The series draws to a close as the final hunt is underway for poor little Sunako.
What They Say:
The last of the Shiki try to escape the village, but one of their own kind stands in Tatsumi's way. What fate remains for the vampires and Sotoba'"the village surrounded by death?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Shiki has gone down a dark path at the end here, one filled with lots of bloodshed and chaos as the villagers have woken up to what has gone on in their village all this time. Seeing the tide turn from the slow and oppressive infiltration of the Shiki into the village to the villagers covered in blood, using rifles, shovels and more to go after them is intense and haunting. The Shiki, especially those of the main family that moved in, have seen themselves on the wrong side of events now and the visuals of them being firmly in control and almost giddy to being on the run, hunted and scared, is simply perfect. With only a few of them truly left at this point, it's coming down to finishing out the job that Toshio started when he killed the first one in front of everyone.
The final hunts are particularly brutal. In some ways you want to see them live on and escape, if only because they are so fearful. Sunako's fear is quite pronounced and made all the more powerful because of her appearance of a young girl. But even older ones are just as powerfully done. Megumi's story is crushingly hard to watch as she does her best to get out onto the main road to freedom but ends up being dealt with very harshly by the villagers that catch her. Running her over with farm equipment is cold to be sure, but thankfully the men doing all of this aren't treating it like a game and laughing about it all. While they're hurting by what they're seeing and doing, they also know that they're not truly human at this point and must carry out the job at hand. It's a delicate balance that the writers have to deal with here in scenes like this and they pull it off perfectly without going into camp and excess.
A good deal of the episode deals with these hunts, but there are also some really interestinging moments as well relating to the overall story. Natsuno's ploy is made clearer when he gets into a fight with Tatsumi and he reveals that everything he's done is simply because he just doesn't like Tatsumi and his family. It's an amusing little nod towards his overall feelings and we see through Tatsumi what it was that Natsuno did, which in the end does make sense. And amid all this chaos and destruction, the forest has caught fire and that's adding all sorts of complications, not only for the hunt itself but also for the way everything is about to be discovered by those outside of the village. The final minutes of the episode copes with a lot of different events, bringing finality to much of it, in a way that only a series like this can.
While the show runs a couple of episodes short of what most series of this length do, and it had some downtime in the middle of it, there's a reason that this is hands down the best series I've seen in 2010. It captivated me from the start and dealt with the kind of material that is mostly in the realm of pretty girls, school boys and other light and airy things these days. Shiki goes back to what these kinds of stories used to be about with a whole lot of atmosphere, and oppressive nature and cold, brutal acts that must have consequences. As it all draws to a close and we see nods towards various supporting cast members and get a feel for what has happened, it all weighs heavily and impressively, yet with the expected final scene as well. Shiki has been an absolutely pleasure to watch and one of those few shows that makes such a huge impression because of its execution and style while still having the right kind of substance. Simply fantastic.
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.