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Manga: Shiki

Shiki (literally Corpse Demon) is a horror manga that is based on Fuyumi Ono's novel by the same name and illustrated by Ryu Fujisaki, it ran in Jump SQ. The story takes place in a small village called Sotoba where, after a mysterious family moves in, a wave of unnatural deaths begins to occur. It soon becomes obvious to a select few, that these deaths are the work of vampires (or Shiki as they're referred to in-series). Can they stop the ranks of The Undead, or will they join them?

The series is rather interesting as it presents the view from both the human and monster sides. On one hand, the Shiki are simply trying to find a place to call their own. But their murderous instincts make peaceful cohabitation difficult. The humans (those who are in the know) are, of course, simply defending themselves, although some characters cross lines that make them no better than the Shiki. This does leave it ambiguous which side the audience is supposed to root for.

The anime is licensed by FUNimation and was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in May 2012.

The novel series is currently being translated here.

Not to be confused with the Nasuverse characters, Ryougi and Tohno Shiki, nor with Shiki Misaki.

Shiki contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Mom: Chizuko Murasako, Masao's sister-in-law. Although staking the vampires is supposed to be the men's job, she's not afraid to stake a few of her own (including Masao himself).
  • Adults Are Useless: Natsuno's parents, especially his father. In one go, Dad managed to let a Shiki into the house, agreed to allow her brother in, disposed of all the charms and crosses Natsuno put in his room (because he hated superstition) and made sure to unlock the door (because the village is safe and doing so show the trust in others) — all of which he managed to do out of his own will, without anyone hypnotizing or manipulating him.
  • Adult Fear: Many, but the most common has to do with the way characters die as their parents and other relatives are powerless to do anything to stop it. Episode 21.5 in particular revels in this trope.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Chizuru was a total bitch and ruthless killer, but it's hard not to feel sorry for her when she is getting lynched while begging for her life when she was discovered as a Shiki by the villagers.
  • Alternate Continuity:
    • Both manga and anime borders over this, for the simple fact that Natsuno is one of the biggest threats against the Shiki after he gets turned into one of them himself and begins working along with Ozaki. In the novels? Natsuno never rises as a Shiki thus staying dead, and the little he did against the Shiki as a human is completely overshadowed by Ozaki, who does almost all the planning by himself originally.
    • The same thing can be said for the manga. Yoshie doesn't die when she gets shot by Seishirou, and when the hypnotized humans attack Toshio and his group, Ookawa doesn't kill any of them, even after taking three knives to the back. Though this is shortlived as it ends up following a similar path as the anime.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Natsuno Yuuki. He shows no romantic interest in any women whatsoever, while being quite close with his best friend Tohru, even calling him Tohru-chan. Later, he loses all determination to fight back when he finds out the Shiki sent after him is Tohru, and proposes they run away together. When Tohru refuses, Natsuno willingly offers his own blood, and eventually even lets Tohru kill him. Oh, and Megumi kills Tohru in the first place out of jealousy.
  • Anime Hair: Taken to new heights.
  • Anti-Villain: Sunako's actions in targeting the village have nothing to do with malice or a lust for pain; she just wants to build a place where the Shiki can live in peace. She's also one of the few vamps who treats the feeding process with respect and doesn't see the humans as simply livestock.
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • And in fact, many of the cast members do die at least once.
    • It goes beyond that—not only can anyone die, but anyone can kill too.
  • Ate His Gun: Seishirou in chapter 35 of the manga.
  • Badass:
    • Natsuno definitely qualifies for bashing a vampire over the head with a shovel.
    • Also Ookawa qualifies as he is the first villager to go hunting Shiki with Toshio. He can also stop a moving car with his bare hands.
    • Toshio for his Batman Gambit to prove the existence of Shiki to the villagers.
    • Seishin decides to protect Sunako from the villagers hunting the last of the Shiki, carrying her to safety while bleeding from a knife wound and suffering anemia caused by feeding Sunako and Tatsumi earlier.
  • Badass Beard: Ookawa, the liquor store owner. Just look at this beard.
  • Bare Your Midriff: The manga, anime AND novel art all showcase this slightly with Natsuno in some way.
  • Battle Butler: Tatsumi for the Kirishiki family.
  • Batman Gambit: Chizuru bites Ozaki and commands him to burn all his notes regarding the Shiki and the deaths in Sotoba. He does so, even commenting that he carried out her orders like "a man possessed" (implying her hypnosis was aiding him). He does this to gain her trust so that he can take her to the Kagura Festival, a place filled with religious symbolism and imagery, and expose her as a Shiki. In reality, he was never hypnotized by her. Natsuno had bitten him earlier, forever erasing anyone's ability to hypnotize Ozaki. The gambit is a success: Chizuru is staked at the Kagura Festival and the entire village now believes in the existence of the Shiki.
  • Berserk Button: Sunako does not like to be addressed as "Sunako-chan". Anyone who attaches that honorific with her name risks her wrath.
  • Bishounen: Natsuno is the best example. Tohru and Tatsumi also qualify.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: A good deal of the Shiki, Sunako being the most prominent for it. Makes you wonder how no one noticed anything odd about them from the get-go...
  • Book Ends:
    • The first episode, and several chapters.
    • The first episode begins with villagers with flashlights searching in the forest. So does the last episode.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Chapter 33, Sunako specifically addresses the reader as to why she's sharing the story of Cain and Abel.
  • Break the Cutie: Kaori goes Ax-Crazy in Chapter 32 when her undead father tries to kill her. She applies a baseball bat to his head multiple times, and when that doesn't kill him, she gets out a pickaxe to finish him off. She then proceeds to shove his unrecognizable corpse into a closet for good measure.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: You'd think a man who juggles candy bars and wears a hot pink suit would be the last Shiki to be put in charge of running funeral services.
  • Campbell Country: A strange inversion, where despite the setting, the danger comes to the villagers from the new arrivals, not the other way around.
  • Cassandra Truth: We see two big examples over the course of the series. The first is when Ikumi, who suspects that the Kirishikis are monsters, tries to rally the villagers, only to get dismissed as a lunatic by everyone, including Toshio Ozaki, who has actually been investigating the vampires but doesn't want anyone to know about them yet. The other is when Motoko tries to convince her family that they're slowly dying, to no avail.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: No villager looks the same if stood side by side each other. The entire village consists of people of different ages, and a wide variety too.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Natsuno, Episode 4.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Remember the guy on the tractor that Megumi sees in the first episode? She'll be seeing him and his tractor again...
    • And many, many more. To name a few, the offhand comments in the first episode, such as the destruction of the Jizou statues (the Shiki are weak against religious icons) and the time discrepancies between deaths in Yamairi (indicates the Shiki's plans for the area and hypnotic abilities).
    • Motoko Maeda, a character who got a chapter and episode dedicated to her story. She also tells the villagers about the daughter who is taking care of her Shiki mother and starts the fire that burns the village down.
  • Children Are Innocent: Little Susumu Yasumori's fear of Seishirou and Chizuru (in contrast to his parents' willingness to invite them over) may be intended to invoke this trope, as may the relatively small number of children (or at least very young children) who seem to have risen up as vampires.
  • Circle Of Evil
  • Cool Shades: Tatsumi's glasses.
  • Creepy Child:
    • Sunako, pulling double duty as an Undead Child.
    • Shizuka and her hand-puppet.
    • It's revealed in a flashback that Masao used to be one of these.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Tatsumi, with a hint of Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Just, generally, a lot of the Shiki.
    • Megumi getting her head run over by a tractor. Natsuno and Tatsumi exploding in dynamite (in the midst of a wildfire, at that).
    • While her head isn't crushed in the manga, Megumi does get hit by a truck. She's able to get up and run away a bit before getting five stakes shoved into her chest.
    • Toshio binds his wife Kyoko at the hospital before she rises. Once she does, Toshio videotapes himself conducting painful experiments on her to discover the okiagari's weaknesses. It was bad enough to hear Kyoko crying with fear and pain, begging her husband to stop while Toshio ignores her...but then he brings out the stake. What follows after...
      • Later chapters of the manga indicate that no, she had absolutely no idea. Another woman that rises without another Shiki around stumbles home to her daughter, only to be confused that she cannot stomach normal foodstuffs anymore. So Kyoko, from her perspective, basically woke up to her husband torturing and murdering her out of the blue for no reason at all.
    • In Episode 20.5, the villagers leave the last batch of Shiki from the tunnels alive just so they can tie them up and let them burn to death in the sun. Hasegawa — the only sane male villager from the episode — is the one who ends up killing them to spare them from completely burning to death.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Tatsumi vs. anyone. The villagers' war against the Shiki from Episode 18 onwards is pretty much this trope, with thirty percent of the latter exterminated in a single day and the rest taken down with little effort.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Megumi and Natsuno.
  • Cycle of Revenge
  • A Day in the Limelight: One chapter in the manga, and most of one episode and part of a second in the anime, are shown through Masao's point of view. The two OVAs also center around side characters. The first follows Hasegawa, the café owner whose family was never attacked, and Nao, who attacked her whole family in the hopes they would rise up. The second follows Kanami and Tae, who own the roadside restaurant Chigusa, and Motoko Maeda, who slowly goes insane as her family is picked off by Shiki and eventually sets herself on fire in Yamari.
  • Deconstruction: The story essentially functions as a deconstruction of horror literature, particularly 'Salem's Lot and its ilk.
  • Dedication: To 'Salem's Lot.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • Mr. Yuuki crosses it when Natsuno seems to die, going pretty much bonkers. The last scene of the anime indicates that he's gotten over it.
    • Toshio as well. His repeated failures in saving the villagers from the Shiki eventually lead him to experiment on his newly turned Shiki wife when she rises.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The villagers managed to save their village! Until a giant fire burned their entire village down.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Motoko Maeda decides to get revenge on the vampires who killed her family by starting a fire that burns down the whole village!
  • Do Not Call Me Paul/Embarrassing First Name: Natsuno Yuuki. He prefers people not to call him by his first name because he thinks it's too girlishnote .
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The deaths of several of the Shiki, especially the female Shiki. As a case in point, when Toshio Ozaki experiments on poor Kyoko, he first straps her to a table as he stands above her and later proceeds to slash her femoral artery and stake her through the heart while she's crying and begging him to stop.
    • Sunako used to live a happy life until a man came along and turned her into a vampire. Ever since then, she's hated herself for being "forsaken". Hmm...
  • The Dragon: Tatsumi is this to the Kirishiki family, he does all the work when they just sit in their mansion looking fabulous.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Jinrou!Natsuno.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: In the manga, Sunako's clothing is sometimes inspired by lolita fashion. Megumi's clothing comes close once in a while, but bears more resemblance to Japanese punk and gothic fashion. Here's an example for both of them.
  • Eureka Moment: Doctor Ozaki has one when talking with Natsuno.
  • Evil Detecting Dogs:
    • Love turns highly aggressive towards Kaori's Shiki-fied father.
    • Taro attempts to warn Ritsuko of an approaching group of Shiki in Episode 17.
  • Expy:
    • The Kirishiki parents' mannerisms noticeably resemble those of Isaac and Miria.
    • Going further on this, J. Michael Tatum even voices Seishiro in the dub. No such luck for Chizuru.
  • Eye Scream: When Yasuyuki is dragged out into the sunlight, there's a close-up of his eye exploding!
  • Family-Unfriendly Death:
    • Megumi gets her head run over by a tractor. Then her heart impaled after her legs still wiggle about after her head is crushed. And this is shonen, not seinen.
    • Kyoko is first traumatized by Toshio experimenting on her, then is crudely staked to death. See Cruel and Unusual Death above.
  • Fan Disservice: In her first scene as a Shiki, Megumi is wearing a low cut top, short skirt and Zettai Ryouiki. The sexiness, however, is mitigated by her unnatural body movements, as well as the fact that she's, you know, a corpse.
  • Fighting for a Homeland
  • Flat Earth Atheist: Natsuno's dad, who didn't marry Natsuno's mother because he questioned the principles of marriage and hates religion and holy icons. It comes back to bite him in the ass in the end by discarding the religious icons that could have saved Natsuno from the Shiki.
  • From Bad to Worse: And HOW. Things go completely bonkers around Episode 18, when the villagers discover the existence of the Shiki.
  • Gonk: Masao for one, though several characters could fall into this catagory.
  • Gorn: The last few episodes, particularly the OVA Episode 20.5, turn into an almost endless stream of this.
  • The Hero Dies: Natsuno. Though he gets better, sort of... But ultimately played straight in Episode 22.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Toshio has a much closer relationship with his old friend Seishin than with his wife.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: After the villagers find out about the Shiki, it slowly begins to fade between the line of who are the real monsters — the Shiki or the humans? Especially Toshio Ozaki, who tortures and kills his own wife.
  • Hidden Depths: Nearly every major character (and many minor ones), which really says a lot given the size of the cast. Hell, this show might as well be called Hidden Depths: the Anime.
  • Hime Cut: Ikumi, as befits her status as a shaman.
  • Horned Hairdo: Akira.
  • Horror Hunger: The Shiki suffer from it. It will force them to give in to it no matter what. Even Ritsuko nearly gave in to it in the manga and threatened her friend to stay away from her or else she would bite her. It also causes them to want to drink their targets of blood to death like a drug.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: As pointed out by this review.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Ookawa telling Sunako that there are consequences to committing murder. After murdering a bunch of innocent humans in the previous two episodes. Karma ends up stabbing him in the neck, though.
    • He's not so quick to this in the manga. He didn't kill any of the hypnotized humans even though he got stabbed by them. However, he ends up killing the people at the shrine with the aid of the other villagers after coming to the conclusion that, because Seishin was helping the Shiki, obviously the rest of the people at the temple are helping them as well. Ozaki even agrees with him.
      • In the manga, he enjoyed killing his Shiki son far too much — to the point that one of the other villagers was scared of him. He even smiled after killing him.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Tatsumi, in the manga.
  • Impossibly-Low Neckline: Practically all of Chizuru's outfits feature this, some more than others.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: "Three Blind Mice" while Shiki are being killed in Episode 20.5.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Ikumi gets one flashback, looking quite stunning compared to her present appearance.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Natsuno, who is aloof towards others and resents his parents for moving with him to a small town, doesn't hesitate to protect others and take a stand against the undead.
    • Tatsumi has kicked a lot of dogs during the series, doesn't mind using cruel punishment on the Shiki who disobey him, and is more than willing to kill other people or even Shiki. But he also really cares for and respects the head Shiki, Sunako, and doesn't hesitate to act as a decoy so she and Seishin can escape the horde of furious villagers.
  • Jerkass: Many. Particularly toward the end—as the situation gets increasingly dire we see previously nice characters demonstrating increasingly assholish behavior.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: The villagers, especially Ookawa.
  • Karma Houdini: Sunako.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Megumi killing Kaori's dad and then taunting her about it.
    • Tatsumi does this on a regular basis, mostly by tormenting the new Shiki and threatening their still living families.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: Sort of. At least the first few bites seem fairly harmless since they don't take much blood per bite (it takes several bites over several days to be fatal), and the bite marks themselves are so minor that the doctor initially mistakes them for insect bites.
  • Likes Older Women: May apply to Tohru, who had a crush on the slightly older Ritsuko.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Unfortunately, it's very hard to keep count on every single villager introduced and remember their names, aside from the main characters. It got so bad that even Fujisaki, the mangaka, lost track of the number of villagers, and ended up incorrectly numbering them halfway through.
  • Mama Bear: Motoko and Chizuko, though they're not heroic versions.
  • Madness Mantra: Motoko Maeda's "Damn you old man.... Damn you old man...." (etc)
    • Coupled with Sanity Slippage, Nao Yasumori sees visions of her family and breaks down chanting "I'm sorry..I'm sorry".
  • Mercy Kill:
    • To some humans-turned-Shiki, this is a blessing.
    • Hasegawa does this at the end instead of letting the last group of Shiki from the tunnels burn to death.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: The Shiki have a variation of it that they use on humans after biting them.
  • Moral Dissonance: Seishin. He waxes poetic to Toshio about all murder being wrong and walks out on him after he finds out he experimented on and staked his Shiki wife, but he has no problem getting close to Sunako, who's killed countless humans. Not because she needs to to survive, mind, but because she sees humans as cattle.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: The Shiki vary from sympathetic to monsters, some of them even resisting their hunger, others killing for fun. On the humans side we have Toshio, who has crossed the Moral Event Horizon, but most of them just want to protect themselves from the Shiki. Things have become even more complicated when humans have started an uprising against the Shiki and kill them without remorse. Some humans then start killing people who so much as have a single bitemark on them and it gets worse from there.
  • Nice Guy: Tohru. Even the resident Jerkass Masao likes him.
  • Non-Malicious Monster:
    • Tohru, who suffers from the guilt some new Shiki face of murdering humans for sustenance and still maintains his gentle demeanor.
    • Several of the Shiki could fit in this category, all things considered.
  • Noodle People: Some of the characters are like this, especially Megumi. What on earth does she eat?
  • Not So Different: The Shiki may be considered monsters, but then take a look at what the villagers have done in order to protect themselves. It seems they are more closely related in nature than you would think.
  • Not So Invincible After All: After the Shiki were outed, they didn't stand a chance against the villagers.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: "Pendulum", the song that made the ending of Episode 4 ten times more frightening than it already was.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different:
    • Jinrou, given name by Sunako, are a rare subspecies of Shiki. Tatsumi compares Jinrou to the werewolves that accompany vampires in movies. Different from regular Shiki, Jinrou breathe, have a pulse, are able to walk in the sunlight, can survive off of regular food, and they never actually died. Their blood just changed to that similar of a Shiki.
    • They are also able to take more damage and can almost be inhuman in ability when compared to Shiki or normal humans. Tatsumi revealed that Shiki are those who failed to become Jinrou. Seishin and Yoshie show this off the best, where Seishin delivers a Curb-Stomp Battle to Ookawa and Yoshie gets her brains blown out but is still alive.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • Shiki, the term for vampires in this series, can only drink around a cup of blood a day before they get full, for one. Also in addition to the traditional symbols like crosses, Japanese religious symbols seem to hurt them.
    • This trope is lampshaded when Natsuno advises Kaori and Akira not to assume that every weakness fiction assigns to them will necessarily apply.
    • This, however, matches exactly with patterns of vampire attacks in older myths up through to Dracula, where it took multiple visits for Lucy to die as well. Vampires killing over several days is a classic trope, not an example of a deviation from the classic.
    • Also interesting is that the victims fangs form behind the usual teeth rather then morph them.
  • Perspective Reversal
  • Pet the Dog: Sunako does this when she decides to spare Seishin.
  • Primal Fear: Several, including the fear of illness that even young, healthy people are dying from, as well as, most infamously, the scene of Masao waking up in his coffin, unable to dig himself out or scream for help.
  • Put on a Bus: Subverted. Natsuno tries to do this to Kaori and Akira, but they come back.
  • Put Them All Out of My Misery: Motoko is so upset about the deaths of her family that she burns down all of Sotoba in revenge!
  • Pyrrhic Victory
  • Rasputinian Death: Megumi and Tatsumi.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: As if the Black Eyes of Evil mentioned above weren't enough, the Shiki tend to get this when feeding or about to feed.
  • Sanity Slippage: The penultimate episode features the villagers hard at work, chatting happily to one another and eventually tucking in to rice balls and boxed lunches...whilst covered from head to toe in blood from the previous night's Shiki extermination hunts, and the hard work in question being digging mass graves and shifting a huge number of corpses around. Nobody seems even slightly disturbed at what they are doing.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The villagers risk their lives and their sanity to kill the Shiki and save their village, and after a four episode battle, end up victorious. Oh, and then their entire village burns down. And the main antagonist ends up getting away. The End.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Arguably, nobody in this story ends up completely getting their way.
  • Shout-Out: In Episode 6, Natsuno checks out a couple of horror flicks, one of them titled Texas Chainsaw Mackerel.
  • Slasher Smile:
    • The Shiki pull this off on a regular basis.
    • Toshio gets a rather frightening one in Chapter 30.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Very cynical, but interestingly enough manages to hold off on making any of its characters completely without redeeming qualities or at least a Pet the Dog moment or two.
  • Sliding Scale Of Silliness Vs Seriousness: Shiki is far on the serious side of things. What little comic relief there is tends to be presented in such a way that you're not sure if you're supposed to laugh at it or not.
  • Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: Differs between characters.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Natsuno was Killed Off for Real in the original novel.
  • Spoiler Opening: In the second opening, Seishin's eyes briefly look the same as when he reveals himself to be a Jinrou at the end.
  • Stages of Monster Grief: You can observe every stage in the various undead characters.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Megumi. She goes to full Yandere territory after being turned into a Shiki, stalking her crush, Natsuno, and murdering his best friend (who she perceived as a threat).
  • Stoic Spectacles: Seishin.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • Natsuno corners Tatsumi and himself in a large fissure, the latter finally finishing the fight with a large bundle of dynamite.
    • Done by Natsuno and the female Jinrou Yoshie in the manga. With Yoshie doing it with dynamite against the villagers and Natsuno dragging Tatsumi into the fissure filled with Shiki corpses where Tatsumi is staked, though it's hard to tell if it happened to Natsuno as well (even with him covered in blood).
  • Techno Babble: In this case, Medical Babble.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Takatoshi and Yasuyuki.
  • Together in Death: Tohru and Ritsuko.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Too many instances to count.
    • Megumi starts off the tradition by saying she thinks someone is watching her from the shadows in the forest...and then loudly proclaiming "GOOD!" and screaming about how she hopes it's a talent scout.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The next episode previews do this on a handful of occasions.
  • The Undead
  • Unexplained Recovery: Natsuno, although only in the anime and manga. The novels in the other hand...
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • The Anime Hair is so crazy in this series that this trope arguably applies. Hell, Tatsumi's hair looks like cat ears.
    • The blood once the villagers start Shiki hunting. You'd think that they were playing paintball or something similar.
    • For that matter, Sunako's and Chizuru's weird eyes never seem to put anyone off.
  • Values Dissonance: Invoked. It's noted several times that Sotoba is odd in that they bury their dead rather than cremate them, which is what is done with a majority of dead bodies in Japan. This is no doubt why the Shiki chose Sotoba to live in.
  • The Vamp: Chizuru.
  • Vampire Bites Suck: At least in Natsuno's case.
  • Vampire Invitation: One of the key limitations of the Shiki is their inability to cross thresholds unless invited in. They get around it by biting people outside, then hypnotizing them to let them in whenever they ask.
  • Verbal Tic: Tatsumi and his "Ya".
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Nurses Satoko and Kiyomi to Toshio Ozaki, after he refuses to act concerned that another nurse named Yuki had gone missing.
  • With Us or Against Us: Boils down to "Are you going to help us kill the Shiki, or do we kill you just in case you might be helping them?"
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • All woobie shikis qualify here (except maybe Ritsuko who refuses to become one).
    • Motoko Maeda, at the end of Episode 21.5.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair

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