Shiki: An Exercise is Realistic Terror

I’m going to say this right now… this is going to hurt. Like, a lot.

Shiki is a Japanese horror novel turned Anime that aired in 2010.

The story is about a small town in rural Japan named Sotoba, where a series of bizarre deaths occur, coinciding with the arrival of the Kirishiki family who has just moved into a castle built on the outskirts. Toshio Ozaki, dean of the only hospital in Sotoba, begins to investigate and discovers there are supernatural presences at work, namely vampires, who are called shiki, which translates to English as “corpse demon“.

Let me tell you, I have watched some messed up things in my life and this series in particular is one I refused to rewatch just because how depressing and brutal it is. The only reason I even bothered to rewatch it was because I needed to write this analysis.

That is why I can say that Shiki is probably one of the most realistic horror series, western or eastern, to have ever aired. Period.

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How could this be though? How could a show about vampires in Japan be the most realistic depictions of horror in modern day. Simple: it is the way the characters and situations are handled.

When it comes to most horror stories, there is usually a strict line that separates the heroes and the villains. There is always a good and evil, and their are always white and black moralities. Grey is rarely ever touched upon.

In Shiki, there are no real villains here. Like, at all. Normally, we would think that the humans are the good guys in a story like this, and we are kind of right in the assumption. Their friends and loved ones start to die of an  (at the time) unknown ailment. Little by little, piece by piece, their numbers in the tiny, isolated town are cut in half. They are literally going through the days, praying that they aren’t next.

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But once the humans discover the truth behind their vampiric invaders, well then it changes. The humans turn into brutal attackers, hell bent on a Shiki genocide. They don’t just kill the vampires, they will kill anyone they think may have been bitten, anyone they think would have helped them, and anyone who just seems suspicious.

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And then there are the Shiki’s themselves. Vampires who come to the village and begin adding onto their own numbers with the fallen humans. Then those added numbers must feed on the people. But the whole reason they are here is not to just feed on the village. Their leader, Sunako (adorable little girl above) wanted to use the secluded village as a safe haven for her people, and didn’t see human as livestock. However, once some wayward vampires (specifically the newly aturned villagers) went renegade and feasted without guidlines, did this fall apart. Furthermore, there were some who wanted to live alongside the humans in peace, and some who would have preferred to starve instead of hurt their friends and families.

In the end though, war is declared between the Humans and Shikis. And it is here that the vampires are out classed by the environment and subjected to the monstrous machine that is humanity. Just watch below to see what I am talking about.

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I think best way to describe how truly twisted it is is to look at one character in particular. That character is Nao (pictured right).

Nao married into the village, coming from a broken home where her parents were alcoholics that didn’t care about her at all.She spent most of her young life feeling isolated ad alone. Once she married though, she found the love of her husband, his parents, and her son. However, she was one of the first to become a Shiki. The fears that she once felt were now once again present. Her beloved family was so close, yet so far away. She did what she thought was right. She bit every member of her family in an attempt to have them join her.

Sadly, they did not rise. Every single one of them died. Nao was once again alone, but this time she had no one to blame but herself. This was guilt she felt until the morning she was brutally killed by the humans.

The thing about this show, is that it deconstructs how a real life horror movie would play out in our own lives. Deep down, we would all think that we were the hero, that we were the ones doing the right thing. We can stop the bad guys. We can bring the races together. We can live in peace.  However, when everyone else feels the same way, someone is going to lose. It also show that there is a breaking point. Soon, there is a breaking point where most people will do what they have to do to survive. Once we all realize how futile some efforts are and how selfish we become, that is when the true horror sets in.

Hope you sleep well tonight. Happy Nightmares.

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