Shiki 18, God Only Knows 9

After several episodes of mounting hopeless and despair, Shiki 18 gives us some hope. Some of the victims refuse to lose. Another one is on the offensive.

And they have a knack for fashion and home design.

We start with a few who have already risen, in fact, it’s hard not to include them, since just about everyone has already done so. We get lots of scenes where Risen go about their daily nightly lives, one ironically saying that his temp job of burying corpses “gives life a purpose.” Heh. We get a friendly lecture turned death threat between Natsuno and Tatsumi, both werewolves. They can eat normal food, go out in daylight, but they need blood to, er, enhance their extra abilities, I guess. Natsuno is the same grumpy teen in death as he was in life, and though he has no obligations to anyone, Tatsumi takes his refusal to cooperate as an affront. Such is how this organization works. Also interesting is the Risen Ritsuko, who refuses to drink blood, because she can choose to do so. And it’s a zinger to poor Tohru, still gripped by guilt over what he did to Natsuno.

Up to now in this episode, apart from Natsuno and Tatsumi, who have their own issues, everyone, dead or alive seems happy. Toshio, bitten last week, is following Chizuru’s orders, seemingly at peace with his plight. He even invites Chizuru out to the local festival. This leads to most satisfying scene in Shiki that I can remember, even in spite of its cruelty. They greet people, smile, drift closer to the shrine that Chizuru can’t get close to, until they get too close. Chizuru begins to freak. And we see just what Toshio has been up to. I swear, I’ve been waiting for him to smile like that for ages.

Some of the scene doesn’t work. It’s hard to believe that the villagers would recognize Chizuru as a Shiki so quickly. I think it’s a lapse of judgement for the Risen to just bite a man who’s on to them and then not check back, especially when the man’s a doctor with access to transfusion materials. But otherwise the scene is superb. I love the twist they add when Seishirou tries to rescue her, using characters introduced but not used for a long time. On the other hand we see Chizuru suffer. Even though she is Risen and has few morals, seeing the mob turn against her was bittersweet. Still, it’s great when when I can watch and not wonder “Can this show get any more depressing?”

As for The World God Only Knows 9, I’m not sure what to think about the new story arc, or the new girl, Shiori.

Elsie is told she doesn’t know enough about the world, so Keima sends her to the school library to do research. And what a library! At least three stories tall! That’s an expensive school Keima goes to. Once there, she gets distracted by a book on fire trucks (I don’t really care for Elsie, but I find this endearing) and goes to the librarian, Shiori, for more. The subsequent conversation, or lack of it, is the first of many painful scenes where Shiori struggles to interact with others. It was a relief when Elsie’s loose spirit alarm goes off, like an embarrassing cell phone. Shh!

That's okay, Shiori. They think you already are.

And this is the problem. She’s like this to everyone, even co-workers she knows well. And when the show obliges us by letting us hear her thoughts, they’re all about what she should say to this latest person. She says almost nothing. Having nothing else to do, the show moves on to give us Keima’s take on the appeal of librarians in games, and an extended sequence where Shiori bemoans her fear of people and rhapsodizes about the joy of books while walking around the library, all to a waltz tune. Rather nice, but long. And the following scene, where she has to help weed the collection, getting depressed as she does so, even if they’re hopelessly out of date tomes about COBOL. As a former librarian I found that funny. It’s next to impossible to keep a computer software section up to date, especially on a budget, which this library doesn’t seem to have.

But the problem remains. Even Keima seems at a loss as to how to reach a girl who’s so painfully afraid of other people. When he approaches her with whatever strategy he has in mind, it’s the old “I can’t reach this shelf, oops I’m falling, who caught me?” routine, which leads to yet another painful scene where Shiori takes 45 minutes (my estimate) to get out the words to thank him. Keima looks more puzzled than anything else. So, can Keima break the ice? And can he do it without more impossibly long moments of silence?

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