This may be one of my favorite manga of all time.
In a nutshell, it's the story of a band of heroic, well, letter carriers in a dim-lit fantasy world who must brave rugged terrain and giant insect-like monsters to deliver the heart-felt sympathies of the populace. The story focuses on the highly empathic central character, Lag Seeing, who turns out to have a very special gift. But without spoiling ~~ there is soooo much more to this manga story as it explores the nature of government and the marginalization of people in the context of a magically magical magicness.
It is impeccably drawn with gorgeous line art coupled with a fantastic story in a masterfully developed fantasy / steampunk setting. Very original concepts blend with cheeky references to classic and pop icons. This manga makes you laugh and cry. CANNOT RECOMMEND IT HIGHLY ENOUGH!
A series that forget what the main plotline was.
Some light spoilers in this review upto vol. 12. Nothing super major, because the main story actually takes a small break before getting back into it.
The series is about Delivering Letters... Mostly. They're 3 main concepts to the series. The artificial Sun, Being the best bee & delivering letter and killing Gaichuu's which is the main enemy of the series.... I think. It's not entirely clear. The idea here is that the chads, the Main characters are people who deliver letters known as the Letter Bee's. However letters here are more than just simple words on a piece of paper but rather contain their heart or piece of their soul. Letter Bee's have a weapon called a shindan which uses the user's own heart/soul to shoot. They use there dingo's (sidekicks) find the weak points of Gaichu's and the Bee's shoot them dead with there Shindan. That's basically the story for the first 15 volumes until the author realized that the actual main story about the main character's mother was also a thing and very abruptly came back to it.
The main character is a very uncharismatic character for like 18 volumes of the series. A constant crybaby that really destroys the emotional weight this story could've had. When a scene does require him to cry it just falls flat due to how much you cannot take the main character seriously anymore. Its disappointing but what can you do. You can choose to not read the manga. That's a bright idea.
The action and the story was actually very underwhelming. Though I was initially interested in the story, the way it was unraveled was one of most boring and poorly paced ways ever. The story is 2 fold. 1 is finding the truth about the MMC"s mother and what happened to her. Why she was taken to the capital. However we talk a long break from this main story to fuck around. For about 10 volumes there is this big fucking gaichu that attacks peoples hearts. Huge problem but this guy is fucking annoying. Its literally a giant monster with no absolute personality. He's not vicious either. The *taking heart* basically borrows the people's soul so when the MC can inevitably defeat it they can return back. This completely destroys any sort of tension the you may get when the characters themselves are in no real danger.
The things I enjoyed about the series was the characters and world building which also fucks right off. However the actual solid moments of character interactions are just constantly bogged down with information about shit I don't care about. Imagine you are playing a video game and you pick a codex that's underneath a bed that tells you the minute details about shit you can't even connect to. That is the main dialogue of tegami bachi between characters. It sucks too because they are some great characters they are just severly underutilized. Jiggy Pepper and the Bearded Dingo were probably the best characters in the series.
The MMC"s Dingo Niche was a problem as well. I quite liked her as well. She was funny and had some decent action scenes. There is a running joke where she doesn't wear underwear which would be fine when its done once.... Not the amount the author decided to shove in to the point that it became very uncomfortable.
I was under the impression this was a good series but not a single person has told me this was a good manga so far as I was Live reacting on discord. Everyone told me that it was boring and I can see why. There are many characters that get sidelines, many plotlines that get dropped out of knowhere. It is incredibly disappointing.
If there is 1 refuge I can say about the quality of the series, its the quality of the ending. The ending is ballsy. Yes everything leading up to the ending was an asspull and the way the actual ending occurred was also an asspull. But the consequence that occurred did make me think, ok yeah, this is a decent ending to the series. Its not a well written series but the ending did take some balls. Either that or the author realized that he should just throw some action on the screen.
Overall. I'm disappointed. Gonna go back to playing Hades. At least that was entertaining. Due to the ending I did consider giving the series a 5/10 because I'm not made of stone damn it. However... Considering I've typed all of this out, they were moments where I did enjoy the series it was just far too few in between and if push comes to a shove I would not recommend this series.
Story- I think one of the reasons why I loved growing up with Tegami Bachi was because of its world building. We have a world shrouded in darkness with an artificial sun to bring light to the world of Amberground. Then we have three districts of people, being those from Yodaka, Yusari, and also Akatsuki. Within this world are the Letter Bees, letter carriers responsible for carrying the hearts of the people from place to place while dealing with the dangers of Gaichuu, these insect armor monsters that attack people for their heart. But what exactly is heart? I think heart is what makes a person who they are, their own identity. But if you take that away then they have nothing, resulting in death. The story begins when Gauche Suede, a letter bee, is delivering a boy named Lag Seeing to his destination. Lag meeting this letter bee is huge significance to the story, as it drives Lag Seeing to become a letter bee himself. When that happens the story really begins to pick up. The beginning is a bit slow, but as long as it serves to develop the story then I don't really mind. You never know what's going to happen next, which is part of the series' charm.
Art- The art itself for the series is really gorgeous, the way the line design for the characters is drawn beautifully, and looks even better in color, which may explain why Tegami Bachi got so many color covers during its run. The desolation and ruin of Amberground is drawn very well too, showing how the world has fallen into a shell of itself.
Characters- Let's start with Lag Seeing, the main character. Lag is easily one of the most empathetic protagonsts I have see in anime and manga for years, but I consider that a good thing. We have a character who care about others enough to get involve, even if it means endangering himself compared to some of the letter bees. But its that kindness that makes him so radiant. Taking a note from the author, I too think its alright for a guy to cry for the right reasons, which falls in line with Lag's character. Zazie was definitely one of my favorite characters, even moreso later on with his backstory. With a variety of characters to choose from I'd say Asada is pretty good when it comes to writing characters, with what shapes them and what motivates them.
Overall, without including my nostalgia too much, I can easily declare that Tegami Bachi is one of the better Shonen series to get into. Along with marginalization, there are a lot of themes to think about with this series. Along with the gorgeous artstyle, the author was pretty clear with his goal for the main characters and he acomplishes it. I think the series ends on a happy note, and wraps up all the loose ends. Asada is easily one of my favorite authors now.