Tsunashi Takuto transfers to a high school on a small island in southern Japan in order to sing out the joys of youth and find his father. But the island holds a host of secrets: ancient traditions and inhereted super powers, a mysterious society, and marionette-like robots that could change the world if the four seals restricting them were broken. Embroiled in these conflicts, will Takuto find his father, find the strength to protect his new and important friends, and still find a way to live out a joyous school life?
Though I had seen a couple of preview images beforehand, my real introduction to Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto came from a friend after the first episode had aired. "Have you checked out Star Driver yet?" he said. "It's so fabulous!" He was, of course, not just using fabulous as a synonym for good, but rather as a way of describing the show's aesthetic. Bright, rainbow colors. Outrageous costumes featuring epaulets. Conditioned hand signals and long transformation sequences. Star Driver is a show that is defined by this aesthetic. It has catchphrases like, "Your galaxy, too, will surely sparkle!" But even so, to judge Star Driver by this aesthetic alone would be shortsighted.
Shiki is probably my favorite among anime that I'm currently watching. It's probably best described a horror show, a genre I don't normally get much involved in. I don't mind being scared once in a while, though. I'm not sure if I'm jaded, or if it's just the media I tend to involve myself in (horror being especially rare in anime, somewhat outside my normal range of games, and not really common in the novels I read, either) but it feels like it's very hard to genuinely scare me with a work of fiction. I've been following Shiki since episode 1, and I'm utterly impressed, in part because it managed that feat, but also for other reasons I'll elaborate below.
While selling a friend on it early on, I described it as a Japanese twist on Salem's Lot. At this point, the show has grown beyond that. The mystery unravels such that the cat's well out of the bag and by the halfway point, after which it transitions from being scary into being chilling and thought-provoking. A certain 21st Century Digital Boy apparently found enough impact in the show to prompt not one, but two posts more or less spurred by the series. His reaction was distinctly different from mine, so I started to type a reply on his blog, but pretty soon the comment had grown out of proportion and I decided to spin it up into a full blog post of my own instead. As such, the rest of this post contains massive unmarked spoilers through episode 20 of Shiki.