Ryu’s Musings – Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee Vol 01 – 03

Posted on April 1st, 2011 by Ryu Sheng |

01 Language: English
Direction: Right to Left
by: Hiroyuki Asada
Publisher: Viz Media Shounen Jump
Type: Series
Genre: Shounen

Synopsis:

In Amberground, a dangerous terrain where a man-made star casts a permanent twilight, young Lag Seeing aspires to become a Letter Bee: a postman entrusted to deliver the hearts of people separated from the ones they love.

Character Musings:

Lag seeing is the child lead of this story, and I have to admit initially I didn’t like him. Always whining and crying, he got on my nerves. However over the course of the first volume he goes through some rather significant character changes which make him more likeable. His cry baby attitude, which was initially irritating, suddenly comes off as being endearing. I also loved his attitude and willingness to help anyone and everyone. I also especially liked how Hiroyuki makes the past have an impact on Lag, and then keeps that impact up so it’s always there. It makes him an interesting character.02

Niche, Child of Maka. Niche was found sitting in a niche, and for some reason Lag decides to call her that. She’s a good compliment to Lag who is frankly weak as hell. She makes up for his lack of combat skills. She’s got the ability to make swords out of her hair, and has animalistic abilities, such as speed, jumping etc etc. She decides to become Lag’s dingo (partner) after he rescues her twice, and calls her cute.

Gauche Suede, the Letter Bee that delivers Lag to his aunt. Over the course of the journey they become friends, and he tells Lag about his desire to become the Head Letter Bee so he can look after his sister. He’s a standoffish sort of person when he first appears, but is utterly dedicated to his job, and believe in what he’s doing very strongly. When he and Lag part after reaching their destination Lag tells him he’ll become a Letter Bee and see him again.

Sylvette Suede, is Gauche’s sister, she’s the same age as Lag, and as much a cry baby. In the five years since Lag and Gauche parted Gauche has gone missing and Sylvette claims to have given up on him. Initially she comes off as a very bitter about the event, however after lag hits Gauche’s gun with his shindanju the truth is revealed. She ends up becoming Lag’s landlord, and is in a constant battle of wills with Niche over things like, brushing her teeth, wearing underwear etc etc. I find her to be a very likeable character and a great counter to Lag.

General Musings:

I bought the first three volumes of his purely on spec. I was in my local comic shop and the manager was griping about how a girl had ordered them and never picked them up. I wasn’t overly impressed with the anime so i wasn’t interested in the manga. That of course changed when i saw the cover designs.

The three cover designs are truly stunning, looks like they were done with pastel colours and frankly i think they’re some of the best cover designs I’ve ever seen on a manga. Since he had them up, and i was looking for something new to read, i did the worst thing you can do, judged a book by it’s cover and bought all three volumes 😀

03 Frankly i don’t regret it in the least and it’s now on my continuous order with the shop hehe. The beautiful cover work is carried on into the actual manga, and this is where i got my first surprise. A lot of manga i get from Viz usually has the colour bleached from the pages (i assume to cut down on costs). However this series doesn’t follow that. The first few pages are in luscious colour, in all three volumes.

Hiroyuki’s art is just amazing in colour, and the settings he draws are even more alive due to the colouring. Shame the double spread wasn’t made a pull-out though, since having it on a normal page does spoil it a bit, but we can’t have everything 😀 Thankfully it isn’t just the colour pages that were well done. Hiroyuki brings his story to life with some really amazing drawings and stunning sceneries.

Over the course of the three volumes i found myself really getting into the story. Given the way the story is set up, it would be very easy for it to fail. Since there’s only a man made sun, and the light is only brightest in the centre and gets darker the further away you go from the centre, it would be so easy not to be able to pass the sense of darkness over to the reader.  He manages to pull it off perfectly though, using excellent art and excellent story telling he draws the reader into the setting.

Not much is revealed in the first three volumes, however we do get some excellent insights into the characters, as well as some laughter and tears. Since this is a fairly long series (i believe we’re upto volume twelve at the minute, with the series on-going), this is a great start to the series.

I’m looking forward to seeing how future volumes play out and how Lag and Niche work out. Initially i was thinking that it would end up with Lag and Niche in a relationship or sorts, then i changed to Sylvette and Lag, and now back to Niche. Really looking forward to seeing how it ends up.

Viz did an outstanding job with this release, the luscious covers, to the glossy colour pages, all the way to the editing. I didn’t find anything hugely wrong or rewritten in these volumes, which is always a bonus. Though sadly they did censor it, in the original Japanese versions Niche doesn’t wear underwear, and when she jumps we get bare ass on display. Viz cover these up with SFX. I’m guessing this was so they could go with the lower Teen rating thus get more readers. I’m in two minds over this, on the one hand the censoring isn’t to bad, and doesn’t have any impact on the series. So it means more people can enjoy it. On the other hand I’m a bit of a puritan so wish it wasn’t censored.

Overall though this was a bloody awesome start to a series that I really enjoy and can highly recommend

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