|HD's "Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month": Sinking its teeth into legally-free and -low-cost anime since 2009!|
A little over five years to the day, "Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month" first began on October 28, 2009 with manglobe's dark comedy short, TRIP TREK. Since then, somewhere between 70 to 100+ titles have been spotlighted (depending on how you count the batch entries), with the most recent being this month's selections of PSYCHO-PASS 2 and Your lie in April (which is a really fine show, thus far), part of HardDoor's commemoration of noitaminA's 10th anniversary.
Since choosing a title like TRIP TREK, I normally like to pick a work that is befitting of the Halloween season for each anniversary. Since neither noitaminA series falls under that category, I would like to point you towards one that not only works quite well with the holiday, but also ties in to both noted anniversaries.
First appearing in April 2012's showcase on streaming noitaminA titles, Shiki [FUNimation.com, Hulu, YouTube] was a (very) particular title that debuted on the block in 2010. It was its first real--and, to date, only--horror title, and it focused on the ensuing calamity brought upon a sleepy Japanese village when a family of vampires decide to make it their new home. When it was initially announced, it was seen as a very puzzling type of show to be airing on noitaminA, which was populated with dramas, high-quality content, and arthouse-like works. "Vampires" did not necessary seem like something right up its alley, not when the genre was more known for not-very-noitaminA shows like Hellsing/Ultimate and Vampire Knight. At the end of the year, when it came time to recognize the best anime of 2010, it was a tight race between two of the block's standouts, with Masaaki Yuasa's The Tatami Galaxy just getting edged out by none other than…Shiki.
As good as Tatami Galaxy was (though I felt it was running its joke into the ground near the end), it is not too hard to see why Shiki was as well-received as it was. It goes beyond its vampire trappings as a more cerebral, slow-churning, suspenseful mystery/whodunnit, one that is perhaps more social and behavioral commentary than straight-up horror (though the show still knows its stuff). It's also clear that much thought went into Shiki's story and what it sought to accomplish, and that was achieved quite well on all fronts. Further distinguishing the atypical vampire show is its atypical character designs, which are very angular and anime-styled, but all of the eclectic hair and and eyes help add to its distinctiveness. Those expecting Hellsing-levels of crazy or the head-swooning romantics of Vampire Knight may be very disappointed in Shiki and how they portray vampires, but those looking for a more sophisticated mystery/horror series or a tale with a more classic depiction of vampires (with a few twists to the formula), may find a lot to love and digest with the anime.
I do not like to do repeats for Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month, and this isn't quite an official pick, anyway, but to commemorate its five year anniversary and fulfilling its customary Halloween-themed Pick, Shiki does make for a great retrospective Special Pick, especially in light of noitaminA's 10th anniversary and what HD is doing for it with the monthly Picks. Shiki's also a fantastic and memorable work that ranks as one of the best I've even seen, so mission accomplished in all of those areas…
Enjoy some (legally) free/low-cost anime, past and present, and many more to come!
P.S.: This also happens to be the 444th post in HD's pen (both published and draft posts), the 422 published post (2+2=…), and the 40th post of the year (2014)…and ii's the 31st, today (3+1…)…and that was the fourth number stat I just dropped… WOOOOOOO… XP