For the past several days, I’ve watched a ton of Shiki. Considering I was extremely sick and unable to sleep the first time that I watched, I noticed quite a lot more this time, as I’ve only been unable to sleep. The implied gay sex between Natsuno and Tohru, the many problems with the village that Natsuno has, the library scene which I somehow spaced… all of these were now made aware to my now conscious self. And yet it didn’t mean shit because I also noticed one thing that completely ruined any sad scene: The large globules of tears that float around like extremely wet weather balloons.
For an otherwise solemn show that paints an unflattering picture of a serene small village beset with a plague of vampires courtesy of the new family who moved into the new house looming over the townsfolk, the sheer cartoonish qualities of the tears breaks the immersion far more than it should. Quite honestly, I haven’t seen any anime short of the second season of Natsume Yuujinchou where the tears during a serious scene have really been convincing. Yes, there have been plenty of scenes that pack a punch because of dialogue and sobbing, but in those scenes you hardly see any tears. It kind of strikes me as odd, considering some of the more serious shows, actually.
That’s not to say that it isn’t possible in animation as a whole. Batman the Animated Series did well with the famous “Heart of Ice” episode, where it showed Mr. Freeze shed a few tears over never being able to see his wife again. But from what I’ve seen in anime as a whole, it’s just not the norm. You either don’t show tears and instead pepper the moment with morose dialogue, or you show the tears and lose any sense of impact. Before I get called something along the lines of cold, know that the Natsume Yuujinchou episode I meant was the one with Gen, the forest spirit possessing the snow rabbit. That crying had impact.
It’s a shame that I couldn’t stretch this rant out any further, but it’s an even bigger shame that something as otherwise excellent as Shiki could have the tears be the absolute worst part of the show, even worse than the ridiculous hair. If anyone could point out something where they think the tears were utilized effectively (Not Clannad After Story), I’d certainly like to hear your opinion.