Shiki is an interesting anime take on the vampire mythos and lore that suffers from extremely slow pacing. The series that aired on Japan’s Noitamina late night block in 2010 was created by Fuyumi Ono, famed novelist of The Twelve Kingdoms series, which also had an anime adaptation in 2002. Shiki takes place in a small mountain village called Sotoba, where some foreigners have just moved into a giant European-style mansion at the top of the mountain. Shortly after this, the town begins to suffer an epidemic, where people that are infected begin to shoe signs of anemia, to them die a few days later. A local boy named Natsuno and the town doctor, Toshio find out that the real problem is due to their new found guests being vampires that are destroying the town and try to do everything they can to stop them.
The most frustrating thing about Shiki is that its plotting and exposition shows that it was adapted from a novel. A novel has the ability to be paced really slow, in order to build up tension and explore things through its exposition. In the show, this works for the first episode, but once we’re few episodes in and the same thing keeps happening over and over again, only to have different characters come to the same conclusions gets boring extremely quickly.
Once it gets to the fifth episode, some genuinely creepy imagery and elements begin to peek their head into Shiki, giving the show some new life and reward for the time put in. Another thing that makes the show difficult to follow are the amount of characters introduced that one has to keep track of. While character designer Shinji Ochi certainly helps by giving them funky hair styles, that are about the weirdest I’ve ever come across in all of my years of watching anime, there are about 30 different villagers that are introduced in the first three episodes alone.
Once all of these things stop, there are some very interesting elements that make Shiki a joy to watch. An actual scientific break down to what happens to the body after being bitten by a vampire or the difficulty it takes a vampire to talk, since they’re undead are just some of the few examples of how interesting the show becomes once it comes into its own. Im certainly looking forward to the second part of Shiki, but as of right now, its a mixed bag of some great and intriguing story, executed by a molasses pace and repetitious dialog.