「第遺血話」 (Dai Ichi Wa)
Taking the second half hour in noitaminA‘s recently expanding time slot is the adaptation of Ono Fuyumi‘s light novel Shiki (“Corpse Demon”). She’s best known for her work in the Twelve Kingdom series, but is no stranger to the horror genre as her Ghost Hunt series has already been adapted into a very enjoyable anime. If you haven’t seen it already, I highly recommend giving it a look if you have an interest in supernatural/horror series. In Shiki’s case, this premiere episode covered the beginning portions of the manga that I skimmed over when writing the Summer 2010 Preview, which centers around Shimizu Megumi (Tomatsu Haruka) and her sudden death from what appears to be anemia. This happens shortly after the mysterious death of three other residents, followed by some new residents moving into the western-styled mansion, Kanemasa, located on the top of the hill in her small rural village of Sotoba. More than anything, this served as a setup episode for the series and introduced us to a plethora of characters early on.
As I mentioned back in the preview, Fuyumi has over 150 named characters in this story, which makes it pretty difficult to discern who’s critical to the main plot. However, this in turn makes the numerous deaths that are bound to come more pronounced, as the village’s 1300 inhabitants start dying one after another. It wasn’t entirely obvious in this first showing, but the male protagonist is the teenager Yuuki Natsuno (Uchiyama Kouki), whom Megumi had a stalker-like obsession with despite how much he hated her. The resident doctor Ozaki Toshio (Ookawa Tooru), his friend and local priest Muroi Seishin (Okitsu Kazuyuki), and the Kirishiki family that moved into the Kanemasa mansion are also key players. So far, the story’s been mysterious but not overly creepy. The destruction of the dousojin served as an ominous sign, whereas the arrival of the Kirishiki family made it a little too obvious that they were involved with Megumi’s death. Megumi’s recollection just prior to her death already hinted that it might be the work of vampires, which would help explain her anemic condition as well.
I suspect things will be much more involved than that, as this first episode made it pretty hard to tell what we’re in store for later on. Admittedly, I’m a bit disappointed to see Megumi die already — being a character played by Tomatsu Haruka — but I can’t help but wonder if she’ll make a return of sorts later on. (She is in the opening sequence after all.) The Kirishiki’s 13 year-old daughter Sunako has yet to make an appearance, but is clearly one of the key characters based on both the opening and ending sequences. She’s played by Yuuki Aoi, so I’m really looking forward to seeing her creepy-looking character’s role in all this. Produced by Daume, the animation is fairly good but nothing exceptionally amazing to write home about. I’m still not a big fan of a lot of the male character designs as they look too young and bishounen-like, though I do like the female ones. Megumi in particular looked really pretty, especially with that semi-backless dress she had on. I’m surprised Natsuno can ignore a girl as pretty as her and be somewhat relieved about her dying, but it did give me a sense of what his personality’s like.
In any case, being a rare two-cour, 22-episode series airing in the noitaminA time slot, I’m definitely going to continue watching this to see how creepy things get. For a first episode, it didn’t have quite the same impact as Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, but I’m inclined to believe that Fuyumi’s story will get better as we go along. I won’t be covering any more episodes here because I’m already at my limit for Thursdays shows; however, FUNimation is simulcasting it on their site, making subs “accessible” to the masses. I may occasionally post about some quick thoughts, but that will depend on whether or not I feel compelled to say something about it. (i.e. If there are lot of twists and surprises.)