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.
The best Buck Tick song is Rakuen. Find it, listen to it, and then read the lyrics:
Jupiter is also an excellent song.
Both songs were quite interesting and unexpected. I like.
Someone is going to have a happy DAY when she reads this, if you catch my drift.
It’s pretty amazing how Shiki has built up so much sympathy for the Risen as a group. I don’t like seeing them harm humans, but at the same time … they’re just trying to survive, too. And, I think, so is Ozaki when he decides to kill Chizuru in a really hardcore way. I think he realizes that he needs to shock the villagers so thoroughly that they have no choice but to support him in his mission, even if they turn into a bloodthirsty mob while doing so (because, as has been established repeatedly throughout the series, the villagers are dumbasses). I wonder if the shiki will pull something equally gruesome in return, or if they will consider themselves above that. (Well, everyone but Tatsumi, anyway. After the cruel way he decides to dispatch Akira — if Akira is dead, anyway — all bets are off with him.)
Anyway, I’ve been of the opinion for a while now that Shiki’s ending will be depressing as shit.
Ugh, it’s gonna be texhnolyze all over again.
yeah this episode got me as well. I commented on Shinmaru’s blog at the time but for me the thing that really made me hate Ozaki was how he basically used what little bit of humanity was left in Chizuru to lure her to her death.
I likened it to offering a child a lollipop laced with arsenic.
I’m not sure if that metaphor is quite accurate but the point stands that the reason Chizuru went out with Ozaki was because he promised her a “normal” evening out. She was fluttering over the little details about cutting her hand while chopping up potatoes and making small talk with the villagers. She enjoyed that normality and it shocked her that she enjoyed it. Then Ozaki took her by the hand, led her out to mingle among the townsfolk, and stabbed her in the back.
Jesus, when you put it that way, I hate the fucking guy even more!
I’m a bit puzzled by this sentiment of disgust at Ozaki for Chizuru’s death but relatively little about what he did to his wife. The sympathetic part of me did cringe at Chizuru’s treatment but the practical and fair parts of me say that what happened to her was a rather extreme example of getting what was coming to her. Yes it was executed in a very inhumane way but it didn’t feel nearly as bad as what was done to Ozaki’s wife. As far as we know all Kyoko she ever did was snark and be annoying to some people and for no other reason than she woke up a Shiki she was tortured for a couple days and then killed by her own husband with no explanation as to why. Chizuru on the other hand was a willing, unrepentant killer who displayed no empathy about not only killing but toying with those she intended to kill to suit her desires (not needs mind but desires). All that happened to her was she was dealt a massive dose of social rejection and held down and had a stake driven through her heart. I have a hard time feeling much anger at someone who facilitated the death of a murderer who was thoroughly committed to the idea of enslaving him and using him as a toy even if he resorted to psychological warfare and deceit. His own life was literally hanging in the balance as Chizuru had stated outright that she intended his eventual death after she’d had her little fun. I don’t mean to paint Ozaki with a rose colored brush by any means however I see his struggle as one of life or death against an active, superior, and malicious aggressor force while I see the Shiki’s struggle as one of life or death against an ignorant, passive, and mostly docile indigenous group.
Despite the gruesomeness and underhandedness of her death I can’t bring myself to rebuke any of the villagers for what they did to Chizuru or any of the other Shiki either. The Shiki for the most part, and certainly Chizuru, seem to willfully participate in and facilitate the torture, enslavement, and death of dozens upon dozens of people with little to no remorse shown outside of Sunako who, ironically, is their leader.
As I mentioned before, it’s not that I care about Chizuru, but that I care about the Shiki. Most prominently, I care about Sunako, my favorite character in the series. I know how much Chizuru’s death hurt Sunako, and so seeing her die was painful, both in that it was hard to watch and in that I knew the effect it would have.
I’m interested in doing another post about this all after the series is over, on exactly how it came that I chose a side in all this.
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I was going to be a reply here, but it got too long, so I blogged it:
The link is broken, and was also broken when I shared the post on twitter. I adore he post, though, and commented on it. Thanks so much!
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I was all “Fuck yeah” when they finally got Chizuru.