November 27, 2011

There are certain things that we can’t say face to face to someone when we are alive. I’m sure everyone has gone through this dilemma before. So we keep those words right in our hearts till the day we die sadly without letting our intended person ever know the truth. That’s why we have letters from the departed called Shigofumi. Derived from the word “shigo” (language/words of the dead) and “fumi” (writings/letters), Basically it isn’t an ordinary letter because one can only receive it after you somebody (the sender of the letter) passes away. The best and beautiful part of all Shigofumis is that they are truthful and honest of what the sender really wanted to say. So sometimes we may not understand why we need to take so long and only until death we could say things but I guess with Shigofumi around, the deceased will have a final chance to say what they want and the receiver will finally understand what was to be said.

However Shigofumis like any other letters and postcards don’t get mailed by themselves. They need a carrier to deliver them. Enter one of the mail carriers of the afterlife, Fumika and her talking staff, Kanaka. Her job is to deliver Shigofumis to receivers and her designated area is Kamome city in Japan. Think of her character as a cross between Shinigami No Ballad and Letter Bee. She does her job with utmost dedication without complaining or fail. Whether the receiver is in the midst of big trouble or has issues accepting them, it’s not her problem because all she has to do is to deliver the mail. She sends them. You take them. End of story. What you do with it is up to you. Sighs… If we only have such dedicated postmen in real life. But that’s beside the point. So while Fumika goes round delivering her Shigofumis, she’ll meet lots and different types of people as we slowly learn her tragic and shocking past. If you like your animes that deal with the depressing and dark side of human beings, then this show should be on your watch list. I read that this series is deemed an original anime. Meaning, it is not based on any manga. However oddly enough it was serialized as a light novel a couple of years before its release as a TV anime. Yes, the novel was adapted from the TV series. Odd. Just like the show. But interesting.

Episode 1
The series gets the ball rolling with the introduction of high school kid, Shouta Machiya. He is obsessed with making his experimental rocket and the only person who takes interest in it is Asuna Ayase, who is also the girl he secretly has a crush on. Asuna then receives a call that her father is dead. Murdered. Hey, people die every day, right? One day as Shouta goes to his experimental hideout, he meets Fumika and Kanaka. Who wouldn’t be surprised to see a talking staff? Fumika has a Shigofumi from Asuna’s dad but the addressee is Asuna’s lover. Plus, if you’re hearing some mumbo-jumbo on letters from the afterlife, would you believe it? Though Kanaka puts away the Shigofumi and thinks she has mistaken Shouta as Asuna’s lover, Shouta stops her. He wants her to hold on to that letter till he officially becomes Asuna’s boyfriend. He tries calling Asuna who is in the middle of packing up with her little sister Miku. He can’t bring himself to say it except that he wants her to come watch his rocket when it is finished. Obviously a longshot but if he can finish it within that period, it’ll be okay, right? Fumika waits patiently as Shouta finishes his rocket. So why the sudden belief in Shigofumi for this kid? Apparently nobody believed him about his rocket except for Asuna. Nobody but her believed in him that his rocket will take off one day. When Shouta returns to his room, he sees the Shigofumi lying on the floor and as the curious kid, he picks it up to read it. Fumika realizes that Shigofumi is missing and fears the worst. She rushes to Shouta who is seemingly upset. He cannot believe the Shigofumi is accusing Asuna as the culprit who killed her own dad! How could a docile girl like her be killing her own father? Hard to believe! Shigofumi was one think but Asuna the killer? No way, man. That night Shouta meets Asuna at the park bench. She mentions about dropping out from school to find work to support Miku. Shouta tells her his rocket has been completed and if it successfully takes off, he wants her to go out with him. Finally a confession, eh? But she says she can’t and that’s when Fumika appears. Shouta gets pissed at the sight of her and tells Fumika off for accusing Asuna. Then as he is about to take Asuna’s hand and go away, Asuna suddenly stabs him in the heart!! OMG!!! OMFG!!! So it’s F*CKING TRUE!!! See how her face turned into an evil killer? Scary! As Shouta lies dead in his own pool of blood, Asuna slowly walks towards Fumika and Kanaka. Though Kanaka is panicky and wanting to escape, Fumika is playing it cool and mentions how living humans tend to lie.

Episode 2
Fumika asks Asuna if Shouta is her boyfriend. Her reply is that she’s been with many guys. Fumika then disappears with Kanaka. Kanaka is curious about why Asuna killed her death and the dark side of human beings but Fumika notes that it is not their job to know that nor are they here to judge others. Yeah, just deliver the Shigofumis, that’s all. Everything else is not of their concern. Asuna is seen trying to dig a hole to bury Shouta’s body. Wait a minute. She’s not serious in digging with a knife, isn’t she? Yes, she is. Desperate. Amazingly, I think she manages to dig a hole big enough to dump his body inside. However, because of Shouta’s disappearance, the local inspector Tatsumi Nojima is hot on tracking the killer’s trail. While Asuna and Miku continue to live in an orphanage, Asuna’s flashback reveals why she killed her father. Let’s say he’s a despicable person who has no shame about letting her daughter getting photograph naked by lots of men for some porn activity in exchange for scraps of paper called money. She was alright with her dull, mundane and meaningless life till daddy decided to use Miku as well because he pretty got much a good deal out of it. That’s when she snapped and stabbed him. I know we all would say he deserved it, but hey, who are we to judge others? With the inspectors hot on her tracks, Asuna decides to run away and has an image change by cutting her hair short. Inside the train, Asuna is surprised to see Fumika. She has a Shigofumi from Shouta. But Asuna sees this as an opportunity to kill her. But Fumika is quick to use Kanaka to knock Asuna over. Then Fumika pulls out her gun and tells her about dying and regrets. It was enough to wake Asuna up and receive the Shigofumi. Upon reading it, she rushes out of the train and back to Shouta’s experimental shed. In the Shigofumi, even though Shouta was killed by her, he apologized instead for never realizing her feelings and felt he was a selfish person thinking nothing but his rocket. Asuna didn’t think so because when she first say his rocket lifted off in the sky, she felt the endless sky she had never seen before unlike the bed she was forced to do sleazy activities with. A boring colourless wall. And it wasn’t the rocket that she believed in, but rather their future (something symbolic if the rocket takes off). Asuna makes preparations for the rocket blast-off following carefully the instructions left behind in Shouta’s manual. When she starts the final countdown, Nojima confronts her. Then a canvas covers the rocket and threatens to ruin the lift off so she rushes straight to cut it away with her knife. However, Nojima’s panicky rookie partner sees this as a threat and shoots her! Now it’s Asuna’s turn to lie in her own pool of blood but she’s happy because the blast-off is a success. In the aftermath, Fumika delivers a Shigofumi (from Asuna) to Miku saying that it contains the most beautiful and purest feelings in the world.

Episode 3
Tooru Kotake has this weird thinking about death. Yeah, he is asking his friends Kaname and Senkawa what it would be like to jump in front of a train. Of course you die lah! They continue this discussion but each don’t seem to take this death thing seriously. I mean, who in their sane mind would think of dying. That night when Tooru is bored playing his video game, he receives call from Kaname that Senkawa is dead. You heard that right. D-E-A-D. He committed suicide by jumping off a building. Everyone is in shock over Senkawa’s death because he never looks stressed or worried and always carefree. The reporters start hounding the school for questions and their reputation is going to take a big hit if it goes out of hand. Tooru is even called to the teacher’s room to discuss what may actually have happened since they’ve hang out together often but he too doesn’t know. He starts wondering if they’re really friends because all they every do is just hang out with each other and not knowing much about the other. Then one day suddenly Senkawa’s father enters the classroom and takes everyone hostage as he barricades the classroom. He believes that his son committed suicide from bullying (as he told the media) though he just wants to know the reason for his son’s death. Police surround outside the school as Nojima comes rushing to the scene. Particularly, his son is one of the hostages: Kaname. The class is terrified when Senkawa’s dad starts questioning and so he shifts his attention to the guy who spends the most time with Senkawa: Tooru. He mentions about the death topic they discussed the other day so dad wants him to name to culprit responsible for Senkawa’s death but Tooru himself wants to know. Suddenly the door bursts open and coming in are Fumika and Kanaka. She hands a Shigofumi from Senkawa addressed to Tooru. Daddy becomes frantic because he wants to read his son’s letter but Fumika warns him as she points her silver revolver at him. So he requests Tooru to read it out loud. In the letter, Senkawa mentioned there was no reason at all for his death. He thought about Tooru’s words and wondered what would happened if he jumped (of course you die lah! But that’s what most of us would think). Though he had no reason to die, he had no particular reason to live either. So this was just taking a different path from the usual (what the hell is so different about the path like jumping off the tracks into the train’s path as thought? Naturally death only awaits, right? You’re no Superman, no?). Daddy thinks the letter is fake but Tooru insists it is true. Just then, the SWAT team throw a flash grenade inside. The blinding light paralyzes everyone as they take Senkawa’s dad into custody, still refuse to believe everything. Tooru knew it was from Senkawa because he was his friend and wonders if he could be his friend too. A little too late, aren’t we? While Fumika is about to leave on the rooftop, Kaname stops her. He recognizes that gun she pointed out. He knows her as Fumika Mikawa, the girl who shot her father. Must be something to do with a girl lying in a comatose state with a book written by Kirameki Mikawa.

Episode 4
Fumika does another Shigofumi deliver. A thick one. Wow. What could be in it? This time to popular tennis high school girl Ran Yahiro. However she isn’t willing to receive the Shigofumi even if it was from Naoko Kaitenshi. The disturbed look on Ran’s face indicates that she must have some trouble with this person. You see, Ran lives alone with her divorced dad and the reason why a popular girl like her has no boyfriend is that, well, she’s pretty close to the club captain, Nanae Yotsugi. So close that you can smell yuri each time they’re close together. Her tennis club members are to leave for a training camp in the woods. This means the delivery area is out of Fumika’s reach. But distance and location aren’t going to stop Fumika from doing her job. Yeah, tag along. Despite attempts to hand over the Shigofumi, Ran vehemently refuses. Then we meet any Shigofumi mail carrier, Chiaki and her talking staff, Tomato. Oops sorry. It’s Matoma. Easier to remember that vegetable name, eh? By the way, this is Chiaki’s delivery area and she’s taken a keen interest in Fumika because all Shigofumi couriers do not age and Fumika is the only exception. Ran is having so much on her mind so Nanae goes to talk to her. It is revealed that her mom, Naoko left with another man when she was young, the reason why she hated every inch of her. So when she found out that she was trick, she felt she deserved what she got. Ran finally accepts the Shigofumi when Fumika pays another nightly visit. However she throws it away. Is it okay? Well, once Fumika has done her job passing the letter, it’s up to the recipient to do whatever she wants. Aren’t you curious to know what’s written in it? That’s not their job scope. Simple. But her mind is still distracted with these thoughts so much so Ran sprained her ankle during the next morning’s training session. Nanae helps nurse her but admits that she was eavesdropping back then when she received her Shigofumi. She urges her to read the Shigofumi to put an end to this issue and promises to always be by her side. While everyone is away training, the dorm catches fire. I don’t know, was the sunlight that hot? By the time the teammates spot the fire, they rush to the scene. Ran isn’t going to be some damsel in distress as she limps her way out of the fiery inferno while clutching the Shigofumi in her hands. She manages to reach to safety outside and just as the Goddess of Luck is smiling down on them, a heavy downpour soon puts out the fire. Was it Fumika? No, she notes it wasn’t her doing. In the aftermath Ran read her Shigofumi and it seems Naoko apologizes for everything and is proud of all her achievements (she secretly went to watch her tennis matches – so the Shigofumi is filled with all her winning photos and everything). With that, she buries the hatchet with her late mom.

Episode 5
Kirameki is being interviewed. Being the pretty guy he is, he loves everything beautiful and when the interviewer has the cheek to ask for any solution to cure his ugliness, he tells him “Go and die”. WTF?! Fumika and Chiaki are chasing after the same cat, Schrodinger all over the place to deliver their Shigofumi. Seems its elderly owners passed away at the same time. Isn’t that coincidence or bliss? Because of that, our courier girls are having a hard time catching it. Harder for Fumika since she’s afraid of cats. Could this be the first job that she’ll falter? No way! So how to attract it? Buy catnip! But since they don’t have real money, Chiaki actually thinks of turning invisible and stealing it! Of course Fumika isn’t going to allow it. Then a couple of sleazy guys try to hit on them but they fire back calling them unsightly names. They should learn a lesson not trying to use violence to solve matters. The girls easily overpower them and while begging for mercy, they leave their wallets as repentance. Hey, now we can buy catnip. So as they cook the catnip at the park, they attracted every cat except the one they’re looking for. Chiaki gets cheeky and blows the smell of the catnip towards Fumika till she passes out. Meanwhile Kaname continues to research on Fumika and calls all his previous classmates who know her. This leads to Natsuka Kasai. From the looks of it she once had a crush on him. Still has, though. She wonders if he still likes Fumika though Kaname says that he was rejected. Kaname learns that Fumika is hospitalized. Fumika wakes up on Chiaki’s lap and their catnip plan failed. Suddenly they see Schrodinger so it’s back to the good ol’ chase but they both got into each other’s way each time they are closing in on the cat. Fumika chases the cat outside the hospital. She becomes shocked upon seeing the comatose girl, supposedly the real Fumika. She crashes into a tree and lands on Kaname, who happened to walk by to pay a visit to the real Fumika. Funny part is that Chiaki tries to cover his eyes so that he can’t so who landed on him. It gets worse when Schrodinger lands on her so she gives Kaname to worse chiropractic massage that will last his entire lifetime. Chiaki follows Schrodinger into a building in process of being demolished. She manages to catch the cat but can she make it out in time? Apparently Fumika did some ghost-scaring tactic by taking control of the demolition machine so the poor workers think the place is haunted! In the aftermath, they realize this building is where Schrodinger’s owners once lived. Inside the Shigofumi is a key to the room. So the cat travelled back 2 hours just to be back at a place called home? Well, that’s why it’s call a home, right? Yeah, they’re like family. Schrodinger makes itself at home. Chiaki asks Fumika about her family but she just says that they’ve already ended. Kaname sees the comatose Fumika and his dad is also there. He says she has been lying there for 3 years without ever waking up. This causes Kaname to wonder who that girl he met at the rooftop was.

Episode 6
Shunsuke Morishita surfs an online message board when he chances upon a guy who calls himself Half Dead because of the incessant bullying. This bullying thing must be becoming a trend since there is a bully victim in his class too. He is Kouichi Kikukawa and is always being the target of the 3 bullies in his class. It’s bad enough that nobody stands up for him, they also become ‘accomplices’ when the bullies tell them to do stuff like throw rubbish in his bag. Morishita then realizes that this Half Dead guy is Kikukawa because of the posts he made were strikingly similar to the one that just happened today. Then he bumps into Kikukawa outside while cleaning and his suspicions are confirmed when he responses to his online moniker. Kikukawa begs for help but Morishita doesn’t want to get involve. On his way back, the bullies think Morishita is Kikukawa’s friend and wonders if he’s willing to trade places. Though Morishita denies that they’re friends, they want him to prove it by helping them out. That night, Kikukawa gets a call from Morishita to meet at the school rooftop as part of his help. However it is a trap set up by the bullies so that they could play some sick game of making him cross an iron beam between the buildings. Luckily the death game didn’t go on since the security guard was patrolling so they have to call it off and pretend that they’re from the astronomy club. Morishita thinks this case is settled but the next day, the teacher informs that Kikukawa has committed suicide! Yeah, this school’s reputation is really at stake after another student suicide. The students are given a gag order. But unlike Senkawa’s case, nobody give a damn about Kikukawa. And because of his demise, Morishita becomes the next target of the bullies. Yeah, it’s a vicious cycle. Now does he understand what it feels like to be bullied? He becomes Half Dead 2. He endures all the bullying but it becomes no fun for the bullies. Then he finds himself in a deja vu situation because the bullies now want him to walk the iron beam. At this time, Fumika appears to overwhelm the bullies because her job comes first. The Shigofumi to Morishita is from Kikukawa. But the letter is full of hatred and telling him to go die. When the bullies regain their footing, Fumika is gone. Morishita starts to panic when the bullies continue their ganging up. He spots a screwdriver and stabs one of them. The rest flee while Morishita lets loose a crazy madman scream. Fumika and Kanaka note how he has become a criminal for a scumbag even if he did it in self-defence. As humans are social creatures, they die socially but lived like animals. In the aftermath, the bully didn’t die from the stab but remains in critical condition and Morishita is picked up for questioning.

Episode 7
Haruno Kasai is made to be Kirameki’s editor and she’s pretty happy since she’s a long time big fan of his. Yes, she is Natsuka’s elder sister and she teases the latter about a particular boy she likes. Meanwhile Chiaki notices Fumika troubled. That’s because her next Shigofumi is to Kirameki, the person she shot. Fumika stops by the hospital to visit the comatose girl and reveals to Kanaka that this is her other half. Split personality? Then how come? Kaname visits Natsuka to find out more about Fumika, though it’s not about confessing to her. Disappointed? What he wants to know is the reason Fumika shot her dad and why she is lying in hospital. Their conversation is interrupted when Haruno calls to request to scan and send a map to Kirameki’s place. Kaname thinks of going there too because it would be better if he asks Kirameki directly about his daughter. Unfortunately it’s going to take some time since they got lost deciphering the map. Haruno arrives at Kirameki’s odd glass house as the eccentric author starts welcoming and showing her around the place. He mentions how he likes beautiful things. Before Haruno could pass her manuscript, Kirameki gets obsessed with her wrist and starts writing on it! However he realizes that she isn’t the one. Then Haruno requests to see his workplace but he refuses to show it to her citing excuses that it is dirty. For a guy who likes beauty, having a dirty room seems pretty ironic, eh? Kirameki turns into a child as he takes Haruno’s hand and they go dancing in the sun shower. I hope confused Haruno can still keep her sanity at the end. After Haruno takes a shower and is given a dress to wear, Fumika shows up and delivers the Shigofumi, the shocking thing is how Kirameki tosses it away without a care after reading it. That letter seems to be from a fan who killed herself after she was taken in reading Kirameki’s works. Something about the world of death, how it’s devoid of anything thus making it clean. I guess crazy people could understand each other. If not why would she jump off from a building then? More shockingly, Kirameki decides to burn this ugly letter with his beautiful lighter. This upsets Fumika as she says he has not changed at all. For the first time, we see her emotions getting the better of her as she continues to chide him for being selfish and not thinking about everyone else, the reason why his wife left, his daughter or rather daughters left. But Kirameki continues his usual screwball character as he finally recognizes Fumika. She points her gun at him. She wants him to remember how she shot him. That time, Kaname and Natsuka finally found the place and barges in. Kaname restrains Fumika from pulling the trigger, causing her to drop the gun. Though she explains that she only intended to scare Kirameki, that crazy father picks up her gun and shoots her! Oh sh*t! Is shooting a family member part of their family tradition?

Episode 8
Kaname full of rage punches Kirameki. I wonder what he has to say about his bruised face now. They lock him up in a room filled with creepy stuffed dolls. The rest are worried that Fumika is dying but thankfully being a Shigofumi courier means you’re already dead, right? Yeah, the bullet expels itself out of her body. Like no damage done, eh? Fumika starts explaining her past. When she was born, her mom a famous actress, Kirei Aizawa divorced Kirameki immediately and left for overseas and has remarried since. He was left to raise her all alone though he did it with pride and like what fathers would do. He was kind and caring, the kind that would make Fumika the happiest and proudest daughter of her father. Then one day, daddy told her it was art time (probably after he saw her horrible rendition of her loving sketch of him). That’s when the nightmare began. Kirameki used Fumika’s pure skin and body as a paper draft to write gather his ideas! Freaking crazy! I don’t know what kind of brush he used but each time he uses the strokes, Fumika was very much in pain. It’s like he’s taking out his frustrations and betrayal of her because he saw visions of Kirei in Fumika. He hated her so much and told her to disappear that this trauma caused Fumika to split into her other personality. So to avoid confusion, we’ll refer to the original shy one as Fumi (also the one in hospital) and her alter ego as Mika (the now Shigofumi courier as we know). They were each other’s friends and only friend since Fumika was never allowed outside the house till junior high. So meeting a crowd of people was a scary affair. So when Kaname confessed to Fumika then, it wasn’t that she hated him, rather she was surprised.

The flashback is interrupted when they heard a small explosion. Yes, Kirameki has gotten himself out of the room. He hid bullets inside the stuffed dolls and took out its powder to blow up the door. See how crazy and dangerous this guy is! He passes by a corridor filled with swords on one wall and guns on the other. He notices one missing and starts remembering how he was shot by Fumika. He’s going to punish her. Now Mika enters the room as the door behind her closes. She wonders if he has remembered. Kirameki becomes afraid of her and tries to throw swords and shoot guns but Mika is able to close the distance and land him a punch in his face. Looks like he will need surgery if he wants his beautiful face back. Mika chides some sense into him by saying Fumi had always loved him no matter what but it was Mika who shot him. However Fumi always felt guilt that she was the one who pulled the trigger and in her shock, fell into coma. Mika is going to kill Kirameki but the rest barges in to stop her. Haruno calms Mika down and says that they need to make Kirameki work to pay for his daughter’s medical bill (Kirameki has not released any work since Fumi’s coma but this has been covered up by the publishers and the fact that they have undergone many editors to release works in his name and place). Well, he is going to have to manage somehow even if he says he can’t do it without Fumika because Haruno will be making sure he does so. Later Kanaka hopes Fumika will not keep any secrets from her since they’re partners. Fumika visits her other self still in hospital and will wait for her when she wakes up. Kaname and Natsuka also do the same because they like her.

Episode 9
Fumika talks to her other self hoping that this therapy as suggested by Kaname would wake her up after hearing her voice. Natsuka wonders if the person Kaname confessed was to Mika since she wants to do all the things normal high school students do. Chiaki visits them and that’s when she realized Fumika’s aging phenomenon due to the fact that she’s not really dead yet. So how the heck did she get picked to be a Shigofumi courier if only dead people are qualified? Anyway Chiaki suggests taking a vacation to the southern islands. Yeah, time for some fun in the sun. But hey, don’t expect any swimsuit fanservice. Hmm… Funny, workaholic Fumika agrees. Actually, more like a working vacation as she has to deliver it there. Though their destination is an uninhabited island nearby, they stay at an inn for the night on the main island. They meet another girl, Touko Shirakawa and learn she is here to clean her ancestor’s grave situated on that uninhabited island. However she is also taking up a challenge (after watching some TV programme, I guess). She hopes by doing this, she can confess to the boy she likes. This leads to Chiaki turning into her cheek self as she pesters for the girls to express who they like. What is a girl’s night out without such confession? The funny one is Fumika because she mentions how much she likes Fumi so it’s like as though she likes herself! Narcissist!

The next day as they head to their private beach, I mean uninhabited island, Chiaki and Fumika see Shirakawa praying and cleaning at the grave. Chiaki learns that her grandpa is Saizou Kiyosumi and then it hit her. He was the guy whom Chiaki liked as seen in the beginning of this episode. However she died when their truck collided head-on with an oncoming vehicle. That was 50 years ago. Chiaki is filled with nostalgia, thinking Saizou has remarried and thus when she suggested going for a vacation, it was because she recently visited the town she grew up with but couldn’t recognize everything because it has changed. The things and people she knew were no longer around. Only she remained the same. Then she spots a Shigofumi stamp on the grave and next to Saizou’s name is Chiaki’s. Fumika reveals Saizou as the sender of the Shigofumi. But Shirakawa doesn’t recognize Chiaki’s name because Saizou never got married and that her mom was adopted by him when she lost her parents. Chiaki starts remembering the fond memories on she first met Saizou (he rescued a cat out from a tree, thus why Chiaki likes cats as opposed to Fumika) and fell in love at first sight. They started going out with each other and on that fateful night on their way back, before he could confess, tragedy struck. Tears now well up in Chiaki’s eyes because she ‘scolds’ him that he should’ve find someone else. Besides, shouldn’t he propose to a girl with a ring instead of a tombstone? Creepy but unique, eh? Hope this trend doesn’t catch on. Chiaki accepts his proposal and a ring forms on her finger. On the way back home, Shirakawa now gets the confidence to confess to the boy she likes. Don’t worry, he’s not anybody in this series we know. That will complicate matters only.

Episode 10
We have another Fumika. No, she’s not another Shigofumi courier. A young little curious girl poking a dead sparrow on the street. While her mom pays a visit to her sister and other Desperate Housewives (what else to do but gossip?), little Fumika meets her cousin Takehiko who doesn’t know what to draw. She suggests going outside. After the ladies left the house in charge to him, Takehiko takes Fumika out for something to eat since her stomach is growling. We learn that Takehiko works as a game designer but suddenly quit recently. Then after taking her to the video game arcade, he takes Fumika to the movies (it was weird the audience laughing along with the hero in the end), Takehiko reflects his current depressive state: The diagnosed him with an incurable cancer. Outside, they bump into a couple of ruffians. But it’s partly Takehiko’s fault for challenging them so he gets beaten up and realizes the weakling he is. Though the security chases them off, they arrest him thinking that he is kidnapping the child. He is taken for interrogation as Fumika waits outside playing her handheld console. She hears a woman crying and follows it. Well Fumika, meet Fumika. The little one thought the courier girl was being the baddie (she was just delivering the usual Shigofumi) but after learning they share the same name, she casts away her doubt. The inspector manages to confirm Takehiko isn’t some abductor when he calls his game publishing company. Takehiko’s colleague wants to speak to him and about his sudden resignation but he couldn’t say anything so he is disappointed (because it put a damper on a game project they’ve been working on) and hangs up.

After being released, he calls his mom who thinks of getting him a normal job and lied about his unemployment status to dad. Takehiko gets upset that the views of society are more important and that all she ever wanted was a normal child to do normal things in a normal society and disliked the game and drawing otaku he is. As Takehiko drives Fumika back, the car goes out of battery. I don’t know what he’s thinking but he plans to leave Fumika to wait all alone in the car while he walks to get help. Of course Fumika hates being alone and follows him. Remember, you should never leave a child alone in the car! Then Fumika takes out her handheld console and Takehiko recognizes this is the game he helped designed. This leads him to remember the happy days of how he loved drawing and joined the game industry because he wanted to draw. All he wanted was to make people happy with his drawings and for his parents to be happy with what he drew. Then suddenly an oncoming truck threatens to smash into Fumika. Takehiko quickly dives to push her out of harm’s way and gets rammed instead. I don’t know why the heck the truck is speeding on a deserted road but shouldn’t Takehiko and Fumika at least know that a vehicle is approaching. They could and should’ve tell, right? Unless they’re too deep in their thoughts. In the aftermath, everyone attends Takehiko’s funeral and they realize the kind and gentle person he is (they realize he was suffering from cancer). Fumika also attends the funeral but doesn’t understand the magnitude of Takehiko’s demise and thinks he’s sleeping. She even pokes his face in the casket! Then outside she continues playing her handheld console and that’s when Shigofumi Fumika appears. She hands little Fumika a Shigofumi from Takehiko as it reveals to be a sketch of her. She asks what it means to be dead so the reply she got was being dead just means that. Elsewhere, the comatose Fumi finally opens her eyes.

Episode 11
She is rather confused and in a daze as she comes into Kaname and Natsuka, who are shocked to see her awake. As they talk to her, they realize that she hasn’t gotten her memories back yet (like her abusive dad or Kaname’s confession). Chiaki talks to Mika about Fumi’s awakening so Mika plans to give her gun as Shigofumi to her so that she can shoot her. Say what? She knows she can’t die, right? Well, this is a test to see if Fumi accepts her. If not, Mika dies. Chiaki goes to warn the rest about Mika’s intention and thinks she’s doing it to atone for her sins of putting Fumi into deep sleep. Mika later visits the hospital is surprised to see Fumi not in her bed so Kaname lies by saying that she has been transferred elsewhere for some tests and will be back in a week. In reality, she is temporarily staying at Natsuka’s house as her family welcomes her with open arms. This is part of their plan to prevent both of them from meeting though they’re just delaying the inevitable. Natsuka wonders what would happen to Mika so Haruno thinks they will become as one. One inside the other, that is. Next day, Kaname and Natsuka continue to jog Fumi’s memories especially about a time Kaname came rushing to rescue her from a menacing dog but she chased it away herself instead. Kaname describes she has a face of a victorious boy. As Mika continues her Shigofumi duties, Kanaka tries to persuade her to continue as a Shigofumi courier and would love to continue as her partner but Mika thinks this is necessary as her punishment. Later when Fumi is alone, she spots a book from Kirameki and that’s when all the horrible memories start flowing back. She goes crazy and runs out of the house. So when Natsuka finds out about it from Kanaka, she goes all out to find her. Meanwhile Chiaki visits a woman, Lisala in hopes of finding a law and ruling that will save and accept Fumika’s existence. Fumi arrives at the shrine and sees Mika and recognizes her. Fumi becomes more shock when Mika reveals she was the one who actually shoot Kirameki. She hands over her gun for her to shoot. What can you conclude after hearing a single gunshot? Shortly, Natsuka finds Fumi as the latter lies about not meeting anyone and just going for a walk while hiding the gun behind her back. Lastly, Fumi meets Nojima and wishes to make an accusation towards her father. She says she’s going to shoot this time.

Episode 12
Fumi spills everything about her father’s abuse. Natsuka learns she is doing this because if she didn’t, she can’t move forward. Soon Fumi is enrolled in Kaname’s class but everyone starts whispering and taking sneaky shots of her (because she’s the daughter of a famous author) and this spooks her out very much. While Kanaka is having a hard time getting a new partner, Matoma also claims Chiaki is burnt out since she has found a way to save Mika but now she’s gone. The media frenzy over Kirameki’s abuse daughter gets out of hand as they hound Natsuka’s household for answers. Kirameki has to stay secretly and temporarily at a hotel as Haruno watches him. The publishers are thinking of a way to deal with this problem so when they decide to ditch him, Haruno says that she will have Kirameki publish his book. That’s because she feels they are ‘accomplices’ during his ‘absence’ they made money out of it too. You can’t just abandon ship when everything’s going bad, right? While waiting for Fumi, Natsuka talks to Kaname and thinks that he likes Mika, the reason he’s being kind to Fumi. He denies so Natsuka finally manages to sum up her courage to tell him that she likes him. Fumi of course eavesdropping right at the corner and walking away by herself. Back home when Natsuka asks Fumi about meeting Mika at the shrine, she knew she is blatantly lying when Fumi believes it is her imagination. Several days later, Fumi accompanied by Nojima meets Kirei who just arrived from Italy at the airport. They are happy to see each other as Kirei thinks she can surpass Kirameki and be more beautiful. However Kirei doesn’t want to claim responsibility for Fumi. She wants to be a woman, not a mother. Fumi is devastated to hear this and all the more, Kirei acts as though she has no care in all the world for her and goes frolic with her lover. So she got married just to experience the so called woman’s joy?! She’s as irresponsible as Kirameki. Fumi goes crazy upon hearing camera clicks (those people like as though it’s a big deal seeing a famous actress and her daughter reuniting) and runs away.

Nojima calls Kaname to tell him what happened so he goes over to Natsuka’s house. Since Fumi is not there, he can only conclude that she is at her dad’s place. Natsuka refuses to come along seeing how Fumi lied to her but after getting a pep talk from Kanaka, it doesn’t matter anymore because she’s her friend. Fumi is right at Kirameki’s house and plans to shoot herself with the gun. However Mika comes in and is disappointed she did not change and is still weak. Flashback reveals that Fumi didn’t pull the trigger but Mika helped her do so. Mika feels that Fumi is trying to run away again so before Fumi can slap her, Mika punches her! Oww! Not just 1 punch, but many punches! Fumi gets upset that Mika always steal her chances and never waited for her till she gets her courage to do something. She gives the gun back to Mika and challenges her to shoot her so they can both disappear. Since she can’t, Fumi further accuses that despite all that hypocrisy of wanting to atone her sins, she is the one who wants to make friends and do other normal stuffs. A shouting match begins with Mika admitting she wanted to do all that too. Mika also thinks how she herself is similar to Shigofumi. Something that cannot exist and be sent in reality. She thanks Fumi for creating her or else she was like a personality that didn’t exist. Both girls start crying loudly but it’s a good sign that they’ve made up. Yeah, they should smile often like that. Kaname, Natsuka, Kanaka and Chiaki arrive but are relieved that they need not do anything because the issue has been resolved. As we see a montage of the characters going on with their daily lives, Mika and Kanaka continue to go about their Shigofumi job and Fumi continuing her school days. Fumi vows never to let Mika to return into her body.

Episode 13 (OVA)
There is an OVA episode dubbed the 13th episode that you can get on the DVD. It takes place after the TV series ended. It begins with a desperate father trying to rob a bank to pay for her daughter’s surgery. But when Mika arrives to hand him a Shigofumi from her just departed daughter, he breaks down and gives himself up. Sad, but that’s life. Back in school, Kaname and Natsuka are pondering about the recent curse of Kikukawa. It’s like that kid is back with a vengeance and there are multiple Shigofumis sent. They think this is fake and not possible but when something big like curse writings on the world and field appear, do you think the students can maintain their rationale? Fumi continues to suffer as a bully victim though. Like getting injured with tacks in her shoes. However a girl named Suzune Shinozaki helps her out despite warnings from her pals not to get involved with her. Then those bullies who bullied Kikukawa and Morishita get a taste of their own medicine as one of them receives a Shigofumi. Though scared, they plan to meet up as instructed in it to confirm if it’s a prank. The odd part was that the Shigofumi is computer printed. Shouldn’t it be handwritten? Kaname overheard this and tells this to his pals. He, Natsuka and Fumi visit Morishita working in some office. Morishita recognizes Fumi as they talk about Shigofumis. He mentions that Kikukawa’s sister had come to see him before after his death but he lied about the contents of the Shigofumi since it was filled with hatred. To Fumi’s surprise, Kikukawa’s sister is Suzune. Small world, eh? They had a different surname because their parents are divorced.

Back home, Suzune recalls about her parent’s bitter divorce because daddy couldn’t tolerate mommy for having an affair and giving birth to a child that wasn’t his. Due to circumstances, Suzune couldn’t live together with her brother and after learning of her brother’s death, she became furious and started sending multiple fake Shigofumis. The bullies arrive at the rooftop but they are jumpy at just the slightest sound. Till Matoma appears, they really freak out and run for their lives. Suzune waits at another part of the building to trap the bullies but she was greeted by a Shigofumi courier. She hands over a Shigofumi to Suzune from Kikukawa and its contents warn her not to do anything stupid. Suzune reflects on her actions that won’t make her brother proud when Fumika and Kanaka appear. Urm… Two Shigofumi couriers? Well, as Kanaka pointed out, one of them is fake. The earlier one turns out to be Fumi in disguise. The reason why she did this was because she didn’t want to go through the same burden as she did. When Fumi started her revenge against her father and reported him, instead her plan backfired and bit her back. That’s why now she is repenting in a prison called school. Thus she did this to save her from all this trouble. As for Mika, she’s here because Chiaki has requested her to retrieve her clothes. Yeah, she’s so drunk and out (seems she likes to hang out in the hotel room where Fumi is currently staying on her own). Otherwise, how would Fumi have gotten those cool Shigofumi courier clothes? Of course, Kanaka knows that Mika has another reason why she came. Make a good guess. As for the bullies, they are truly scared and repentant, believing that Kikukawa really did curse them. I guess they learned their lesson after all. In the aftermath, Fumi and Suzune continue to be great friends.

Dead People Don’t Talk…
I’m glad I made the right choice in watching this series. The overall feel of the show has that gloomy and depressing feeling though the ending can be said to be satisfying because both the Fumikas have made up. I just felt that the show should have more other side stories of other characters receiving the Shigofumi because I personally feel that it would be better if we get to see a variety of different stories and backgrounds. Thus I feel that with this series being already too short, after a few stories that introduce us the concept of Shigofumi, the story shifts to that of Fumika’s dark past and how she is to deal with it if she is to continue existing. The concept of Shigofumi is interesting seeing that it is a tool that is neither bad nor good but just a communication tool to tell what one really wants to say before he/she goes away forever. It is how we humans use it whether it is for positive or negative purposes, it all boils down to the truthful words that we want to say. Even if you can’t put them in words, pictures would suffice. See how flexible it is? But I’m just thinking why they are just restricted to 1 Shigofumi and to only 1 person. What happens if you have more than 1 loved ones to say? Perhaps it’s a way to make you think hard on to whom you want to reach those words so that you won’t waste your only valuable chance.

The most interesting characters have got to be the interaction between Fumika (the courier girl) and Kanaka. There is never a dull moment when these 2 are together even if things get tense. While Fumika puts on a deadpan serious voice and expression in 95% of the scenes (oh by the way, Fumika has her cute side too: When she is afraid of cats), Kanaka is totally the opposite as she is a lively cheeky staff always thinking that she wants to be human. But the ironic part is that even if this staff (and all others) are actually non-living organisms, why the need to become human even if they badmouth homo sapiens about their dark habits? As I remember Kanaka once said, “So that I can lie too!”. Oh yes. You got to love some of the lines and words she says. Another oddity about the staffs being treated as humans is that during the vacation trip at the southern islands, the guys and girls room are separated. So it’s kinda odd to see Kaname and Matoma sleeping together with nothing happening. True, they should treat their staffs with utmost care and like humans since they are their partners but at times, Fumika just loves using Kanaka as a weapon hitting things, much to Kanaka’s dismay. But it isn’t just Kanaka who is cracking all the wise lines and sometimes surprisingly from Fumika too, though in her usual deadpan voice. For instance, she and Chiaki were talking about Shigofumi couriers never aging. So Fumika said that because of her unique ability to age, she gets to grow into a beautiful sexy body while Chiaki will be stuck in her flat-chest one forever. Haha! Beside the little chatter, it’s also nice to pay heed to the words they say about us humans. Honest, true, in-your-face comments that make you go think that we are indeed the lowest and worse kind of creatures to walk the face of the planet. But that is what makes us humans. The ugly side of human nature tend to make us lie and our selfish thoughts sometimes not only hurt others but ourselves as well.

Kirameki is one creepy character. You can never understand the way he thinks. He is just crazy and sometimes you just think that he deserves to get shot. But he isn’t as bad as Kirei who boldly exerts that she doesn’t want to shoulder responsibility at all. One day, this will all bite back to her but that’s another story. Even if Kirameki has a few (okay, maybe lots of) screws loose in his head, he isn’t that totally bad. At least for the early part in Fumika’s life, he does take care of her well and for the part of being bumming around experiencing writer’s block, all he needs is someone to put his/her foot down so that he can start to get cracking. Haruno is a good person for that job. As for Kaname and Natsuka, I wonder if he would answer to her feelings since there is nothing more after her confession. Or is he still gunning for Fumika? Chiaki is also another amusing girl. But that’s only when she turns on her cheeky mode. Sometimes it’s ironic to see her drink liquor because although she looks like a child, she is actually over 50 years old. The part she went to request for Lisala’s help made the latter’s role rather redundant. I thought she would play an important role as the series reaches a climax but unfortunately she was forgettable enough to annoy me to think what the hell the producers put her there for if she’s not going to make any significant impact.

There are some parts which I didn’t comprehend after thinking too much. Maybe it’s because of just that. But I would like to know more about it if possible. For example, if Shigofumi couriers can only be of those who are dead, how the heck did Fumika become one if she isn’t fully dead? Does being half dead count? I’m sure the council at the Shigo world aren’t that dumb. What happens to the Shigofumi when it goes undelivered? What happens if the courier fails to deliver it to the recipient? Then there’s that field in the Shigo world filled with staffs sticking out like as though it’s some kind of maize field. Is this the place a Shigofumi courier can come and pick any staff he/she likes and dump it back if it is found not to one’s liking? Then about Chiaki’s lover. If she received the Shigofumi means he just departed from this world, right? But the way it feels and played out seems like he has died quite some time. But then again, I could be wrong. And what about the ruling that Chiaki has found out that allowed Fumika’s existence? It could be interesting if we are told what it is but since we’re not, again it felt like this part of her going through the trouble of researching all so useless. It’s as good as leaving this part out. That’s because if every split personality is allowed to co-exist in reality, imagine how many imaginary friends will come to being if such a case happens. That’s why it is odd when Mika loves Fumi which is so much like loving herself in the eyes of others.

When I first heard the opening theme, I went “Oh God, don’t tell me this is Ali Project”. Yes, it is them alright. You can’t run away from their trademark naughty gothic tunes so much so I thought they may have reused the same tune in the other songs I have heard them sung in other animes as well. So if you like their kind of music, be sure to check out Kotodama as the opening theme for this series. The ending theme is a slow ballad called Chain by Snow. The lyrics are filled with sadness with the fact that the singer could no longer feel and touch her lover one day but at the same time filled with hope that she would be able to do so. Kana Ueda was unrecognizable when she as she did the voice of Mika. Probably I was so used to her role as Mikan in Gakuen Alice and Rin in Fate/Stay Night that it didn’t occur to me that it was her in this role. Okay, so I don’t hear her voice very often. Yuki Matsuoka (Orihime in Bleach) definitely suits her role as the lively Kanaka. One thing for sure, I won’t mind if this staff doesn’t stop blabbing! Other seiyuus include Eri Sendai as Fumi (Kuan in Happy Seven), Masumi Asano as Chiaki (Hakufu in Ikkitousen series), Masayuki Katou as Matoma (Kiyomasa Senji in Deadman Wonderland), Takuma Terashima as Kaname (Teppei in Princess Lover), Saeko Chiba as Natsuka (Natsuki in Mai-HiME), Rikiya Koyama as Kirameki (Kogarashi in Kamen No Maid Guy) and Fumiko Orikasa as Haruno (Rukia in Bleach).

One of the good things about this series is that we see the true side of human beings. You can learn a lot from our shocking behaviour. Mostly we tend to hide our true feelings behind a facade so that’s why when you find out a person isn’t supposed to be what he/she is, it is truly a shocking and eye opening experience. Different people have different reaction to the same thing. Notice how Fumika always repeat the same lines while delivering the Shigofumi to the recipient? Some express gratitude while some scoff it off as some garbage. The Shigofumi may not be exactly like a life or death thingy but it brings out the best and worst in humans. It got me thinking what I should put down if I were ever to write a Shigofumi. To whom should I address it to? Can’t say it now. I guess there are some things that you would only know after you die.

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