There are some things that can only be said after death. Aided by a talking staff that thinks it is alive, Fumika delivers Shigofumi, the last words and feelings of the dead in the form of letters, to their addressees. Whether they are letters of apology, revenge, or simply a final farewell, she always brings them to their destination. Delivering Shigofumi is not always an easy job; as some people refuse to believe such things as letters from the dead are possible, while others are afraid of what these letters might contain. But the mail must go through; what the recipients decide to do with it afterwards is up to them.
Shigofumi is strange. It mixes an interesting premise, very dark themes and mental disorders with a touch of goofy humor. It's episodic and yet has a coherent, overarching plot that gets developed in every episode. It shouldn't work, but it really does. Weird stuff happens, a lot of it. But it still works somehow. The format of the show is a quiet tough girl delivering letters from the dead to somebody in the living world. Sometimes it focuses on the situations created from the letter, or the events that caused the letter to be sent. Most of them are very dark, at least slightly disturbing, and yet have some form of emotional closure. They usually explore the more hidden side of a person's psyche and the actions that made it that way. Now in many animes this would be enough. The main character would continue being awesome and always delivering the mail through any obstacle, commenting on life in the process. But Shigofumi decides to instead focus on developing Mika as a character. The overarching plot is great, if weird. The twists are a little predictable, but this is not meant to be a thriller anyways. The animation is very good, if not fantastic. Nothing's out-of-place or awkward. Character designs are pretty good, they relay the character traits visually very well. There's a variety of settings and lighting conditions and they all look great. The soundtrack for the most part is very understated and out-of-the-way. It doesn't call attention to itself at all, which is just fine for this kind of show. One particular track in the last episode I loved though. It was perfect for the scene and was a fine piece of music in its own right.This is at once a character-driven show and a situational show. The main plot is character-driven, but is developed through the framework of these various vignettes until breaking out into the open. The main characters are perfect. It's hard to talk about why without spoiling, but one character with a certain disorder is portrayed in just the right balance. She's messed up, but not crazy. Her head makes sense, it's just twisted in some ways. The staffs are kind of annoying, but they don't really have much role except to lighten the mood. The two friends work out pretty well, though. They've got some good lines.That's probably what impressed me the most about Shigofumi, actually. The writing is flawless. The script really is just that good, and that's why everything works. This show impressed me a lot. It's intelligently dark without being overwhelmingly depressing, and highlights a very attractive mental journey, which is what I really look for in a story.
Let me just say that I have never been this disappointed in an anime, after an absolutely brilliant first two episodes this anime goes downhill to the point where it becomes unwatchable.I have a hard time believing whoever wrote the script for the first two beautiful and unbelievably tragic first two episodes was involved in any of the remaining. They were so sad I almost cried and managed to perfectly set the story up and introduce Fumi and Kanaka.The problem basically is that Fumi's backstory is stupid and sounds like something from a cheap romance novel, and when the anime becomes about Fumi it becomes stupid as well. The script writers then make it worse by simply not being able to put a situation together without making it look implausible, one amazing coincidence happens after another, until the characters apparently become incapable of going somewhere without running into oneanother. It got so bad, that when one episode had a game designer meet a little girl who played a computer game, I thought to myself 'I won't be getting extra points for predicting he created that'. I don't know if the series creators were trying to mimic Tokyo Godfathers. But it simply does not work.When it comes to characters, all the points are for the two main characters of the first two episodes. I give zero for Fumi and Kanaka who are obviously a blatant copy of Kino and Hermes from Kino's Journey. Her colleagues Chiaki and Matoma are just the former two in reverse, the rest of the cast are bland and the villains are caricatures rather than real people.
--Additional information-- Shigofumi: Letters from the Departed, Shigofumi: Stories of Last Letter, or simply Shigofumi is a Japanese anime television series, which was created by Tomorou Yuzawa and produced by Bandai Visual and Genco. It aired in Japan on Chiba TV and other networks between January 6 and March 22, 2008 and contains twelve episodes. An original video animation episode was included with the final anime DVD volume released on September 26, 2008. A light novel series was originally adapted from the anime's premise set by Tomorou Yuzawa, featuring story composition and illustrations by Ryou Amamiya and Poko, respectively. Four novels were published by MediaWorks under their Dengeki Bunko imprint between October 2006 and March 2008. Despite the novels being produced first, the anime is considered the original work, as stated by Yuzawa. The anime has been acquired by Bandai Visual for English language localization. The title Shigofumi comes from the combination of the Japanese words for ‘after death’ (shigo), and ‘letter’ (fumi), which literally translates to an ‘after death letter’. --Synopsis-- Shigofumi are letters from the dead. Those who are dead and still have unfinished business can send an after death letter; yet, not any dead person is allowed to do so. These letters are delivered by the supernatural mail carriers, who once, just like their recipients, were humans. They now do not age and cannot be killed. Fumika, the main heroine of the series, is, perhaps, the most competent mail carrier, and sometimes it seems like nothing can disturb her work, even a troublesome recipient. However, unlike her colleagues, Fumika, for some reason, continues to age. Moreover, on one of the Fumika’s delivery missions, she meets a high school student, who knows her. It appears that in addition to the fact that Fumika is now an entity no human can comprehend, she has many mysteries behind her persona that are, little by little, discovered by Fumika and her closest friends. --Story-line-- Shigofumi is an anime that every person will see differently. It does have quite a normal start that will probably make you think that it is just your usual slice of life. However, after some time, the most interesting part begins, and you realize that everything is not that easy as it might seem. The series shows you that it is not a moe SoL with female mail carriers, it shows you that Shigofumi is actually a very dramatic story that also has many mysterious elements. The story of Shigofumi touches upon many different topics, including: bullying, teen suicide, child abuse, mental illnesses, and different ugly parts of our society. Of course, the dark side of Shigofumi is not the best thing about it. Although, I have to say that the series is not trying to be dark all the time: sometimes it tries to show that there is still hope, proving that there are still good people. That being said, the story is so disturbing that some people might not appreciate it. On top of that, there are also some logical mistakes in it. By the way, it is also worth mentioning that the story does not just immediately give you all the answers you are looking for. In most cases, you will have to build your own theories to better understand what Shigofumi truly is. If it is not that big of a deal, Shigofumi is worth it. As it has been stated before, this series shows a very realistic picture that depicts how flawed our society is. Its story-line does look like a mix of Kino’s Journey and Hell Girl, but it still is something you will never see in other anime. Think for a second, if someone truly has a pure soul and some unfinished business, that person can write a letter to their relatives to ease their sufferings. This idea has never been touched upon in any other anime series before. This fact might help you appreciate the story-line. --Art-- The animation for Shigofumi is fine. Character and background designs are pretty good, but nothing amazing. Definitely not the best animation I have seen, but it was okay. --Music/Voice acting-- Not only the music, but also voice acting in Shigofumi are simply breathtaking. The OST was composed by Masumi Itou, who is also known as Nanase Hikaru. Masumi Itou is a Japanese singer and composer from Ibaraki prefecture in Japan. She has composed the soundtracks to many anime television shows and is part of the bands ‘Oranges & Lemons’ and ‘Heart of Air.’ Thanks to her, Shigofumi is sometimes really dark and disturbing. In addition to this, Ali Project and Snow also made amazing OP and ED themes for this anime. --Characters-- There is only one character that matters, Fumika. Everybody else in this series is supporting cast, or only relevant in his/her episode. As it has been mentioned before, Fumika is a mail carrier that delivers shigofumi. All of the mail carriers are dead and no longer age. However, Fumika, for some reason, continues to age. This is all the viewer knows. As for the supporting cast, that is the main problem of this series. Although, it is not horrible, some supporting characters are just not as interesting as the others. Also, another thing, which might annoy you, is magic staffs. All mail carriers have mahou-shoujo-like magic staffs that are annoying as hell and are the only companions mail carriers have. To be perfectly honest with you, they should not have used these magic staffs in the series. But, well, I guess Japan is weird, so it is okay. --Enjoyment/criticism-- Shigofumi is a very enjoyable show. The only two flaws this anime has are: insufficient character development and the fact that this anime should not have used these magic staffs. But, at the same time, these flaws are too trivial to criticize Shigofumi for. Shigofumi could have become a masterpiece with a better character development and without these magic staffs. --Overall-- Shigofumi is definitely a show that needs more appreciation. While it is not flawless, it has many unique elements no anime has ever used before. It also features a lot of strong writing and shows the viewer the ugly part of our society, hinting that there are still good individuals, who are the only reason our society still exists. --Grade-- Overall (sub): 8 Story: 9 Animation: 7 Art: 8 Music: 10 Voice acting: 9 Enjoyment: 9
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