Tatsumi News

Tatsumi is a anime/manga character in the Shiki franchise
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It has taken me a year to finally get down to watching Shiki; the first time it came across my table, i quickly ditched it after one or two episodes, finding the pacing of the story to be a little too slow for me. It wasn’t until i watched Another that i finally decided that i would give the series a good try, though even then, it would take me another six months and a complete and utter lack of anime to finally get down to watching this series last month.

Admittedly i can see the error in dismissing this series. Beyond merely keeping me at the edge of my seat, this series had a way of instilling a sort of deep seated anxiety in me, with regards to the events that would occur in each episode and the twists and turns that would occur with each passing arc. It kind of reminded me of the old days of Buffy the vampire slayer and Angel.Those were the days before i had access to DVDs or the internet and were, either due to the story, the characters or Joss Whedon’s genius writing, the prospect of having to wait an entire week just to find out what would happen next would not only infuriate me, but speculation and predictions of the coming episode would consume a large amount of the six days that would precede the next episode’s premier. I actually almost hated the experience, but i also recognize that it is a mark of how engrossed i am in a story that i am affected so. And shiki is one such great story, so much so that i would have force my self to put it aside for one reason or another; it has been several months since i came across an anime that did that to me.

THE PLOT:>

Sotoba is a peaceful village of 1,300 people, encompassed by a circular trail of tress, virtually sealing it off from the rest of the world. Life is good and the good

people of Sotoba enjoy a simple and peaceful existence largely devoid of modernity and development. That is until one day when a new family arrives to town, taking

up the old European style mansion at the top of the hill, not only making waves because of the kind of home they live in, but because of the mysterious vans seen moving into the home late in the night, apparently transporting the new neighbors and their belongings to their new home.

Not long after the Kirishiki house moves in, the irritatingly fashion minded Shimuzu Megumi goes missing for several days on end and when she is discovered, she is on the verge of death, barely able to speak. Treating it like a simple case of anemia Ozaki Toshio, head of

Sotoba’s most prestigious medical practice initiates a series of standard treatments. Shimizu dies shortly after, shocking the young doctor. And while he attempts to discover the mystery behind Shimizu’s seemingly simply ailment, the patients begin to pile up, each dangerously low on blood, barely speaking and, no matter the treatment provided and how seemingly effected it might be in some cases, dies a few days later. Toshio soon finds himself at the head of what can only be a plague, a plague the source of which he has yet to determine and whose workings and weaknesses he can neither identify or combat.

Finding himself at the end of his wits, one Seishin, his best friend and a priest at the temple stands between Toshio and the erratic theories that have began to form in the medical professional's mind. Yet Seishin is unable to truly refute these theories, Toshio’s beliefs, that there is more to the happenings in Sotoba than meets the eye and that with the arrival of the Kirishiki family, also came death. Not when it is becoming increasingly clear to him that Sunako Kirishiki, the youngest member of the family and biggest fan of his morbid works might be more than he can see or even fathom.

While Toshio struggles to come to terms with his helplessness and to confront this plague head on, others like Yuuki face the same contention from a different more sinister angle and it is only a matter of time before even Toshio’s logical reasoning begins to fail under the evidence presented; that the dead are no longer staying dead, and that there is something more to Sunako’s great interest in Seishin’s most recent and unfinished work, Shiki…

MY REVIEW:>

Shiki approaches the narration of its story from five specific view points that allay the events of the series to us via the happenings and experiences of four characters, namely:

#1.Toshio- Toshio, as the village’s fore most medical expert, charged with the medical well being of all those around him, attacks the primary plot of the series from his forte, through medicine and science. It was fascinating to watch Toshio struggle to conform what he knew to be truth and logic with the over whelming evidence steadily amassing to justify what he eventually had to accept as a new truth, that behind the endless deaths and the constant failures that eventually

begin to wear on his mind and conscious, as the village’s guardian that can do naught but watch as all those he knew and swore to protect die, is a much darker, less human and sinister force hell bent on reeking havoc in the name of its own selfish desires. None the less Toshio is commendable for striving on in the face of an adversary he can neither see nor fight, using the entirety of his skill to scientifically quantify what should be a wholly supernatural occurrence and eventually mastering a means of combating it, a victory that, unbeknownst to him, makes him the enemy to those whose efforts he is impeding.

Toshio is human and the fight he assigns himself to face, alone, eventually takes its toll on his mind and body, forcing him to question everything he has ever believed about his own skills and abilities as a doctor charged with saving every life that comes under his care. And when the corpses begin to pile up and he watches every effort he put in wash away in some times heart wrenching means, even his strong willed mind is bound to crack. It was exhilarating to watch the man stand up to the kind of forces that possessed the means to tear him apart, all for the sake of each patient they would attempt to claim.

2.# Yuuki – I liked Yuuki, sometimes more that Toshio, mostly because he was a child, fighting so hard against a tide of inhuman forces he had no hope of wining against. Where as Toshio led the charge for Sotoba’s future from the scientific and medical end, Yuuki leads the charge from the other side, the less logical, supernatural end.

He can see what others choose to ignore; he understands the true meaning behind the recent sightings of those formally presumed dead and he knows that the village is under siege from a force that will eventually consume them if they choose to look the other way. This puts him in a very difficult situation because Yuuki, in this case, plays the very smart child in a world full of very stupid adults.

No one will listen, no one is willing to see and in many cases Yuuki is smart enough not to bother, choosing to accept that those around him, older, smarter, will only impede him in his quest for survival;especially his parents, young, supposedly modern and determined to execrate all things religious, superstitious and supernatural. They do more to harm yuuki’s physical well being that any other factor in the series. But at the end of it all yuuki knows that he has a part to play in defending Sotoba and while Toshio does his best to reverse the transformations of the infected ones, his part lies in attacking the very source of the darkness.

#3. Seishin – I am ambivalent towards Seishin. AS Toshio’s best friend, he plays the part of side kick, providing his friend with the emotional support he needs to

stand against an immovable obstacle and lending a second brain to analyzing and solving the illness plaguing Sotoba. He is also a sort of narrator, through his writings, especially his most recent work, shiki, through which he attempts to

teach us about the new force plaguing Sotoba, its intentions and the objectives driving its wave of destruction. As a Buddhist priest, he attempts to understand the spirit behind the deaths and struggles to reconcile his own beliefs of none violence and promotion of life with Toshio’s increasingly violent nature and intentions; where he seeks a solution of peace and a path of co-existence, Toshio has been pushed so far up the wall by the dark events that have befallen him that he has buried all thoughts of diplomacy and mercy under a wall of blood thirst and revenge. At one point, its almost seems like Seishin is afraid that in his quest to hunt the monster, his best friend is becoming the monster.

The actions that Seishin takes later on become a bit more understandable as you start to learn of his past and the dark places he came from in seeking death before ‘finding himself’ as he says to Sunako. But i will not lie, he grew to irritate me later on. The decisions he made just seemed stupid to me and the way in which he weighed life against ‘none life’. Then there is the fact that it took him forever to catch on with regards to the supernatural goings on in the village, long after even Toshio, the medic, the bigger skeptic accepted events. I will admit he plays a vital part in playing the voice of Kirishiki.

#4. The adults –Like i said above, the adults here are kind of stupid, yet in a way they are understandable. They are simple village people, with simple beliefs

and understanding; there is only so much that they are willing to accept. They make up a large portion of what remains of normal life in the village. They continue to drink, eat, laugh, farm, marry and so on, even as the stench of death begins to rise putridly over their households. They blindly trust in Toshio’s word of a plague and their leader’s reports that there are indeed that many people choosing to quite their lives and leave the village. In a way stupid is the wrong word. They are blind because they choose to be blind. They trust everything to Toshio to take care of, be it a sinister germ or a dark supernatural

force. They choose to not care and as thus make themselves easy prey to their hunters.

They live like sheep and choose to die like sheep; and despite how irritating they are, maybe they are not so wrong. No amount of knowledge makes the dying any easier; rather it only fills one’s remaining days with extreme terror and paranoia as seen by a number of the characters that lose their lives. Maybe it isn’t so dumb that they choose to live out lives of bliss before death takes them; maybe it is even better than the monsters they become.

#5 – The vampires – there is much to be said about the vampire like creatures / shiki in this series. Too bad most of them include spoilers. So what i will say is

that i like their characterization. They are monsters, simple as that, yet they are quite sympathetic at the same time. Most of their abilities are grounded in reality. They are beasts, more or less, with sharp teeth and a thirst for blood, a little

faster than normal, stronger, with hypnotic abilities, but no flight, elemental manipulation and the like. They are basically the creatures that used to litter our TV channels a long time ago and they can be as ruthless as they are sympathetic. After all, they didn’t choose to be what they became and once they turned, there violent actions are as much driven by blood as much as they are driven by loneliness, to allow there kin and kith to experience the ‘gift’ they have received and to accompany them into an eternity on earth.

The series does a good job of making a case for their kind and by the end of the series, you have to decide which side you fall, basically which of the two parties you think is right. personally i didn’t fall for the series’ pitch, that the shiki were misunderstood; i firmly stand in the corner that they are vile monsters that need to be destroyed. But yikes, there were times when i had to look a way as the humans became…what’s the word?…very mean. If the question is whether or not the humans themselves ended up descending into darkness, i will agree, what i saw at the end was the act of monsters. But i firmly stand in their corner in that, sure i might not support their actions 100%, but it is understandable why they acted as such. That was the fury of the hundreds of deaths they had witnessed as well as the fear and misery they had suffered being unleashed against those responsible..

I liked the dynamic this series created, in allowing you to empathize with both shiki and human and forcing you to question the truth behind your reasoning as to which of these two was the justified party in their actions. The action is intense, not in the sleekness of moves executed or mind blowing powers displayed but merely in creating tension in something as simple as a chase along a straight well lit road.

This anime is a horror and its technique lies in its ability to create, not scary monsters, but an environment of fear, an air of gut wrenching death inciting anxiety. The objective isn’t to create the most gruesome of monsters, but to hide the monsters among the none monsters, to create a feeling of paranoia and helplessness, to paralyze logical reasoning and induce despair in the characters which in turn induces despair in the viewer. I was also impressed by how the series didn’t hide from you the viewer who the monsters were monsters and all you could do was watch in terror as one helpless victim innocently interacted with what they didn’t realize was a monster.

I loved this show. This is how horror is done, yet for those anathema to the horror genre, this isn't the kind of ostentatious, blood in your face type horror, designed to gross you out rather than freak you out. There is a sophistication to it. The scares are more psychological than anything and the purpose is to tell a great story of incongruence between two somewhat similar foes rather than scare the hell out of you. Once you get into the plot, this anime will keep you glued to the screen.

#What i didn’t like – now this isn’t referring to bits that i objectively believe the anime did wrong but a subjective opinion of what i didn’t like as a matter of taste and what i wanted/expected to see. it’s sort of like saying you loved avengers but hated the fact that Tony Stark survived. you do not think it was a bad plot, but

you would have preferred his death. With Shiki, not to give spoilers away, i will say that i wish a certain short young character had died. As far as i am concerned, she should have died and she deserved to die but due to another irritating character that didn’t happen.

And the whole ‘trying to make the shiki seem sympathetic’ business irritated me. it is like sitting in a chair and listening to a man with a knife whine on about how they had no choice and they are pained and lonely and all that, and then following a lengthy soliloquy with the revelation that they had just killed you wife and children; and tomorrow they do the same thing to your grandmother and uncle. No matter how much they plead in times to come, those events keep coming back to mind and as such they come off more as pathetic animals than blameless creatures.

#Highlights: Yuuki’s relationship with Megumi was a treat to watch, especially the fact that even after death her obsession with him didn’t falter and that now he had to think of more effective means of countering her supernaturally enhanced stalking tendencies. Toshio and his wife where only slightly more entertaining and disturbingly shocking to watch than Toshio and Kirishiki Chizuru in both of their last moments. Tatsumi and Yuuki and their showdown. I will admit, I supported what was obviously about to happen to Megumi at the end, until i saw what those farmers had in mind; i flinched several times as i watched it. Talk about slow and painful.

RATING:> 5/5 – I recommend Shiki to all anime fans. While it isn’t the best i have ever seen, it is indeed one of very few anime that consumed me so.

Shiki is a 26 episode anime adapted from a two part novel by Fuyumi Ono, a novelist, and published in 1998 (though a five part series was republished in 2002). The manga, drawn by Ryu Fujisaki, ran from 2007-2011 in the monthly Jumpy SQ magazine. The anime ran from July 8, 2010 to December 30, 2010, by Daume studio.

Shiki translates as corpse demon.

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