Shiki – the many faces of human nature

The village was surrounded by death. Houses and fields spread out from the river, sealed into the tip of a spear by a forest of conifers. This forest wrapped the village in ‘death’. It laid out the village boundary, and also its isolating barrier. Its trees were grown for the dead. The village used them to produce the wooden grave markers and wooden coffins that fed its economy. Right from the start, the village had been born to produce ritual objects for the dead.

And within that forest of firs was a country of the dead, their grave markers the firs themselves. The people of that village still buried their dead. Each villager had a burial plot on a small fragment of land, and there their remains would be interned. There would be no gravestone. To mark the abode of the deceased, a wooden grave marker would be erected. And after the thirty-third anniversary of their memorial service, that grave marker would be taken down and a fir planted in its place. A fir planted, and then forgotten. By then, the dead would already have returned to being a part of the mountain, bereft of connections with the living.

There is a bridge that spans the distance between that world and this one. And the opposite side, the shore of this world, surrounded on three sides by death, was already isolated from the rest of this world.

The people there served death; they prayed for the sake of the dead.

From the time it was born, the village had existed for that purpose.

ーadapted from Seishin’s essay at the start of the novel.

At the start of summer, a strange malaise descended on this village. Its inhabitants started disappearing, into the ground, and into thin air. The shiki had come…

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In memory of 2010 part 10: Is there even a Line between Humans and Shiki?

Were I to consider the anime on its own, Shiki should really have gone into the previous post too, because it was at least 2 episodes short of seriously challenging the best anime of 2010. That’s including the two filler episodes we’re going to get in the summer. However, I ended up spoiling myself with regards to what happened in the manga and the novel, and the differences in all three mediums forced me to consider what Ono Fuyumi and Fujisaki Ryu may have wanted their readers to consider.

     

Shiki is, at its core, a story that examines human nature. Without going into details, watching and discussing Shiki each week really made me think about about what we do to individuals and to groups of people. It made me ponder the blessing and curses of both the old and the new, of spirituality and secularism. It had me reflecting on what it means to be human, on what humans desire and need, and how these influence the choices they make.

     

Which side the right? Which side is wrong? To be honest, I don’t think the show (or Ono Fuyumi-sensei for that matter) really answers that question. With details from the manga and novels in consideration, I was never surprised by the decisions that the various characters made. Maybe you’d disagree, but I feel both Fujisaki-sensei and the anime writers have kept character personalities and motivations as similar as they could to the novels – even the ones who underwent the greatest change in terms of ‘fate’ were, in essence, the same people. And based on who they were, they acted and reacted to the situations they found themselves in.

I’ll go into greater depth when I review the series (and the manga, once that’s done), and probably once I get to read the novels in their entirety. But, whilst Saraiya Goyou was probably my favourite overall, to me, Shiki was definitely the most interesting and thought-provoking series that aired entirely in 2010.

Quick Review: Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae

After meandering on this series for about 2 months (admittedly, a visitor who stayed for 2 weeks prevented me from watching anything apart from an episode of Bakemonogatari), I finally marathoned it whilst studying, just to get it off the backlog.

Ai returns?? but how? and why???

Ai returns?? but how? and why???

Mitsuganae is framed by a new character, Mikage Yuzuki, whom Ai initially uses as a replacement for the body she lost at the end of the last season. But why has Ai come back – what does Yuzuki have to do with it?

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Review: Jigoku Shoujo & Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori

So much for a particular comment back here – after looking at a few pretty pics and finding out a little bit more about the characters, I finally decided to try…Jigoku Shoujo. Everyone knows the concept, right? If you hold a grudge against someone, urban legend has it that a site known as the ‘Hotline to Hell’ (地獄通信) enables you to contact Jigoku Shoujo (地獄少女), who will exact your vengence. This service however, comes at a price – upon his/her death, the avenger will also fall to Hell to wander in agony for eternity. Each client is given a straw doll (Wanyuudou – one of the three helpers) with a red string tied around its neck. The client’s removal of this string signifies confirmation of the contract.

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Reviews: The Manchurian Candidate, The Ring

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Rosemary’s Baby

Talk about classic thrillers – I think I understand why Rosemary’s Baby is considered amongst their number. Only tip would be…don’t read the blurb on the DVD/video cover, or it loses some of its effectiveness. Like most thrillers (or shows that play with one’s mind), this film is more effective the less one knows about it.

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