Shigofumi – 10
On the way to a relative’s house, a young girl named Fumika pauses to poke a dead bird on the road. Her mother tells her that it’s dead, and when Fumika asks if this is reversible, her mother informs her that this isn’t a game. Later, while her mother is gossiping with some other women, Fumika finds her cousin Takehiko in the backyard attempting to draw something. He claims not to know what to draw, so Fumika suggests the outside. Takehiko’s mother then informs him that the women are going out, leaving him to take care of the house and Fumika. Since Fumika is hungry, Takehiko decides to take her out too and treats her to a mountain of sweets. While eating, Fumika asks about Takehiko’s job since today is a Monday, and Takehiko reveals that he used to draw for a company, but he suggests that those might not have been pictures that he wanted to draw. Fumika thinks that he’s talking about games, and the two end up going to a game arcade where Takehiko shows her a vertical scrolling shooter game. He’s fairly good at it, but when Fumika tries to point out a way for him to gain a life in the game, it reminds Takehiko of something and causes him to lose.
Takehiko then takes Fumika to see a movie, however the movie features a superhero who has come down with an incurable disease. This hits home with Takehiko because he had recently been informed that he had cancer, but he can’t magically get healed like the superhero does in the movie. Afterwards, he bumps into two thugs outside the theater and manages to get into a fight. As he’s getting beat up, Takehiko laughs to himself over how weak he is and questions what he’s doing since he’s already over 30. The beating gets broken up when the police arrive, but instead of treating Takehiko as the victim, they think that he kidnapped Fumika. At the police station, while Takehiko is being interrogated, Fumika waits in the lobby playing a handheld game and happens to hear a woman crying. When she goes to investigate, she finds Shigofumi courier Fumika and thinks that this Fumika was bullying the crying woman, but the crying woman explains that Fumika had delivered an important letter. When Shigofumi courier Fumika comments on how they have the same name, young girl Fumika notes that this is the first time she’s met someone who has that.
Takehiko meanwhile gets chewed out by the police interrogator over how he doesn’t currently have a job, and he eventually puts them in contact with a friend at his old company. After confirming things about Takehiko, his friend has the interrogator turn the phone over to Takehiko so that he can question why Takehiko had suddenly turned in his letter of resignation. His friend feels betrayed because Takehiko didn’t talk to him about it even though they’ve been together since they joined the company, and Takehiko leaving kills the project that they were working on together. In any case, the police eventually release Takehiko, and he phones home to tell his mother where he and Fumika are right now. His mother uses this chance to talk to him about the prospect of getting him a normal job at a credit union, and she also informs him that she had told his father that he was on extended leave rather than the truth about him being unemployed. Takehiko takes all of this as proof that his mother disliked him being an otaku and had just wanted a normal child who did everything that society deemed normal.
On the drive home, Fumika talks to Takehiko about going to the ninja store that their mothers had been talking about earlier, but Takehiko reveals that this is actually a drinking spot for adults. Because Fumika admits to being envious of adults, Takehiko tells her that being an adult isn’t that great. Moments later, the car sputters out due to some mechanical problem, and Takehiko decides to go off on his own to look for help. As he walks along the road, Takehiko thinks to himself about how he’s lost everything, but he feels that he doesn’t care because his life will soon be gone as well. He pauses to look at the sea, and to his surprise, Fumika comes running after him because she didn’t want to be alone. Their subsequent conversation, however, is interrupted when Fumika’s handheld game beeps to indicate that she needs to feed her digital pet. Takehiko smiles because he recognizes the game as something he had worked on, and all this reminds him of how he had been an aspiring artist while growing up. His desire to draw led him to join a game company as a graphic designer, and he knows now that he merely wanted his parents to be happy with what he drew.
Takehiko’s thoughts are cut short when he suddenly hears an oncoming truck. As he pushes Fumika out of the way, Takehiko realizes that his wish was fulfilled, and he thinks to himself that this isn’t bad. In the aftermath, Fumika and her mother attend Takehiko’s funeral, and Fumika initially thinks that Takehiko is just sleeping. It’s not until she touches his face inside the casket that she comes to a realization. This, however, does not appear to have any linger effects on her since she goes back to playing her game a short while later. It is during this time that Shigofumi courier Fumika shows up and shows young girl Fumika a hand-drawn picture of her sleeping with the word arigatou (thank you) written beside it that Takehiko had sent as a Shigofumi. As she continually resets her handheld game, young girl Fumika asks Shigofumi courier Fumika if Takehiko is dead and if she can’t see him anymore, and so Fumika explains that this is what it means for him to be dead. Meanwhile, at the hospital, Shigofumi courier Fumika’s other half wakes up.
Well, I didn’t have very high hopes for this episode, but it actually turned out better than expected with its themes of growing up and death, even if it was a little predictable at parts. The theme of conforming to social norms was also there, but like the bullying theme from several weeks ago, I think that that’s one of those that tend to get overused in series like this. The episode was stronger when it was exploring young girl Fumika’s encounters with death and how she viewed them (such as poking the dead bird vs. touching Takehiko’s corpse). Speaking of which, I found it curious that they chose to have the young girl Fumika share the same name as Shigofumi courier Fumika, though it appears not to be indicative of anything other than a coincidence. If nothing else, it made writing this summary more complicated and verbose.
What kept this from being an entirely standalone episode, thankfully, was the inclusion of the cliffhanger at the end with Fumika waking up. This means that instead of having one more standalone episode before the finale like I was afraid they might do, both the last two episodes will be about the main story. I really have no idea how this will conclude (will Shigofumi courier Fumika disappear or merge with her other half or what?), so I’m very curious to see what happens.