Shigofumi: The Last Miracle Consented to Men

This was a good episode, and probably the most “uplifting” of all Shigofumi episodes to date. It’s uplifting in the Bokurano sense, though, in that watching it leaves this bittersweet feeling flooding through you, in the way that only stories about death can. We see, in this episode, the progression of Takehiko from graphic artist for a videogame, to depressed man dying of cancer, to even deeper depression as society and family treats him like dirt, to…well, we’ll get to it in a bit.

It’s a simple story of a dying man’s fleeting jaunt with a young girl (no, it’s not dirty, get that brain of yours out of the gutter)–a kind of dual perspective on the whole life thing. The bright-eyed, cheerful Fumika never seems to let anything get her down, whereas the simple act of watching Dragonman (which, by the way, sounds totally awesome and I request, nay, demand spinoff OVAs) brings Takehiko to the brink of depression, worsened by the police officer arresting him for kidnapping a child, despite the fact that this isn’t what he’s done, and despite Fumika’s protestations.

Takehito is, of course, dying, and as the day progresses he realizes more and more that what he felt as his goal in life–drawing to make people happy–has failed. He’s quit his job due to his terminal illness. He lashes out at his mother, who allegedly despises him for being an otaku, for little reason at all. Yet still Fumika seems to enjoy his presence, in her own oblivious way. Yet even still, as his life collapses around him, he thinks of ending it all.

And then Fumika pulls out the game she’s been playing all day. It just so happens to be the game Takehito was working on (coincidence? I think not) and, of course, the cheerful face of Fumika playing it finally, at the end of a practically harrowing day, finally finds a reason to live, and keep living.

And then dies. Such is Shigofumi.

Takehito was obviously searching for a deeper meaning in life (hence his quitting of his job, his somewhat odd statements to Fumika at the start of the episode) and yet, at the end of it all, found it was staring him in the face and smiling. With cat ears. It’s an incredibly simple episode, but it’s elegiac in nature and we all know how that makes me feel (deeply satisfied, that’s what). I think the simple, packaged, take-out moral here is that happiness doesn’t have to be something grand, a life’s masterpiece of epic proportions, but, rather, just simple pride that one person, however insignificant, has taken pleasure in something you’ve done.

It’s fitting, and somewhat sad, then, that Fumika switches off the Not-Game Boy Advance at the end of the episode. It could be read as a twisted way to end the story–she switches the game off, showing to the viewer that maybe the pleasure Takehito took in her obsession with it was merely fleeting–but I don’t quite think so. Rather than an acknowledgment that his final pleasure was meaningless, it’s more of a realization that he’d found what he was looking for: not pride in the game, but Fumika. After all, he gave his now-ruined life to save hers. It’s only fitting, then, that she should save his (well, metaphorically speaking), not only through the mechanism of playing the game, but also through her devotion to him throughout the entire episode. I think the drawing is indicative of his deep respect for her, which she may not quite fully grasp yet.

Maybe if she puts the cat ears on again, understanding will dawn…

5 Responses to “Shigofumi: The Last Miracle Consented to Men”

  1. 1 Will of the wisp 19 March 2008 at 12:31 pm

    First of all, that was an excellent analysis! I never considered the end (switching off the hndheld consule) in that manner. It is, I believe, a very beautiful way of interpreting it.

    My interperetation of the male protagonist’s death, though, deviate from yours slightly. The male protagonist fulfilled his greatest desire / need, to be acknowledged for his efforts, when he saw Fumika enjoying his video game. As a result, he can die without regret. In a sense, it is almost as if his purpose in life was fulfilled; Therefore, the death is not so much a loss, but a continuation / another step in his personal story. (OK, note to self: stop reading too many phenomenology textbooks). from my understanding of your article, it seems as if his death is a cruel happenstance, a evil thing that takes him away from his newfound joy. my interpretation, on the other hand, do not see it as an evil event.

    Any way, just my two cents. Please keep on blogging and let us keep on enjoying it! (Virtual cookies and kudoes to anyone who remember which anime I am imitating / parodying there!)

  2. 2 OGT 19 March 2008 at 6:05 pm

    That’s certainly another way to put it. I wrote this post at 1am at night, and I had had about 5 hours of sleep the previous night (having woken up at 6am that morning), so the fact that this post is in any way coherent comes as an absolute surprise to me.

    I do like the idea of “fulfilled life”, and I think I maybe should have mentioned that. I was more mentioning the cruel twist of fate that he should attain meaning in his life right before he is killed. That, and I thought “Is this going to be the first Shigofumi episode without a death?” right before he, uh, died.

  3. 3 Will of the wisp 19 March 2008 at 11:00 pm

    :) I would have loved to have a shigofumi epsiode without death in it too. Do not worry, your post is a lot more coherrent than most of my essays, even though they were written when I am wide awake. I do suggest you go to sleep earlier though :P

  4. 4 rah-rah 20 March 2008 at 5:28 am

    Shame we got only one episode left and it sure isn’t gonna be happy :(

  5. 5 normal iphone 27 May 2014 at 6:05 am

    Hello! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from an established blog.
    Is it very difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very
    techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to start.
    Do you have any ideas or suggestions? With thanks

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I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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a ridiculously long and only partially organized list of subjects


March 2008

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