So you may or may not have heard about the Reverse Thieves’ festive anime Secret Santa project, dependent on how active you are in the anime blogosphere. You’re given a random blogger’s personal anime tastes (usually via a rated anime list of sorts) and need to suggest three new shows for them to watch, while the same happens for you. It’s a fantastic idea, as it removes the painful part of finding existing anime to watch. A curt 50 word description often isn’t enough to decide if a show will be worth it, so why not leave the decision to someone who has (hopefully) already seen it and is assured of its quality. Or terribleness. Either way, its entertainment.
I really lucked out with my choices, as they mostly weren’t series I had on the backlog, but were still interesting after reading their descriptions. I’ve had the time to watch my first choice, Manabi Straight, a gorgeously stylish show that’s moe for moe’s sake, with the best opening titles of an anime I’ve seen in a while. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to watch my second choice, Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid, but it’s a credit to my Santa that he/she read my taste incredibly well. The focus of this review is my third choice, Shigofumi: Letters From The Departed. It’s relatively recent, having aired during the Winter 2007-08 season, but had still completely passed me by.
The basic premise of the series follows our protagonist Fumika, as she and her lippy but earnest magical staff Kanaka travel around the city delivering shigofumi, letters from the dead sent to the living as a last testament of sorts. Just from hearing that alone, the show has a lot of scope in what it can do, but is essentially relegated to an X-of-the-week format, where this time X equals “letter from dead person”. The only common factor you can really develop over the course of a 12 episode series is the main character herself, so her story sure as hell better be good.
The show does manage to overcome the repetition of the X-of-the-week format – each letter is too engrossing and the show mixes up the “get letter, transport letter, deliver letter, end credits” format throughout the series. Fumika’s story I believe is a different matter.
The first few episodes are extremely promising. The first story involves Shouta, his quest to build a rocket and Asuna, a girl he befriends while doing so. Needless to say, Asuna’s closet has many skeletons, and the episodes descend further into tragedy with every passing minute. We find she’s been “helping” her father produce child porn, who then wants to bring her little sister into the picture. The show certainly doesn’t shy away from showcasing the dredges of human society, and is all the more watchable for it, though it does bash the viewer with tragedy so much it manages to lose its meaning sometimes. Fumika’s take on events is fairly refreshing in that she sees the world through ruthlessly unclouded, emotionless eyes.
So I’m having some difficulty with Kuranosuke at the moment. On the one hand, he is someone who sees the good in others, even when they might act a little outside of society’s rules. He certainly doesn’t judge on first look. These are all good points about his varied and flamboyant character. Oh, and he’s a giant dick.
Yep, truly. Let’s take a look at his actions, shall we? From what we know so far, Kuranosuke’s been cross-dressing to shift responsibility away from himself and on to his brother, who seems to be wrapped around his little finger. Sure, perhaps the responsibility of the family “business” is a little great, but I don’t think he’s dealing with it in the best way. Being a hipster, he has other hipster friends, but look – he seems to have been ignoring them recently, even going as far as telling one of them, over the phone…
I’m not going to say that he’s completely at fault, given how the caller in question wasn’t exactly selfless about her reasons for phoning, but even at that, it seems a little harsh to throw out all of your friends.
Not to mention his constant intrusions at the Nunnery. The girls seem to have accepted the fact that he’s going to keep doing this, yet still he persists. Despite this, the culture clash that inevitably happens every time he’s there is always fun and exciting to watch, especially his interactions with Tsukimi.
And on Tsukimi, she seems to be setting herself up for a fall awfully early. I think we know that this will probably end in tears sooner or later, but I’m hoping that Kuragehime puts a better spin on the unrequited love trope. It certainly seems the type of show that could do that.
The redevelopment plans certainly sound foreboding, though it sets up an interesting dynamic with Kuranosuke at the centre of everything. It just might be a chance to redeem himself.