Tegamibachi takes place in the land of AmberGround, a place of perpetual night only partially illuminated by an artificial sun. Lag Seeing works as a Letter Bee at the government delivery service named the Bee Hive. He travels with his Dingo, Niche, and her "pet," Steak and is entrusted with the hearts of everyone in AmberGround as he delivers their packages.
Tegamibachi was initially serialized in the Monthly Shounen Jump, until the magazine went defunct in June 2007, and moved to newly-launched Jump SQ on November 4. Prior to the launch of Jump SQ, in October, a special chapter, Tegamibachi to Dingo, was published as a one-shot in Weekly Shounen Jump.
Tegamibachi was published in English as Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee by VIZ Media under the Shonen Jump imprint from September 1, 2009 to March 7, 2017. It started serialization in the March 2009 issue of their monthly Shounen Jump anthology. In Europe, the series has been licensed in Italy by Panini Comics under their Planet Manga division, Kana in France, and Planeta DeAgostini in Spain.
Tegami Bachi is ok. It’s a bit slow at the beginning and rushed at the end, but both of these things do not matter much, since you’ll solve the main mystery much earlier than the characters, and what makes this manga worth reading is the world – unusual, intriguing, yet consistent.
When I read more traditional shounen, I tend to take notes of mature details and to imagine what a seinen built around them would’ve been like. With Tegami Bachi this exercise yields unusual results – this manga doesn’t have a middle ground, there’s the plot, centered around the main 12 y.o. character, with all the
friends, dreams and heart moments, and then there’s the bleak world with secrets so messed up, that it probably wouldn’t even work in a more serious interpretation, everybody would have been already dead. Not that this dichotomy isn’t underlined by the author himself: the older more jaded cast does create their own plan to save the world and it’s, er, peculiar. These two currents sort of clash – when deaths of comrades are quickly downplayed, sort of compliment each other – when it’s easy to see why a bit of kindness would be valuable in a world like theirs.
It’s not that dark fantasy can rule unchallenged in the world of Tegami Bachi: after all it has its own metaphysics, centered around “heart”, including the human one. Heart is basically the most important source of energy in their world. That’s what I mean when I talk about consistency - everything of importance is heart-related: letters contain heart, Bees deliver letters, use heart to fight, monsters want heart, etc. The world is also memorable visually, considering the atypical lighting, postapocalyptic “moonscapes”, star symbolism and occasional bold fairytale-like designs.
The art is considerably good. I didn’t think it’d click with me, yet, as it turns out, it flows surprisingly well and there are plenty of gorgeous panels. The better parts are the landscapes, Bee uniforms and gear, the more boring are the enemies (bugs are bugs), the characters are a mixed bag, everyone looks way too sweet and somewhat similar.
Three things about Tegami Bachi should be pointed out for the sake of potential readers:
- Firstly, Tegami Bachi is full of crying, speeches about heart and tearjerker moments. It’s all plot-related and world-motivated, tearjerkers are perfectly effective (I did cry a bit, tho, probably, my age makes me sentimental), yet I feel the need to warn you about attempts to exploit your empathy.
- Secondly, fighting in Tegami Bachi is also done with heart bullets, and the side effect of any shot is a leak of heart, when people see each other’s memories and feelings. Somehow that always helps. But the battles are not exactly readable or tense as a result.
- And there’re some distasteful things, like the sexualization of the aide of the main character, who looks like a loli and usually jumps around without pants for a comedic relief. And she is immersion-breaking even when dressed.
I can’t say that I dig the main cast too much. I must give it to the manga, that it’s nice to see a low-key environment for a change: Bees are technically post officers, not superheroes. Their work makes them see a lot of people, so at times the manga resembles a procedural. Side-characters are mostly enjoyable and well-rounded. Yet the main character is a bit too predictable and saccharine, and the relationships between the mains are conflict-free, all forces of attraction - the few promises of potentially interesting disagreement are quickly stiffled, which, in my opinion, makes the interactions a bit too bland.
The tropes that play central part and may be not to everyone’s liking are special kids are special, chance meetings (the most important characters simply bump into each other) and following one’s inspirational figure (one of the major plotlines, if not the major, is about a bunch of people trying to find one cool guy).
The plot picks up around the 30th chapter, the ending is a bit rushed, I guess the manga got an axe chapter limit. What drove my attention was the wish to see more of the world, not the characters or plot, to be honest. Yet, between it all some truly powerful moments form, when, say, a giant monster nightmarishly drinks people’s hearts dry from the sky or a bullet reveals that a character inside his heart stands alone and hopeless under the rain and people can connect to him to alleviate the grief.
Structurally and by worth of some characters Tegami Bachi is a typical shounen, yet on the scale of friendship and battles it’s so skewered towards the former that it starts to stand apart. Tegami Bachi probably isn’t something that should be in your first dozen of titles, but it’s an interesting read worth checking out if you look for different settings, pretty high-contrast art and, maybe, a chance to shed heartfelt tears.
"You're the first man who's ever made me wear pants" - Niche
If a line like that by the 2nd chapter, doesn't strike your attention as amusing than Letter Bee(or Tegami Bachi in Jap) may not be the manga for you.
I was first attracted to this manga through the anime adaptations 1st season which had aired recently, and wanting to know what happened after ep.25 piqued my interest to read on.
Story - 8
Without going into detail and providing spoilers; TB is a unique tale on its own which escapes from the mediocrity of school life stories which seems to be the common setting for most manga
these days, and although you may find similarities in reference to characters and traits from other manga(from hair that change to swords to 'special' eye powers), what TB does provide is a fresh new outlook in storytelling.
We are shown(what looks like) a post-apocalyptic world of AmberGround where an "endless night" governs over a man-made sun. Towns are scarce and only ways for communication to each town is through letter or parcel which are delivered by the Letter Bees. Government delivery workers entrusted with the population’s letters which carries their 'hearts' and emotions. Now if you like me, thought how can a postman's story be so exciting? As long as you think outside the square you will realize it’s not just about a story of mail delivery but a story about the emotions that come with that mail. There is also plenty of shōnen action goodness in TB as outside the towns of AmberGround reside giant insect-like monsters which only the Letter Bees can take down. Postman Pat dressed as Mad Max? Maybe.
Art - 8
Artwork can be visually stunning at times, and the fight scenes are understandable from panel to panel (which is uncommon for action manga as it can take a few reads before a fight scene can choreograph in my head). The post-apocalyptic background is what I believe breathes the story to life (and is visually done right) as it brings new depths of emotions to each character and the hardships that is AmberGround and living in that world. Although the creator of TB Hiroyuki Asada is not highly recognized(his past work is none I've ever heard of anyways), his tale through manga is at least noteworthy to capture audiences over and even screen an anime adaptation.
Character - 7
Within the TB world, we are shown the Letter Bees and their traveling companions known as 'dingoes'. Each Letter Bee is equipped with Shindajuus(or heart bullet guns) which are the only methods of being able to take a Gaichuu down as these insect-like creatures have shell-armor which an average gun would just tickle it. Whilst each Letter Bee has a unique story of their own alongside the main character Lag Seeing, what really captivated me was the introduction of their companions or dingoes. Dingoes came of any shape or form and fought alongside their Bees. From pet dogs, to wild panther-like creatures to seasoned mercenaries who fought if the Bee had the money to pay them. They also acted as trackers which have been shown as a common trait for most dingoes as well. One particular dingo I really liked is Niche, Lag’s personal dingo, who although looks human is not. Also known as “the Golden Sword”, Niche is similar to Eve from Kentaro Yabuki’s Black Cat(but in an even younger loli-body) and can manipulate her hair into blades. Like a newborn child, Niche’s personality(and curiosity) can at times be amusing and what I believe serves as on-going humor(and cuteness) for TB. You also meet other characters in TB which are unique in their own way, and just as emotional as the main characters.
The only reason why my score came to be a 7 instead of an 8 or 9(which some may find biased) is due to a certain character and their excessive display of being a nake-mushi(crybaby). I’m not sure where the author was going with that one as the emotions portrayed from other characters were heartfelt enough without the main character having to add to it in most(if not every) chapter.
Enjoyment - 7
Although I wouldn't go as far as saying its one of the better reads I've had in the past year, I can safely recommend TB for anyone of all ages.Whilst it does start off slow like all shōnen, its after a few chapters and learning the world of AmberGround and its residents that make TB an enjoyable read to past the time or for those waiting for the 2nd season of the adaptation to come out.
Be gentle with me because this is probably my first manga that I'm up to release date's with.
A story about a land, covered in pure darkness. With no light other than radiance of a man made star, hanging over the main capital. Under the light of this star, a job is being taken place, a job to deliver letters, and the heart contained in these letter's. The story follows a young boy named Lag seeing and his dingo (familiar) Niche, and her snack Steak. Together, they take on the task of defeating giachu, and delivering letter's at any cost. Their goal. To save their dear
friend, and become recognized as the head bee.
I never have been a big manga fan, untill recently. I just happened to be browsing my local Book's a million, when I saw this manga's cover. I didn't really grab it untill the next time I can back and it caught my eye again. So I grabbed it, sat down and fell in love. The story drew me in. A boy with a goal, giving all of his heart to do what he believes in, staying adamant throughout his journey to save his friend geuche and become head bee, while never turning his back to help out anyone in anyway he can.
I may not be the most adept manga reader, but the beauty in these pages kept me glued untill the story line took holld on me. It painted a constant scene in my head, even while away from this book. Spending long hour's of the day thinking this over, and re-reading it just for the visual pleasure. If your someone who love's manga just for the art. This is a must see.
EVERY character has some form of important roll, and almost every one with a medium roll is shown multiple time's throughout the manga. The background to everyone had me feeling like I knew them all. It felt like everytime someone left a scene I just couldn't wait to have them back with the group. And their goal's were so strongly outlined and had such deep meaning, that somehow they had become mine while I was reading, just hoping for all nice things to fall into these people's path's. If you want to feel like your geting to know someone deeply, I recommend. Mabey you won't get close to them like I did, cause this was my first real manga experience, but I surely hope you do.
If you havn't caught on by now, your dense. I freaking loved this manga. Bought the first 2 chapter's the day I picked it up. Read, and re-read them for a week. 24/7 thought's about this manga going on. Mabey a little kiddy, but hey it's so good you don't really notice it. >.> well you might but it's so freaking good who cares.
I would give to this manga a solid 9 but until I see more development in the future chapters, I'll refrain from rating it so higly.
Story - 9
The plot seems to be childish and silly when you read it, it was very slow and it's still very slow during the last released chapters, but I realized many questions are being answered lately in the newest chapters, furthermore even though at a first glance it will look silly to you, it gets darker and darker.
Art - 8
I won't say it's the best drawn manga I have read, but if you can exclude the "off models" most
drawings aren't half bad.
Character - 8
If you can't stand crybabies, then you might hate Lag Seeing to death, even though later in the manga it is explained why he's such a crybaby, it doesn't affect me at all, in my opinion, it's good for a male character to show its emotional side most of the times. About Niche, I was disappointed by her, simply because she's always the same through the whole manga, I don't want this story to turn into a pathetic romance, they're 12 years old after all. I also enjoyed a lot Gauche/Noir's development. Not all the supporting characters are developed as the main characters, but as I said before, the author is working on it and by the reading the latest chapters, I can see he's making many efforts about it.
Enjoyment - 8
Once again, to enjoy fully this manga, a lot of time is required, it's not something you'll enjoy at first glance, but if you have patience you'll enjoy it much more than before.
Overall - 8
I might edit this review later, because the manga has a lot of potential, it just takes time to develop and I'm still looking forward to knowing how the author will decide to develop this story.
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