After watching numerous seasons of Buffy and True Blood, I feel I entered Shiki with a little more sympathy for vampires as people than the typical person. Especially during the last extra episode (#20.5, reviews here), I noted there was virtually no way I could root for the ordinary humans, whose savage, sadistic, predatory behavior was no better than the worst vampires. Sure, they’d been taken to the edge of desperation, and their loved ones were being killed, but I didn’t care. Tying up Nao and the others to burn in the dawn is not appropriate behavior for any decent being in my books.
Anywho, this episode does things a little differently, essentially giving us an abridge re-telling of the entire series and its five months of horror, almost entirely from the perspective of a new character, Maede Motoko, a devoted mother of two with Sonic the Hedgehog hair! Aaaand I’m sympathizing with the humans again! Seriously, to say Motoko had a rough half-year is an epic understatement. Her family is taken by her one at a time, starting with her father-in-law and husband. When her daughter becomes pallid and eventually dies, she kills her horrid mother-in-law. When her son shows the symptoms, she sits in a bathtub with him until he dies and decomposes.
Finally, she goes to the top of a hill and starts the fire that eventually envelops the village and requires all the survivors to evacuate, having descended totally into madness. Her transformation from cheerful mother to smelly ranting lunatic is extremely rapid and disconcerting. Shiki proves yet again it is not for the faint-hearted. The episodes final moments – in which she is consumed by the flames, grinning from ear to ear – just gave me flat-out c h i l l s, something Shiki does a lot. It was also nice to hear the quirky, eclectic soundtrack once more.