Shiki (2010)

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Released 23-Mar-2016

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Audio Commentary-US Cast and Crew x 4
More…-Textless Opening Song x 2
More…-Textless Closing Song x 2
Featurette-Preview Featurettes x 4
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 538:52
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tetsurô Amino
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Kouki Uchiyama / Jerry Jewell
Toru Ohkawa / David Wald
Kazuyuki Okitsu / John Burgmeier
Aoi Yuki / Cherami Leigh
Haruka Tomatsu / Tia Ballard
Gackt / J. Michael Tatum
Ai Orikasa / Lydia Mackay
Haruka Nagashima / Alexis Tipton
Keiko Kawakami / Luci Christian
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Yasuhara Takanashi


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, extra scene after the credits of the last episode

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Sotoba is a small village of 1300 people isolated from the outside world by a dense forest of fir trees and hills, a small superstitious place with a legend about the okiagari, the dead who prey upon the living. Vivacious and pretty 15 year old villager Megumi (voiced by Haruka Tomatsu / Tia Ballard) dreams both of leaving Sotoba as soon as possible and of Natsuno (Kouki Uchiyama / Jerry Jewell), the new boy her age who has just moved to the village with his parents. Megumi is also fascinated by the big European style mansion that has just been built on the hill overlooking the village and the family who have just moved in. But one evening Megumi does not come home and a search of the forest finds her in a dazed state. At home she will not speak and is fatigued when treated by Dr Ozaki (Toru Ohkawa / David Wald) although otherwise she seems unhurt. But the next day she is dead. Ozaki is puzzled but when it becomes apparent that 10 people have died in similar circumstances, although they were mostly elderly, Ozaki and village priest Seishin (Kazuyuki Okitsu / John Burgmeier) fear an epidemic.

     Their fears seem realised when another young and healthy woman dies suddenly from similar symptoms, the cause unable to be determined. In addition, people are giving up their jobs just before dying and whole families are moving out of the village in the middle of the night without saying goodbye to friends or neighbours. It is as if the village and surrounding area is becoming depopulated. Is there a link between the deaths and the very strange Kirishiki family, father Seishirou (Gackt / J. Michael Tatum), mother Chizuru (Ai Orikasa / Lydia Mackay) and young daughter Sunako (Aoi Yuki / Cherami Leigh) who have just moved into the European house on the hill, and why does Natsuno feel he is still being watched by Megumi? And why are two other children, Kaori (Haruka Nagashima / Alexis Tipton) and her brother Akira (Keiko Kawakami / Luci Christian) the only ones in the village who believe that something evil is going on.

     Shiki begins with an eerie search in the dark woods for a missing girl and seldom relinquishes that feeling of mystery and dread from there. The audience knows quite early that shiki are the cause of the deaths; over the course of a few days they drain the blood of their victim who after death may, or may not, rise from the grave and become a shiki themselves. However, while the human characters take a while longer to make the discovery the story remains interesting for the anime juxtaposes three different approaches to the mystery; Dr Ozaki seeks a scientific and rational explanation for the deaths, the priest Seishin a spiritual answer while for Natsuno it is both personal, and frightening.

     Shiki is a fabulous but very unsettling and bleak anime. The shiki are an interesting concept; the point is make regularly that they are the “other”, creatures who feel the pain of being alone, abandoned by god and feared by humans, wanting to do normal things like going shopping but with a requirement to feed on humans to stay “alive”. However the series does not portray them as brutal killers or demons and some at least suffer from remorse and concern for the humans they must hunt to “survive”. Sometimes the shiki are more compassionate than humans and the series asks unsettling questions about whether it is justified to kill such creatures. Indeed, towards the climax the series veers in its sympathies as hysteria takes hold of the humans; there are scenes of mass killings, burnings and mass graves, when innocents are also slaughtered, disturbing images which feel very much like images of the holocaust or the indiscriminate rampages and ethnic cleansing that has occurred in our societies this generation. This is unsettling to say the least.

     Shiki is based on a novel that became a manga, which perhaps explains the numerous characters who are introduced, some who appear only fleetingly. However, everyone new is captioned for identification and other text on screen keeps track of the date which gives the series an almost newscast / documentary feel. Yet, if anything, Shiki is too wide-ranging in scope, the main characters becoming submerged in a mass of almost anonymous faces; some major characters are absent for a number of episodes and sub-plots disappear. Although most are revisited during the climax I did feel that the focus on individuals that drove the first half of the series becomes lost.

     Shiki is very ambitious, very powerful and very bleak and it certainly does not take the usual humans verses vampire storyline. Indeed, not even the main human characters are safe from becoming shiki, with the complications and complexities of allegiance that that provides, as our understanding of what it is to be human, and our sympathies, are challenged and tossed aside.

     Shiki aired on Japanese TV between July and December 2010. Shiki – The Complete Series contains all 24 episodes on 4 DVDs.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Shiki is presented in the original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The detail, colours and presentation of the series deliberately varies. Idyllic scenes of the countryside are soft with pastel colours, but it also includes bright deep colours, especially hair colours, while the series also switches to black and white or red for sections of menace. The red and yellow of fire storm at the end is vibrant. The characters are also drawn in different ways; Natsuno for example is sharp and clean while the Kirishikis are pale, soft and semi-cadaverous, creating a sense of unease to say the least! Blacks and shadow detail are suitably inky, which is appropriate to the subject matter.

     I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

     English subtitles are in a clear white font. The subtitles are not burnt in so can be removed for Japanese speakers. They seemed error free.

     I did not notice a layer change on any disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The DVD cover states the series audio options are Japanese or English, both Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps, but actually the English dub is Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps. There are also four commentary tracks, Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kbps. The audio can be changed on the go with the remote.

     The original Japanese audio is surround encoded and the surrounds and rears featured music and effects such as rain and insects, while the other effects were sharp. The subwoofer did add depth to effects such as loud heartbeats. The English dub was slightly softer and more balanced over the sound stage but lacked the sharpness of the Japanese. The opening song, strangely, in the English dub is solely from the front whereas in the Japanese dub the rears are quite active. Dialogue is clean in either track and although I did listen to both dubs I preferred the Japanese language as it sounded more intense.

     The score by Yasuhara Takanashi is fabulous. It is atmospheric, eerie and diverse, using simple instruments, a single voice or choral sections to great effect.

     This is anime so lip synchronisation is fairly approximate in either track.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Each disc contains one commentary while Discs 2 and 4 add textless opening and closing songs. Disc 2 also contains the preview featurettes.

Disc 1

Audio Commentary Episode 1

     US ADR director and the voice of Yuuki Mike McFarland, Jerry Jewell, John Burgmeier and David Wald (the voices of Natsuno, Seishin and Dr Ozaki) sit together. This is a better than average Funimation commentary for there is less joking about than usual and they do talk about their characters, the animation style, hairstyles and vampires.

Disc 2

Audio Commentary Episode 12

     US ADR director and the voice of Yuuki Mike McFarland, Chris Burnett, Tia Ballard and Alexis Tipton (the voices of Toru, Megumi and Kaori) chat about their character and the transformations, character designs, vampire lore and pivotal moments. They do laugh a lot but again this is a better than average Funimation commentary.

Preview Featurettes

     Four of the “next time” previews which feature reflections by Seishin (2:11, the others 1:42 each).

Textless Opening Song (1:43)

     The opening song without the credits.

Textless Closing Song (1:28)

     The closing song without the credits.

Disc 3

Audio Commentary Episode 18

     This commentary involves US ADR director and the voice of Yuuki Mike McFarland, Ian Sinclair, J Michael Tatum and Lydia Mackay (the voices of Tatsumi, Seishirou and Chizuru). It is a more usual Funimation commentary with the four laughing and talking over each other but they do talk about their characters’ story arc and vampire lore.

Disc 4

Audio Commentary Episode 22

     (Note: the series has episodes 20.5 and 21.5 so this episode designated as episode 22 is in reality the last episode of the amine). This time US ADR director and the voice of Yuuki Mike McFarland is joined by Cherami Leigh, John Burgmeier and David Wald (the voices of Sunako, Seishin and Dr. Ozaki). This is a much more subdued commentary in keeping with the conclusion of the series as they discuss the character of Sunako and the moral dilemmas and changing sympathies and attitudes imbedded in the show.

Textless Opening Song (1:33)

     The opening song for the second series without the credits.

Textless Closing Song (1:28)

     The closing song for the second series without the credits.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Our local DVD release of Shiki seems the same as the US version.

Summary

     Shiki is a fabulous series that draws you in and refuses to let go. It is an incredibly sad, bleak, powerful and complex anime, a vampire story with complications and complexities which challenges our sympathies and our understanding of what it is to be human.

     Shiki has previously been released in Region 4 separately in two parts, episodes 1-12 and 13-22. Part 1 was given an M by the Classifications Board, Part 2 an MA, so this set, Shiki - The Complete Series, which contains all episodes, is rated MA. Needless to say, if you already have the earlier releases this set adds nothing new. However, if you are not aware of Shiki and enjoy anime that makes you think, give this wonderful series a look.

     The video is very good and the audio good. The extras are the same as available in the US.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, May 20, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
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Also available in a S.A.V.E. set in the US, containing Blurays and DVDs - REPLY POSTED