The death of Megumi sets into motion revelations of other deaths that spurs an investigation.
What They Say
As Toshio, the village doctor, seeks to uncover the exact cause of Megumi's demise, reports of even more deaths in the area surface. Desperate for answers, Toshio and the Junior Monk set out to discover a pattern to these mysterious deaths.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Megumi, you couldn't be quite sure in the first episode whether she'd actually die by the end of it or not based on the way it was playing out. That she did almost felt like a surprise, but it was well done and decidedly chilling in the way it all came together and impacted others. This episode has her parents taking it as hard as you'd expect, but it's good to see that kind of raw emotion displayed as often we only see the actual funeral moments themselves where there's little emotions out of relatives.
With Megumi dead, we're short one cute girl in the roster and that means someone new gets introduced, this time it's Ritsuko, a young woman who is a nurse in town. She and Natsuno certainly aren't an item, but she's very comfortable around him and there's a certain teasing she does as he tries to rephrase everything he says about how he hates this village and the way everyone keeps such close watch and reports on each other. Ritsuko's an interesting character as she's the type that's very much a girl of the area as she wants to serve those who live there and has no grand desire to go elsewhere, especially since her profession is constantly looking for more help. She's a complete opposite in that way and other ways to Megumi.
The loss of Megumi is having its impact to be sure and her friend Kaori continues to react poorly to all of it, though she tries to find ways to help. She's come across a letter that Megumi wrote to Natsuno and tries to give it to him, but he refuses since he was never actually close to her and doesn't feel he can accept it. At the actual funeral, Kaori tries to have the birthday present she just bought for Megumi placed with her, something that causes quite a little stir. But Kaori also has to start dealing with the reality of death as she watches Megumi's coffin being lowered into the ground and starts to think about how she'll be in there someday, whether in the far future or much sooner. It's a natural reaction but one you rarely see brought out in shows like these.
Toshio's investigation into Megumi's death has him quite curious as to what could cut a young girl down in her prime since there must have been something more going on inside of her to cause it. It's something that's gnawing at him, but when he starts to notice that more people have been dying lately, generally older folks, he starts to investigate the overall situation a bit more as it's affecting more than just the elderly now. Toshio checks in with other local villages as well and starts to get a grasp of the larger problem that may be at play here, though there aren't any answers to be had. With seven people dead within half a month, something mysterious is definitely going on and it has Toshio digging deeper into the problem and meeting resistance in interesting places, though not over resistance.
With ten people dead in a short period of time from mysterious circumstances, the possibility of an epidemic is pretty plain even if it does have a far more insidious feeling about all of it. Simple things that could be attributed to it, summer colds, the oppressive heat, anemia, are all things that would make you not think twice about why someone died from a medical perspective. But with more complicated deaths coming into play as we saw in the first episode and the lifeless way some people are starting to look, Toshio's investigation does a good job of setting up the mood for the medical side of the mystery and how it looks to someone who will look at it logically and tries to break it down. Shiki is slowly, but not ploddingly, laying down a fascinating show that has me wondering what the reality behind it is and eager to find out - in good time.
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.