Saturday, 2 February 2008

Shigofumi 3

Personal random otaku fantasy: To don a Japanese school uniform and have a lunch of bread and juice on the rooftop of a Japanese school building. (And not be arrested by the authorities)

*spoilers for Shigofumi ep 3, so for those who plan to watch it, you’ve been warned. For those who DON’T plan on watching or just aren’t into anime at all? Better yet, feel free to read on* *Anything else you need to know about Shigofumi: here*

3 schoolboys gather on the school’s rooftop one day, and one of them (the protagonist of the episode whose name eludes me and at the moment is not the point of interest) decides to pop the question: “Have you ever thought of dying?” Specifically he referenced jumping in front of an incoming train at the station. After some quick replies – both say “No,” rather easily, though in one case, the boy they call ‘Sen-chan’, the answer seems to be not too final… – the subject is dropped, and our protagonist is left with his ponderings to himself.

Later the day, the protagonist finds out that Sen-chan had just jumped off the roof of an apartment building. This being Shigofumi after all, poor Sen-chan did not survive.

And then there were 2.

Speculation is rife over the reason of Sen-chan suicide. Bullying in school, abuse at home, all the usual suspects raised by the local media (a media with nothing else to report on it seems, with all the fuss they kick up over the incident) but none seem to fit the bill here. It doesn’t help that the boy didn’t leave a suicide note – thank God there’s always the Shigofumi!

Sen-chan’s dad is so distraught over the unexplained death of his son, that he decides to take Sen-chan’s classroom hostage! (The actual scene looks rather forced since it’s not revealed what kind of weapon the man used for this coercion – perhaps this was what was altered by the production in view of yet another ‘recent event in Japan’?) He starts questioning around the terrified class for a reason for the suicide, but elucidates nothing, even from his son’s ‘close friend’, the protagonist.

Just as things start to get a little too melodramatic, comes the intervention of our real main character Fumika, who barges into the situation to deliver Sen-chan’s final words from the afterlife to our protagonist. And before Sen-chan’s dad is able to do something really damaging to the protagonist guy while trying to snatch the letter from him, the police enter to subdue him, so he has to settle for protagonist reading the letter aloud to him.

So what really drove poor Sen-chan over the edge, literally? His last letter seemed to be written almost whimsically, and tells not the sob tale of an abused child or bully victim, but of a youth so disenthused by life that while 'hanging out' at the railings on the rooftop, he ponders what it might be like to actually take the jump (like discussed with the protagonist at the start of the story)... And well, as they say, curiosity killed the cat.

He compares it to choosing yakisoba bread for lunch - a choice out of the usual one might make on a whim. Not that he was actually contemplating death at the time - just the thought of 'not living'.

Sen-chan's dad cannot believe that that his own son would say such things. However, our protagonist of the week not only does believe it, he feels he can finally understand Sen-chan as the friend that he was supposed to be (something which left the boy confused for most part of the episode).

Personal Thoughts: Okay, this episode required a bit more suspension of belief. Mainly on the media's over-sensationalization of Sen-chan's death (in the episode, we see waves and waves of news reports as well as a clip of a 'talk show' where some adults try to discuss the psychology of the case, *snort*), and more importantly Fumika's all-important entrance into the classroom where she not only holds the hostage-taking dad at gunpoint to deliver the letter to boy protagonist, but does so in full view of the already terrified classmates who wont be forgetting the day all too soon. Strange enough that the Shigofumi concept was accepted with next to no explanation by protagonist boy, but bigger point is, as the deliverer of letters from the dead, wouldn't the job description require a little more discretion?

(But it's only 3 episodes in, so they'll probably explain later how Fumika's staff whose name I've yet to remember can also erase the memories of irrelevant civilians, or some convenient explanation to that effect. Well, maybe.)

But I'm not here to nitpick on those details. In fact I've left out most of the more imporant details in the episode (important in the grand scheme of the series but not to this post in particular) since I was really only interested in discussing the following point.

Oddly enough, the one thing that I won't consider too farfetched in this episode was Sen-chan's reason for his jump, as vague as he was in explaining it (or my own fuzzy recollection may be to blame). Here we have a seemingly average high school student who isn't necessarily depressed or tormented by his life, yet he chooses out of it for what he chalks up to be a casual whim.

And well, it's obvious that though he has family and 'friends' (term used loosely), he doesn't view them to be substantial enough ties to what can be surmised as a mundane life.

I don't know if it's just me, but there are times when I realize that yes, I have people in life whose connections I have I truly appreciate, and these are what really 'tie' me to this life of mine... But scary thing is, remove all that, and what is there left?

I'm sure most people will still have their own personal motives in life, things they want to accomplish for themselves, things that will keep them going. But what of those who are still searching (or in my case, hoping something falls out of the sky and onto my lap =P), who are currently drifting at a stage where possibilities still abound, but perhaps confusion - or in this case, apathy - stalls the way to any real progress. What if you really feel that your life at present, was stagnant?

Then, perhaps like Sen-chan, you please yourself by choosing yakisoba bread for lunch?

A scary thought? And I'm supposedly a cynical abhor-er of melodrama.

Fortunately anyways, life nowadays is full of distractions to discourage the regular mind from being overly philosophical. In my case, though I may still be in the limbo-like stage described above, I know I still have my self-escapist fantasies in the realm of anime - and yes, real life connections to keep me going gaga, *phew*. Now I'll just have to promise myself that posts like these don't crop up too often :P

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