Well, after the somewhat fast paced first chapter, this may seem slow. Actually, it is pretty slow. However, it does give us the background to the central character of the entire series: Ryogi Shiki. Since her background is so unique, it became almost necessary to have this come so quickly, or else things would just get hopelessly convoluted (they’re already confusing enough). Anyway, don’t expect much of the Mystic Eyes here. What we have is an explanation of Shiki’s character, and it’ll carry over to Chapter 3 and beyond, which I expect will be much, much faster paced. Still, this is an important chapter to watch. Pay attention; those little details here and there may just turn out to be important. Oh, and as always, there’s a wallpaper at the bottom of this post. 🙂
(I know, the image quality is pretty bad. MPC doesn’t like saving to the correct resolution, and I have no idea how to fix it. If you have any ideas, please send them to me so I can replace these squishy screenshots with good ones.)
In the beginning, Kokuto Mikiya is out for a walk under falling snow when he happens upon a girl wearing a kimono and look out. After staring listlessly for a while, she responds with a small smile. Cut forward in time to the high school entrance ceremony. All the students are clad in formal wear, which are mostly suits and dresses except for a certain Ryogi Shiki, who continues to wear a kimono. Kokuto immediately notices and goes to find her, but she doesn’t have a clue who he is.
Flash to August 30th, 1995.
Shiki, the lady and heir of the Ryogi household, enjoys taking long walks under the moonlight (the start of a dating ad?) despite her servant’s pleas. Shiki can’t understand if she wants to be alone or just thinks that she’s alone. In the empty city streets, a car then proceeds to run over what seemed to be a shambling corpse of a person with medium lengh brown hair. The street lights grow faint, but Shiki is seen with the body, putting the blood on her lips as if it were lipstick. “I was the first lipstick she had ever worn”.
Back at school, students mingle as always, but Kokuto is the only one who approaches the silent Shiki. After some banter about the weather, Kokuto offhandedly asks if Shiki will wear a kimono even in winter. Shiki responds that she has something to wear over it; the next scene is of Shiki going out and buying a certain red leather jacket. As nighttime falls, another male tries to run away but eventually gets murdered.
At lunchtime the next day, Kokuto discusses the murder with Shiki. Kokuto reveals that he has an acquaintance who is a detective looking into the matter, and how the body was badly mutilated when it was found. As Kokuto continues, Shiki asks if the killer was found; after Kokuto’s silence, she packs up her lunch to leave. Kokuto isn’t a very good conversationalist at lunch, apparently. Meanwhile, the detective inspects the fourth murder case to find that the murderer etched the yin-yang symbol into the body. Due to all of the killings, school ends all club activities, and the school is quiet.
The few remaining prepare to leave, including Shiki. However, she runs into another student that comments on how four might be a bit excessive. Although she grows more irritated, Shiki packs up and goes into the rain. Without an umbrella, she waits patiently by the door until Kokuto out of nowhere arrives with an umbrella. Kokuto waits for Shiki to go home (she has a ride, apparently), and starts humming “Singing in the Rain”; Shiki relaxes for a moment until she sees visions of the murder, causing her to scream Kokuto’s name and ask him where he’s been. Kokuto has been at a farewell party that Shiki was invited to but never came, as she thought he wasn’t serious about it. Later on, Shiki is out on her usual nighttime walk and finds an empty road by the river. The illumination from the passing train shows the body of the fifth murdered victim.
Back at the Ryogi house, Shiki spars with her father, who still kicks her butt with a sword. Akitaka, her servant, stands prepared, and Shiki tries to pass him off to her older brother. However, Akitaka makes clear that she is the next in line for master of the house because the “genes” have been passed to her, not to her brother. After some cursing under her breath, Shiki walks away to get changed. On the way, she wonders what Kokuto would think if he knew everything about her..
At the school dojo during lunchtime, Kokuto is speaking with Gakuto, who asks if he is going out with Shiki. Although Kokuto says they’re just friends, his use of “Shiki” seemed to imply otherwise. Of course, he has good reasoning (Shiki hates being called Ryogi-san, etc.), but he’s been caught. After all, they were standing together taking shelter from the rain… Gakuto laughs, but thinks that they don’t make a very good match. Apparently, Kokuto thinks she has her cute side, and that she is comparable to a rabbit. Back in class, Kokuto is surprised to find a note in his desk from one Ryogi Shiki.
At the mall, Kokuto fidgets around waiting when a very, very different Shiki appears. Although her appearance is the same, Shiki’s gestures and language is totally different from her reserved self. Shiki drags him along through the mall, showing off just how cute she can be. The real reason she called him out, however, was to explain her split personality between normal Shiki (式) and SHIKI (織), the female and male parts of herself. Together, they make up the complete Ryogi Shiki, but they have different priorities. SHIKI didn’t think they could keep it from Kokuto much longer, so it was best to come out with it quickly. SHIKI actually enjoys talking with Kokuto, but her rebellious impulses against Shiki (who has primary control of her body) are bringing her out of sync, especially since Shiki doesn’t like talking wih Kokuto. After leaving some change, she leaves, promising to meet again soon.
Back at the Mikiya household, Kokuto and the detective, Daisuke Akimi (Kokuto’s “brother”), are off peeling oranges, which is some kind of weird family habit. Daisuke has been filling Kokuto on the details of each of the details because of Kokuto’s good analytical abilities. However, even Kokuto can’t find the motive or reason for each murder, and offers nothing more than “he’s getting used to killing”. Daisuke gives him an important piece of evidence, his high school’s emblem found at the crime scene.
Flash to January 1996.
Kokuto’s notices that Shiki is isolating herself even more. When they are alone, SHIKI speaks with him, trying to explain why Shiki hates everybody and only trusts the two identities within herself. After all, when you’re a child, you don’t know anything, and ignorance allows children to have unconditional love. However, Shiki has only known hatred and the ugliness of men’s soul…and the feeling of rejection. She was never lonely because there was SHIKI and Shiki in one body. However, even SHIKI feels the strange nature of Shiki’s recent behavior. Then SHIKI drops the strange question of whether Kokuto has ever felt like he wanted to kill anybody. Since SHIKI is Shiki’s repressed emotions, SHIKI is the embodiment of murder and death. Shiki simply wants to kill SHIKI, and is willing to kill anybody who tries to get close so she can protect herself.
Regardless of SHIKI’s warning, Kokuto still wants to eat lunch with Shiki. Shiki is irritated that he didn’t listen at all; Kokuto doesn’t have good reason but just says that it’s fun. Shiki tries her best to push Kokuto away, but he won’t listen, and continues to try and stay by her side. Brushing her hair aside, she shows the injury to her elbow that she sustained in the last killing. Kokuto clearly doesn’t believe this, but Shiki threatens that if things continue she may even kill him. Now THAT makes Kokuto realize he’s gone nuts.
At night, Daisuke is back with the Mikiyas, and fills Kokuto in on the details as usual. The sixth killing was supressed in the media, and Daisuke has no need to go to the school because there was some skin underneath the victim’s fingernails, apparently from the murderer’s elbow. Remember Shiki’s elbow…? Kokuto does, and rushes to her house only to find that she isn’t home. After some coffee with a friend, he returns to the Ryogi residence to check one last time. This time, he finds Shiki at the scene of a bloodbath, and collapses. Later on, Daisuke questions him on if he’d seen the killer, but Kokuto stubbornly responds that he did not; citing trauma (probably), he proceeds to skip school, and instead takes up watch on the Ryogi residence.
Akitaka isn’t too thrilled with Kokuto being on the grounds, but Shiki forces him to leave him be. As Kokuto continues his night vigil, Shiki continues to look out, biting her nail in frustration. After Kokuto returns, they try to pass each other in the hall without noticing, but fail miserably. Shiki is incredulous that she hasn’t been reported to the police yet, but Kokuto insists he didn’t see anything and wants to believe in her, even after all that. Shiki then proceeds to ignore the pseudo-stalker at her house completely aside from her nailbiting at night. After a while, Shiki calls Kokuto back because she can’t do anything anymore. Kokuto insists she didn’t do anything, but Shiki herself affirms that she is a murderer. She asks Kokuto if he’s coming tonight, revealing that she knows he’s been on the night shift for a long time.
In the pouring rain, Shiki even decides to pay him a visit. In a blood red kimono, Shiki swings a short blade wildly towards Kokuto, forcing him to flee deep into the woods as she leaves a trail of cut up bamboo. Kokuto eventually gives up running at the crossroads, and Shiki climbs on him to deliver a killing blow. However, he refuses to say anything until Shiki prods him. After a slightly amusing conversation of “I don’t wanna die” and “I really want to kill you”, Shiki gives a small smile, then the screen goes black.
Flash forward to June 1998. Kokuto works for Touko Aozaki, the famed dollmaker. Every Saturday, however, he goes and buys flowers for a girl in the hospital. He still doesn’t understand a thing about her, or why she tried to kill him, but he was happy enough to see her smile at the end, and continues to believe in her because he likes her. After all, the murderer is both the killer and the victim, one who knows both the pain of death and the pain of killing. Shiki, who cannot be harmed, and SHIKI, who can only harm.
Conclude with Kokuto’s addition to the timeline: April 1995, Ryogi Shiki and Kokuto Mikiya meet.
Well, I didn’t expect a lot out of chapter two. Honestly. I knew coming in that it would be slow (the book put me to sleep a few times, but I can blame those on my lack of Kanji recognition skills), so I steeled myself for a chapter of Empire Strikes Back proportions. However, I am quite pleased at the pacing. It isn’t rushed, they take their time explaining things in detail, and it allows you to paint a proper picture of what’s going on in this universe. As before, this chapter follows the book very well, but there are some small details that get left out. Of course, they aren’t that big of an issue, so really you’re not missing anything. Don’t believe me? Go look at the book.
Anyway, off to look at what we have here.
- Shirazumi Rio – This is the student that knows about Shiki committing the four murders, the student with the light brown and medium cut hair. I remember seeing this passage in the book and imaging a cold person, but I didn’t think that he’d come across nearly as lifeless as they made him in the movie version. It’s amazing how his entire face looks like a mask; even Touko’s dolls have more animation than his does. Still, if you look at the first part of this chapter, you see a silhouette of a person with a white shirt and medium cropped brown hair. If he is the victim, what was he doing out in the middle of nowhere at night? You could have a dozen conspiracy theories with his character alone…and he didn’t even have 30 seconds of screentime!
- Ryogi Shiki – Ah, the heroine’s past comes out at last. Keeping her background in mind is pretty important to this series. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Shiki from Chapter 1 is neither of the two Shikis found in this chapter. After her accident (and her stay at the hospital where Stalkerkuto kept visiting), her alter ego kind of disappeared, leaving one very confused Shiki looking for SHIKI. In fact, from Chapter 1, we understand that Shiki acts the way she is because that’s what she thinks she should act as. If she does so, then she’ll remember who she really is (that is, get SHIKI back). A shame SHIKI is ‘dead’, as that personality, twisted and murderous as it is, was undeniably cuter than the “silent” exterior version.
- Who is the murderer!? – It’s a strong implication that Shiki killed at least a few of them. The scene when Kokuto runs into her on the way to the manor, knife in hand, is pretty damning evidence. Of course, we can choose to go the Kokuto x Shiki route by denying that it ever happened (and behind her tough exterior, I suppose Shiki still cares for Kokuto since she couldn’t figuratively ‘pull the trigger’ on her only friend). However, what about the other ones? The body underneath the train tracks didn’t seem to be a fresh killing; instead, she ran into it and commented that it was the ‘fifth killing’. Could it be that Rio left school to do some copycat murdering (and subsequently got lost in the killings, shambled off the sidewalk, and got run over…a sort of divine justice)? Or is it someone else? I could see making a case for some other characters, including Daisuke the detective. However, it’s clear in my mind that Shiki couldn’t have killed ALL of them…just a few.
I am thankful to see that the sound and visuals have kept up the same great quality as the previous chapter. It’s good to see some quality come in some form of consistency. There really isn’t much to say because the animators and the soundtracks are all done by the same people as before. If you liked what you saw before, you’ll like what you see this time around. Special note to the environment, however. Some of them (like the flower scene in the OP) were done so incredibly well, it was like watching a live action film. Absolutely ridiculous animation.
More action and more of the usual Shiki, I promise. This one is gonna be worlds better than what Chapters 1 and 2 could offer (and let’s face it, you were happy with 1 and 2, right? Right??)
Asagami vs. Ryogi. Final round.
Oh, and just like last time, here is another wallpaper of our favorite knife-wielder:
No, I didn’t make this. I’m starting to think I should get going with my vectors, though…
RATING: Pending again. I won’t give a rating until I’ve seen the entire series.