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Letter Bee Review

March 28, 2010

Letter Bee (Tegami Bachi): A mixed bag, but a great setting and interesting concept – 3.5/5

PLOT: Letter Bee is a strange series and therefore difficult to review. It’s very slow paced, fairly episodic and stuffed full of filler for being only 25 episodes – but it’s hard not to like the show. Some episodes are wonderful; others are among the worst single episodes I’ve ever seen. Some characters are excellently put together and developed, others are paper bags or extremely irritating. However despite its rather inconsistent nature, my overall impression of Letter Bee is very good.
The world setting and concept are what drew me to the series to start with – and the sense of mystery that surrounds the central plot is what kept me interested throughout. It’s slow, but there’s enough hints dropped that you don’t lose interest. The end of this season is a cliffhanger though – you have been warned!
Now there’s another series coming out in autumn, so the vast majority of this series is scene setting and character development. Letter Bee makes good use of its filler episodes to further establish the world and develop some of the characters further (although there are a few fillers that are just godawful!). Saying that, when Letter Bee is good, it’s very good – the highs of this show are characterised by a melancholic atmosphere and some very touching scenes that just warm the heart.
In terms of characters, Lag is a complete cry-baby. Not a single episode goes by where he doesn’t cry about something. It’s annoying sometimes, but Lag really got lots of development over the run and his cry-baby nature is part and parcel of his identity. Niche turned out to be a really fun character – her innocent presence kept the mood from being too heavy or melancholy and she’s both the source of comedy and action. Some of the side characters could do with a bit more fleshing out, but overall they’re quite well done and provide a solid support for the main characters.

ANIMATION: The character design and colour palate is the other thing that attracted me to Letter Bee in the 1st place and Studio Pierrot turned out a very attractive show. The animation is wonderfully consistent and everything is just pretty! Amberground is a world of perpetual twilight, and the primary colours used in the series are purples, blues and white – it’s striking and very visually appealing. The use of CGI on the Gaichuu was a bit obvious, but not distracting.

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: The soundtrack to this series is among the best of the last year. Both OPs & EDs were excellent (the 1st OP & ED in particular made it onto my most played lists) and the score itself is also very well produced. The voice acting was also excellent – although Miyuki Sawashiro’s portrayal of Lag could be a touch on the whiney side occasionally. The supporting cast is peppered with great names who brought a lot of personality to their characters.

Overall I’d recommend Letter Bee, but would also have to warn you of its inconsistent nature too. It would probably be less annoying to anyone marathoning it though, watching it weekly just seemed to highlight the fact some episodes were rubbish! Still I’m very much looking forward to the 2nd series – this 1st series has taken great care to build an extremely solid foundation, all the 2nd series needs to do is advance the plot.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Aiko permalink
    March 31, 2010 7:28 am

    I’m currently on episode 7 of Letter Bee, having stalled it after sampling the first with the intention of resuming it. So far, I can already identify with everything you’ve mentioned; that it’s rather slow in pace, Lag is an absolute cry-baby (something of an understatement) and that Niche is adorably fun (and unusually refreshing). The animation has this soft palette that’s reminiscent of an older style, although I agree the use of CGI for the Gaichuu is a bit disparate. I’ll have to wait and see how I take the filler, but maybe it won’t be so bad in my case seeing as I’m marathoning through this.

    Good review, Cara. 🙂

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