This was quite the horrific little treat. Shiki started off as a mystery-suspense title for its first half slowly unraveling the true nature of the so-called "epidemic" killing off the town's population. The show drops a number of hints alluding to the exact nature of the threat faced in the town implying it may not be as mundane as one would think. Also during this time, the series introduces a number of various characters living in the village. The show give enough sense of the types of characters that these people are and some even having their own personal issues that are explored. These characters are either infected with or have family members that become afflicted with the so-called epidemic. This helps enhance the personal connection viewers have with the villagers as they struggle through the first half of the series.
The second half of Shiki is where the show gets to its most intense moments. The truth behind the epidemic is now known to a few of the show's prominent characters and the show turns into a game of survival where those knowing of this truth are trying to convince the villagers of the reality of the threat and those responsible are trying to kill them off. Eventually, the survival focus also mixes in some ambiguous morality to the justifications of both sides in the matter regarding how far they go with their self-preservation. Those responsible for the "epidemic" get their characters focused on in the second half as well which leads to Shiki not being a simple tale of "good vs evil". It is a story that forces the viewer to decide for themselves who was really justified in their actions as they have both their positives and negatives between killing for self-preservation or killing indiscriminately.
The visuals of the series are clean and polished with a good amount of visual detail. Color brightness does do well at reflecting settings and the nature of events surrounding characters within the series. Character designs are varied with the villagers appearing normal enough in most instances (other than the hairstyles of some characters like Natsuno and Kaori) and those responsible for the issues in the villages with some flamboyant and revealing attire.
The presentation to Shiki isn't all perfect. The ending episodes appeared to rush their pacing at points as they left the fates of some characters hanging and never bothered exploring how they managed to overcome their situations when they later appear and details on some elements to the series like character thoughts and aspects to the supernatural element of the series. Plus, I did feel at points that the show's insert music was a bit too overwhelming in emphasizing the dramatic situations faced by characters throughout this series.
Beyond these minor issues, I did greatly enjoy Shiki thanks to the slow buildup of its first half exploring its characters and revealing bit by bit the reality of the town's situation which eventually turns into a moralistic story of survival. I can easily declare this series to be one of my personal favorites for this year.