thin slicing shigofumi

Categories: anime, spoilers


“I said that I believed in your rocket, right?”

(The Shigofumi section for thin slicing got too long, so I just broke it off into its own post… and then it got even longer. Like almost 1,500 words longer.)


At different points during the first rocket man arc for Shigofumi, I thought about three other series. But first, a little primer. Shigofumi is the newest series by JC Staff, and it follows Fumika, a death god postal worker. She delivers the final will of the newly deceased to the still living. She has an assistant mecha slash staff, Kanaka. The arc is about a boy who loves rockets (rocket man) and also loves a girl (crazy girl). Much like the towns and countries that Kino visits, their names aren’t important. When I first heard about Shigofumi, I was expecting something cute and low calorie. It’s not. Kinda.


The first series I thought of was Kino’s Travels. After seeing Fumika’s slightly ambiguous demeanor and her low wattage style and her big gun, I definitely thought of Kino. In fact, I couldn’t get it out of my head; the similarity was just striking. When we’re first introduced to the “hero” of the first arc, the rocket man, Fumika and Kanaka introduced themselves much the same way as Kino and her motorrad, Hermes. Basically, “Hi, we’re here to deliver this letter from someone who just died. We can’t tell you anything else. We can only observe.” while Kanaka makes smarky remarks. Just like Kino’s “We’re stopping by for three days” routine with Hermes cracking wise. That’s not a bad thing. Fumika isn’t as ambiguous as Kino and certainty more talkative, and both are spectators as other principles play on the court.

This second series I thought of was Jigoku Shoujo. Unlike Enma Ai who “actively” has a role in her hell correspondence, Fumika does not. She does the bidding of others, but the results (well, at least based on this thin slicing sample), are the same: people realize the price of their actions and what’s truly important in life. When Fumika delivers the letter to the crazy girl, I knew Shigofumi wasn’t going to be Jigoku Shoujo but rather Kino’s Travels. However, there is a distinct part of Law and Order: Loli Demon Revenge Unit that is shared with Shigofumi: the sensationalism. Jigoku Shoujo generally relied on people doing cruel, sensationalistic acts to each other, and I don’t see any different in Shigofumi. There’s definitely “Wait, I thought that’s only possible on Jerry Springer” moments.


The last series I thought of was Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Quite obviously, crazy girl. I mean insanely, crazy, let completely logical and lucid girl. But I bring up crazy girl not because of the people she knifed, but she had some stellar emo facial distortions. I was shocked. This is JC Staff! Potemayo, Shana, Mahoraba, Sky Girls, Loveless, Kimikiss! I was lounging on the sofa when crazy girl violently stabbed rocket man, and I jumped up and gasped. OMFG. Not because she stabbed him. I had a feeling he was going to die, but just the brutal way in which he does. I mean… Potemayo, Mahoraba, Kimikiss! Maybe it’s the combination of JC Staff and Fumika and Kanaka’s cute nature that made me lower my guard, but, for a moment, I thought that crazy girl was going to flee to Hinamizawa. She’d fit in perfectly there. So I was reeling a bit. JC Staff! This is like if Kyoto Animation took over the second season of Gundam 00 or if LDT started at quarterback for the Chargers. Just a delightful development.

Shigofumi has the same plot mechanism as Kino’s Travels, but it’s not afraid to dip into the luridness of Jigoku Shoujo. Add in a bizarro JC Staff that’s breaking the moe mold, and Shigofumi‘s a very intriguing series.

Spoilers forthcoming after the Kyou intermission. If you want out, get out now. Otherwise, stay for my thoughts on the first arc.


Zero Hour, Nine A.M.


“Eek! Felt, save me!”


If I go into nitpicking mode, the biggest weakness of both Kino’s Travels and Jigoku Shoujo is that I rarely felt Kino or Enma were the stars. The main stars were the towns that Kino went to and the people whom Enma sought revenge for. I get the feeling that Shigofumi is about the same with the shigofumi and Fumika being just tools to explore a myriad of stories. I just prefer stories that are, well, stories rather than a collection of stories hobbled together by a plot mechanism, and I don’t see a high ceiling for Shigofumi as it is slaved to the stories that it can tell. While this genre can be entertaining (Kino), it can always wear out quickly (Jigoku).

And the story starts out with child pr0n and exploitation, so at least for shock value, this first arc is not going to be easy to top. It’s also not deep, as they have to resolve arcs (I’d imagine, as this is a thin slicing post), and the characters can’t linger outside of their arcs. It makes for predictability. In the middle of the first episode when we get the mother of all coincidences (the pr0n set would be in the same building as rocket man and Fumika would be walking around instead of teleporting/flying) and find the nice bed with expensive lighting equipment. It’s not as plush as the Celestial Being pads, but it’s still suitable for pr0n. It came together pretty quickly once I saw that Fumika had a little sister. I was thinking, “Well, lemme guess: crazy girl’s dad was pimping her out, and she probably snapped when she found out her little sister was next in line. Hence, she killed him.” I wasn’t far off. And I’m pretty sure I’ve seen something like this before in Jigoku Shoujo.


But it was still really, really disturbing. JC Staff! Can we work some of this sensationalism into Kimikiss? It desperately needs it.


I understand why crazy girl killed her father, but I’m still not sure about her killing rocket man. He was willing to defend her, and she loved him. Why kill him? With a good lawyer, she might get away with killing her dad but not rocket man. She thought she loved him, yet couldn’t confide in him. Maybe she’s just messed up now after being forced to work for her dad and is now callous towards life and hateful towards men. Fumika remarks that she can’t love men, and it’s not about preferring Kyou’s bullying. I think that explains it, as crazy girl does seem to have a joyful smirk after killing rocket man and when she went after Fumika. This is what happens when Tomoya isn’t around to throw a party and make everything better.


I also understand shooting illegal pr0n or dealing drugs in an abandoned building, but launch rockets? Rocket man has a lot of expensive equipment including two computers and explosives for the engines. How can he just leave them in this shack?

(I still can’t believe that rocket man didn’t know that pr0n was being made downstairs. I mean, with all those guys there, he would at least have noticed a little foot traffic. And those cameras… cameras make noise! And don’t even get me started on the cameras… making them zoom was great effect, but I’d think most photographers would be using a prime lens in that situation. I would. I mean the lighting and distance situation, not the pr0n situation. I feel I need to clarify that.)


Definitely a notch better production-wise than recent JC Staff series and on par with Shana. It’s not the best of the new season, animation-wise, but it’s close enough. I do like how Shigofumi isn’t yet another moe anime, and I hope it doesn’t become one. Also, with JC Staff breaking out a crazy girl, I have more ammo to persuade Sixten to make a Heart’s Content spin-off that’s a cross between Ichigo Mashimaro and… High School of the Dead! “Only their moe can stop the zombies.” I can see it now.

(Maybe not.)


“Believe in you, who believes in yourself!”

A lot of “believes” were thrown around this arc with the irony that it led them to their doom. Rocket man believed in himself, gained the confidence to read the note, and he was stabbed for his troubles. Crazy girl claimed to believe, only she didn’t through her actions (not confiding in rocket man; giving him a chance to defend her instead of stabbing him). I hope the belief that JC Staff can pull this series off won’t be misplaced.

(Apologizes for leaving off Studio Wombat from the rankings. They’re not a big enough studio, and I only know them for Mai Hime and Kino’s Travels. Since they didn’t stick around for Mai Otome shows that they might be a studio with some brains.)

10 Responses to “thin slicing shigofumi”

  1. I found the first two eps to be top notch. Easily the best new series this winter. But I didnt think it was pr0n they were shooting, I thought it was regular nude child modeling. I guess they had to be a bit subtle there.

    And everytime you wrote “rocketman” in your blog, Elton John started signing in the back of my head.

  2. Good times, very good times.

    For me, every time you said “Rocket Man”, that silly movie about that smart/stupid dud who went to Mars and his classical phrase “it wasn’t me” played on my mind over and over again. Poor Shouta (same seryuu as Shingo Suwa from Gigantic formula) was stabbed without mercy when he was more than ready to defend Asuna. Ironically Asuna got shoot when trying to make reality Shouta’s dream. They let me speechless a few times on these two episodes, especially on both deaths, I wasn’t ready for them to happen.

    Anyway, I’m glad to had picked up this show.

  3. Nice Boa.. err Rocket

  4. Yeah definitely the top tier of the new shows this season, like Jigoku Shoujo, I hope it develops an overall plot rather than just random story arcs.

  5. This funky hat and cape makes her look like the Boogiepop Phantom.

  6. Loli, cuteness, more loli, talking staff, students, love-love.


    Azumanga Daioh, Nanaka 6/17, Ai Yori Aoshi, Little Snow Fairy Sugar… I’ll agree that Shigofumi’s shock value is increased just by the fact that it’s from J.C.Staff, home of the heartwarming cutefest. Not even Read or Die could prepare me for this.

    Despite being done by a J.C.Staff that seems strangely out of character, Shigofumi is off to an awesome start, and I’ll keep watching and hoping it doesn’t break my heart.

  7. I thought Shigofumi was a bit more like Shinigami no Ballad.

  8. Crap, spoiled ep. 2 for myself. Ah well. I understand the feeling of similarity to the mentioned series, it has sort of the episodic nature where we peek into private lives of these characters for only a short while. It made me think of Mushishi, too. I’ll definitely keep my eye on this one. I’ll throw in the plug for Persona, too, which is shaping up to be something interesting. On the whole, I think this season might end up stronger than last season, which only really had Minami-ke for me.

  9. i liked the first two eps but i dont know if i can bear to watch unrelated stories through a whole series… gave up on jigoku shoujo at 8

  10. >>I thought it was regular nude child modeling

    Pornography doesn’t have to include sex.

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