Posted by psgels on 22 March 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, Shigofumi ~ Stories of the Last Letter


Shigofumi is another episodic series that takes an in-depth look at death. At first, it may seem like some strange cross between Shinigami no Ballad and Jigoku Shoujo, but it quickly finds its own style and identity to work with. The earlier episodes mostly focus on random cases, where Fumika, our lead girl for this series, delivers the final memories of a person who just died to his loved ones, while the latter episodes focus on Fumika herself, and why she ended up delivering these letters in the first place.

Shigofumi’s strength is how it’s able to deliver a quiet and engaging atmosphere, with the subtlety of a herd of stampeding elephants. One moment, you’re enthralled by the versatile characters, the next you’re freaked out by some disturbing plot twist that came out of nowhere. The interesting thing is that this series knows fully well how to combine its quiet moments with its eventful ones.

Another strength about this series is the cast of characters. The writers make sure that all the characters are likable before they start playing with them. Especially Fumika turns into a well-rounded character for such a small series. Her development is started early, and not at the semi-final episodes, which seems to be a mistake that many series seem to make.

But yeah, I mentioned that this series has the subtlety of a herd of stampeding elephants. This is in both the good and the bad way. If things seem a bit too quiet, you can bet your hat that a candle will fall over and set a house on fire, just too spice things up a bit, and the entire series is filled with these kinds of plot-twists.

The individual stories basically range from one particularly far-fetched tale of bullying, to very subtle and insightful views on death, and especially the people who have been left by them. Shigofumi definitely has its flaws, but because of this it also has its own identify. You may try, and Jigoku Shoujo and Shinigami no Ballad indeed at first sight seem similar, but you won’t find any series that’s really captured the same essence as this one. If you want a series that’s short, sweet, and yet still packs a punch, then this one could be worth to check out.

2 Responses

  1. Solaris says:

    Sorry to bother futher with an “old” show like this.

    I was just curious about the “double” personality of Fumika and why was she a shigofumi deliverer thus not beng dead.
    So, basically Mika is an IkiryŁE a manifestation of the soul the living Fumika separately from her body cause of the illness.
    Well. You may argue that was clear from the very start, but that actually meets a kind of ghost in the traditional japanese folklore:
    Look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ikiry%C5%8D

  2. Anu says:

    I certainly liked the concept and exploration of death in Shigofumi but the plot seemed to go haywire in the later episodes, linking of events became difficult till it bordered on absurd.

    SPOILERS

    The abuse Fumika suffered at the hands of her father was slightly unconvincing to me, especially the part where it is revealed she had never seen people other than her father till she is of roughly middle school age. Its also a bit unconvincing that a girl with no proper basic education can suddenly jump into middle school! I wonder if the viewers are supposed to assume Kirameki did the basic tutoring for his daughter?

    END OF SPOILERS

    Flaws like these kept popping up and reduced the overall impact of the series for me. It was a decent watch, but not something that goes in my rec book!

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  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:35 PM)
    I think that just about all the manga serialized in ultra jump feel less seinen than those serialized in other seinen magazines.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:19 PM)
    There’s plenty of in battle explaining. I don’t think there’s been a battle without in battle explaining. You got the first time villain that ends up a good guy. You got powerups and levels of quinques. There’s a ton of shounen elements.
    Just because something has gore does not make it seinien. Deadman wonderland is Shounen and it has just as much gore and torture.
  • Raggers
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 02:52 PM)
    @Emma: ah, yes.
    @Aidan: How so? A variety of weapons and abilities does not turn something into a shounen battle manga.
    I’d need a lot more random in-battle explaining secret powers to your opponent, and a lot more mercy to not consider it seinen.
    Also, torture, balls and limbs being chopped off as a sick joke, slicing people in half without warning, breaking half their bones…
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 12:44 PM)
    I felt that the story became too shounen battle manga When at first it was portrayed as seinien. Especially with the quineqes and such.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 12:06 PM)
    @Raggers: His past with the old lady ghoul where he was castrated =<
  • Raggers
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:48 AM)
    @Emma: which moment is that?
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:26 AM)
    @Raggers : And in one moment, a rather disturbing development.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:24 AM)
    @Raggers: Actually, thinking it over you’ve got a point there, As I had said I’ve been marathoning re and come to think of it, it is more enjoyable to do so that way.
  • Raggers
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:24 AM)
    Oh, the priest? Yeah, definitely an awesome touch. Wonder how he feels about Amon’s death…
    Juuzou? I’d complain about Arima more, the guy is hax beyond belief. Juuzou was just a nutcase who was skilled with knives – and has pretty good development in the manga.
  • Raggers
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:21 AM)
    @Emma: I think the pacing thing isn’t a problem if read as a whole – that’s a bit like complaining about slow chapters in books if you read them week-by-week. For a story like Tokyo Ghoul week-by-week just isn’t a good way to read it, I don’t think.

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