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 – 12 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 16 Oct 2010 – After a hiatus of a couple weeks, the dark, angsty vampire series has returned for its second half. It doesn’t start off with a bang nor a whimper, preferring to take the middle road. Natsuno was bitten by Tohru, and continues to be bitten, so he’s well on his way to dying of anemia and likely becoming a vampire himself. Interestingly, Megumi doesn’t seem to care about him either way anymore.

Natsuno wants to find a solution for the risen to coexist with humans, but Tohru doesn’t want to hear it. Sure it’s hard to kill people for food at first, but like all things, with practice it gets easier and less of a big deal. The more human lives you take, the less human you become. When and if Natsuno becomes one of the risen, he’s bound to find this out for himself. His urban-minded, anti-superstitious father tricks Natsuno’s friends into leaving him alone and tosses out all of their crosses and talismans. So no help there.

There’s still hope for the human Natsuno; if his family moved out of the village, back to the city, and he was admitted to a hospital and given a blood transfusion, he could recover. But it isn’t entirely clear one can even leave the village, and it isn’t known whether anyone who ‘moved away’ is even alive anymore. That’s kind of a downer. What are the humans gonna do?


Rating: 6 (Good)

Shiki – 07 thru 09 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 8 Sept 2010 – So just about all the cats are out of the bag: this village has a nest of vampires, and they’re sucking everyone dry. We feel even worse for the poor tortured doc after his piece-of-work wife and battleaxe mother stop by and tell him to wuss out and let someone else handle the ‘epidemic’. Great advice, gals.

We also feel pretty bad after he does everything he possibly can to keep a bite victim alive (and actually succeeds for a time) but it’s all for naught, as the blue-haired daywalker intervenes. This marks the first time the doctor has had direct contact with his pointy-toothed nemeses.

Having watched a lot of True Blood, we believe the solution to the village’s problem is fairly simple: stake the daywalker(s) and burn down the nest(s) in the daytime. PROBLEM SOLVED. Of course, there’s the matter of getting them all, and with thirteen episodes left, doing so will be no simple task. Still, now that things are moving and all the important people know the score, I’m enjoying this dark and unrelenting series, goofy hairstyles and all.

Special mention to the OP – “Kuchizuke” by Buck-Tick – an angsty, twisted J-rock ballad filled with despair and longing, fitting the series rather perfectly.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Shiki – 01 thru 06 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 15 Aug 2010 – We’re not huge fans of the character designs (some are outright nutty and random), but that isn’t nearly enough to detract from what’s shaping up to be a decent vampire horror series.

The medical professionals in the show spew a lot of medical jargon, which adds credibility to the show (regardless of whether its 100% accurate or not; we wouldn’t know) and paint them in a corner where conventional medical consultation and care is having little or no effect on helping the patients. The village is already quite small and mostly elderly people (mirroring a coming crisis in real-world Japan), so the fact that so many people are dying so quickly creates a great urgency to solve the mystery. The building dread is infectious – no pun intended.

But it’s hardly spoiling to connect the dots (anemia and bite marks) and conclude that this village’s problem is vampires. A monk has already met and befriended one (as much as you can befriend a creepy tweener vampire), while the main character’s dreams are haunted by a vamped-out version of the village’s first victim, a formerly cheerful cosplay girl who had a crush on him. After six episodes, these three – the monk, the teenager, and the doctor – are starting to come together and realize what’s going on (and what we already know.)

What we don’t know is if this can be resolved before the entire village is killed, and how (We know the answer now, but at the time this was written, we were totally in the dark). At 22 episodes, Shiki is a good-length anime, and we’re confident it can make use of the remaining 16 to spin an entertaining resolution. But seriously, WTF is up with some of these characters’ hairstyles?


Rating: 6 (Good)

Accel World – 19

Black Lotus, Crikin, Dolphin and Merrow face off against Sulfur Pot and his pet legendary monster, Nidhogg, which he acquired through cheating. The young girls collect metal while Lotus and Crikin take the brunt of the fire-based punishment. In the real world, Megumi finds Hime, Ruka and Mana passed out in the dark, and decides to join the fray. Her special power forces a world transition to the ocean stage, neutralizing Nidhogg’s fire. Dolphin and Merrow pin Sulfur down and Lotus cuts the reins. Nidhogg eats Sulfur and he loses. Back in the real world, Megumi doesn’t remember her participation in the battle, dismissing it as a dream she’s going to write a story about.

This second part of the two-episode Hime mini-arc tried its darndest to be interesting, but with a boring, idiotic, one-dimensional foe whose demise was never in doubt for a second, it had its work cut out for it. The battle is dull and repetitive, and Black Lotus doesn’t seem all that useful. It takes intervention from Megumi to turn the tables, but how are her actions not cheating too? Do two wrongs make a right? And what was with the ghost of her childhood visiting her and telling her to plug in? Just seemed random.

With the series returning to the main clash between Haru and Nomi, we got the feeling the characters Hime met wouldn’t be getting any more screen time anytime soon…which is fine with us. With five episodes left, Nomi has to be dealt with, and it’s better for the series to focus on its core characters than simply coming up with new, half-baked ones for the sake of variety.


Rating: 4 (Fair)

Accel World – 18

Kuroyukihime is on a class retreat in Okinawa, sharing her room and much of her time with her friend Megumi, when she’s challenged to a duel by a local burst linker named Lagoon Dolphin AKA Asato Ruka, which Hime quickly wins. Ruka and her friend/protege Itosu Mana want her to meet their master. While talking with the middle schoolers, Hime loses track of time and ends up nearly ditching Megumi, who gets upset. Ruka and Mana’s master is Crikin, a Tokyo linker she knows, and he wasn’t going to settle for anyone less than the Black King.

Anyone pissed off by last week’s Chiyu twist and wanted some kind of resolution likely isn’t going to like this week’s digression to Okinawa, but we suppose all those new characters in the second-half OP had to be introduced at some point. Even Hime can’t help but think about Haru and whether he’s in trouble without her, and Megumi notices her distraction. Watching Megumi, it’s clear she’s very attached to Hime, and this trip isn’t turning out to be the love-in she’d (unrealistically) hoped for. Thanks to Haru, she sees even less of Hime than she previously did.

While we have no idea how this arc is going to go, we did get an odd vibe from the apology Megumi was about to make before her alarm went off: is she in some way, secretly involved in Brain Burst? Less mysterious were the hotheaded, loud-mouth tomboy that is Ruka, and her mousey “seer” pal Asato. They’re n00bs, but they have heart, and their master taught them to respect the Accel World, while not being overly paranoid. As for the master, Crikin, we only get a glimpse of him: he’s red, and theres a “monster” out there he needs Hime’s help defeating. Here’s hoping Chiyu doesn’t pop out of the shadows and heal the monster.


Rating: 5 (Average)