Posted on 27 September 2008 with categories: Shigofumi ~ Stories of the Last Letter



Short Synopsis: Fumi still gets bullied, which catches the attention of one of her classmates.
Highlights: Good to see more of this series.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
Okay, so I’m not sure whether this is THE Shigofumi-OVA, or just a regular DVD-special, but more Shigofumi is always welcome, since the original series was just too damn short. This episode basically tries to involve all of the main characters, and focuses more on fleshing them out, rather than it just being another random case.

The main bullies were a bit stereotypical, but I liked the idea of trying to fake the Shigofumi. Especially that red envelope was a nice touch. This episode also shed some light on where the name Shigofumi came from: it’s another play with numbers: 4(shi)5(go)2(fu)3(mi). I also don’t think that the final two numbers are randomly chosen, as they also spell out Fumi’s name. The first number also makes sense, since “Shi” can also mean “death”. That only leaves the five, of which I’m not sure what that points at.

Overall, while it wasn’t the best episode and a bit unfocused, I’m glad to see a bit more about this series, and especially to listen to this series’ awesome soundtrack again. It’s ironic: this series has a very haunting soundtrack, and yet it has to settle with such a mediocre ALI-Project OP.

Now, where are those Gunslinger Girl – Il Teatrino DVD-specials?

Posted 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.

Posted on with categories: Shigofumi ~ Stories of the Last Letter


And so Shigofumi has ended. Surprisingly, it didn’t go as I planned. Fumi didn’t turn into a psychotic killer at all, and she instead became surprisingly likable throughout the episode. It’s really sad that this series is so short, as it would have been able to do great things if it was allowed twelve more episodes. Shigofumi really has its own style, and I believe that it wouldn’t run out of inspiration with two seasons. Ah well, in exchange for its short length, it turned into a short but sweet series.

Basically, Mika went back into Fumi for a while and temporarily disappeared, so that Fumi would be able to lead her own life. Fumi, however, had a lot of trouble in her own life, and just wasn’t suited to be transferred to school so quickly. Everyone took pictures of her, she became paranoid, her own mother didn’t want to have her anymore. In the end, when she runs to Mikawa Kirameki’s house, Mika finally appears again, and smacks her for running away every time. While it wasn’t the best ending, it was great to see the “internal” struggle between Fumi and Mika. In the climax, it finally turned out that both of them had their own needs, but were holding back because of the other. Nice. I like it.

But why? For GOD’S SAKE WHY!? Who the heck found it a good idea to suddenly make Natsuko fall in love with Kaname? It comes from nowhere, serves absolutely no purpose, is very badly developed, and turned her entirely character into a joke. I suppose that the writers wanted to add a bit more extra tension, but that rather backfired on them, just like every umpth series that attempts such a freaking twist!

Ah, now that that’s out, I do hope that more series like Shigofumi appear. Series that create their own style, and don’t try to be like others. This really has been a series with its own identity, and even though the plot was a bit boggled up at times, I had a blast watching it.

Posted on 15 March 2008 with categories: Shigofumi ~ Stories of the Last Letter


Ah, of course. Shigofumi wouldn’t be Shigofumi without a deliciously over-the-top finale. What else could you expect for a series with the subtlety of an African elephant? Thankfully, this was yet another terrific episode for this series. I must say that I really had my doubts when I found out that the guy behind Code Geass behind the series composition, but this really turned out to be the perfect series for this guy, especially when the series is directed by a very talented director. They really brought this series to life.

So, basically, in this episode Fumi wakes up. Because of this, Mika wants to kill herself to accept her punishment, so most of the episode shows attempts as the shy Fumi gets kept away from the reaches of Fumi. Obviously, this can’t last forever, and the two run into each other at one point. Fumi then goes through an entire personality-switch when she found out that Mika shot the father she loved so much, and shoots Mika.

Obviously, because of one of the big rules of anime (a character is only dead when confirmed dead, and this isn’t the kind of series to try and diverge from this cliché :P), but still, Fumi is turning into an actual villain! The best thing is that she doesn’t even realize how much everyone has worried about her. And what was her plan at the end of the episode? To actually kill her father for real? And the blonde woman… could she be Fumika’s mother?

That twist with the dog was also nicely found, and it shows that already back then Fumi was more than just the shy and scared girl that Mika came to know. That look on her face when she chased away that dog explains a lot. And interestingly enough, it was that look that caused Kaname to develop his crush on her.

Posted on 10 March 2008 with categories: Shigofumi ~ Stories of the Last Letter


This episode featured a regular case again, and boy, was it a great one! Basically, a guy hears from his doctor that he only has a very limited time left to live, and he ends up spending time with a naive little girl. The creators did a wonderful job of bringing the guy and his anxieties to live. After all, it’s easy to think of what you would do if you only had a limited time to live, but what if this fantasy turns out to be a reality?

This episode still featured the standard Shigofumi-subtlety (that random truck, coming from out of nowhere). Little kids also usually turn very whiny during the evening, at the end of a day out, so where the little girl in this episode got her energy from is beyond me. Still, these details didn’t stop this episode from being a success. It lays an interesting parallel to the desire to fit into society. Look at how the policeman got surprised when he found out that the main character for this episode had no job (which he quit, because it had no point at all).

One thing that the creators did nail perfectly about little girls is their ignorance of death. At such a young age, it’s perfectly understandable that you don’t get why all the adults are getting so worked up about somebody dying. When the main character for this episode died, she didn’t even cry. She just realized that she’d never be able to play with the guy again.

Posted on 2 March 2008 with categories: Shigofumi ~ Stories of the Last Letter


Well… that wasn’t one of the most exciting episodes…

This could be just me, but whenever the major crew of an anime heads off to another resort or hotel, it just feels horribly bland and uninspired. Especially since EVERY SINGLE ONE of these episodes has to have some kind of hot-spring sequence. It’s not necessarily the fanservice that gets me, but the fact that every single episode looks like each other. It feels just like the creators were in a “well, we need one more episode to fill but we’ve run out of ideas so let’s just send the cast off to a resort so that they can enter hot springs”-mood. Such an episode SO doesn’t belong in this series, especially after I praised it for feeling so refreshing!

So, basically this episode was meant to give Chiaki a bit of development, but I feel that it would have been better if it didn’t spend half of its time on pointless chatter. We’ve enough other series for that! It turns out that she too was a normal human, fifty years ago. She was in love with a guy who was about a decade older than she was, and just as the two were about to propose, they got in a car-crash and Chiaki died. Now, fifty years later the guy also finally passed on, and used the Shigofumi to talk to Chiaki one final time. It turns out that she’s always been on his mind.

Posted on 24 February 2008 with categories: Shigofumi ~ Stories of the Last Letter


Haha, this was the best episode of Shigofumi yet. The creators did an excellent job for the episode on Fumika’s past. It was really over-the-top, but at the end you can really understand why Fumika shot her father. I’m glad to see that Shigofumi has found its own style, and kept with it, and it’s a great example of combining calm storytelling with extreme themes.

So, we already knew that Fumika’s father was insane, but there’s more to this story than just that. Her mother immediately divorced the guy as soon as she gave birth to Fumika, and now she’s remarried to another guy and lives in another country. Ever since then, she spent her childhood just with her father. In the beginning, he was really nice to her, though at one point, he started drawing on her, just like what he did in the last episode, but much more extreme. It was his way of getting inspiration for his books, but he was never content with it, and released all his anger about this on Fumika.

It was at this point where Fumika started developing an alternative personality: Mika, while she herself became Fumi. By talking to herself, she found peace between the horrible tortures of her father, and this continued until Fumika went to middle school, and she finally met other people, including Kaname and Kasumi. Meanwhile, though, the abuse continued, and at one point, it was Mika who couldn’t take it anymore to see Fumi being abused like that, and shot her father.

What’s interesting is how Fumi continued to love her father, no matter what he did to her. After her father was shot, I believe that the shock of seeing her father shot caused her to go into coma, and ever since, Mika became unable to contact her.

The question will now be: what do the creators have in mind for the final third of this series? There are four episodes left, and Fumika’s back-story seems to be resolved now. If I had to guess, then the final episode ends with Fumi, waking up again, though I’m interested to see how the creators are planning to do this.

Posted on 16 February 2008 with categories: Shigofumi ~ Stories of the Last Letter


This episode goes back to Fumikas background, as we get to know her father a bit more. Kaname’s meets up with his old school-friend, whose sister seems to be an admirer of Fumika’s father, who turns out to be a famous novelist (his name is Kirameki Mikawa, by the way). The sister also works for a newspaper-company, and coincidentally at the same day where Kaname pays a visit, she got an assignment to interview Mikawa. Coincidentally, at the same day Fumika also gets another Shigofumi from one of his obsessed fans who committed suicide because of one of his books. Yes, this was a tad too coincidental…

Thankfully, the rest of the storytelling more than made up for this. Mikawa is really messed up in the head, which is probably also why his books sell so much. He lives in a really eccentric house, full of glass, and because of the themes he uses in his books, people commit suicide. Apparently, this seems to happen more often, because he seems to have turned burning the Shigofumi he receives as some kind of weird ritual, and I can imagine how you can go crazy because of this as a daughter. I guess then at one point, he did something unforgivable to her, so she shot him. I’m not exactly sure why she ended up in a coma afterwards, but I suspect that the future episodes will shed light on this.

Interestingly enough, because apparently the guy didn’t die when Fumika shot him, Fumika plans to shoot the guy yet again. However, thanks to some meddling by Kaname she loses her gun, Mikawa picks it up, and mercilessly shoots his daughter instead. Now, I really wonder what will happen. She obviously won’t die completely, otherwise we’d have a bunch of very boring final episodes, but the matter isn’t so simple that she’ll either die or keep living. Her Shigofumi-form may be immortal, and just come back to live as long as her body in coma remains alive. It could also cause her coma-body to wake up again.

Those were some pretty interesting camera-angles, by the way. Especially when Mikawa was in the picture, the entire frame became more and more distorted, probably symbolizing his own twisted personality. What would be interesting is an episode, dedicated to the guy’s past. How did he become the famous writer anyway, and how did he find a woman, crazy enough to marry him and have a child? One thing I like about Shigofumi is that although it reminds me of a bunch of other series, it really managed to set itself apart from all the other series with its type of storytelling.

Posted on 9 February 2008 with categories: Shigofumi ~ Stories of the Last Letter


This week, Shigofumi is about a rather extreme case of bullying. The bullies are ruthless in every single way, but this episode is told from a rather interesting viewpoint: from a guy who happens to be in the same class as the bullies, but in the beginning has nothing to do with them. He never takes any action, and finds the bullied guy rather pathetic (which in a way is true. The guy has really gone crazy under the pressure). Then, when the bullied guy asks for his help, he declines, and instead betrays the guy to the bullies (did anyone else think of Kaiji when that beam appeared?). After that, the bullied commits suicide, and the bullies find themselves a new victim in the main character, who now understand how hard it is to be bullied.

Well, I think that it’s clear now that Shigofumi lacks any form of subtlety. It knows how to build up, but it’s interesting how it never tries to go too deep, and instead presents its story quite straightforward. It’s interesting how basically the entire episode says “thou shalt not bully”, and how the symbolism with the puppies was quite straightforward. It kind-of matches Fumika’s approach when she delivers the Shigofumi as well: all that matters is to deliver the Shigofumi, and everything that’s in the way doesn’t matter. I usually like series with a bit more subtlety, but a series with a subtlety like this one also is nice once in a while.

There’s one thing I couldn’t understand about this episode, though. At the end of this episode, we see how the main character stabs one of the bullies with a screwdriver (quite an interesting method to get rid of them), which he posts on a local bbs, it seems. We then switch to a completely unrelated girl, who reads the bbs as well, and seems to get bullied too. She then makes a phone-call to an unknown person and the episode ends. What was that about? Did we meet that girl before? Or was that just an introduction to the next episode? I’m going to assume that it’s the latter.

Posted on 2 February 2008 with categories: Shigofumi ~ Stories of the Last Letter


Yep, this episode yet again showed that this series has the same scriptwriter as Code-Geass. This episode had quite a few small unexplained coincidences that plagued Code Geass, up to the extreme. Thankfully, Shigofumi promises to be ten times better than the former somehow. I think it’s because that this is the only flaw that this series really has, whereas Code Geass was plagued by emo-fests and the horrible nationalistic messages that it tried to shove down the viewer’s throats, among others.

This episode was really mentioned to flesh out Fumiko, and the person receiving the Shigofumi (a cat) took a step back. It worked out really well, in my opinion. We also learn a bit more about Fumiko, before she became the deliverer of the Shigofumi. It seems that she, after killing her father, went into a coma. And now, she’s stuck, delivering the Shigofumi while her real body remains unconscious for years. Her old classmate that we saw in episode three turns out to have confessed to her, though Fumika declined.

It was also quite amusing to see that she hated cats. In that way, she does form a pretty good combination with Chiaki, as it’s clear that both of them try to annoy each other as much as possible. I really liked how this episode gave a new dimension to Fumiko, and how she’s not just that cold girl who delivers letters.

Regarding the case of this episode, it was pretty cute for a old man and woman to try and give their last message to a cat in the form of a key to their old apartment. I like the creativity, and it shows how the original writers were really trying to explore the borders around the Shigofumi. That’s what I like about these case-based series so much. :)

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