Directed by Tatsou Sato
Featuring Voices by Kana Ueda and Yuki Matsuoka
How much do you think overnight shipping from the afterlife costs?
In the world of Shigofumi, the dead are allowed one final right – to send a message to the living. This message is called a shigofumi (“shigo” – afterlife, “fumi” –letter). It can be a good bye or a confession, good or bad, but it will always be true as the dead do not lie.
The series follows the other-worldly mail carrier Fumika as she delivers the final words of the departed to their living recipients. The first half of this 13-episode series contains pretty stand-alone deliveries that uncover mysteries about those who dies and how they impact the living. The premises of these deaths and their ripple effects are intriguing. It’s a natural curiosity to want to know what the dead could tell us. A dark side is slowly revealed in the process of the episodes within either the living or the dead, with the revelation usually bringing redemption. The reactions of the recipients range from frustration to catharsis, all being both entertaining and relatable to feelings anyone who has lost a loved one might feel.
The second half, starting on disc two, slows down to focus more on the mystery of Fumika herself and how she went from being a living girl to being FedEx from hell. As with the previous murder mysteries, this is shown to be more sinister and complex than the other characters imagine. However, focus soon shifts from the source of the darkness into a less interesting teen drama with the main and now-continuing side characters. While still maintaining the complex nature of why the situation is how it is and how it affects others that the first half has in each of the series, the latter half gets bogged down with its multi-episode structure.
Add to that a short epilogue in end credits of episode 12 (also titled “Shigofumi”) that doesn’t provide a fulfilling conclusion, followed by a bonus episode that is equally unsatisfying, and you have a series that really loses its steam towards the end. With that aside though, it’s still an interesting watch and a short enough series to give a try, at least with the first disc.
The animation is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. The animation moves well and keeps from staying static for any annoyingly noticeable periods of time. The character designs are average.
There’s only a Japanese 2.0 audio track. The voices are fine. Sentai Filmworks spoiled me with Golgo 13 and its dub. I miss not having to read all the time. It is also about $10 cheaper, so you get what you pay for.
My one gripe with the soundtrack is that the opening song – “Kotodama” by ALI PROJECT – sounds just like the group’s same work from Code Geass. Learn some variety.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
At last. An actual extra. This collection contains picture dramas, which are essentially trivial audio side stories played with accompanying art. The audio is still in Japanese, but subtitles are shown with the art. There are seven episodes, with the art ranging from decent quality to simple storyboards. They aren’t especially captivating, but they’re a neat (and likely easily produced) effort. Of course, there are also the typical clean openings and endings and the trailers.
The case is a decent-enough standard DVD case, holding the two discs.
Shigofumi brings up an interesting concept and deals with it well. It loses its way towards the end, but it’s still a decent journey. While a dub would be nice, the extra effort taken to translate the picture drama extras is a nice touch.
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10
The Series 7/10
The Video 6/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10