Loving your Enemy in Shigofumi
A Shigofumi is a letter from the dead.
The final thoughts and feeling of someone imprinted in a letter and sent to a person of their choosing. Sometimes the letter is angry, sometimes the letter is joyful, sometimes the letter is sent to a cat.
In most episodes of Shigofumi, the main character is sent off to deliver a letter to whomever the deceased person chooses. Most often, the letter is sent to either a loved one left behind and is filled with love or an enemy and is filled with hate and contempt. The letter that struck me the most in the series was one sent to an enemy but filled with unconditional, radical love. It was given to one character’s murderer.
The victim, Shouta, and the murderer, Asuna, were friends that would often meet and talk about their dreams. After Shouta learns about Asuna’s dark secret, she kills him to protect herself and her family.
In the letter, there is no trace of hate or resentment. There is not really even direct mention of the murder. Surprisingly, there is an apology. Shouta apologizes for not seeing the pain the murderer was in that led to her choices.
“I’m sorry I didn’t notice. All I thought about was myself. I never really thought about what kind of girl you were…”
The letter brings about just as radical of a change in the receiver. When Asuna receives the letter, she is on a train running away from the police. Through fear and suspicion, she even tries to kill the one delivering the letter. After reading it, she does a literal about-face and runs off the train to a spot where she and her victim used to meet. Stone-cold self-preservation turns into confusion and desperate regret.
“Are you an idiot? I killed you! I killed you!”
Those feelings lead her to their meeting place where she does something in honor of Shouta’s dream and memory. In the end, although she is killed though an accident with one of the detectives chasing her, her last thoughts are filled with a love and gratefulness towards Shouta.
Shouta loved Asuna unconditionally. He met her selfish, malicious, unforgivable actions with incomprehensible love and understanding much like we are supposed to do as Christians.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”
I believe one of the reasons Christians are given this commandment is that this kind of love can open the door to amazing things. Anyone would have expected Shouta to react with anger or hate or at least some sort of negative emotion, but he didn’t. It defies all logic and every expectation. When people encounter this kind of love, the same sort of love God shows us, it can transform not only them but the person offering it.
At the end of the episode, a Shigofumi is given from Asuna to her sister. The person delivering it explains Asuna’s Shigofumi in this way:
“These are the most pure, beautiful feelings in the world.”