Shiki continues its magnificent run with yet another flawless masterpiece of an episode. The pacing was so good and the suspense so artful, it really did seem to last about 5 minutes.
The focus this week shifted back to Natsuno, with brief appearances by Akira and his sister. There were all kinds of interesting things happening – not least of which was an alternate retelling of the events of episode 9 from the perspective of the vampires. In the process, we learned several interesting things about them. For one, Tatsumi isn’t a Kirishiki but an “employee” – clearly the guy in charge of their army of corpse demons. We also find out that the vampires still retain their human feelings – Megumi’s lust for Natsuno, Nao’s grief for her family, and most movingly, Tohru’s love for his best friend. Oh, did we mention that Tohru is a vampire too? Turns out he’s the “brother” creepy little doll girl got invited into Natsuno’s house – and the one the rather sadistic Tatsumi assigned to eliminate him. Ozaki and Natsuno have been identified as “hunters” – they know about the vamps existence, and aren’t willing to sit idly by and be exterminated. As such, they’re a threat.
But we learn so much more too – exquisite little details that aren’t strictly necessary to the plot but add so much depth to the emotion. Natsuno’s parents are apparently latter-day hippies, moved to the countryside to (ironically) live in a safer place where they don’t need to lock their doors. Natsuno’s adolescent disgust at their naivete is palpable, they having invited the vampires into the house and taken down all his superstitious charms. Megumi, who still loves him – perhaps “hungers for him” is more accurate – takes it on herself to eliminate Natsuno after Tohru apparently chickens out, hoping he’ll be one of the risen. But Tohru, in a beautiful scene at the end, decided to man up and do the deed himself. Is this the end for Natsuno?
The entire interplay of emotions with Tohru and Natsuno was so beautifully done. Natsuno always kept others at a distance but – as with Masao – Tohru was the one person who seemed to break through the walls. Natsuno surely knew it was insane to open his window and chase after Tohru, and Tohru – despite his hunger and terror of Tatsumi – was agonized at the prospect of killing his friend. Yet, as with all in this story, it was a tragedy fated to happen. Nothing that’s parsed out in the weekly reveals is really surprising, yet it’s amazingly impacting in the moment. This show really is the essence of a great tragedy, quite unlike anything else airing this season.
Unfortunately, word is out that the series is taking a two-week break after episode 11 airs next week. That’s going to be a long damn three weeks.