Shiki – 21

OK, we’re definitely being trolled

Another magnificent bloodbath as the penultimate episode of Shiki takes the human side further off the path of rationality and the Shiki closer to extermination.

I fully understand what Fuyumi Ono is trying to do here, and it’s certainly effective. This series has sparked some fascinating debates, with sympathies falling all over the map. There’s no question that anger and blood lust have pushed the human population past the point of reason. One can’t help be horrified at some of the things they’ve done – but that’s not the same as feeling sympathy for the Shiki.

Mind you, outside of the Kirishiki inner circle I do feel some sadness – the likes of Tohru and Masao did nothing to ask for their fate. But for the humans, this was a fight they didn’t start. What the Shiki did was cold and premeditated – what the humans are doing is a crime of passion. I see a moral difference, which is not the same as seeing either side as blameless.

One person I don’t feel any sadness for is Seishin. He’s a self-loathing hypocrite as far as I’m concerned, and he’s chosen the Shiki over his own people. And by hiding with Sunako at the temple, he chose her over his own family. The notion that he couldn’t have known what would happen to his family is preposterous to me – of course he knew. He simply chose the side he agreed with in his heart, and his family was an acceptable sacrifice. The elder monk, at least, tried to offer himself to save his family – he resisted the urge to become a cold-blooded (no pun intended) killer, as Ritsuko showed us was possible. He genuinely welcomed death, as I suspect Rit-chan and Tohru did, and died with his humanity intact.

In purely practical terms, things are pretty bleak for the Shiki at this point. Seishirou has been turned, most likely by Natsuno, and wipes out the Jinrou woman with a bullet to the head. Every hiding place has been discovered, and Tatsumi and Sunako are on the run, the latter in a suitcase with Seishin. Megumi is alive somewhere to have her final confrontation with Natsuno next week, but that looks to be about it in terms of survivors. Sunako’s greed in wanting a village of Shiki has been their undoing.

Ciel…Is that you, Ciel?

The story of Ritsuko and Tohru remains the saddest and yet most uplifting in the story. Ritsuko not only stayed true to her humanity and saved Yasuyo, but she redeemed Tohru in the process. They died together, side by side, which is some small comfort – at least they didn’t have to face their fate alone. Ritsuko is the true heroine of the story for me – other than her, Akira is probably the only one who is both morally clean and behaved courageously throughout the story.

Ah, Akira – what of him, and of his sister? Still no sign in either the episode of the PV of the finale. As we received the interesting news this week that the 8th and 9th DVD volumes will contain bonus episodes 20.5 and 21.5, one suspects that the siblings’ story won’t be resolved until that release this summer. If so, that’s a harsh move on the part of the anime staff – I think if you’re going to introduce a cliffhanger in the TV you have an obligation to give it some sort of resolution. But I’ll forgive it, because I really admire this series. It’s tense, exciting, and never shies away from the darkness that’s at its heart.

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