Waking up in a coffin has to be the most horrifying thing ever.
What They Say
When Megumi's friend suspects sinister activities are stirring at Kanemasa mansion - the last place Megumi visited before she died - Natsuno suggests digging up her grave for answers.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Natsuno's investigation into what's going on leads him to some curious places this time around, as he ends up meeting up with a couple of people who were friends of Megumi's and have noticed unusual things since she died. One of them points out that much of the blame seems to shift towards the Kanemasa mansion, as that's where Megumi last went. With Natsuno knowing that she's come back from the dead, he's brought in a new term to play with as well, okiagari. That is what those who come back from the dead are called in this village and it has him using it as a launching point when talking with others who are familiar with the village history.
Masao gets a rather good part of the story here as well, particularly as it opens on him waking up inside a coffin that's been placed in the ground already. It's a brutally chilling moment for him that brings us some flashbacks to his wasting away days when he would be visited in the middle of the night to have his blood drained from him bit by bit. Watching his brief turn towards death is interesting in comparison to others as it doesn't have quite the same beauty some of them had. His time underground doesn't last too long, though surely it seemed like an eternity, as someone has brought him up out of it for their own use. Making it clear that he's not alive anymore, Masao learns that not everyone who has this happen actually awakens from the death and comes back, making him feel very special.
While Masao learns what it takes to be a vampire, others are pursuing their own investigations as well as the bodies continue to drop. Megumi's friends are intent on digging up her grave to see what's there while Toshio and Seishin reminisce about things while trying to come to an idea or a leap of faith about what's going on. Both men are darkly serious about everything and Toshio is looking to explain away what it is that' causing it while trying to avoid sounding crazy. A man of science talking about okiagari as a plausible reason for what's going on simply means he's exhausted all other possibilities and is down to just something like this. And with a belief that it is this, he can pursue understanding it in a clearer fashion than in trying to figure out some other reason for all the deaths.
The three main tracks of this episode are all good, though it's just one that gets the majority of play. The central story of Masao's becoming something special is very engaging right from the start and it doesn't let up as it has everything being explained to him, though trying to avoid the actual term of vampire. Natsuno starts his plan with regards to Megumi with her friends while Toshio and Seishin grapple with the idea that the only logical explanation at this point for all these mysterious deaths is vampires. It's a difficult moment for both in different ways, but it's an interesting twist that they're coming to grips with it without even seeing one of them but instead having to go by evidence and belief. Shiki has a couple of really good moments of horror here, but it's a fairly lighter episode overall in terms of the chills it offers. It instead works towards establishing more of what's going on and showing us more of the other side.
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.