Things are still looking grim with six episodes of Shiki left to go. After a gripping, thrilling and scary 16th episode things have never been worse numerically for the humans – but they’ve clearly picked up a new ally – or rather regained an old one – who looks to have been given a significant power-up.
Much of the first part of the episode was devoted to back story for Sunako, which was welcome but seemed to do little to answer any questions about just what role she’s likely to play in the resolution. She was killed as a young girl by the head of the Kanemasa family but rose, surviving on human sacrifices apparently supplies by her disgusted but guilty family. Sunako is reminding me a bit of Czeslaw Meyer from “Baccano” – an immortal who never grew up, an impossibly old being who still carries some of the emotional and mental frailty of childhood. She professes to have no issues with killing, but she summoned Tohru to tell him her story – ostensibly to comfort him, but more likely because she wanted to tell someone who could understand the guilt she feels.
Though we learn more of several Shiki’s back stories here – Nao, Kaori and Akira’s father – I came away that much more angry and disgusted by their very existence. While there’s clearly a range of personalities and some appear to retain their sense of horror at what they must do, the bulk of what the Shiki are about is systematically destroying humans in a way that is somehow both coldly efficient and wantonly, excessively cruel. Megumi seems to have taken to the lifestyle most, and it’s hardly surprising – she was the most unhappy of humans, hating almost everyone and everything, so the transformation into an okiagiri has allowed her to live out all of her angry fantasies.
The most cruel moments of the episode are reserved for the Tanakas. The father is barely risen, still consumed with love for his family, and we see his pain as he realizes he can never again be a part of their family. This awakens the selfish need in the Shiki that is a dark mirror of human familial love, the hunger to drag their loved ones along to “the other side”. Mrs. Tanaka is his first victim (in a chilling scene) and Akira finally snaps. His father dead and his mother dying, he decides there’s no choice but to fight back – starting with the okiagiri who has taken up residence in Natsuno’s old house. He’s about to stake the shkii when Tatsumi appears. Poor Akira is left tied up and helpless, starting at his watch and waiting for the shiki to awaken and devour him.
The worst thing about this cliffhanger is that, based on on past trends, we’re likely to hear nothing of its resolution in the next ep. Is Akira a goner or not? The other interesting tidbit is Natsuno’s comment that they will “Annihilate every Shiki – and that includes me.” Just what Natsuno is now – shiki, daywalking jinrou or something else altogether – is not clear, What is clear is that he’s likely to be the shikis worst enemy. I, for one, thing it’s long overdue that they receive a little taste of their own medicine.