Thursday, August 20, 2009

Review | Anime | Shigofumi

SHIGOFUMI : Fumika and her talking staff Kanaka work shifts in Japan delivering
Shigofumis, posthumous letters from the dead, to loved ones left behind.
However, there is mystery behind Fumika: Unlike other Shigofumi mail carriers,
she ages with time, meaning that even though she is not living, she is
not dead either. Who exactly is Fumika?

Shigofumi is one of those animes I stumble upon completely accidentally while exploring the darkest corners of MyAnimeList, and is also one of those that I'm not really sure how to review exactly, so I'll do my best. While it was not a bad anime, it was actually quite good, I'm not really writhing on the floor from its illumination either.

We begin the story with a simple idea: A mail carrier from a different world delivers letters from those who have died as last words to those who are still living. It could be perhaps a thank-you for being a kind person, or a curse for being a terrible person. Delivering these letters will be a girl in a mail carrier's uniform - in our case, Fumika - that plays no part except to deliver the letters. Whether the letter is read, thrown away, or forgotten, is not the mail carrier's decision or concern. So how will humans react from a letter out of nowhere written by a dead loved one or acquaintance? Sounds like an interesting story up ahead.

Then again, there are only 12 episodes and an OVA. It takes a talented writer to fit a storyline, character profiles, and proper pace into 12-13 episodes. In the end, we're a little bit starved of Shigofumi deliveries, as we find out once we begin the show that the show isn't centered around the delivery of the Shigofumis at all; Actually, the Shigofumis are a bit of a side note. The actual center of the story is the mystery of Fumika and how she is able to age as time passes, despite Shigofumi mail carriers being dead. So for 12 episodes and an OVA, we're just following Fumika's life and job, rather than watching a show about Shigofumis. The actual Shigofumis are the stars of the show only for the first few episodes, before Kaname Nojima, a random high school student, suddenly recognizes Fumika from her old life. After that, it's entirely Fumika's playing ground, and the show title technically goes from being "Shigofumi" to "Fumika And Why She Exists".

Despite the composition being rather poor in that context, the show itself was very good. The show's theme song has a very steampunk aura to it, which on its own is fun and jumpy to listen to. The anime, however, has a dark and deathly feeling to it, so don't let them theme song fool you.

I don't think children would enjoy this show very much simply because of how complex and foggy it can be at times, but I'd definitely look into it first. Sihgofumis are messages from the dead, and the dead certainly don't cease to appear. Several characters, mostly high school students, commit suicide (one is shown jumping from a roof) and one character is stabbed and buried; his assailant is later shown stabbing the ground, implying he is buried underneath and his killer is compressing the body. We learn that a man makes money by forcing his middle/high school daughter to pose nude for pornographers, in one scene we see this taking place; the girl is obviously insecure and frightened as she poses on a bed surrounded by photographers who viciously snap pictures of her (no private regions are ever shown). We later hear the father intends to force his elementary school daughter to pose as well, but he is stopped before he carries this out. There are several cases throughout the series of child abuse; in one case, a child is nude with only a sheet covering her as her father paints slander onto her body (he is directing anger towards his ex-wife for leaving him). The paintbrush the father uses is made entirely of glass, and it is implied that at some points during his fits of rage he painted too hard and the glass cut into her skin. A Shigofumi mail carrier taunts another mail carrier by calling her "flat", and the latter adds that she will someday have "a nice body" because she is able to age. We hear two cases where an abused child attacks their father, and in one of the cases, the father dies.

Overall, this is a pretty good anime as far as constant death and mystery, but if you just want to watch for the Shigofumis, you may be slightly disappointed. In the end, I recommend this anime only for the mystery, not for the Shigofumis.

Overall Rating:
/ 5


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