Wednesday, 16 November 2011

テガミバチ REVERSE / Tegami Bachi REVERSE (+Gakuen)

Tegami Bachi REVERSE picked up right where the first series left off – adorable little ‘Letter Bee’ Lag Seeing finally found Gauche, the man he had a huge hero-worship boycrush on since first meeting him, only for Gauche to be nothing at all like anyone remembered him being, calling himself Noir and working for a sinister underground organisation.

The original series had a very silly premise which I loved because it was done very seriously. Here, everything is far sillier, yet still works for the same reasons – sincere delivery and world-building that suits exaggeration. In the original series, the postmen went on exciting quests, destroyed giant insectoid monsters and changed lives. Here, Lag meets what is essentially a god, gets involved in plots to essentially destroy mankind and faces the philosophical conundrums of whether a person who has forgotten their past is still the same person. And because the world is crazy and because Lag is such an adorable little wimp – and yet so very powerful – it all works. I don’t mind if the ideas about an artificial sun wiping minds, Lag not being quite human and vague ideas of research to discover lost ‘hearts’ are left vague – what does it matter in a world where what passes for superheroes are postal workers and giant beetles with tentacles burst from the ground?

Lag and Niche remain at the centre of everything, even if they don’t always understand what they’re in for. I’m surprised these two characters work as well as they do – Lag is a total wet blanket and Niche, despite some angsty episodes, never really grows or gets smarter. Personally, I’m a sucker for the cute young boys who are totally hapless and cry a lot but have deep inner strength, but I also appreciate there are a whole lot of people who find that character type very annoying. Yet Lag not only carries the whole story, but is a large part of why I care about this silly plot, full of nonsensical magic and the plans of an evil organisation that at first seems so huge and formidable but ultimately boils down to three or four blokes and some vague ideas about cleansing the world.

Tegami Bachi REVERSE
is no cleverer than its predecessor, but has the same strengths. The visuals improved very slightly, the ‘gaichuu’ a bit less jarring, though still very obvious CG, and less lazy animation of action scenes, but that might just have been the particular Pierrot team working on certain episodes. The music is nice, and it was interesting to hear an ending song by Nico Douga singer Piko (in female mode) – who is now a Vocaloid and whose version of ‘Magnet’ with Sekihan I found quite stunning when I heard it a few months ago (both guys doing both male and female voices).

Tegami Bachi was always something fun, silly but also emotionally dynamic to watch without having to concentrate very hard. I was watching it as each episode was released until one episode was broadcast with huge (totally understandable) tsunami warnings all over it when those sad events unfolded, and waited a few months for a clean version. But I’ve now polished off the lot – and would recommend the show to any fans of shounen on the slightly sillier, cuter side.

Tegami Bachi Gakuen / Letter Bee Academy

My first thought when I put on the Gakuen shorts was ‘why on Earth is this narrated by Majo Rika?’ The obvious answer is that her voice actor is also on the Tegami Bachi cast, but I had no recollection of hearing her – until I looked up her seiyuu and found she played the silly joke creature Steak. That makes perfect sense!

Anyway, these little omake are just silly little 3-minute SD gag animations based around the idea that Lag, Zazie, Connor and Gauche are students in a Letter Bee school, with the enigmatic Doctor Thunderland as their teacher and usually the butt of their antics. It’s all cute, silly and frivolous and I mention it mostly because of the Ojamajo Doremi link!

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