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Shigofumi: Letters From the Departed – The Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

August 17, 2010 by  



A gripping, dark and twisted series that also has its share of upbeat and humorous moments as well.  Enjoyable and also entertaining, “Shigofumi: Letters From the Departed – The Complete Collection” is an anime series worth checking out!

Image courtesy of © Tomrrow Yuzawa/Bandai Visual-Genco.  2010 Sentai Filmworks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Shigofumi: Letters from the Departed – The Complete Collection

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2008

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen, Japanese Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Showgate/Seintai Filmworks

RATED: TV PG V

Release Date: August 17, 2010

Directed by Tatsuo Sato

Series Composition/Screenplay by Ichiro Okouchi

Music by Hikaru Nanase

Originally created by Ryo Amamiya

Original Character Designs by Kouhaku Kuroboshi

Character Design by Tetsuya Kawakami

Art Director: Makoto Shiraishi, Nobuto Sakamoto

Anime Production by J.S. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kana Ueda as Fumika

Yuki Matsuoka as Kanaka

Akio Nojima as Tatsumi Nojima

Eri Sendai as Fumika Mikawa

Fumiko Orikasa as Haruno Kasai

Masayuki Katou as Matoma

Masumi Asano as Chiaki

Rikiya Koyama as Kirameki Mikawa

Saeko Chiba as Natsuka Kasai

Takuma Terashima as Kaname Nojima

Are some secrets best kept with the dead? For most Shigofumi Mail Carriers, charged with delivering messages from the recently departed to those left behind, the question is purely rhetorical, as most Carriers are dead themselves and past the point of caring about the still breathing. The solemn girl known as Fumika, however, is all too aware of the mortal perspective, for she is still aging: an indicator that she is somehow, mysteriously, still alive.

Yet neither Fumika’s own personal tragedy nor the knowledge that her mail may be a mixed blessing at best will stay her grim determination to make her morbid rounds. Though the postal scales of fate may be eternally shifted, Fumika will make sure each posthumous posting from the ultimate dead letter office reaches its intended target, even when there’s deadly postage due!

In 2008, the light novel series “Shigofumi: Letters from the Departed” by Tomoro Yuzawa receied its anime adaptation and 12 episodes were shown on television followed by a 13th episode OVA included on the anime DVD release.  And now the series makes its debut in the US courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series is directed by Tatsuo Sato (“Cat Soup”, “Stellvia”, “Martian Successor Nadesico”) and features a screenplay by Ichiro Okouchi (“Azumanga Daioh”, “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”, “RahXephon”, “Stellvia”).  Music for the series is by Hikaru Nanase (“Galaxy Angel”, “Angel Sanctuary”, “Pita Ten”, “Gravion”, “Ichigo 100%”), original character designs by Kouhaku Kuroboshi (“Kino’s Travels”, “Sky Girls”) and character designs by Tetsuya Kawakami (“Planetes”, “Fullmetal Alchemist”).

“Shigofumi” which means (shigo=after death and fumi=letter) is a series that revolves around a female Shigofumi mail carrier named Fumika who is accompanied with her talkative staff named Kanaka.  A Shigofumi is written by a person during their first four stages after death and Fumika’s job is to deliver the letter to the person that the dead has wanted to contact.  All Fumika is responsible for is making sure the shigofumi is delivered and by the laws, she may not interfere with a human.

Throughout the series, we see how various people react when they receive a shigofumi and we also see how things become a bit complicated when Fumika is found by high school student Kaname Nojima who recognizes her as a student who shot her father three years ago and has wondered all this time, why she did it.  The second half of the series introduces us to who Fumika, her past and her true identity.

Shigofumi: Letters From the Departed – The Complete Collection” comes with all 13 episodes on two DVD’s.  Here is a spoilerless summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – Confession – Shota Machiya is a high school student who builds rockets but no one believes he can do it.  Except one girl, his friend Asuna Ayase.  Shota cares for Asuna but one day, Fumika comes to deliver a Shigofumi addressed to her boyfriend.
  • EPISODE 2 – Rocket – With what took place in the last episode, now Asuna Ayase is on the run and the investigators go after her.  Meanwhile, Fumika confronts Asuna.
  • EPISODE 3 – Friends – One day, three friends decide and kid about jumping off their high school building and one of them does.  Now the father of the student wants answers and takes his class hostage.  Fumika then comes out of nowhere with a shigofumi.
  • EPISODE 4 – Tears – Fumika tries to deliver a shigofumi to a girl who refuses to take it.
  • EPISODE 5 – I’m Home – Fumika must deliver a shigofumi to a cat but she runs into another shigofumi deliverer named Chiaki.
  • EPISODE 6 – Shout – A kid is being bullied in his class and kills himself.  Now the kid has a shigofumi written to his classmate.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 7: Kirameki – A woman named Haruna Kasai becomes an editor of Kirameki Mikawa’s new editor.  Meanwhile, Kaname and Natsuke go to visit Kirameki to learn more about Fumika.
  • EPISODE 8: Beginning – Fumika reveals her true identity.
  • EPISODE 9: Reunion – Fumika goes with Kaname and Chiaki to an island in the south for a vacation and Chiaki is greeted with a shigofumi.
  • EPISODE 10: Encounter – A story of a man named Takehiko Hibiya who has quit his job as a graphic designer and has cancer.  He takes his relative’s daughter Fumika out tot he movies.
  • EPISODE 11: Awakening – Fumika (human version) awakes from her coma which means that the mail carrier version of Fumika will expect her to kill herself.  Kaname and friends try to prevent it from happening.
  • EPISODE 12: Shigofumi – Fumika (human) and Fumika (mail carrier) come face to face.
  • EPISODE 13: And Then – Fumika (human) is having problems with bullying at school, meanwhile the younger sister of Koichi (of episode 6) befriends Fumika and also wants revenge on the bullies that pushed her brother to suicide.

VIDEO:

“Shigofumi: Letters From the Departed – The Complete Collection” is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen.  The anime features good animation and really shows its strengths during the closeups and showcasing a person’s emotions.  The TV series has a touch of a little whitish haze over it, to appear dream-like.  A good amount of artistic backgrounds full of detail and for the most part, the series is well-animated.

Episode 13 which is an OVA features more detail and shading than its TV series counterpart.  You see more detail on the artistic backgrounds and more scenery being utilized which is expected. The white haziness is gonebut there is a good amount of detail and also the colors are much more vibrant.

The DVD does show a few artifacts and edge enhancement.  Outdoor scenes are colorful and vibrant, while dark scenes feature a nice shade of black.  Overall, picture quality is good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “Shigofumi: Letters From the Departed” is presented in Japanese 2.0.  Japanese dialogue is clear and well-acted, as is the music coming from the front channels.  I preferred to have my audio set to stereo on all channels on my receiver for a more immersive soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Shigofumi: Letters From the Departed – The Complete Collection” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Shigofumi Picture Dramas – Featuring all seven picture dramas: 1 – Date, 2 – Eyes, 3 – Mustache, 4 – Doigaki, 5 – Summons, 6 – Staves, 7 – Lullabye.  Each of the picture dramas are about five minutes long and feature a still frame with a drama featuring the series voice talents.
  • Also Available from Sentai Filmworks – Trailers for currently released Sentai Filmworks titles.
  • DVD Credits – Production credits

DISC 2:

  • Clean Opening Animation – The textless opening theme
  • Clean Closing Animation – The textless closing theme

A gripping anime series that has a mixture of dark dramatic elements and humor, “Shigofumi: Letters From the Departed” is an entertaining series from beginning to end.

“Shigofumi: Letters From the Departed” was a series that really started out quite a bit twisted and dark at the beginning as we got to see how the Shigofumi (letters from the dead) have affected those who receive it.  Some of these people who are sent one are not always pure of heart and somehow a few end up in a darker situation than they previously were.

And I think that may people who enjoy those darker elements will be drawn to the series for its first half, the second half features more of the revelation of who Fumika truly is and knowing of her history and that there are two Fumika and explanation of why that is possible.

“Shigofumi: Letters From the Departed – The Complete Collection” also comes with the Shigofumi Picture Dramas, so you get an addition half hour worth of extra content in this complete set which is awesome.

Fans of anime series such as “Hell Girl” will definitely find “Shigofumi: Letters From the Departed” a series more to their liking.  The difference is where “Hell Girl” focuses on independent storylines for each episode (and lasts for three seasons), “Shigofumi”-driven episodes are more common at the first half of the series and not as much as a major focus on the second half.  But nevertheless, “Shigofumi: Letters From the Departed” is still an enjoyable series that is easily accessible since it is only 13 episodes long.

Overall, if you are looking for a series that is gripping, dark, a little twisted but also has its fair share of upbeat moments as well, definitely give “Shigofumi: Letters From the Departed – The Complete Collection” a try.

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