Review: Shiki 01

Gastly used Mean Look!

First of all I should probably say ‘Hello again’ and ‘Sorry’, since I’ve not posted since Christmas and even then only to wish the season’s greeting. I apologise to all you fans of me out there (none of you, I suspect) and hope you enjoy this, my comeback review!

The few of you that know me may realise that the imagery present in the trailer for Shiki immediately appealed to my tastes, and unless I watched at least some of it my brain would fall out. Luckily for me, the first episode aired a few days ago and I managed to watch it. What I had been expecting was an anime packed with wonder and the Higurashi-style creepiness I love. What I had not been expecting was a documentary on a stuck-up schoolgirl and her over-inflated ego. Granted, the creepy was still there in small portions, but not nearly enough for my fix.

You can read my first impressions in full after the usual jump.

The episode’s first scene has us follow a search party, looking for a character named Megumi. After a few minutes we’re shown a girl, whom we assume is Megumi, looking quite dead. Up until this point the episode followed what I had been expecting of the series, a mysterious horror anime with many twists, turns and spine-chilling moments. Then the opening credits began, with a funky upbeat track and some equally funky, brightly coloured animation. I was bewildered by such a shift in the flavour.

It’s not that the opening credits were bad, it’s just that the song and bright colours didn’t particularly seem to fit what we’d seen so far. The animation sort of skimmed the border of my expectations, but really didn’t stop me from feeling like I was watching another anime entirely. My preconceptions had been appeased, then subverted just as quickly. And as if that wasn’t enough, when the main part of the anime began it abruptly changed tone again, though I admit the credits should have left me a little more prepared for it than I was.

Suddenly we were following Megumi’s day in town, meeting her crush Yuuki and essentially being privy to her little world, which consisted of being disgusted with the village and ignoring people between her various delusional fantasies. She also had a thing for the huge, empty European style mansion on the hill, but that was about as interesting as she got. Conceited little Megumi suddenly didn’t seem such a bad character to kill off. It felt more like watching a loudmouth’s YouTube rant about than a creepy anime.

That's because it's raining and you have a mushroom for a parasol.

At this point I was feeling highly underwhelmed by the episode so far. I had quite high hopes for this, seeing as I’ve quite enjoyed Highschool Of The Dead. Maybe, in my infinite optimism, I had unrealistic expectations for this show? Whatever the case, I felt like this anime really lacked the substance it needed. The story was dragging on and I was getting bored. Then, about two thirds into the ep things start to take shape. Someone actually moves into the mansion in the dead of night and things start to get marginally creepy. Megumi wanders up to the building in a vain hissy fit and notices that she’s being watched.

My twintails will protect me!

Someone comes out, and the next thing we know, we’re back to the first scene with the search party trying to find Megumi. This sort of works well and brings back the Higurashi feel I had been expecting. Back on familiar creepiness grounds, I had begun to warm to the episode slightly, though I admit I kind of forgot that Megumi was supposed to wind up in a ditch. Perhaps that’s the whole reason for the annoying character; they wanted me to forget. If that’s the case then the effect was fairly poor, but at least it was there.

There’s a little more to the episode, after the revisit to the first scene: Megumi is not in fact dead, but extremely anaemic… or at least that’s the theory. She speaks very little after this point, which is a blessing. There’s a pretty trippy scene right near the end, which I really thought was going to be the ending credits, since it was quite bizarrely different to the rest of the episode. Not that I shouldn’t have been used to that by now. In fact, Megumi was hallucinating and we get an extremely warped insight into her experience at the mansion, after which Megumi does, finally, die. A very twisted end to a very irritating character.

Come on, give Aunt Janice a kiss!

While I’m a little disappointed by this episode, I’ll stick this series out at short while longer. I have always made a point to watch the first three episodes of any series I try, and this one will be no different. Besides, the synopsis states that the main character is a boy named Yuuji, so I’m going to assume this was a one-off following Megumi… not that this fact excuses it for irritating me for a large part of the episode. I just hope the next has less conceited girls and more of the creepy.

Overall I’m going to say that this was okay. Just okay. It was really not worth getting my hopes up over and I’m not exactly looking forward to the next episode that much. Megumi was an uninteresting main character, and none of the others were any better, even when they got more than 20 seconds of coverage.

All in all, a pretty subpar show… but it could be pulling a ‘Mikuru’s Adventures Episode 00’ red herring on us, so I’d best watch the next. Roll on this week’s!