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.

Ghost Hound
Jigoku Shoujo
Shikabane Hime

14 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.

  14. ShikiLover says:

    God i loved this anime. I’m willing to say that it’s one of the best vampire horror animes out there. Unlike some other vampire anime (Yes, Vampire Knight), it doesn’t revolve around romance and most of the victims die within a week when they’re bitten. It has a tragic ending in which both sides have very heavy losses and you can’t but wonder what will happen. Somme of the deaths killed me though. Unlike many others, I actually liked Megumi

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  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 06:51 PM)
    Hype kills anything. In regards to the kind of emotional manipulation Clannad and maybe Undertale uses, it’s like a drug. The more you are subjected to it, the less of an effect it has.
    Still there are examples of something which comes close to expectation. People say Muv Luv Alternative gives you PTSD and in a kinda does. Though it’s helped by the connection you build with the characters though the first two games.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 06:47 PM)
    @Kaiser,I haven’t updated the old entries of my MAL in quite a while. Pretty sure Code Geass is sitting at a 10 on it and I am sure if I give that a rewatch that rating is going to fall harshly.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:59 AM)
    I say this because people often like to hype up the genre or those elements. I bring this up/think about it now because I played a game called undertale lately on my brothers recommendation and he was all like it emotionally destroyed him but I never ended up crying, I mean don’t get me wrong its a good game, there were laughs to be had and there was sentiment but it wasn’t THAT sad/funny.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:44 AM)
    Given how many people cry at some drama, clannad included.
    That reminds me…
    I can’t actually remember the last time in my life where I cried, I draw a blank.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 07:58 AM)
    @Aidan: Something always feels off to me when you criticize clannad, I mean I’m critical enough of key these days too but it seems odd that you rank it as an 8 on MAL when you’ve always made it sound its more of a high 6 or a 7.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:45 AM)
    But I’m no fan of gung-ho soldier games/most fps games so I am glad clannad, a visual novel outsold call of duty.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:44 AM)
    I said it once I’ll say it again. I preferred the clannad movie over the tv series, had more style, a more mature feel to it and cut out all the superfluous arcs/comedy for the better. It also concludes better than the series. The emotional involvement in the kyoani version doesn’t work for me anymore, doesn’t hold up. However the film remains emotionally engaging after revisiting it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:19 AM)
    Holy hell Clannad is selling like hotcakes on Steam. Even beat Call of Duty in sales at one point.
    Kinda happy to see a VN get recognised and it would help open up the market for more titles to come over. But..well..Clannad really isn’t all that great.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 02:29 AM)
    I can remember when I first got into anime when I was a whole lot younger I always said I would watch lodoss war, El Hazard and slayers, yet I never ended up doing so…
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:34 AM)
    Ha, the child in me would love to see a film like that I’d imagine, when I was young I was pretty crazy about Egyptian supernatural stuff.

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