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Tegami Bachi, Volume 1


Time for my notes. Note note note. Sorry, I’m a little goofy…it’s kinda late for me, and I work tomorrow, so I’m getting silly. I read this manga this morning while I was waiting for my friend to wake up so we could go hang out. Took a trip up to Arlington Heights to see him and spent the night so we’d have time to more some more before I had to leave.

Anywho, I was totally looking forward to reading this manga. I had debated over this and deliberated over it several times before I finally thought, what the hell, I’ll buy it. It looked soooo good. And I do like the illustrations. But…I was sorely disappointed over this manga. I’ll have to explain what I mean. To me, for the most part, this manga had no effect what-so-ever. I can’t call it bad, but I can certainly not call it good. So, here it falls into the neutral category.

Allow me to elaborate…

*This review has spoilers. Nothing major, but a few. Proceed with caution!*


Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Volume 1-Neutral

Mangaka: Hiroyuki Asada
Copyright: 2006
Genre: Shounen, Fantasy

  • Chapter 1: Letter and Letter Bee
  • Chapter 2: Cry Baby Boy, Letter Girl

Main Protagonists:

  • Gauche Suede
  • Lag Seeing

Side Characters/Protagonists:

  • Roda (Gauche’s dingo)
  • Mother
  • Sylvette
  • Aria
  • Aunt Sabrina
  • Connor and Gus (Connor’s dingo)
  • Niche

Minor Characters/Protagonists:

  • Town folk of Cambel Litus
  • Kokesu (a town folk who gave Lag his gun)
  • Three Shop Brothers
  • Horse (he eats Connor’s pizza, so yeah, he merits being in the minor character list)
  • Dog Lag tried to train (looked like a little pug)

Main Antagonists:

  • Kidnappers (took away Lag’s mom)
  • Gaichuu (giant bugs)

Side Characters/Antagonists:

  • Freak Show Trainer
  • Trainer’s assistants

Minor Characters/Antagonists:

  • Lonesome Downs people/folk


Gauche Suede’s a Tegami Bachi. He’s a Letter Bee. To help hearts reach across great distances, Tegami Bachi deliver precious packages. Gauche’s on his way to becoming the head Letter Bee–but to do so, he must deliver one last package to gain his next promotion: a little boy named Lag Seeing. Lag’s mother has been kidnapped. He trusts few and is very confused. He’s also harboring an extremely powerful secret-an amber insect stone let in place of his right eye. With Gauche’s help, Lag is safely delivered to his Aunt Sabrina’s house.With his mission complete, it is time for Gauche to return to his sister and hopefully a higher position. But when Gauche goes, he leaves behind a strong impression upon Lag. Five years later, when Lag is twelve, he decides he’s ready to take on the task of becoming a Tegami Bachi himself. His journey is to find not only his mother, but also his long lost friend who helped him learn once more to trust and have hope. But before he can take the test, he must find his own dingo to become his partner (dingos are helpers to these postmen.)

Pros and Cons: Story and Content


Guache and Lag are very likable. I mean, they’re kind to others, and care about helping when they can, even if they may get hurt themselves. Basically, they do have good hearts and all, which is a plus. It’s always good to like the main characters, unless you’re watching something like The Libertine with Johnny Depp in which he expressly impresses upon you that he’s not a good guy and shouldn’t be liked or sympathized with. This likablity, or lack of a better made-up word-makes you feel good inside. And not in a sappy or cheesy way–especially Gauche. He was a really good character.

But my favorite character is Niche, and I’ll explain why before the end of the “cons” part of characters.

Cons. And man, are there cons. Most of these characters are disturbingly flat. They have goals and back stories, but they lack any dimension. The main characters are good enough, kind hearted like I said, but I don’t foresee any growth in them. As though they lack the ability to evolve. I know it’s just the first volume, but first impressions are important. Sure, we get that they’re good people, now show us more! Test their strengths, give them doubts, make them struggle with themselves! It adds depth to do these things, maybe not in a total mind-bend, but just a little something to help us see there’s more to them than “we’re good guys, hurray!”

Nichi is the strongest character in this volume, and she’s only in it for Chapter Two, which is shorter. Why do I like her so much? She’s got a little bit of depth. She’s a mystery: we don’t know much about her at all. She also is different. She automatically creates intrigue, even when she’s first discovered. She’s totally awesome, and if I choose to read more (which I probably will) then I’m excited to see more of her. Really, I like all the characters, but she’s the only one with any real depth.


Story Pros! Ugh. I don’t even want to do this! But I must. I’m actually looking more forward to discussing the art. However, first things first. Let’s dig into this.

This manga has a very interesting concept. It is eerie, yet magical. The scripture even gives it a hint of prophesy, which kinda gives it that epic aura. There’s only a man made sun, which adds some dimension to the world. What happened to real sun? Why are the land masses concentric circles around this fake sun? How did the caste system begin? Really, the world Asada has made is quite unique, and fascinated me immediately. I also liked that although it is totally different, it also brought to surface for me a few memories of shows I used to watch. For instance, the Gaichuu bugs remind me of the giant beetles in The Dark Crystal. They are obviously completely unique from those bugs, but still, it was nice for me to find a parallel–something to lead me into something familiar, and comfortable. I also couldn’t help but think about The Postman, with Kevin Costner, when thinking of how important receiving a letter is for moral and the soul. To get something that was written with care, sealed, and sent, really evokes a powerful feeling of love and trust between people. So I really liked the concept Asada is dealing with in this manga.

I also really liked the sound effects, just as side note. Good translators.

Cons again. Well, the story was easy enough to read. Asada is able to construct a cohesive, smooth story arc. I didn’t have any trouble following where he was going from panel to panel. No struggle figuring out what was going on. But even so, getting into this manga…it was difficult for me to want to keep on reading. I didn’t feel any strong pull drawing me into the story. No suspense. I was able to read the manga okay, but it wasn’t out of an interest for what was going on…it was more like in class, when I had to read a passage for the next session. “I have to read this or I won’t know what’s going on, and I know the teacher will pick on me.”

Yeah, that bad. Sorry, that’s just how I felt.

And I feel bad for feeling like that, cause I had high hopes for it. I felt a little jipped. It’s not bad story telling…it’s just lacking something. It’s like when you’re cooking, and you’re doing it free style, and you’ve got all these awesomely good ingredients which sound great and should go well together, but when the whole mess is done cooking, it’s neither good nor bad. Your taste buds are just like…that’s it? Or when you’ve bought a ton of amazing fireworks that are supposed to shoot off and light up the sky with Gandalf-like wonder, dragons trailing across the atmosphere, and then when they’ve been lit they just FFFFFFffffffzzzzzz…….don’t go off. And it’s not like you can try to re-light it, because the package says expressly “YOU BETTER NOT! try to relight fuse.”

Man. That’s how I felt. All the right things to make for a perfect manga, all the right moves to make a comic orgasm…and once again, you get disappointed when the excitement just goes limp. I mean, it’s okay. But not nearly as good as I expected. Nothing really happened, I guess is my main qualm. Yes, a boy’s found and there are a bunch of flashbacks and some beetle fighting action, but the whole first chapter was a let down. Things only get interesting with the introduction of Niche, the little girl who’s not human. She pretty much is why I may read the next volume. She really holds things together and adds to the plot. Before it was like, “I gotta get this kid to a town. That’s all.” And then it was, “Who the Hell is she? Why is she so strange? Does she or doesn’t she like him? Why is she this way?” So there’s hope yet for the next volume.

There was too much crying, too. Everyone cried. And when they cried, it was these great goopy monstrosities which totally took away from the beauty of Asada’s art. So quit with the crying already everyone! Geez! Even the damn dog cried! For no reason other than the soup was crap (36-7). I’ll get to that, so sorry if I sound repetitive in the next section (gotta get to bed, my boyfriend awaits. Ooooo…not like that you perves!)


Pros and Cons: Art

The artwork is really the main saving grace of this manga. It’s exceptionally beautiful. The characters are well proportioned, and the setting and backgrounds amazing. I like how very little screen ton is used. Not like CLAMP’s Clover, where it’s very stark and white (which I liked, too.) No, this is very dark, which is good because that part of the world is dark. Screen tone is used, but only to a minimum, and when it is used, it fits and compliments the black and white.

I was also impressed with how subtly Mr. Asada could make the landscape creepy. In the darkness, you can still see the silhouettes of dragons or birds flying overhead as Gauche and Lag make their journey across the mountains (68). The creepy faces on the plants, almost demonic, really helped to exemplify how scary the far-out reaches of this world are (104). His art evokes a macabre that kinda eats away at one’s nerves, while also trying to keep the tale up-beat with the characters. I give him an A++ in the art department.

No dispute with the art. It’s fan-tab-u-lous!


I really can’t recommend or not recommend this manga. I think most people will be cool with it, but I just wasn’t avid about it. I didn’t dislike it, but I was let down, and I don’t like to be let down, especially when something looks so good, and should be good. I don’t think I’ll spend money on the second volume–if I read it, I’ll do it online, and if I like it, I’ll go out and get it. I suggest the same for you guys. That’s coming from someone who’s a huge fan of supporting the manga industry by actually BUYING the manga and not just sitting in the way in the store reading it or finding it online.

So there you have it, this week’s manga review. Love me, hate me, just please don’t judge me to harshly! Until next time! See ya later!

Tegami Bachi, Volume 1-Neutral


*These should be indented…but I’m stupid
and can’t figure out how to do it. Sorry!*

Asada, Hiroyuki. Tegami Bachi. Trans. JN Productions. San Francisco: Viz Media, 2006.

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2003.

Harman, William and Hugh Holman. A Handbook to Literature. 9th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2003.

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