I quite honestly don't recall how I even came upon this series. I wasn't recommended that I watch it by another forumgoer, I didn't see it on my suggestions on my MAL page, and I didn't watch a lick of it on YouTube. One thing I do know is this: I'm certainly glad I came upon it. Because not only is Shiki one of my favorite anime series of all time, but it's probably my favorite of all time when it comes to the horror genre.
The story for Shiki takes place in a Hinamizawa-esque village where everyone and their brother knows their neighbor and they know everything and anything going on around the village (for the most part) because, well, there's not really much else to do. However, this all changes when a mysterious family called the Kirishikis move into the massive house overlooking the village without much warning. For the first half of the series, I will be honest, I trudged through it like an average Joe trying to get his taxes done so the IRS doesn't audit him. That being that the first half of the series has a VERY slow pace. You could find faster pacing with a quadriplegic trying to finish a 5K marathon than the first half of the series. However, I will say this: when the second half of the series DOES come, it's like getting hit with a train. It will also bring light to a question that I and many other viewers have asked about the plot of this series: who exactly are the monsters in this series? Also, a little thing I'd like to tack onto the review here before I move onto the next section: the OVAs in the later half of the series are not necessary, but I would highly recommend them as they help you get more emotionally invested in some of the characters if you didn't.
The characters, for the most part, aren't really memorable. I mean, they aren't bad per-say, just that none of them are really worthy of mention. In my opinion, the reason for this is because, for the first half of the series, the story is told from the perspective of three individuals: a group of teenagers trying to live a normal life, a doctor who is trying to figure out the meaning behind the mysterious deaths, and the young priest who has contact with the Kirishikis throughout the first half. And because of this, the focus keeps shifting from one individual to another, not give enough time to get 100% invested in one particular character. So really, the characters don't necessarily get a pass, nor do they get a fail.
Like the first half of the series, the artwork may be a slight bit of a turnoff for the viewer. I myself was a fair bit disinterested in some of the art for the series, specifically the hairstyles and colors for the grand majority of the characters being as bizarre as can be. It's certainly not the more bizarre I've seen in an anime production, but it's up there. I will, however, give positive mention to some of the facial expressions made by the characters during the more dramatic moments of the series and the detail made towards the eyes of the characters. But aside from that, I quite liked the artwork. In some cases, I feel like the animators wanted to leave some scenes to the imaginations of the viewer, something that I think they did much better as compared to series like Higurashi and Corpse Party.
The soundtrack for the series wasn't something that would be eligible for a Grammy or Oscar award, but I did feel that the music for the series was pretty well composed, especially during scenes in which multiple chills ran up your spine.
As for the voice acting, I decided to watch the dubbed audio for Shiki because...well, I had the option. Being from Funimation, I wasn't surprised at all by the level of quality in the dubbing of the series. Out of all the voice actors, I would probably give the biggest mention to Jerry Jewel for his portrayal of the main character of the series and Cherami Leigh for the portrayal of Sunako. So, if you are a fan of dubs, by all means, give it a watch. It'll be worth your time.
As I said near the beginning of this review, the biggest pullback of this series would be the pacing of the first half. And normally I wouldn't recommend you to watch something like this and to invest so much time just to get to the "better" half, but I'll make an exception this time. In my opinion, Shiki was certainly worth trudging through and I hope that you will feel the same way.