Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Volume 6 by Hiroyuki Asada

Lag Seeing is supposed to write a letter to deliver to Gauche Suede to make him remember his heart, but he's finding that harder to do than he supposed. Every time he starts, he ends up focussing on things that aren't important and getting off-track, so that each time ends in frustration and failure. How can he bring back Gauche's heart with a substandard letter?

None of the other bees can help him, either, as none of them have either written letters, or written them about anything near as important. Gauche heads out into Central, only to bump into an extremely tall maid, who asks him to come back into the house where she works to meet "the lady". Lag has no objection and meets Rei Attlee, a woman who has her hair cut short and so looks like a man. Rei, however, has a problem Lag may be able to help her with. She comes from the mountains, but was sent to this house by her parents for her health, as her lungs are weak. Lately, she has been receiving letters from someone, but with no idea as to who sent them to her. The letters weren't delivered by Bee, they just show up at the front door, And there isn't a single word in the letters, they just show paintings of the mountains in a single color, Hydrangea Blue.

The paintings of the mountains bring back happy memories for Rei, and give her the strength to go on when her illness threatens to overcome her. She asks Gauche to find the person who sent her the letters so that she can thank them. But when Lag finds the real letter writer, she begs him not to tell Rei that she was the sender, but won't say why. When someone else takes credit for sending the letters, can Lag keep his promise and still reveal the truth behind the letters?

Then, we see the story of a lighthouse keeper and his grandson, all he has left to him since his son and his son's wife went away. But when the grandfather seemingly goes mad and tries to kill his grandson out of hatred, will we see how this story has anything to do with Lag? And what will happen when the famous Letter Bee Jiggy Pepper must get involved to save Lag's life? Can he save Lag when even Niche cannot?

Then, Sylvette gets a letter from a girl who wants a doll that looks just like her so she can give it to someone to take with him so he won't forget her when he is far away. But she wants the doll by the very next day, so Sylvette uses a doll she already made, mixing it up so that she can have the doll ready. But when she leaves to deliver the doll on her own, Lag insists on accompanying her, to keep her safe. She jokes that for now, he's her Dingo. But when the coach they are on is attacked by a bandit intent on stealing any items of value, can Gauche, and his own Dingo, Niche, retrieve the doll and bring the little girl the doll she wanted?

Then Lag and Niche travel to Blue Ground, where Lag's friend and mentor, Suede, lost his heart and his memories. Can Lag discover why Gauche lost his memories, and figure out a way to get them back for him and return Gauche to his sister and the capital? And what is the truth behind the stories about Niche, the Child of Maka and the town of Blue Note?

This was a mixed bag of stories, but most of them really were heartwarming, especially the first story. You might even think that most of them are filler, as they are distractions from the main story of Lag trying to write a letter to Gauche to bring back his memories. But in reality, they are meanders as Lag tries to think about what he needs to put into his letter to get Gauche to remember. And by the end of the volume, he knows that his mission isn't hopeless, that Gauche remembers at least something of his past life.

I really like this series. Yes, Lag comes off as something of a crybaby- he's constantly tearing up when something makes him happy, sad or upset. But then again, his name is based off a Japanization of the word "Lacrimae", meaning "tears" in Latin, so it's not really surprising that he always seems to be crying. And this volume was a return to the early style of the manga, where lighthearted side stories were the norm at the beginning. And this volume is mainly a return to that, but by the end, you can see that there is going to be a return to the more serious stories.

I like this series, and I wonder how Lag is going to return Gauche's heart to him and what will happen when he does. There is still the problem of Reverse and the rebellion in the provinces to deal with, not to mention what happened to Lag's mother and the whole "Day of the Flicker" thing. This is a series that could conceivably go on for a very long time, and I'll want to be there to see what happens. Recommended.

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