Warning: Major spoilers for Shiki!!
This moment happened just a week ago, and I watched it just a few days ago, yet I’m sure it’s one of the moments that I’ll always carry with me.
It’s not often that anime leaves me depressed. Usually happy, sometimes bored, indifferent, and occasionally angry, but very rarely does it leave me in that strange, trance-like mood that I like to call being “fucked up.” Some people seem to be immune to getting fucked up by anime, and others get that way too easily. (There was a guy named Random Wanderer on the Megatokyo Forums who refused to watch anything slightly sad and read spoilers for everything because sad anime would leave him cripplingly depressed for days on end.) I’ve only been fucked up a few times, and all of those times are memorable.
The most prominent example was the Vampire Twins arc in Black Lagoon. Another was the ending of Texhnolyze. Probably the most I’ve been fucked up by anime was with Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu, which I’ve talked about extensively, and Nana, which I refuse to rewatch because the plot and characters aren’t interesting enough to make it worth all the depressing bullshit.
When I caught up with Shiki a few nights ago, I was in a great mood all the way through. After episode 17, it felt like the show was headed towards some kind of happy ending and I was excited. Then episode 18 decapitated that idea and 19 shat down its throat. I couldn’t bring myself to watch anything else after that and moped around for the next few hours. At this point, Shiki has the potential to either be really uplifting or wholly depressing in the end.
Shiki Episode 19 – A Truly Horrifying Murder
What I’ve loved about Shiki all along is how it’s very playful and almost tongue-in-cheek about its horror elements. The show is chilling in less of an atmospheric or shocking way, but more in an idiosyncratic way, where it feels like fun but makes my heart beat fast and a big smile cross my face. I guess I could say this is my kind of horror. It reminds me a lot of Takashi Miike’s Gozu.
Gozu had the most uproariously shocking and hilarious ending of all time, but it was still happy. Shiki suddenly took a very dark turn to show that even if the ending is ultimately uplifting, it will be so in a bittersweet way, where the sacrifices to obtain that happiness will leave a pang of agony.
When Ozaki-sensei murdered his wife shortly after her transformation into a shiki, it was a chilling scene. The wife was clearly emotional. She clearly did not want to die, and she struggled to no avail. She was tortured and she was killed. This was brutal in as much a way as it could’ve been without getting depressing. The wife, after all, had been pretty annoying, and her death didn’t effect anyone else in the story to a big extent. Moreover, it was important to how Ozaki would operate in the story that she died. So while the moment was shocking and terrifying, it was also enthralling and exhilarating.
The murder of Kirishiki Chizuru was not the same.
Chiziru was kind of an idiot, and just a little bit annoying herself. She bathed in self-indulgence and just wanted to have fun, but her excess seemed really innocent. She was just playing around as much as anyone else would want to let loose. Her character was presented as childish, and stated as such when Yoshie said “[Sunako and Chizuru]’s relationship is like that of a mother and daughter. And Sunako is the mother.”
We know that Chizuru is important. Sunako loves her. Her husband,
Gackt Seishirou, loves her so much that he’ll help her cheat on him, even as he laments it. If Chizuru is killed, there will be no going back for the humans. The shiki will not stand idly and be hunted. They will fight and kill everyone. There will be war.
Even though Ozaki was bitten by Chizuru at the end of episode 17, it’s evident that he’s found a way around her control in episode 18. He leads her along by making statements that, while they could’ve been evidence that he’d broken free, were phrased in such a way that it seemed like he was obeying orders. The tension mounts all throughout the episode until the big moment.
When Ozaki has Chizuru on the ground, screaming in fear and agony, and all of the villagers crowd around her, bloodthirsty, I felt like I was watching someone get raped. I was disgusted.
There was a brief glimmer of hope when Seishirou came riding in with a shotgun to break up the crowd, but the silliness of his departure created a betrayal of expectation when Chizuru was slaughtered anyway.
Ozaki became someone I could hate during this scene. Even though I’d enjoyed him throughout the series and loved the way he was written, I could no longer feel like I was backing him after that. At this point, I want him to die horribly.
Ozaki creates a hate rally around Chizuru and her death, all while her murder is as drawn-out and painful to watch as it could’ve been. This was the ignition of a genocide. Ozaki intends to murder all of the shiki. The humans are behind him now. With pure hate and anger, they go out in the day and mercilessly slaughter every Shiki they can find. They burst out the windows in the Kirishiki mansion so that shiki can’t hide there during the day. They are committing a brutal cleansing.
I’m not the type of person who gets upset hearing about people dying in the world and genocides going on in faraway countries. I don’t like the idea of murder, because I’m interested in the things that a person can do with the time they’re alive, but knowing that people die and seeing them die in movies or on the news and in images doesn’t shake me.
These days, characters don’t die very often in anime because franchises are built around character goods, and it’s important for the characters to stick around. But of course, when it comes to violent anime, people are bound to die.
Seeing characters die doesn’t hurt. Seeing characters that I care about suffering or dying hurts. I want to see them happy. I want to see them succeed. I feel moe towards them (most of the characters I care about are moe to me). If a character is suffering, I want to see them get better, and if something hurts them, it hurts me.
I didn’t feel strongly about Chizuru, nor about any of the Shiki who were killed over the course of episode 19. But I care about the shiki as a group. And most of all, I care about Sunako, and I care about Muroi Seishin who just wants peace with the shiki, and I care about the feelings and thoughts of the shiki. I support them. Seeing them falling when they were so close to the happiness they dreamed of was painful.
I really do hope that this series has a happy ending, but I won’t forget the profound tragedy that got it there if it does.
That’s all for that. Come back tomorrow to watch me unwrap my next gift!
Bonus: Been listening to this a lot the past couple days. Maybe I should look into more BUCK-TICK.