, i think i need to pick up this anime again. i really hope it is worth my time.

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  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Mar 2. 2015 01:29 AM)
    Late to this one but
    @BrendanVGC, that’s kinda tough. See there is a huge amount of very different manga that fall under the category “Seinien” You would kinda need to give us a more focused genre to work with here. Like horror, action etc.
    And pretty sure death note is shounen.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 07:35 AM)
    Damon I am more used to seeing in a drama or comedy role I reckon rather than an action hero.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 07:24 AM)
    Eric Bana is so underated =<
    I want to see more of the man on film.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 05:52 AM)
    The story would’ve been much more anchored and believable if the social imbalance wasn’t portrayed so heavy-handedly. It makes no sense for every house in Elysium to have a healing-bed that completely restores you and they dint bother to put a single one on Earth to keep the working class happy and healthy. I mean, c’mon now.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 05:49 AM)
    Yeah the action sequences were the best parts of Elysium. I don’t k ow, I just don’t feel Matt Damon in these roles anymore and I hope they stayed with Eric Bana like the rumors were hinting; that probably would’ve made it a more personal story.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:55 AM)
    Its been too long since I saw district 9 to have an accurate opinion on it.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:54 AM)
    I can remember giving higher points to elysium when I saw it first because I really needed/wanted to see an R rated action movie. But apart from Sharlto Copley as the villain it was in hindsight fairly miscast, the ending was quite poor and the script could have been improved on, I liked the robots/action scenes however.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:20 AM)
    I have a feeling that the movie’s gonna suck tho. District 9 was good, Elysium was a mess and Chappie looks like a Short Circuit ripoff with nothing new to add. I have respect for Blomkamp since he started as an animator and probably has respect for the medium and a good eye for aesthetics, by he’s doing progressively more conventional stuff as his career goes on.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 01:41 AM)
    Ha, so I wasn’t wrong when I came across that film Chappie and thinking that the robot resembled Briareos from appleseed, the director’s a fan of Masume Shirow’s work apparently.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 12:16 AM)
    @Brendan: That completely hinges on your personal taste, but Vagabond is one of the best Chanbara ones around, with superb art, fast pacing and entertaining storyline. Berserk should go without saying as it’s a codifier for many Seinen conventions, but Vinland Saga is another great series which is in similar vein. Biomega and Drifters are also worth a look.

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