Shiki – 22 (Fin)(Retro Review)

Originally posted 30 Dec 2010 – The Shiki finale was unbelievably good – we’ll just get that out of the way. Naturally, just when victory is in sight for the villagers, a fire breaks out. And when a fire starts in a dry, windy forest, it doesn’t bode well for the mostly-wood village it surrounds. Toshio tried to fulfill his duty to protect the village the best he could; his rage and sorrow is palpable when he swings his chainsaw around wildly. Still, he saved many lives.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without Natsuno. He hypnotized Toshio before Chizuru, which is why her glamoring didn’t take. I imagine Natsuno basically told him to keep doing what he was doing, and he did. By the  end, there’s only two vampires left: Sunako, and the newly-risen Seishin, who has chosen to stay by her side.

Everyone else meets their end in various awesome ways. Megumi is found sneaking around, and her desperate pleas for mercy fall on deaf ears: by now the villagers have heard it all. They run her over with various farm equipment until she’s immobilized, then stake her. We kind of wish Megumi had made it to the big city, and we felt a bit bad that they’d just destory her so callously; but her surviving just wasn’t in the cards.

Natsuno throws himself and Tatsumi into a huge pit full of corpses by design, and blows them both up with dynamite. It’s clear Natsuno had no intention of living as a werewolf, so taking Tatsumi out with him two birds with one stone. He also made sure Kaori and her little brother were safe in a neighboring town before going back to take care of business.

We truly thought Sunako’s long time on the earth was at an end when Oosaki cornered her in a church, but Seishin rescued her at the last minute (whaddaya know, the big bearded dude’s mortal after all!). As out-of-town firetrucks and helicopters descend upon doomed Sotoba village, he sneaks out in a car with her in a suitcase. The final cut-to-black gave us goosebumps; something we expect from any great finale.

This was a truly excellent finish to what became the series  whose episodes we came to anticipate most each week, once it got going. The payoff was made so much more satisfying and impactful by the careful, intricate build-up in the first half. This was a series that slowly but surely changed our minds about it. We’ll miss its broodiness, casual gore, sexiness, and general strangeness, as well as its superb score.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

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Shiki – 19 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 12 Dec 2010 – The war begins between the surviving humans and the Shiki, as Chizuru is very publicly exposed and staked and Toshio is finally able to convince a mob to join him in driving out the “pests”. Yet we’re on the fence as to who’s truly in the right here; since we’ve learned so much about the Shiki. They aren’t killing because they’re evil demons. They’re killing because they need human blood to survive.

The Shiki must kill humans to live; the humans must destroy the Shiki to live. No wonder coexistence is so tough. Even if a segment of humans were okay with giving blood to feed them – and there is – there will always be extremists on both sides who will sabotage any chance at peace. Both overly wild and violent vampires and intolerant humans won’t agree to even the most mutually amicable compromise.

Sunako sheds tears not only for her child Chizuru, but because after coming so close to realizing the dream of a Shiki village, Toshio now threatens to crush that dream. Even worse, when day breaks, she falls asleep, leaving her defenseless. Who has been charged with protecting her in the basement? A supine, anemic, Seishin. Meaning if the mob finds them, they’re toast.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Shiki – 18 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 3 Dec 2010Oho! Now things are getting interesting…and they were already plenty interesting before. Toshio replenished the blood he lost with an infusion at the clinic, which lessons the effect of Chizuru’s glamor. Allowing her to bite him was an immense risk (though it was going to happen anyway), but it seems to have paid off big.

Sunako is the vampire queen, not Chizuru. Chizuru, it would seem, is her daughter, who lived part of her adult life as a human, and even had a husband. Toshio taps into that and lays on the charm, with good results: asking her out for a harmless date to help her mingle more with the still-living villagers and allay their fears, Toshio is able to get her close enough to a temple so that her worst fears surface. The fear weakens her, and Toshio gets everyone’s attention that this is indeed a okiagiri – including Megumi’s dad, who remembers the scent of her perfume. This scene where Toshio turns the tables is delicious – and vicious – in its justice.

This is huge, as for once a good chunk of the living are forced to shed their denial and face facts. It also raises the stakes considerably for the vamps: a full-on assault to finish the villagers seems necessary. Meanwhile, Tatsumi, the blue-haired daywalker pays Natsuno (and his now-crazed dad) a visit. Tatsumi and Natsuno are called jinrou, the best of both worlds. But he won’t let Natsuno keep living if he won’t suck blood. Oh yeah, Ritsuko rose and doesn’t want to suck blood either. More power, more problems.


Rating: 8
 (Great)

Shinryaku!? Ika Musume 2 – 01

After watching an action movie, Squid Girl starts believeing mortal threats and bombs are everywhere, and it starts to feel to her like she’s an invader again. Chizuru quickly puts her in her place. When Kiyomi and her friends pay a visit, Sanae gets jealous and spies on her. Squid Girl is picking jellyfish off the beach, leading to a beachwide competition that the scientists win by cheating.

Let’s get this out of the way: RABUJOI won’t be reviewing this series, it’s just here because it’s a slow week. Last fall, Ika was a charming, often witty diversion with a colorful cast and an extremely odd angle: a squid with human form plans to invade – but only ends up assimilating into human society. It ranked 9th of 15 Fall Series, with a respectable 3.375 mean rating. But part of what made the series so enjoyable was its freshness and novelty. From this initial episode, I fear the proverbial squid’s been out of the sea a little too long, and it’s starting to smell.

Nothing we saw this week was new. Ika still has an inflated sense of superiority over all humans that isn’t really deserved. She still resents Eiko’s scolds, is scared of Chizuru, and is annoyed by Senou, et cetera. It’s clear this series is going to run with the same formula as its first season, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I think I’ve had my fill. It might have been interesting if a sequel took place years later, say when Squid Girl has grown older and more (or less) mature. Living with humans so long would surely change her personality. Alas, that’s not what this series is about.


Rating: 2.5