The story is primarily about Momo, a shinigami that looks like a white-haired young girl. She is a different sort of shinigami: While she still leads souls to the other side, she tries to ease the suffering of both the living and the dead she encounters. Her companion is Daniel, a small cat that follows her. The other shinigami is An, who looks like a young girl, but she dresses in all black and is cruel, with no sympathy to the souls she takes. Most of the series centers on Momo and Daniel and the people they both heal and take away.
A 12-episode TV drama was also made. It's a sweet and sad story that's fairly short but worth your time.
Ballad of a Shinigami provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adapted Out: An is not seen in the anime adaptation.
- Don't Fear the Reaper: Momo is a very sweet and kind-hearted shinigami who will try her best to ease the pain and the sadness of those whom the people she "collects" have left behind. The same cannot be said about the other shinigami, however.
- Emotionless Girl: Momo appears emotionless, but allegedly feels more strongly than normal humans do. An plays this straight though.
- Evil Counterpart: An is another shinigami who looks exactly the same as Momo, but dresses in all-black instead of all-white. And instead of trying to help the people who are facing death, An would opt to destroy the souls she collects.
- Foreign Language Theme: The theme song is completely in English.
- Funny Background Event: Particularly in the anime. You'll have stuff like cats yawning, or one of the kids swordfighting with Daniel. Usually though, the foreground is so close, you only see the background event. But since the conversation involves the foreground, it works.
- Mystical White Hair: Momo is a shinigami and has white hair.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Daniel to Momo and Nicolas the cat to An
- Parting Words Regret: The reason Eko seeks her older sister's ghost— she said to her that she wished she would disappear, and later that day she was killed in an accident.
- Slice of Life: It is very much in the style of slice of life. It is an interesting example, however, since the characters it focuses on, are usually about to die (slice of death?) and the story also focuses on Momo, who is decidedly not a human.
- Tender Tears: Momo, despite being described as an Emotionless Girl, cries a lot. She explains she does so for the dead, who can no longer do so.
- Your Days Are Numbered: Momo tells Mitsuki that he is going to die soon. It's actually a lie and Momo was trying to convince him to start living life again after he was depressed about his sister's death.