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.
Shigofumi was a nice surprise. It's a dark anime whose protagonist is a girl - Fumika - who delivers shigofumi, letters sent from the world of the dead. What I liked the most was the atmosphere, it's dark and disturbing and tragic at times, but never cheap or vulgar. It isn't loud, but rather subdued and even solemn. I also appreciated how the story is told, it has an episodic nature related to the dead people who wrote the shigofumi and their receivers, but with an overarching plot centred on Fumika. The stand alone episodes are quite good, the overarching storyline maybe a little less so. You don't immediately get what it's about, I was puzzling about what was actually going on for quite a few episodes - I hate the idea of sounding snobbish, but I've seen so many anime that surprising me is starting to get a bit difficult. The storyline isn't that complex, it is in fact a quite simple anime, but the storytelling is very good. It starts off by focusing on the single shigofumi that Fumika the postal worker delivers, but as the episodes progress slowly we get to see more and more of Fumika herself. The stand alone episodes deal with topics such as suicide, bullying and harassment, and in some the storytelling is really accomplished along with some skillful character development. You would usually think that anime creators need a lot of episodes to build good characters and then develop them in meaningful ways - but that isn't necessarily so and Shigofumi is a good example of this. I found the episodes dealing with the bullying really moving and well done. But as I already said, more than the single episodes or the story about Fumika, I really found the overall atmosphere intriguing and to my liking. A subdued atmosphere through wich truths are not forcefully fed to the viewer, it's more subtle than that, but at the same time the images presented are very eloquent and stirring.
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