Definitely worth watching if you're a fan of Another and Higurashi.
WARNING - SPOILERS
As typical with most anime horrors, it's set in a small, secluded village called Satoba. We follow three primary protagonists: The junior monk Muroi, the head doctor Toshio and new resident Natsuno. In the beginning of summer, the small town becomes plagued by a series of deaths by an unknown epidemic, however the truth is far more sinister. Shiki sets out to be a genuine vampire horror and it pulls it off beautifully. I did feel it a little hard to watch and get in to during the first few episodes, but to be honest, i find that with most new animes. However, after the stage has been set and the ball starts rolling, this show really comes alive (no pun intended). A new family moves in to the giant european manshion overlooking the village (would be kinda hard to not think something was fishy) and it turns out that they are a family of "Shiki" aka vampires, who's intention is to turn the village of Satoba into a haven for their kind, a place where they can be themselves. As the show goes on and the remaining villagers realise what's happening, they take up arms and become almost animalistic in their hunt to wipe out the vampires, who were friends and family of everyone one of them.
The first half of the anime is truly terrifying. I don't remember the last time I was properly scared. This anime is about jump scares or gore (even though there is a lot of it towards the end) it is truly frightening. Lights off, hiding under the covers, seeing Natsuno being tormented by see through visions of Megumi and when Nao was floating outside the clinic window were probably the most scariest things i've ever seen. Being a horror fan this was hugely entertaining, and watching the junior monk and doctor scrambling for answers just made the whole package.
The second half is primarily focussed on what the humans do when they find out the truth. The anime here takes a very strange turn. It goes from a nightmarish horror into a gore flick as the humans brutally hunt down each vampire, I even found it difficult to watch Megumi's death. However, this doesn't lower the standard of the anime as it brings up an interesting topic. We witness what humans are willing to do to survive, and it's nasty. The black and white good and evil story we saw in the first half switches violently into a huge mess of grey. We see the vampires as humans who are just controlled by a hunger, who still feel and cry. You stop rooting for the "good guys" and start to think who really are the good guys? The vampires just want a small village to call their own, and the humans are defending themselves. Sure reading that you may think "Oh it's obvious the humans are the good guys", trust me, watch the hunting and you'll see it becomes very hard to watch, but it was done really well and you feel pity and anger for both sides of the story. If anything i wish they ended it a little better because the after credits didnt make much sense, but it didn't take away from the hugely entertaining story.
Right now this is a tricky one. I like the fact that it's a modern style but i really disliked how pointy everyone's nose and chin was. However, as it progressed, it kind of grew on me, and with all the wacky hairstyles, it made me feel like i was watching a Tim Burton esque anime, which fits the horror bill quite nicely. Where the animation really shines is the eyes. I don't think i've ever seen eyes like this in any anime and it's amazing. The human eyes add a sort of depth and character to them. The vampire eyes on the other hand are just awesome. The mood is instantly set with a dark night and you see a silhouette of a person and two bright red eyes, it's seriously unnerving. Not to mention the lack of eyes from Sunako and Chizuru which also made it really creepy. apart from the already creepy character animation, the enviroment was breathtaking. Everything about it sent chills down my spine, especially the night scenes in Natsuno's room.
Wasn't a huge fan of the opening and ending songs, but due to th animation that went with it, especially the first opening, at the end with the blood rain falling in time with the song, made it really grow on me. I guess the sound was ok, but it wasn't anything too memorable, and it didn't add much to the already intensely scary atmosphere, but nonetheless, it was ok.
Again this is slightly tricky. Since we're jumping about from character to character, we don't really develop strong bonds with many of the characters, except for Natsuno and Toshio (and maybe Megumi if you pitied her as i did). Natsuno was a little boring, but i couldn't help but root for him and be glad whenever i saw him. Toshio on the other hand was great, we see him really change as an individual, especially throughout all the trauma he goes through and sleepless nights. Didn't like Muroi, found him to be a bit too much of an annoying, bland and self righteous nob to really care what happened to him, however i do see his importance and accept his role in the show. But, i rate the character score highly because of the collective; the villagers themselves. We see them as frightened, gossiping folk in the first half, but their transformation into deranged vampire hunters adds a sense of realism. If someone murdered your family, you'd go all out of the monsters that killed them, however you're still human, and you find it difficult to kill someone. And Shiki displays those emotions extremely well; you get some who downright refuse to kill the vampires, and you've got some who whistle while they "work". Seeing humanity's ugly side in such a brutal way really adds to the show and makes an irrational subject, rational.
Subbed or Dubbed?
I only watched this dubbed and to be quite frank, it was not bad. I'm presonally not a nazi when it comes to watching things subbed or dubbed as I dont mind either, however i do know a bad/good dub when i see one. It didn't feel forced, it flowed nicely and the voices fit the characters pretty well. Especially if you're hiding beneath your covers, you wont be able to see the subtitles. I'll definitely watch it again in the future with subs, but in all honestly, dubbed didn't take away any of the atmosphere or enjoyment.
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