The aftermath of Toshio's autopsy is not for the weak of heart, or soul.
What They Say:
The Shiki are bent on keeping the outside world in the dark about the deaths in Sotoba. When Toshio threatens to expose them, a member of the Kanemasa mansion pays him a visit.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The previous episode really took things up a notch with Toshio's autopsy on his wife who had been turned by the okiagari threat. Though he wasn't brutal with it, treating it as coldly and professionally as possible, it's just that attitude that really pushes Seishin way since there's so much meaning to what he did. Toshio's descent is certainly an internal one, one that's hard to watch because of the difficult choice he made, but one that you know he had to make in order to try and find some way to stave off what's happening .It's the kind of difficult moral dilemma that we do get in a number of shows, but few of them with this kind of powerful emotion and context behind it to make it really sink in.
The Sotoba village is going through a similar mindset as Toshio as the deaths are now becoming a natural thing, a new one every day is essentially expected. There's concern, from some more than others, but there's a quiet sadness and acceptance going through the town in a way that hasn't been seen before. The helplessness and acceptance is palpable through a few scenes since nobody knows what can be done. It's even worse because Toshio is unable to offer up anything himself yet feels frustrated by the way they're all so accepting of it. There is that background hope that someone from the outside world will help, but it's coming from the same people who are now looking at the world differently as they're learning to accept a supernatural force at work here that they can't stop. The two are not easily reconciled though.
One strange change, one I'm not entirely keen on, is that we get a look behind the way the deaths are now being handled when it comes to funeral services. While the early ones were fairly straightforward, those from the Kanemasa mansion are now manipulating it in a way that allos them to gain the bodies before burial, making it easier to handle those that do come back in their new life. What's striking about it, and insulting to the families of course, is that it's all done as spectacle. And it's a strange choice since it draws more attention to everything and puts everyone off balance. It's hard to say whether the gain of being off balance is worth it from the spectacle, since they get the bodies one way or another. It's not a turn I expected and took a bit of the subtle reality out of the show.
The despondency of the situation is a big part of this episode as it lays out just how badly things are getting for most people in the town. The frustration is getting stronger but the level of acceptance is rising even faster. I wish more time was spent with Toshio after the autopsy and his emotional state with it, but he's continuing down a path of becoming emotionally dead so we do get some aspect of it. Watching the town continuing to fall apart is a big part of the appeal of this series and it's done very well here with lots of little nuance and twists to give it additional life. I'm not sure how I feel about the spectacle funeral services, but it's an interesting take on it. Shiki offers up some solid material here and ends with a twist I was expecting earlier than this, which gives it more weight and definitely has you wondering what next week will bring. Shiki continues to be an engaging and atmospheric show unlike anything else airing right now.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.