Letter Bee – 1
I had a bit of trouble figuring out what I wanted to blog this season. Kimi ni Todoke seems like a given to me (particularly if it can even partially replicate the success of last year’s Toradora!) and Sasameki Koto seems interesting enough for me to want to give it a shot, especially since I enjoyed Aoi Hana so much (although I am told Sasameki tends slightly more toward comedy). But what about another series? Nothing seemed to really grab me, but I have a good amount of time on my hands since Bakemonogatari will not continue until the end of the month.
But Letter Bee has stepped in nicely.
Letter Bee‘s first episode is not action-packed (although it does have a solid fight scene), nor does it contain a gripping plot (although it lays the foundation for something that could be quite interesting down the road). What it does do, however, is slowly envelope (lol) the watcher in its world and develop an interesting relationship between someone who is firmly entrenched in his life and a kid who is completely lost. Lag Seeing is one of many children part of the grand tradition of being on one’s own after being abandoned/left/kidnapped/whatever (and for whatever reason). The very fact that Lag is a package meant to be delivered — even if it is to his safety — is a darkly humorous happening that I could see popping up in a good children’s novel.
When Lag and Gauche Suede — one of the titular Letter Bees — start their journey, their relationship immediately feels natural. Not that they get along famously from step one. Lag is understandably afraid. He has probably never been alone before, and he is scared because he is suddenly without his mother, who is in the bright, foreboding town of Akatsuki. (A nice detail that this apparently dangerous city has by far the most light of any place seen in this world thus far.) But despite being somewhat cold (or, perhaps, realistic, one could say) in explaining the situation to Lag, Gauche is quite warm toward the kid, swooping Lag up onto his shoulders, feeding him and teaching him the tricks of his trade and how to survive in this world.
And what a world it is! The landscape is harsh and unforgiving, and there are all manner of creatures that are just waiting to kill Lag and Gauche, but it is beautiful in that way landscapes can be when all sense of artificiality disappears from them. Those stars in the sky, that purple hue cast upon the ground in the darkness . . . agh, I could look at this all day. But that probably would not be good since a Gaichuu would just come out of nowhere and gobble me up, the rascally bugs.
Now, this is not a perfect first episode by any means. There is maybe a bit too much explaining and info dumping in the middle, which slows the pace a bit too much. But it is not so bad, particularly compared to some other series airing this season. (Looking at you, Book of Bantorra.) There are a couple of other things that seemed funny to me on first watch but have warmed up on a little bit: Sylvette, Gauche’s little sister. Kind of a cliche, but I don’t want to judge too harshly before we even know what her personality is like. The heart gun also came off as a sort of heavy-handed weapon to me (Gotta use your heart to destroy the cold, mechanical bugs! Yippee!), but its other applications have interested me the more I think about them.
Specifically, I speak of the memories conjured after using the Spirit Amber, and how those memories can leak to other people. That is a really interesting way to get Gauche and Lag closer together. Lag sees Gauche’s memories of his sister, and Lag is able to feel that protectiveness that Gauche has toward his sister. And Gauche is able to feel the sadness and loneliness of Lag being torn away from his mother. When Gauche gets up with that single tear in his eye, it is a good emotional moment. I really hope the series builds on that kind of thing more.
So, yes, I am interested enough to keep running with this series. From what I have read, this episode is a prologue of sorts to the real story, which will center more on Lag and his growth as a person and as a Letter Bee (Gauche clearly has a heavy influence on that choice of occupation).