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Letter Bee Episode 1

October 3, 2009

Where Armed Librarians have seemingly failed to deliver, Armed Postmen step up to the task. The story here follows a seven year old boy named Lag Seeing (Sawashiro Miyuki) after a Letter Bee mail carrier, Gauche Suede (Fukuyama Jun) discovers him by his burnt down isolated home somewhere in the mountains. Much to Gauche’s surprise, Lag is the actual package he’s been sent to pick up and deliver. Naturally, Lag is shocked to hear this when he comes to, but after listening to Gauche’s explanation of the situation he eventually comes along on his own accord.

He finds it hard to believe that his mother would send him away though, which we find out later is because she was taken away (possibly killed) by a group of men before their house was destroyed. Over the course of the episode, Gauche explains to Lag (and us) about the presence of armored insect creatures known as Gaichuu 「鎧虫」 that roam around in the outside world. To combat them, Letter Bees are equipped with a Shindanjuu 「心弾銃」 (literally a “Heart-Bullet Gun”) embedded with a Spirit Amber 「精霊琥珀」, which uses fragments of the user’s own heart as its source of power. Unsurprisingly, this slowly eats away at their very being and will someday result in very dire consequences. As it turns out, a Shindan can be used for both offense and healing.

The interesting part here is that the user’s heart seems to resonate with people around him/her when a Shindan is used. This explains why Gauche’s memories of a girl named Sylvette (Mizuki Nana) were caught up in Lag’s memories of his mother at the beginning of the episode, and vice-versa when Lag went a bit berserk with Gauche’s gun. In the latter case, we also learn about a female Letter Bee named Aria Link (Koshimizu Ami), who appears to be really close to Gauche. For someone who’s seen the Letter Bee OVA prior to this, I have an idea of things to come with Aria but I’m still looking forward to the lengthier version with all the itty-bitty details. As indicated by the opening sequence, Lag’s encounter with Gauche puts him on the path of a Letter Bee later on, where we should learn more about his past and the reason why a Spirit Amber is embedded into his left eye.

For a first episode, not a terribly lot happened but I found the full twenty or so minutes very entertaining. It established the premise of the story as well as some of the terminology, plus hinted at a lot of things to come with the flashbacks. The setting of the series is somewhat dark, but the ambiance was not thanks to the amiable characters. The backdrops were really nice to look at since I love combinations of blue and purple shades, as well as the mechanical-like details of the Gaichuu seen when they’re destroyed. In short, I have to say that I’m quite pleased with Studio Pierrot’s work here on the first episode, so I hope they can keep it up. Overall, this felt like a prequel episode to the OVA, which left me wanting to see more.

Cast-wise, you can never go wrong with Sawashiro Miyuki (recent CANAAN interview here). I absolutely love her work in almost any type of role she plays and there are A LOT she can play. Fukuyama Jun and Koshimizu Ami look like they’re together again as potential love interests, which continues the trend of Lelouch x Kallen, Lawrence x Horo, Kyoutarou x Nodoka (Saki!?). In any case, they’re always fun to watch too. We should hear more from Mizuki Nana as well, plus there’s Fujimura Ayumi, who’s been on my radar ever since Nabari no Ou but has yet to show up as Niche.

As for the music, it’s been awhile since I’ve heard such a refreshing opening theme in an anime series. Whether or not it’s because of a lack of songs by male singers I’m not sure, but it works for me either way. The ending theme is performed by the Second Annual Animax Anison Grand Prix winner HIMEKA, who many of you may know from the first opening theme to Valkyria Chronicles, “Asu e no Kizuna”. All I have to say is this French Canadian girl sure knows how to represent! Much like “Asu e no Kizuna”, “Hatenaki Michi” is a powerful song and by no means sounds like it’s being sung by a foreigner. The ending sequence itself is a bit strange though, because it starts off with the preview for the next episode. As for the actual sequence, I love how the emotion-filled scenes foreshadow even more things to come.

Given the visuals, audio, premise, and story thus far, I’m definitely going to follow this series. Between Armed Librarians and Letter Bees, the latter really got out the door on the right foot. Streaming simulcasts with official subtitles are available via Crunchyroll, but as usual, delayed one week if you’re not a paying member.

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