English Title: Letter Bee
A manga by Hiroyuki Asada, Tegami Bachi is set in the world of Amberground, a land where dozens of diverse and scattered towns are connected by the Letter Bees, an elite cadre of men and women who deliver letters, packages, and occasionally even people from town to town. Based in the shining capital city of Akatsuki, the Bees tirelessly work to deliver the mail... and with it, the 'hearts' of their loved ones... to all the citizens of Amberground.
If you're an optimist, you probably think that sounds really nice.
If you're Genre Savvy, you're probably wondering why an elite cadre is needed to deliver the mail.
You see, while the above description is all technically correct, it neglects to mention that Amberground is a truly awful place to live, perpetually shrouded in darkness except for a small artificial sun over the capital and infested by gigantic, Nigh Invulnerable killer insects called Gaichuu. Gaichuu feed on the 'Hearts' of humans (not the literal organ, more like a sort of Life Force), and since a person's letters contain fragments of their 'Heart', Gaichuu are naturally drawn to large concentrations of mail. As a result, the Letter Bees have to be elite; they have the single most dangerous job in the world. To aid them, they are equipped with special weapons that allow them to harness the power of their Heart to destroy Gaichuu, and travel with partners/bodyguards called 'Dingoes' that assist them in their work, but they still don't have a terrific life expectancy.
The main story follows the adventures of Lag Seeing, a rookie Letter Bee (and former Letter) as he seeks out Gauche Suede, the Bee who saved him after his mother disappeared... and who has since disappeared himself. With his Dingo, a somewhat... unusual young lady given the name of Niche, Lag delivers letters, battles Gaichuu, hunts for the missing Gauche, and slowly but surely begins to find himself drawn into a hidden conflict that threatens to rip apart the already troubled land of Amberground.
The second season of the anime Overtook the Manga, leading to several events to play out a bit different while still telling the same story.
The Character Page can be viewed here.
- Abnormal Ammo: The Shindanjuu shoot bullets made of 'Heart', the only thing that can kill a Gaichuu.
- Action Duo: Lag and Niche.
- Alliterative Name: Sylvette Suede, Largo Lloyd.
- Arc Words: Gee, I wonder if hearts are important.
- Awesome McCoolname: Jiggy Pepper, Gauche Suede, Lag Seeing, Largo Lloyd, Dr. Thunderland Jr, Richard Belzaris BB Becktratus Jr., Rubemius Bregiuroa Banjorelo the Second...
- Badass Normal: Hazel Valentine. This man took on Niche after her training with her sister and had the upper hand for most of the fight. UNARMED.
- Battle Butler: Dingoes, to their respective Letter Bee.
- Bifauxnen: Nelli, also Lady Rei
- Big Brother Instinct: Gauche, toward Sylvette. He works hard to become Head Bee and heal her legs, even though she's content just to be with him.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Gaichuu.
- Bodyguard Crush: The evidence that Niche has one for Lag just keeps building over time. Even if it isn't explicitly romantic, she definitely wants to be the center of his attention and isn't happy when she isn't.
- Bold Inflation
- Calling Your Attacks
- Cannot Spit It Out: Connor cannot bring himself to tell Lag about Gauche going missing, but Zazie can, possibly because Lag never told him about knowing Gauche. Kimidori cannot tell her mistress that she is the one who is sending her the picture postcards because she believes she let her down by selling her present.
- Cool Bike: Jiggy's. It runs on heart.
- Death by Childbirth:
- Gauche and Sylvette's mother.
- Niche and her sister's mother, Celica.
- Dr. Jerk: Dr. Thunderland really is a nice guy, but he does have the nasty tendency to scare the Hell out of people. Loudly announcing your desire to dissect the patient is not proper bedside manner, doctor.
- Dojikko: Turns out there's a reason Aria transferred to a desk job...
- Dropped a Bridget On Him/Samus Is a Girl: Nelli
- Eat the Dog: The team 'pet' is named Steak for a reason.
- Eldritch Abomination: The man-made sun is alive. And it occasionally feeds on the citizens, taking away portions of both their bodies and their hearts. Yikes.
- That Cabernet that keeps flying around chowing down on folks is a pretty good candidate too.
- The Cabernet has officially become one and it's suggested the more hearts it eats the more it will continue to become one. It even appears to be getting/have a heart.
- Evil Versus Evil: Reverse vs. the Government.
- Expy: Zazie is one of Tachibana Akane and Steak(!) is very obviously one of Harumoto, both from Asada's coming of age.
- Eyepatch of Power: Lag's Spirit Amber eye classifies as one of the more fantasy-inspired examples, though it doesn't make him any more or less Badass.
- A Fate Worse Than Death: Having their Heart devoured by a Gaichuu causes a person to be reduced to a mindless, emotionless shell that can do nothing but sit staring into space until they starve to death.
- Face Heel Turn: Both Gallard and Valentine are part of Reverse in the anime.
- Filler: Happened in the first series for a while before it went back to the manga (which is monthly, by the way), then it was put on hiatus. In the second season, the anime instead Overtook the Manga.
- Five-Man Band:
- Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Aria Link's outfits tend to be like this, especially in the manga. In a recent chapter, Lag ends up staring at her after she dons her old Letter Bee uniform, which is a little... tight on her, and when she frets about having gained weight he reassures her that she looks sexy.
- Fridge Logic: If the sun's made of heart, why aren't there Gaichuu circling it all the time? Or trying to just eat it altogether?
- Full-Name Basis: Surprisingly common.
- Gender Blender Name: Hazel Valentine, Boisterous Bruiser extraordinaire.
- Gratuitous English: With Did Not Do the Research. The Dingo is an Australian species of wild dog. The author probably intended to invoke a dog's loyalty, but they are considered dirty, feral pests, and calling a person a dingo is very insulting. On the other hand, since these creatures (Dingos in this series can be anything) are supposed to help the Bees perform their job as bait for the Gaichuu (only the power of Heart can permanently kill a Gaichuu), your Dingo would have to be extremely crazy and fearless.
- Not to mention the locations whose names are usually in English, and often nonsensical (Blue Notes Blues, Goodbye Amsterdam, Love Someone Down, Honey Waters).
- Green Rocks: Spirit Amber, the source of the anti-Gaichuu weaponry.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: You bet your friggin' ass it is.
- The Heartless: Gaichuu. Also, apparently Gauche/Noir.
- Heel Realization: Sara realizes that the lies she told in order to ensure that she and her husband would have a place to live and be respected resulted in a girl's father trying to deliver some letters himself and getting killed.
- Heroic RROD: Overusing the Shindanjuu can leave the users highly fatigued, and those who use it too much and use up all their heart lose their identities.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Lag is Perrine H. Cloystermann and Yoru. Also... wait for it... Baby Beel. DAAABUU!!!
- Human Mail:
- Niche started off this way, although she's actually Not Quite Human.
- Also how Lag Seeing was introduced: he was being mailed to his aunt's house.
- Ill Boy: Nello
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: Niche is a tad too young to be 'fanservice', but she still has No Nudity Taboo. Her sister, on the other hand, plays the trope 100% straight and then some.
- I Will Wait for You: Darwin, who waits for the return of his Bee, Elena. She died years ago, and he is eventually delivered to her grave where he is reunited with her in death.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dr. Thunderland Jr. often comes off as imposing and doesn't have or want any friends (although Gauche and later Lag understand him), but he cares for the good of those his research benefits, and even has hand-made tombstones for his specimens.
- Last-Name Basis: Dr. Thunderland tends to do this.
- Lighthouse Point: Chapter 20.
- Line-of-Sight Name: Lag called her Niche because he found her in a, well, niche. It stuck.
- Men Don't Cry: Averted. Lag cries. He cries quite a bit.
- Mood Whiplash: The story has a habit of jumping back and forth between two scenes at once, which can cause pretty heavy whiplash.
- Ms. Fanservice: Aria Link. Also, Niche's sister.
- Mundane Utility: Niche uses her sword-hair as a clothes-drying rack.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: An older Bee named Moc Sullivan who doesn’t think much of Lag’s going beyond the call of duty deliberately gets his name wrong before leaving, and doesn’t listen as Lag shouts out his name again.
- Overly Long Name: Richard Belzaris BB Becktratus Jr. and his dingo, Rubemius Bregiuroa Banjorelo the Second.
- Overtook the Manga: In the second season of the anime, the manga wasn't finished when the episodes were made. Instead of adding Filler, the story was continued, leading to several events playing out a bit different.
- One main difference is that in the manga, Garrard took over the Beehive and fired Lloyd, who then started travelling around trying to contact Lawrence. As of episode 17 of Reverse, nothing like that had happened, but instead Lag found out about Garrard being a member of Reverse.
- Panty Shot: Niche, when she bothers to wear any
- Although in the anime, the boxers Niche wears hide her skin well. And it's a Running Gag that the viewer never sees when she's not wearing any, he's just told.
- Parental Abandonment: Gauche's mother dies in childbirth, Lag's is abducted, and neither of their fathers are around.
- Pettanko: Niche, which bothers her to some degree - especially given how every other female in this series, if she's older than 10, has a larger chest than her.
- Well, except for Zaji.
- Please Put Some Clothes On: Lag to Niche. It may as well be a running gag. Unsurprisingly, Lag also says this to her sister.
- Prehensile Hair: Niche. Also good for stabbing. The same with her sister, to a somewhat more extreme degree. Yes, that enormous field of blades is her hair.
- Promotion to Parent: Gauche after his mother's death.
- Really Seven Hundred Years Old: Niche, again. Also her sister, technically, but at least she looks adult, if not as old as she really is.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Lag gets sent to a place full of undelivered letters.
- The Reveal: Episode 19 of Reverse reveals that Lag's mother also had her heart taken by the artificial sun.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Reverse organization.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: Jiggy Pepper.
- Rope Bridge: Lag must cross one of these, with predictable results.
- Scarf of Asskicking: So many of them...
- Scenery Porn: The anime is worth watching just to see the lush backgrounds. A far cry from your typical shounen series.
- Signature Device: The Letter Bees' Guns.
- Shout-Out The research facility named....Holden Caulfield....yeah.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Zazie/Zaji, Moc/Mock. Additionally, there's the Japanese romanizations vs. official translations: Gauche/Goos, Sylvette/Silvet, Roda/Lode, Connor Culh/Connor Kluff, Aria Link/Aria Rink, Sabrina Mary/Sabrina Merry...
- Stay in the Kitchen: Despite being sad to say goodbye to her, Lag initially thinks it's too dangerous for Niche to be his dingo as a young girl. He gets over it fairly quickly.
- Stripperiffic: This.
- Ten-Minute Retirement: Niche after failing to help Lag because of accidentally getting poisoned, and later losing to "Roda".
- Theme Naming: The three districts of Amberground; Akatsuki (the capital), Yuusari (the middle class district) and Yodaka (the poor section) are named after the daybreak, evening and night, respectively, based on their varying closeness to the sun.
- The Gaichuu are almost always named after liquor and cocktails. I give you the Tequila Sunrise.
- Time Skip: In the second episode.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Lag's partnership with Lily. Niche even lampshades this by outlining the height difference with her Prehensile Hair.
- To Be a Master: Gauche seeks the position of Head Bee prior to his firing and Face Heel Turn, and so do many of the other Letter Bees. Garrard has Lag transferred due to not liking his having so many ideas despite being a rookie, and because he wants to be Head Bee himself.
- Took a Level in Badass: Niche comes back to Lag with a few moves that she learned from her sister.
- Tsundere: Niche has all the signs of a type A, bitter to just about everyone, but generally very loyal to Lag (and goes into Clingy Jealous Girl mode when another female approaches him) and genuinely wants to protect both Lag and Steak.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm:: Garrard, over the Bee Hive.
- Weird Sun: This world has no sun of its own so somebody made one and stuck it above the capital. It's made of various people parts (most often eyes for some reason...) and heart. Um, yeah....
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Lily Confort shows up for all of four chapters before she gets her heart eaten by the Cabernet Gaichuu.
- Wham! Episode: Gauche appears before Lag and reveals that he's turned evil.
- Wham! Line: "And since Gauche Suede isn't a bee anymore..."
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Yes, it really is a series about delivering the mail.
"The stars... ...twinkle. But dawn never comes... ...here in the land known as Amberground. There is a government service... ...whose agents travel to the darkest lands... ...regions where the light of the man-made sun that shines on the capital... ...never reaches... It is into their care... that the people... entrust their heart. Their job is... to deliver. To deliver... ...letters."
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Subverted. Heart is the only way to kill Gaichuu.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer: Not only are heart bullets the only way to kill Gaichuu, but Lag's also reveals the contents of people's hearts, and resolves many misunderstandings.
- Worf Had the Flu: Niche and Steak get paralyzed after drinking the honey water, leaving them unable to save Connor and forcing Lag to flee Sara and Hunt's followers.
- World Half Empty: When the mail is always late because cockroaches the size of trucks keep eating the mailman's soul, you know your world sucks. Hell, it doesn't even have a sun!
- X Meets Y: It's kinda like The Postman meets Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.
- Zettai Ryouiki: "Roda". Sara also had one in a flashback.