Japanese Style Horror! “Shiki” A Japanese Zombie Manga Masterpiece
Nowadays there are many works in movies and TV dramas that involve zombies; they are common and often produce blockbusters. Perhaps influenced by this trend, Japan’s manga scene has continued to produce many zombie-themed manga.
However, one manga took up the zombie theme earlier than others in 2008, and it presented drawings and story that are uniquely Japanese. It is “Shiki (Zombie)” that we are introducing this time.
The village is a remote outpost away from everything by surrounding deep forest and it has only one major road, a national highway which connects to the village.
In such a village, three villagers die in mysterious ways.
The village’s only doctor, “Toshio Ozaki”, harbors doubts about their death.
And after the three deaths, more villagers start dying one after another.
One day a family by the name of “Kirishiki” moves into a vacant house on the outskirts of the village.
Having noticed that the Kirishiki family’s appearance coincided with the odd incidents in the village, “Natsuno Yuuki”, a high school student who lives in the village, starts investigations on his own.
Then he discovers existence of a legend “Okiagari (Rising up)” in which the dead rises from the grave and attacks the living.
Toshio Ozaki and Natsuno Yuuki start their actions to protect the village from the Okiagari that attack villagers night after night.
1. Toshio Ozaki
He is the director of the only clinic in Sotoba Village.
He is 32 years old and married, but has no children.
He used to work in a university hospital elsewhere, but he came back to the village, his hometown, because his father, the previous director, passed away.
He is a workaholic and very serious about his work, but his actions are rough and his words are acrimonious though he has no malicious intentions..
2. Seishin Muroi
He is a priest of a temple in the village, and moonlighting as a novelist.
His personality and appearance are opposite of Toshio Ozaki, and there is always a feeling of cleanliness about him. He is calm, collected, and quiet.
Being a priest, he is naturally kind-hearted and gentle.
3. Sunako Kirishiki
She moved into the village with her family.
She is a beautiful girl with fair skin and long hair down to her waist, and she is quiet.
She is allergic to sunlight and cannot go out during the day.
She is an avid fan of novels Seishin Muroi has written, and she becomes close with Seishin through this fact.
4. Natsuno Yuuki
He is 15 years old and a high school freshman.
He moved to the village from a large city because of his parents’ business circumstances.
As he came from an urban area to an out-of-nowhere country village, he has not been able to blend in with his peers in the village.
5. Megumi Shimizu
She was born and raised in the village, and holds a very strong longing for urban culture.
She takes liking to Natsuno, a city-bred, and tries to get his attention almost aggressively.
The author is Fuyumi Ono, and the novel was published in 1998.
Later in 2008, Ryu Fujisaki adapted it into manga, which is the piece we are introducing this time.
It is a manga adaptation of a novel; however characters and contents are heavily modified in the process.
By strategically placing details of odd episodes, the drawings and storyline slowly delivers fear to readers, and the technique is uniquely Japanese.
Visually the atmosphere resembles that of the movie “The Blair Witch Project”.
However, the quiet horror unfolds only until the middle of the story.
In the latter half of the story the story’s atmosphere radically changes. The story evolves quite differently from traditional zombie works, and it will astonish the readers.
What and how is it different? It is the important part of the story and I must forgo the explanation here, but this is a work that lets you thoroughly enjoy description of horror in Japanese style.
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