Shiki 12, Arakawa 2, Fortune Arterial 2

Shiki returns after a couple of weeks, and things get even bleaker.

We don’t see Toshio and Seishin this episode. Instead attention is paid to Natsuno and his friends and family, including the risen ones. Natsuno, though bitten, is still healthy enough to tell the kids to leave the village and, in an interesting scene, tries to work things out with Tohru, arguing that in order for the Risen to survive they don’t need to kill, they just need blood. It looks for a moment like it might work. Tohru still has his conscience. But it turns out it’s not that simple. Even the Kirishiki family would like the no-kill option, but, as Sunako says, it leads to an “empty hunger.” Not only that, Natsuno has a conscience as well and when the moment comes can’t bring himself to hurt Tohru.

So the struggle now is to keep Natsuno alive. His father still refuses to admit anything is going on, partly do to a key conversation with the father Kirishiki. Kaori and her brother try to intervene to no avail. They’re just superstitious rural kids to him. Nothing stands in the way of Tohru getting another snack off his best friend. Yet there’s still a hint at dissent amongst the vampires. Megumi hates living in the sticks whether she’s undead or not. Tohru hasn’t done the final bite. Still, I’d like the show to give us some good news for a change.

Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge 2 is one of the better ones. Recruit meets some more fascinating people, an Amazonian and the captain of the Earth Defense Force.

The Amazon queen and her secret treasure.

Of course, both are incomprehensible and give Recruit plenty of room for reaction shots. Most of the time this sort of thing gets on my nerves, but here I was actually interested in these new characters, especially when the Amazonian switched to schoolgirl mode for no reason. The punchlines come from undercutting the perceived threat, or rather, going off on a tangent from Mars.

Recruit reveals his true identity to the Earth Defense Force.

Or, in the second half, Venus. Recruit rescues a man wearing odd clothes who claims he’s defending Earth from the Venusians. In other words, he’d fit right in (so would the Amazon, but she lives upstream). I’m not sure why Recruit is so against this. What’s another oddball or two going to matter? In any case he comes up with a story to scare him off. This works in two ways. First, we see the stranger’s vivid imagination, which means we get to see Nino in some absurd SF situations. Second, the Chief, Hoshi and the Sister are around, so naturally the talk gets even weirder. And then Nino the Venusian shows up … Good episode.

If Fortune Arterial is a vampire show they have a funny way of showing it. Once again whatever sinister, under-the-scenes moments we get come at the very end of the episode. The rest of it is simply high school silliness.

It's rarely good when the audience spotlight turns to you.

Tohei has completely written off the fact that he saw a vampire biting a girl the day before and is more worried about standing up Erika at their prearranged meeting. Erika’s putting a spotlight on him during the opening ceremonies and telling the entire school he went into the girls’ bath shows you how mad she can get. In fact, much of the episode is Tohei trying to apologize to her but getting distracted by other adventures instead, like catching that stupid rabbit, or running into quiet, vaguely sinister Kiriha. We do get some vampire stuff at the end, but Tohei isn’t directly involved (Lori obtains a blood sample and pronounces Tohei “different”).

This is a vampire show.

In spite of this I hardly get a vampire vibe at all. Even at the end, where Tohei and Erika make up, they shake hands, but there’s none of that freakout business she had before. Not that I mind how this show is presenting itself but the silly high school stuff is nothing special and gets a little dull. Bring on some vampires!

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