Shiki and the Fire Within

Subtitle: Shiki and the Horror of Happy Homes.

Shiki anime reviewPart 1: Driving Out the Darkness:

Shiki is a show I’m reviewing for the Reverse Thieves Secret Santa project, and fittingly, there’s a celebration within the show that makes for a good place to start this piece, a holiday, which also ties in to the winter holidays of two Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Christianity.

Let’s begin with Judaism’s holiday for the winter, Channukah, which like Passover is a celebration and remembrance for having triumphed over the enemies of the Judaic people, the Romans in this case. Here’s a translation of a children Channukah song, translated and transliterated roughly by me. It’s titled, quite fittingly, “We’re Here to Banish the Darkness“:

We came to drive away the darkness, (Banu choshech le’garesh,)
In our hands (we carry) light and flame, (Be’yadeinu or va’esh,)
Each of us is a small light, (Kol echad hu or katan,)
And all of us (together) are a great light. (Ve’kulanu or eitan.)

Move aside darkness, onward blackness! (Soora choshech, hal’a sh’chor!)
Flee from the light! (Soora mi’pnei ha’or!)

Channukah comes at the height of Winter, and one of the miracles it celebrates is that a small container of oil held for 8 days. Holidays held at Winter’s darkest which call forth the Spring are not rare, and the Christmas custom of cutting a sprig of mistletoe is believed to be a remnant of such a pagan holiday. Furthermore, the birth of a “God” as Christianity holds Christmas to be, in the Winter, when it seems the year and the world have died, fit into the same sort of pattern. Although it is held during an especially harsh summer in Sotoba village, Shiki’s end-of-series “jubilee” fits quite nicely.

(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that rose in my mind as a result of watching the show. There will be spoilers for the entire show.)

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Concrete Revolutio Episode 11 – To Be Human

Post-Episode Write-up:

(I looked for a relevant Submarine situation in June 1968, couldn’t find it, and the USS Antares was involved in stuff in the 1990s, so forgive me. Also, Claude is such a chuuni, and it’s fun. And it’s also funny, since he’s a chuuni even though he literally has those powers others we use the term for dream of, right? Well, that was fun. Now let’s get to what the episode’s about, and some stuff that bothered me somewhat about it.)

Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou anime Episode 11 notes - Phantom Sword Claude is very cool

Japan has a long history of conquest and subjugation, even in the 20th century. Even movies such as Grave of the Fireflies and The Wind Rises, here on this subreddit, for a while, couldn’t be had without it being brought up, and how dare they speak of their own plight and not the people they did things to during WW2, say. And not only that, my focus here is on the question of xenophobia, which to a degree might have to do with Japan’s island status, but it’s certainly something that exists. So I wasn’t too crazy about the twist on the “Mutants aren’t real humans!” we’re used to from X-Men, to where supposedly superhumans are fine, and even good, but only so long as they are “evolved humans,” and not “true aliens.” Japan doesn’t need more excuses to avoid discussing xenophobia in its media. Of course, it was a load of rubbish, since the person saying that also pushed for a Kaiju wave, and they’re not humans, and tried to stop regular humans from becoming superhumans with the chocolate scheme in episode 6, but I still didn’t care for the idea that was brought up.

(There’s an updated chronological timeline at the bottom of this post.)

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Concrete Revolutio Episode 3 – Free-Lovin’ Androids

I have a shtick, my shtick is to talk about what episodes mean, what they want to be about. Sometimes, some shows make it easy, by very much wanting to ask you what they are about. Sometimes, those very same shows also make it hard, by making it pretty hard to understand what they’re trying to say, or trying to obfuscate it. Thankfully, this episode of Concrete Revolutio, while very much being about a very specific thing, is actually pretty easy to decipher the main theme, the main question it wishes to ask. But it doesn’t tell us the answer. Then again, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou anime Episode 3 notes - Hoshino Kikko believes in love

So what is this episode about? Oh you know, the usual Big Questions™, such as “What is justice?” “What is love?” and the one question both of which are eternal variations thereof, “What is free will? What is choice?” Nothing major. The episode’s plot and the specific choice of superhuman chosen was also in line with this question, as androids and being “programmed” often go hand-in-hand with questions of free will, and God. Just as last episode’s theme was change, and it was explored using a shape-shifter that’s locked into one form, one age.

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