Don't let the moe looking character design of Fumika and the energetic talking staff fool you in thinking this will be a light-hearted title. Shigofumi features a grim look into a number of touchy social issues faced by characters that Fumika delivers letters from the dead to and explores some tragic developments concerning Fumika's own past. This is a series that isn't afraid to explore the more harsher side of human society concerning the characters we encounter as subjects such as bullying, suicide, child abuse and pressures with conformity are delved into. The characters we are witness to are fleshed out enough where we have enough sense of their suffering and what led them to the predicaments they face. For the most part, the morality that the series tackles is grey meaning there are reasons for what drives the developments faced by the characters. Even with its touchy matters, the series still has its heartwarming stories that Fumika becomes involved with such as delivering letters to a cat and straightening out personal matters involving a talented high school tennis player.
The one defining element to this series which keeps it from totally being an episodic focus like Mushishi and Kino's Journey is the ongoing developments concerning Fumika. The series drops hints at first concerning Fumika's past and her unique existence as a mail carrier of Shigofumi. Yet as the series presses on, it does eventually explore the girl's past. Like many of the dark stories Shigofumi tackles, Fumika's past isn't a nice one and much of the show's second half is spent on her coming to terms with her own identity and dark past.
The story development is not without its faults. It does portray some characters as being shallowly evil such as some bullies in one episode and the lack of exploration on many aspects of being a Shigofumi carrier makes the entire concept feel like a plot device just to explore its various character stories.
Visually, the series looks solid for a 2008 title with vivid scenery and a good amount of visual detail given to characters and scenery designs. While I didn't notice any shortcomings with animation, there was nothing notable about it either. Aurally, the show's soundtrack consists of soft musical tracks that do well at complementing the various dramatic developments we see of the characters and the ED choice is a calm and gentle musical piece that does well at easing the mood from some of the depressing outcomes that Shigofumi often whips out with its characters.
While having its snags, Shigofumi made for a solid and sometimes emotionally powerful anime drama that wasn't afraid to tackle touchy social issues and delivered well-developed characters connected to the issues the series tackled. It also averts from the episodic storyline setup you would usually expect from similar titles of its vain by focusing on ongoing developments concerning Fumika's character. This is a worthwhile title to look into if you are a sap for anime dramas.
Last updated Saturday, June 25 2011. Created Saturday, June 25 2011.
I've always been a fan of the "life-after-death" types of stories. This one caught my interest because of that. Although it wasn't what I expected, it turned out exceptionally good and really enjoyable.
Art, Animation & Character Designs
Artwork really shines here. Some of the backgrounds were almost breathtaking. Great lighting effects, blend of colors and depth of field. Excellent. Background colors were vibrant and details were really high. Character designs were equally as impressive with plenty of details and well rounded in all aspects. The girls were all kawaii as well.
The OP was definitely a stray from the norm. No pop piece here nor any cuteness. Still, not sure if I liked it. The soundtrack for the most part was on the quiet side. It had some nice soft pianos, some violin and other string instruments. At times, it would have an interesting piece that almost sounded eerie but at the same time, had an un-worldly feel to it. I'm not sure how to explain it, so i'll just stop here on that. The ED was a soft piece with nice female vocals. It was enjoyable.
Series and Episode Story
The concept of delivering letters for the departed was interesting. Especially after watching the first episode through and seeing the crazy (or not so crazy) "Ayase" brutally kill her would-be boyfriend, got me giggling with delight. I mean, not because of the brutal killing, but because how it turned out... which went from sunshine and happiness to a sudden knife-wielding killer in an instant. Nice!
The story telling in this series is good. What made it good was it's several plot arcs that cross paths... although not all. For example, the first two episodes were basically stand-alone and darn good at that. And in the others, although our main characters in those plot arcs are self-contained, it's the protagonist (Fumika), who transcends the various plot arcs. The story telling is just top-notch and believable. You'd think that dealing with people dying, murders, and violent bullying, it would be morbid or akin to a horror flick. Quite the contrary. It was more "placid", and I dare say "serene"... especially with the piano pieces that play in the background.
Overall, this was an excellent series worth every minute. I held my interest from beginning to end. I'm not sure If I remember a single flaw in this one. Do watch.
Last updated Monday, December 06 2010. Created Monday, December 06 2010.
(Buy if you're rich, Rent if you're poor)
(All episodes watched):
I'm impressed by this show--the makers clearly knew what they were doing and managed to deliver a slick, intriguing program of professional quality. I'm not a big fan of supernatural stories, but this one seemed like it might be interesting without being particularly disturbing--and it had an "impossible" twist, which I generally enjoy. There's even a distinct touch of comedy, and they are good jokes, too. For most of the first episode I remained uncertain whether this was above or below average. Would this be episodic, I wondered, with each episode involving a new cast of humans and a new message being delivered by Fumika and Mayama? The way it ended, however, almost made my heart skip a beat. I really hoped it wasn't episodic, because this first tale would not exactly be having a happy ending. In fact, the first plot arc ended after a two-parter story, which just felt right. Shigofumi (letters) arrived more than once, and were cleverly interspersed with the normal world goings on. I was surprised how quickly and skillfully my attitude towards a certain character was turned 180 degrees (from hatred to sympathy) early in episode two. Something which I should have expected, but made me giggle with delight anyhow, was that just because a character has gotten killed doesn't mean that he or she is entirely out of the story! The end result was a tale that was tragic but not depressing, or, as I put it to myself, "pretty damn good"! It's gotten to the point where just the first scene and the OP sequence leave me grinning and completely confident that I'm in for something good. Perhaps this comment will explain why Shigofumi is so reliably outstanding:
"Shigofumi: Letters from the Departed comes from a dream team of highly acclaimed anime creators including Tatsuo Sato (Stellvia, Nadesico), Ichirou Ohkouchi (Code Geass, Planetes) and Kouhaku Kuroboshi (Kino's Journey)"
(Anime News Network)
As you might imagine, storylines tend to be grim, what with numerous people dying and all. Episodes often seem to go very quickly, as if they were only 15 rather than 23 minutes long, which is generally a good sign that a show is holding my interest well. Indeed, the fact that this show firmly holds my interest is the best thing about it; it's both fascinating and intriguing. In fact, I considered Shigofumi to be the single Winter 2008 series which I most looked forward to watching. One more thing--you do not want to screw with Fumika, believe me, since she takes her job very seriously. What was amusing was that although she possesses certain supernatural powers, in episode two she used a very conventional technique to "persuade" someone.
In addition to the short term stories about people recieving messages there is in fact a long term plot about Fumika herself. I was a bit confused by the split personality deal near the end but everything worked out nicely. This was a neat little show in a class by itself--touching, funny, tragic, and intriguing too. I think possibly the first two-parter story, and the one about the man with terminal cancer were my favorites.
My favorite line: "You've got mail!" --Mayama
P.S: The OP song reminds me of something from Rozen Maiden.
P.P.S: This series has already been R1 licensed by Bandai--I guess they read my review!
P.P.P.S: Catch Fumika's montage at the Cute Girls with Guns page!
Last updated Tuesday, October 19 2010. Created Thursday, January 17 2008.
|Japanese Series Web Site
|English - Wikipedia entry