Shiki: Part One (A J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)
May 12, 2012 by Dennis Amith
It’s been a long while since I have watched an anime series so dark, eerie and where situations are so unexpected. And from this first half of “Shiki”, all I can say is that… I’m loving every minute of it!
Images courtesy of ©2012 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Shiki: Part One
DURATION: 12-Episodes (300 Minutes)
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9 HD Native, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English
RATED: TV MA
COMPANY: Aniplex/FUNimation Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: May 29, 2012
Originally Created by Fuyumi Ono
Directed by Tetsuro Amino
Series Composition by Kenji Sugihara
Music by Yasuharu Takanashi
Created by Fuyumi Ono
Manga by Ryu Fujisaki
Character Design by Shinji Ochi
Art Director: Ichirou Tatsuta
Anime Production by Daume
Featuring the voices of:
Kazuyuki Okitsu/John Burgmeier as Seishin Muroi
Kouki Uchiyama/Jerry Jewell as Natsuno Yūki
Toru Ohkawa/David Wald as Toshio Ozaki
Ai Orikasa/Lydia Mackay as Chizuru Kirishiki
Aoi Yūki/Cherami Leigh as Sunako Kirishiki
Ayano Ishikawa as Azusa Koide (Natsuno’s mother)
Gackt/J. Michael Tatum as Seishirō Kirishiki
Haruka Nagashima as Kaori Tanaka
Haruka Tomatsu/Tia Ballard as Megumi Shimizu
Keiko Kawakami/Luci Christian as Akira Tanaka
Nobuhiko Okamoto/Chris Burnett as Tōru Mutō
Nozomi Sasaki as Ritsuko Kunihiro
Shinya Takahashi/Todd Haberkorn as Masao Murasako
Wataru Takagi/Ian Sinclair as Tatsumi
Yuko Mizutani as Kyouko Ozaki
When citizens of a secluded village begin dying off in alarming numbers, the sole hospital’s head doctor tries desperately to save his patients – but his efforts are in vain. Entire families are wiped out while others desert their homes. All hell breaks loose as the villagers discover their loved ones’ corpses are rising from the grave with an insatiable thirst for human blood. Who is safe when the urge to kill in order to survive blurs the line between man and monster?
Dark, eerie, scary…these are are words that some have used to describe Fuyumi Ono’s horror novel “Shiki”.
A story that would lead to a manga adaptation featuring artwork drawn by Ryu Fujisaki and serialized in the magazine “Jump SQ” from December 2007-2011, the popularity of the series would lead to an anime TV series in 2010 produced by anime studio, Daume (best known for “Onegai Teacher!”). The series also caught a lot of attention when Japanese rock star Gackt announced he would voice one of the characters in the series.
And now the series will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in May 2012 courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.
“Shiki” (which translates to “Corpse Demon”) revolves around a small town known as Sotoba.
But dark things have been happening in Sotoba of late. Many people who have caught sickness and are now dying. There was a folk tale long ago that the village had many deaths due to okiagari (vampires) but it is looked only as an old tale that people today don’t take seriously.
Meanwhile, the main doctor in town, Toshi Ozaki is growing frustrated because each person he tries to help looks like they are suffering from anemia but later grow tired to the point that they die. Why are they dying? Is there an epidemic in town?
While scientifically, an epidemic may seem plausible but when teenager Natsuno Yuuki/Koide sees a former classmate that passed away, has risen from the dead, he tells Toshi Ozaki and both believe that perhaps the town is infested with okiagari…vampires or some type of demon who feeds on the living in the small town.
But are these rumors of the okiagari shiki true? But most importantly, can anyone stop it?
“Shiki” features the following characters:
- Natsuno Yuuki/Koide – The first protagonist of the series. Natsuno has a cold demeanor. Quiet and sometimes emotionless, Natsuno hates living in Sotoba and prefers living in the city. But because of his parents wanting a change of environment and become more creative, they moved away from the city to Sotoba for inspiration.
- Toshi Ozaki – The Dean and doctor of the local hospital, Toshi is a married man but is often working late. He resigned from a university hospital to take his father’s position and despite people bringing up his father, Toshio was not supportive of his mother or his father due to them putting the Ozaki family’s reputation before anything else. He slowly starts to grow frustrated as he tries to find out what is killing the people in the village.
- Sunako Kirishiki – A teenager girl who lives in the Kanemasa mansion with her family. She has a genetic disorder known as SLE and can only come out during the night time. She also exhibits these black filled eyes that resemble some of the vampires/demons.
- Seishi Muroi– A priest and author, he is currently working on a novel about “Shiki” and can detect actual shiki. He is good friends with Toshi Ozaki.
- Touro Mutou – The son of Takeshi Mutou, director of the Ozaki Clinic. He is the eldest in the family and he is good friends with Natsuno.
- Kaori Tanaka – A naive girl who thinks Megumi Shimizu is her best friend (despite Megumi disliking her). She and her younger brother Akira are among the few that believe the area is infested with okiagari shiki and hopes people will believe them.
- Tatsumi – He is the servant to the Kirishiki family but also a special vampire “Jinrou” that can withstand sunlight and is quite powerful. He leads the Shiki.
“Shiki” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the anime studio Daume has done a wonderful job in character design and art backgrounds. Typically anime studios are on a time restraint and are working on multiple anime series at a time but Daume is one of the few studios that tend to put all their focus onto a single series at a time.
The art backgrounds are lush and beautiful, homes and overall village structures are well-detailed and the character designs are actually quite stylish and with colors that support the darker anime feel but also a colors that look absolutely vibrant at times.
With that being said, the anime series still has a softness (that most anime TV series has) and one should not expect OVA or film quality type of anime, but still this is a series that looks fantastic with its detail of structures and interior of homes. “Shiki” definitely looks very good!
“Shiki” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0. This is an anime series that primarily focuses on dialogue and if there are action sequences, the action is quick. But the series does make up in ambiance. You’ll hear like insects flying, heartbeats, wind, cars passing by and everything that one can expect in a rural village. If anything, the series utilizes a spooky ambiance and sound effects to freak viewers out. The English soundtrack has more dynamic range but when it comes to voice acting, both are well-done.
The biggest standout for this series is the music. The musical soundtrack by Yasuharu Takanashi is fantastic, especially the opening and ending theme of the series.
Subtitles are in English.
“Shiki: Part One” comes with the following special features:
- Episode 1 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Mike McFarland (Line Producer, ADR Director, voice of Yuki), Jerry Jewell (voice of Natsuno Yuki), David Wald (voice of Toshio Ozaki) and John Burgmeier (voice of Seishin).
- Episode 12 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Mike McFarland (Line Producer, ADR Director, voice of Yuki), Chris Burnett (voice of Toru), Tia Ballard (voice of Megumi) and Alexis Tipton (voice of Kaori).
- Preview Featurette Vol. 01 – (2:17) The original Japanese DVD Volume preview for Vol. 1.
- Preview Featurette Vol. 02 – (1:46) The original Japanese DVD Volume previews for Vol. 2.
- Preview Featurette Vol. 03 – (1:45) The original Japanese DVD Volume previews for Vol. 3.
- Preview Featurette Vol. 04 – (1:46) The original Japanese DVD Volume previews for Vol. 4.
- Textless Opening Song – Kuchizuke – (1:32) Featuring Buck-Tick’s theme song “Kuchizuke”.
- Textless Closing Songs – Walk no Yakusoku – (1:27) Featuring Nangi’s ending theme “Walk no Yakusoku”.
- TRAILERS – FUNimation Entertainment trailers
“Shiki: Part One” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of episodes 1-12.
There have been a few dark, creepy anime that has made it to America within the last five years. And similar to the United States, even Japan has had its share of anime series incorporating vampires to a storyline.
But what makes “Shiki” so unique is that it doesn’t retain the banality of the usual vampire storyline. This is not a series about a group of teenagers unleashing a counterattack against the vampires, nor is this a storyline about a vampire or human falling in love. This is a story about a rural Japanese town in which the vampires plan to eradicate all humanity and literally turn everyone into a vampire.
Each time we were introduced to a character, you would expect that this character would be a main character in the storyline, but beginning with the first episode, viewers quickly learn that each character is essentially going to be a victim. In some way, it reminded me of “Boogiepop Phantom”, a darker anime series from 2000 that seemed every character introduced, their livelihoods were futile.
But what makes the anime series work is that we get to meet these villagers, learn of their quirks and if anything, feel comfortable with each and everyone of them…that is until the okiagari begin to target them.
The same can be said with “Shiki” as the townspeople think that people are dying of an epidemic, while very few people suspect that a new family that has moved to the area is responsible. And sure enough, when people start to see old friends who have died, walking around, what do you do? How you can fight against these reborn monsters?
The first half of the series focuses on the deaths of many in the village and the discovery by Natsuno Yuuki, Toshio Ozaki and brother and sister, Kaori and Akira Tanaka discovering that there is no epidemic but deaths caused by the okiagari (vampire). And to make things worst, there appears to be no defense against them. They keep rising and they are growing by the numbers. Also, it doesn’t help that there are specialized vampires such as Tatsumi who can withstand the sunlight and literally use his charm to get people to let him into their homes and thus leading to a person’s quick death.
But of course, with everything looking quite dark and the viewer is left wondering if certain characters are going to survive, one can only hope there is a glimmer of light that these humans can find a way to fight back. And for that, let’s hope that things get even better in the second half of the series.
As for the Blu-ray release, Daume, an anime studio who usually doesn’t rush into anime production has once again done a fantastic job with this series. With most TV series, many anime studios are typically hampered by multiple projects they have to get to a television studio but with Daume, one of the few that tends to focus on a series and thus dedicates its staff into making wonderful looking anime series. Granted, the setting is the country and a lot of the backgrounds one will see are trees, fields, forests, etc. But they manage to put quite a bit of detail on their background art and also on the actual character designs which are quite stylish. Especially with the combination of dark to vibrant colors that really pop on Blu-ray. The voice acting is well-done on both lossless soundtracks and there are a few audio commentary tracks included.
Overall, It’s been a long while since I have watched an anime series so dark, eerie and where situations are so unexpected. And from this first half of “Shiki”, all I can say is that… I’m loving every minute of it!
Recommended for anime fans who like dark and eerie anime!
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