Shigofumi. Shhhhhhhigofumi. ShiGOfumi. I like saying (and typing) that word. What does it mean, you belch like the retarded water buffalo with clinically aggressive flatulence that you are? Well, a shigofumi is a letter sent from the great beyond to somebody still in the world of the living — a final message from the dead delivered via a strange, unemotional albino chick and her talking staff of a partner. Well, not all shhhhhhhhhhhhigoFUmi letter carriers are albino Vulcans like the lead of this story, Fumika, but whatever.
Shigofufufumi is a good mix of Hell Girl and Kino's Journey: Quiet girl with a paranormal job and a talking inanimate object do their thing, and each episode offers a new mystery to figure out with no two tales told the same way. It's very odd, but it absorbs you like it's a Maxi Pad during "her heavy flow" times. There is a season-long arc that keeps you rapt throughout this thing's 12 episode run, but the real mystery behind all the main events is actually answered in episode 7, which left a huge questions mark above the rest of its season in the form of the query "Well, NOW what the fuck?" But I'm getting far, far ahead of myself. Let me go back...
Shigofumiiii is all about Fumika, the unfeeling lead character who hand delivers last messages from those who've kicked the bucket to anybody they want to send them to who's still alive. Like if somebody got mauled by a lion and forgot to turn the oven off, or if they got raped by a chainsaw before they got to tell somebody how much they meant to them, or if they got a pair of concrete loafers and were cajoled into a swim, and then decided to give a certain police captain directions to certain unmarked graves in the forest that his ex-colleagues dug over the years... Any message (or even certain items) can be passed along, as long as a special Shigo-stamp is attached to it. "So, like if I die," you question like a stammering gimp, "I could send a shifugami to, let's say, that girl who dumped me a few years ago to run off with that Brad Pitt impersonator, and tell her I hid $50million in the floorboards of her mother's house, and then laugh at her as she punches her mom out, and then tears up the house looking for the treasure?" First of all, no. Second of all, you're a goddamn idiot. Third of all, according to this show, the dead cannot lie. So, if you were dead by my foot through your brain, and somebody asked you "Are you fucking retarded?!" you would have to answer, "Yes... My IQ is only 43."
So for the first half of this anime, Fumika delivers the last words of recently dead folk to people still alive. The mystery in each episode is "Well?! What does the letter fucking say?!" And they really like to drag this out for as long as they can. Sometimes the letter doesn't even get delivered until the end of each chapter, but you know (of course) that one's coming, and you're still wondering the whole time.
Early on though, the season-long arc appears as Fumika runs across a couple of people who seem to know her, and they then do their best to get to the bottom of who and what Fumika really is, and why she's doing what she's doing. Yeah, I could have made that last sentence a whole lot clearer, but I liked this show, and think that the less you know about what's really going on the better.... Ah fuck it! I'll tell you the whole plot just because I'm running out of things to talk about and I hate short reviews.
Okay, so two people (one hard-up dillweed named Kanami who thinks he used to date Fumika, and a girl called Natsuka who wants to get with the dillweed) start investigating our precious shigofumi carrier after Kanami sees Fumika delivering one of her letters to a guy holding Kanami's class hostage in order to learn the truth of why his son died (As expected, the letter is from the dead son and he tells the cracked pops the reason in his own words). Kanami's totally infatuated with the albino and eventually tracks down her real story with Natsuka's help. Soon, with the aid of yet ANOTHER shigofuuumi carrier named Chiaki, they all find out that Fumika's been in a coma for the past 3 years after trying to kill her (really, really mentally unbalanced and psychotically retarded) father, who used to abuse her in some very strange and disturbing ways.
Like I said before, episode 7 is where we learn about Fumika's real predicament (and understand that the comatose body in the hospital — that we see glimpses of regularly up to that point — really is her), and all the people who were trying to make sense out of everything had met and made sense out of everything.... It just lost its big draw (the whole mysterious backstory). And episode 7 is also when I started to wonder if this show blew its load way too early or not. Don't you usually wait until the end to "pull the rug out from under the diseased whore and have her crack her skull on the floor" in mystery shows such as this? Well, after a few more "mission episodes," some confrontations that I was hoping for take place, and some lovely twists and right-angle storytelling made me satisfied that I stuck with it all.
I liked Fumika a LOT. She's the one who made this show as enjoyable as it was. She's pretty confident in herself, has some amazing strength, can turn invisible, and twirls her talking staff like a bo that can deliver an afterlife of pain if it connects with you. But unlike Hell Girl and her pussy posse, the people trying to get to the bottom of Fumika's mysteries are all likeable, and you actually ARE interested in her back story yourself.
So, final word? A gratifying and pleasant enough short series. Like the two shows it resembles (HG and K'sJ), Shigofumi's good, but it's just not as original as it would have been had it been released 3 or 4 years ago. There were a few little details about the show that I really liked. First of all, not all the clients were dicks, and most of the people receiving the shigofumis were decent people. Usually in stories such as this (with the same creepy undertones that this one held) the clients or the receivers were world-class twatsicles. Shigofumi was refreshing in that regard. The big twist reveal (well, the big mystery at least) in 7 had me really question the strength of the plot, but the last few episodes really made up for any previous short comings. And the show actually had a message, or a lesson to be learned.... How many anime shows can claim that, huh? (The message being "Don't be a pussy. Don't run away from your problems as they're always inside you and you can't get away from what's inside you. Pussy.")
Now, as a final word to that final word, there were a few things that I either didn't get or wish I didn't understand. At one point Chiaki states that only the dead can be shigofumi carriers, so Fumika's situation doesn't make a jack-shit lick of sense. They never even bother to explain why she can be one? Any reason would have been acceptable as long as they tried. But no. Nothing. And the last thing that confused me (well, frightened me really) was the one episode featuring Chiaki's backstory. She died when she was like 13 or 14, but her "lover" was in his mid 20s... And everybody treats this news like "yeah... so?" Jesus the Japanese are creepy. It's like an entire culture based upon Roman Polanski worship.
In my unending quest for science and the truth, this Shinganimi show made me see that all of my answers lie across the great divide. After watching the last episode it was clear to me that if I was to ever find out the veracity of the universe I needed to commune with the other side. Not very scientific, I know, but my theory that there is in fact a flat planet out there sitting on the backs of four elephants, themselves standing on the shell of a giant star turtle, makes me think that anything in this universe is possible, if not expected.
So, late in my lab one night, I froze myself to death in my giant freezer, and soon I came face to face with a dead-letter mailperson who asked me if I wanted something delivered to somebody in the world of the living. I said yes, and then I took that stamp that she gave me and slapped it right on her forehead, and told her I wanted her delivered to me. That's when Mr. Bunnyface, my trained chimp, gave me that defibrillator like a champ! I came too, yelled at Mr. Bunnyface for leaving a few surprises on my freshly laundered lab coat, and had my package delivered to me even faster than any of my black market suppliers when I throw in an extra fiver for their confidentiality.
The dead mailperson — who told me her name was Helga — responded well to her predicament and even answered my first question quite amiably. I asked if all dead mailpeople were deceased 9 year-old girls, and if so why? To which she responded, "Yes, because God is a necrophiliac with a lolita complex." Fascinating! Then I asked if I could talk to more dead people, who, as I understood it, would have to tell me the truth when they answer my questions because being dead must affect higher brain capacity which in a normal living person would allow them to create falsehoods to cover their own asses if they so chose. Helga told me that they don't lie basically because they hate the living, and telling the truth always hurts people a lot more than any lie ever could. Exquisite!
The first deadite I chose to talk to was of course Albert Einstein. When Helga brought him forth he was at first a bit confused, but after a nice meal of garlic fettuccini and some vino (his favorite), he was quite amiable. My first question for the expired genius was "Did you ever have a problem with a giant stockpile of unauthorized and decaying human bodies in a secret storeroom after the experiments on them were over, and if so (or at least hypothetically 'if so'), what would you do to get rid of them." Apparently THAT was a huge mistake. Mr. Einstein went off on a tirade about the Holocaust, the Nazis, and the gas chambers, and he just wouldn't shut up about it... Oh, and he was FOR the Nazis and the gas chambers. Intriguing!
After about 3 hours of the man ranting and raving how Hitler stole his idea to wipe out the "filthy Jew scourge" I finally stopped him. "Mr. Einstein," I said. "I am offended. I happen to be very good friends with a lot of Jewish mad scientists and your anti-semitism if disturbing.... It's even MORE disturbing knowing that you're Jewish yourself..." That's when he flipped out, ripped off all his clothes, and started scrubbing his skin with some brillo pads while screaming "La la la la la la la la! I can't HEAR you! I can't HEAR you! La la la la la la la! Sieg HEIL! Sieg HEIL!" and giving the Nazi salute over and over again. That's about the time that Helga showed up again and I sighed, and plucked that stamp off her head, sending her back to her unending job of Heavenly governmental servitude, and hopefully sending ol' Al back to the fires of Hades...
Dead people may not be able to lie, but they can apparently still be assholes.
This got me thinking... If I were to die I'd write a letter to either the police or the press implicating the Rossman in my murder. I know it'll be him... Or his lackey Kuni. Either way, hopefully my letter will get them both to fry.