Movie (1.5 Hours)
Theme Depth: ★★★★★
Uniqueness of Plot: ★★★★★
Technical Elements: ★★★
Angst / Drama
*WARNING - THIS FILM (AND POSSIBLE THIS REVIEW) COULD BE TRIGGERING FOR ANYONE SUFFERING FROM ISSUES WITH SUICIDE. IF THERE IS A POSSIBILITY THE TOPIC WOULD CAUSE ISSUES FOR YOU, PLEASE MOVE ON AND CHECK OUT LESS-HORRIFIC DRAMAS. LIKE IT STARTED WITH A KISS!
Grim Reaper #413 (aka Shinigami-Kun) is a newbie in the world of grim reaper employment. Ultimately, his job is to ensure that the proper deaths happen at the proper time, and no other deaths occur in between. Thus, he is assigned the job of visiting those about to die, warning them of the upcoming event, and then escorting their souls to their eternal destination after death. On the other hand, he is also tasked with dissuading those contemplating suicide and preventing improper deaths. Sounds easy, right? Well, perhaps if Shinigami-Kun could manage to keep a professional distance.
But this particular grim reaper has perhaps a bit too much humanity left in his heart, and he keeps getting emotionally involved in his charge's lives. Consequently, in helping his human friends and charges, he is constantly getting in trouble with his superiors for breaking the Grim Reaper Laws. This is a touching story about humanity, death, and the desire to set things right before the end.
Not quite what I was expecting. The description I read gave me the impression that Shinigami-Kun somehow saved his charges or rescued the good guys. But that isn't really his job here. Instead he helps them accomplish their final wishes, protect or prepare their loved ones for the future, and generally set things to right. He is kind of like a gentle companion, walking them through the difficult moments and easing the stress of death. I must admit, the thought that someone is there with you at your final moments is comforting.
This show is partly a tear-jerker (people die obviously) and partly humor (poor Shinigami-Kun's confusion about human habits makes for some amusing situations). It helps that there are a couple nods to Soul Eater in the special effects and set design. The music and Shinigami-kun's bow tie also lend a perky, peppy touch to the storyline. Personally, I think they find a great balance between enjoying the funny parts of life and the strangeness of humans versus the solemnity deserved by its topic.
Sweet story. Unique in plot, excellent theme, and well done altogether. It did sometimes randomly drop off a plot point (or character), but we had fun making up stories to explain away the answers, so I can forgive it that sin. There is also the question of why the Shinigami does or does not know the things he knows ~ he understands human behavior, but not what "piss you off" means. He knows the concept of death, but not crabs for dinner. It's a little strange, but mostly just funny.
The star (and his immediate supervisor) were amazing, and I loved the akuma (devil) character (particularly his outfit). Although the speed with which the characters were willing to sell off their souls to a known akuma (devil) requires some suspension of disbelief. But, as Shinigami-Kun says, "He's a surprisingly nice guy!:"
The supernatural elements were surprisingly, well not realistic, but very well-staged overall. I was very impressed. They've come a long way from the early dramas. The supernatural-earth scenes flowed really well, better than I see in most Japanese shows. The guards chasing after the flying suitcase ~ AWESOME! Perhaps not the most suave, sophisticated, or smooth show, but that doesn't detract. It is based on a teenager's manga, and this is reflected in the show's audience. Great for young adults!