So we get Fumika’s origin story. Is it possible for an episode to have both visceral, emotional power and be so outlandish (and still unexplained in crucial points) that one is torn as to whether to give this a good or bad review?
Take the abuse of Fumika by her father, which is the start of this whole thing (hence the title, “The Beginning”). The visceral power, of course, comes from those scenes–it’s not hard to whip up emotions in an audience through them, especially when you have a cute little girl sobbing and crying. Worthy shows like Now and Then, Here and There are practically built upon these sort of things, and yes, I had that knotty feeling at the pit of my stomach as I watched her be written all over by her father. I don’t know, though–the nature of the abuse is still something I simply can’t quite buy, even given the fact that this show is 1.) a fantasy; 2.) clear from the start that Kirameki is moonbats insane. Being an aspiring novelist myself I was deeply frustrated when the publishers dismissed the abuse complaints with a sigh of, “novelists.” Dude, we writers may be more drunk, drug-addicted, reclusive, and unstable on average, and some of us may be downright immoral and criminal. But this guy’s pathologies go way, way beyond even the normal range of artistic eccentricity. I still think the shrillness and over-the-top nature of the character doesn’t fit the character of the show, and that’s even after the comedy and slapstick and Kanaka the talking staff.
I also still don’t get how it is that Mika, who is the Postal Worker, somehow split her body from Fumi-chan. People with multiple personality disorder still inhabit one body; somehow, I guess, their bodies separated, perhaps when she shot her father the first time. I suppose we’ll find out about how Fumi-chan ended up in a coma, which is also the likely explanation for why she’s different from all the other dead Postal Workers.
After doing a pretty good job ratcheting up the tension and emotional stakes by telling of her horrid past, I was actually rather disappointed with the resolution of the episode. It felt a bit cheap and easy for Kirameki to essentially get away with his longstanding crimes so easily, and given that his “inspiration” depends on being able to abuse female bodies, one wonders if he is capable of writing anything ever again. (Artists may be impulsive people in general, but it takes an awful lot of discipline to actually finish a work, especially a novel. You have to have your head screwed on right enough to be able to do at least that. And honestly, his “novels” seem more like flighty pseudo-Goth drivel, with no story, no characters, etc…) I suppose this symptomatic of the way the show has shifted its attention away from the letter delivery aspects–which was what drew me to the show–to talking about Fumika herself. Personally, I find these parts to be a lot less interesting. It would be more acceptable if the show were slated for 24 episodes so we could get on with it and start ruminating on death’s effects on others again, perhaps with longer story arcs too. But that is not to be; this is a 13 episode series.
Count me as a fan of the character design, though. I think they’re cute! Since this show is determined not to be terribly solemn and serious, too, it’s actually more fitting than I previously thought; had the tone been consistently like episodes 1-3, I would have begun questioning the disconnect. (For much the same reason, I always have trouble entirely taking seriously dramatic plotlines that feature very dating-sim style, moe characters. It has to be mighty good, like ef, for me to overlook it.)
I’m wondering whether I should begin to class Shigofumi as a disappointment for the season in the end, despite it being fascinating and original. I’m probably forcing it through the template of the first few glorious episodes a bit too much, and maybe I just need to be more open-minded to the overall direction change of the story. I guess the thing is is that I haven’t found a truly thoughtful title this season that wasn’t a holdover from the previous one and my hopes that this would be it have been disappointed. It has a great premise and initially great execution. I want it to live up to that promise.