So the vaunted Shiki begins. And while the first episode wasn’t great, focusing more on mood-setting and character introductions, it has some potential.
Basically, the episode focuses on Megumi Shimizu, a fashionable girl stuck in a hick town, looking for escape. It’s your typically sleepy, boring countryside town (Higurashi comparisons are just too lazy, but yeah think of it like that), except that there’s been a string of strange detahs, and oh yeah, a completely out of place Victorian mansion built out by the mountainside.
Sadly, none of the characters are very likeable at this point. Bratty Megumi and her big-town crush, haughty Yuuki winning the race for most unlikeable character at this point. My vote would go to Yuuki, just because he displays such prickishness when he learns of Megumi’s death.
What’s that? Megumi’s death? Well, when Megumi learns that people have moved into the Victorian mansion, she heads up to the mountains to be "discovered." But her efforts at fame are derailed when she doesn’t return home and goes missing for a few days. A townwide search turns her up, generally in good physical shape, except for some "insect bites", but she remains bedridden and without appetite or energy, until she finally dies. A pretty drastic result from what was originally diagnosed as anemia. I’m looking forward to seeing what Doctor Ozaki turns up in the blood examination.
I’m inclined to believe that Shiki will throw some genuine twists, turns and thrills at us throughout the season. I thought the first episode did a good job of setting the atmosphere, even if it wasn’t chock full of energy or big plot events. My reservations though are the so far, unlikeable characters. While it’s not necessarily a MUST HAVE for a slow mystery thriller like this, it does help quite a bit if you’re able to empathize and root for a lead. Maybe the vampires will be more interesting. My other reservation has to do with the director, who’s been around the block for a while, but hasn’t directed anything good before. I’m a little afraid that he won’t be able to bring the story together and important events could be botched. But maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt for now.
If you’re willing to be patient, definitely give Shiki a chance.