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"Death brings not salvation, only evanescent." - Mikawa Kirameki
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'.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.