Our long international nightmare is over – Shiki is back after a nut-busting cliffhanger and interminable three-week hiatus. And not much has changed except the OP and ED – the narrative hasn’t skipped a beat.
If anything, this episode had a more somber, fatalistic tone than any before. Watching Natsuno’s slow demise, fueled by his irrational desire to redeem Touru and his father’s extreme arrogance and stupidity, felt like a metaphor for observing the slow death of the village. Ozaki and Seishin being totally absent in this ep, the onus falls on Kaori and especially Akira – who shows himself as a rather brave little stripling – to carry the spirit of battle. Natsuno hasn’t given up quite yet – he still talks of going to college in a big city – but though he’s aware of what’s happening his love for Touru makes him unable to fight it. Akira and Kaori ignore his advice to leave the village and try to protect him, but Natsuno’s condescending father undermines them at every turn – refusing to let them stay with him, tearing down the charms they post in his room. Can’t have superstitions in his house, not a sophisticate like him – no, he’ll rely on science as he watches his son (and now his wife too) slowly waste away. Meanwhile, Kaori and Akira’s father is the last fellow left in the village office except for the strange “temps” who only work nights, and Tatsumi decides it’s time for hm to go, too – assigning an eager Megumi to the task.
There was some new stuff here – we saw the Kirishiki’s together at the mansion, idly musing over their lot in life. We also saw Mr. Kirishiki out walking the vicious-looking dogs in broad daylight. This reflects a more brazen attitude by the okiagiri after the turn of episode 11 – revealed as shrewd tacticians the question of this episode seems to be the how, when – and why – of their eventual complete takeover rather than “if”. With only a middle-schooler, his hapless sister and a half-bright country doctor to fight them, all hope seems to be lost. In the absence of that hope the episode begins to muse on the moral aspects of the vampires, and on the insatiable hunger that drives them. As ever, this story is much more tragedy than mystery – we know what’s going to happen even if the characters usually don’t.
As for the new OP and ED sequences, I’ll need to see how they wear but I’m initially disappointed. I absolutely loved the first ED and the new one is rather more traditional both in it’s J-rock music and animation. The new ED really didn’t make much of an impression on me at all. Fortunately, the brilliant BGM remains unchanged.