Review by: Ai Kano
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Hiroyuki Asada
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shonen Jump Manga)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
The search for the Man Who Could Not Become Spirit begins.
In a world of eternal darkness where an artificial sun lights the way, there is one thing so important that it gives the people of Amberground hope and that is the human heart. For Lag Seeing, all letters contain people’s hearts and so all letters are important to him as he finds himself following in the footsteps of the Bee who inspired him. Now, in Volume 4 of Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Lag has a chance to find Gauche Suede.
Having finally met Gauche’s beautiful sister, Sylvette, the girl has given him her brother’s Shindan-juu also called the Nocturne Number 20 in hopes that the newly recruited Letter Bee will find Gauche and bring him back home safely. Of course, he also has his Letter Bee duties to complete as well as he, his Dingo named Niche and the mysterious critter known as Steak, go about their job delivering letters and taking said job seriously. As I said, Lag feels that each letter contains a person’s heart and thus making each letter very important.
Unfortunately, not every Bee sees it that way as we can see from a Letter Bee named Moc Sullivan who tells him a Letter Bee should just be concerned with the delivery and nothing else. Moc doesn’t seem very impressed with Lag’s ability to see into a person’s heart either. However, that doesn’t keep him from still caring about the heart people put in their letters, which is why he actually scolds a client who makes him patiently sit as he composes a letter to his mother filled with lies. Delivering it to a town so far away, Lag encounters the client’s mother but also a Gaichuu. Shooting it, though, produces the same effect as the client’s heart is revealed to everyone including the client’s mother who sees why his son has been writing lies.
Having been touched by his client’s true feelings, Lag feels that Moc is wrong. He happily makes it to Central to receive his next assignment when he encounters an odd fellow who suddenly redirects Lag’s attention back to Gauche. You see, this man is Doctor Thunderland who is known as something of a mad scientist dubbed the Corpse Doctor seeing as the man is known to dissect various species of dead animals including humans. It is Doctor Thunderland who quickly identifies what exactly Steak is and decides to take it for his “studies.”
With the help of fellow Bee, Zazie (who has his own reasons for hating the Doctor), they attempt to get Steak back from the eccentric Doctor’s clutches. As Niche reveals her abilities, Doctor Thunderland knows about the “child of Maka” as well but the most interesting revelation is when Lag shoots his Shindan at the cage holding Steak. It reveals a few interesting facts such as a good memory involving Gauche Suede. As it turns out, Doctor Thunderland isn’t such a bad person.
It appears that Gauche has befriended the Doctor and turned to his expertise in a matter involving The Man Who Could Not Become Spirit. It might be a vague clue but Lag has decided to look into the matter as well and with the help of Doctor Thunderland as well as the Assistant Director, Aria, Lag Seeing is found fit to travel to the far away land of Honey Waters to deliver a letter Doctor Thunderland has written to this mysterious Man Who Could Not Become Spirit.
Of course, since this is a dangerous journey to a land that the Letter Bees do not service since there are political powers that have stopped the use of Letter Bees, Lag travels with the charming Connor Kluff and his Dingo, Gus. The journey is uneventful but once they get to Honey Waters they encounter that not only is the drinking water dangerous but the city seems to be under the influence of a beautiful woman and her giant beast-like husband she introduces as the Man Who Could Not Become Spirit.
With a hatred towards the government as well as the Letter Bees who – interestingly enough – the woman called Mistress Sara says is the reason the Gaichuu exist and attack the human population, the appearance of Lag and Connor turns the city against them. As they capture Connor and Niche, Lag manages to escape and meet a lovely young girl named Ann Grado who has dozens of letters she hopes Lag could deliver. Not everyone, it seems, believes that Mistress Sara and her husband Master Hunt are who they say they are and it is Connor who actually validates Ann’s claims.
However, when a Gaichuu does arrive in town, it is Ann who makes a most interesting discovery about them that surprises Lag. Meanwhile, we find out Mistress Sara and Master Hunt’s true motivations and one of them has a change of heart. The mystery behind the Man Who Could Not Become Spirit isn’t resolved here as another Bee steps in to lend a hand.
Volume 4 of Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee is the beginning of a story arc that places Lag and Niche on the road to discover the truth about what happened to Gauche Suede as he and a fellow Bee are sent on a difficult assignment. As we are introduced to a new character, we also learn a few things that make this volume the start of an intriguing story arc.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Armed with Gauche Suede’s Shindan-juu, Lag Seeing, Niche and Steak go about their Letter Bee duties and ignoring the advice of a fellow Bee named Moc Sullivan. Back in the central headquarters, they even meet an odd doctor who knows what Steak is and gives them a difficult assignment to a far away city in search of the Man Who Could Not Become Spirit.
The art continues to suit the series perfectly with gorgeous details on the backgrounds and the Gaichuu as well as the female characters. I still get a kick out of the flashy battles with the monsters in the series as well as the comical reactions from most of the characters in the series.
Lag finally takes the first steps in his journey to discover what happened to the Letter Bee that inspired him as we also learn a few secrets along the way in Volume 4 of Tegami Bachi. It’s also good to see that Lag and Niche aren’t traveling solo as they go on an assignment that might lead Lag closer to Gauche. This series just keeps getting better and better.
Review copy provided by VIZ Media