No other series can emotionally pummel me the way Shiki can. The sheer bleakness of it, the intensity of the wrongness that engulfs everything, is truly intense. And it doesn’t seem to have been blunted by the passage of time.
As the first extra episode did, 21.5 focuses mostly on minor characters. In this case, it’s overprotective mother Motoko (seen briefly in the regular series) and Kanami, from the Chigusa Restaurant (where Motoko works) which was prominent in the first episode. Motoko is a classic neurotic Mom – walks her kids to school, constantly warns them not to play in the highway, etc – which brings her the derision of her in-laws and a whole lot of unnecessary worry. Because for all that nonsense, the real thing she should have been worried about was creeping up on her and there was nothing whatsoever she could do about it.
As for Kanami, she’s a pretty hardy sort, and stays relatively cool as people are dropping dead around her. But when the “epidemic” finally comes for her mother, she cracks a little. And when her mother rises and shows up at her door, we get an idea of just how much Kanami was emotionally dependent on her kind-hearted Mom. Their scenes are some of the most heartbreaking in the episode, as Kanami’s mother is one of those Shiki that seem to retain much of what they were as they lived, and is repulsed at just what she’s become. Judging by the evidence it seems that exceptionally kind humans are apt to turn into guilt-ridden Shiki – that seems to apply to Tohru and Ritsuko.
While this was not as devastatingly effective as 20.5, it did manage to contribute something to the Shiki experience. It was interesting to watch the events that were central to the original series playing out in the background here (especially those involving Dr. Obvious), as the episode covered the entire stretch from the Kanemasa’s arrival to the fire from the final episode. Which, we now know, was set by Matoko, who by this point had hidden in a bathtub with her son until he (already bitten) died and decomposed in her arms (I’ll be sleeping with the lights on, thank you) and had pretty well gone round the bend altogether. She blamed everything that had happened on her Father-in-Law Iwao, the first of her family to die and the one she blamed for taking her husband and children with him. She set the fire in revenge for that, planning on taking Iwao out, and burned along with the corpses in the hills.
Interestingly, it was Iwao whom Tatsuki tied Akira up next to as a future meal, which leads me to the point I hope is covered in that last episode – just what the heck happened? Did Natsuno rescue Akira from that Shikii safehouse, as seems likely? It does appear that the final extra episode will focus on the major players, so perhaps we’ll finally get an answer to that question, such as just what happened at the bottom of that hole with Natsuno and Tatsuki.