Ever since I saw that surprisingly powerful pilot episode about 2 months ago, I’ve been anticipating this series. I even went so far as to take the dodgy approach of picking a series to blog before it actually airs. And it did not disappoint. So with Sora no Manimani finally coming to an end (I think the last episode has finally been subbed today) it’s time for me to pick up a new series to blog. That series name: Letter Bee.
Of course I have the usual problem of how on earth am I going to blog this series? I could have been cheap and blogged Nyan Koi, which would mean I’d simply take the exact same approach as I did while blogging Sora no Manimani. But no, I’m spreading and evolving my talents by picking series from different ends of the genre spectrum. It’s a very plot heavy series by the looks of things but that won’t make me turn to doing episode recaps, they’re just not my sort of thing anymore. Ah well, we’ll have to see how things go.
Right so, the first episode was focused on our little friend here, Lag Seeing, and his meeting and bonding with a certain postman, Gauche. It’s a pretty standard story actually. Two people who have to travel together and gradually grow closer as they overcome obstacles together. What I liked was the gradual change in Gauche over the episode. Over the course of the episode he took off more of his Letter Bee clothes and looked far less formal in his fancy white top. A symbol of him opening up more to Lag over the course of their journey or just a coincidence? That’s the problem with first impressions of an anime. You may be trying to look too much into stuff when later it proves that the anime in question is no way intelligent enough to engage in such symbolism. There’s a barrier in the viewer’s mind that a show has to break down for it to be fully enjoyed. They need to stop the viewer questioning what the creators are trying to do and make the viewers ask themselves what the characters are trying to do. Basically, it’s the idea that the creators are intelligent enough that you don’t find yourselves looking for plot holes and start thinking logically in the logic laws in the anime itself. Hmm…I’m not sure if I explained that well enough.
Enough of that, let’s start to gawp at the absolutely bloody fantastic artwork in this anime. I remember while watching Mushishi I considered the idea that the creators had loads of green paint in their workshop and needed to get rid of it. For Letter Bee, Studio Pierrot clearly have a mountain of indigo paint. Even the uniform for the Letter Bee’s are completely indigo. If one of them was standing on a flat plain you wouldn’t be able to see them because they would camouflage with the sky. How long will it take before you see mountains of cosplayers in Letter Bee outfits? Even girls look hot in it, did you see Gauche’s friend in that mini flash back Lag had? Yikes, I hope she comes back. Oh, another thing about those flash backs was the girl in the wheelchair. Did you notice that the she was the same girl in Lag’s flashback when he was saying ‘no, you’re not my mother’. No idea what that means as of yet but then again it is only the first episode.
Back to wowing at the artwork again. No really, I don’t think I’ve seen such amazing and imaginative landscape since Casshern Sins. I love this constant night-world that our heroes inhabit and most of all I love that deep blue light that shines on everything. The array of purple and everything is just…wow. Letter Bee looks like it will be the anime that will take over from the void left by Pandora Hearts, although one aspect it has over Pandora is that, while tha artwork in both is amazing, Pierrot have done such a better job than bloody Xebec at the animation quality. Well, apart from one aspect…
I don’t think you could go to one site reviewing this episode without at least one mention of the awful CGI bugs. When you compare this creature to the crystal demon thing in Sacred Blacksmith you’ll see exactly how bad an attempt this is at animating a giant monster. So many studios attempt CGI and so many of them fail miserably. When CGI works, it looks fantastic, as in Ride Back or Last Exile. Here it looks so misplaced and urgh…and then look at what they achieved one second later.
BOOM! See, CGI can look awesome when done at the right time in the right way. Those bug things are unusual inventions aren’t they? Didn’t Gauche say something about them being creatures with no hearts only for Lag to say he heard one crying just before it exploded with an earth-shattering kaboom? Also there’s the question of what happens when a Letter Bee uses his gun too much and his heart withers away. Does he become a soulless shell, like a zombie? Or maybe he just becomes unable to use the weapon anymore and can’t defend himself. If it’s the second option then I suppose it’s not so bad but if it’s the first then Gauche is in some pretty big trouble. Surely the Letter Bee organisation can’t send out postmen when they’re running low on heart (god that sounds so corny). They don’t seem like a heartless organisation…wait, what on earth am I basing that theory off? Maybe Gauche is like Roy Mustang or Suzaku from Code Geass and trying to take control of a corrupt organisation from the inside.
That’s the thing about this episode; we don’t even know what the plot of the series is yet. They didn’t try to stuff mountains of plot into the first episode to try keep us interested or try to introduce us to a mountain of characters. Just two characters bonding with a bit of explanation about the physics of the world. And I like that. It shows that the series has faith in its own story-telling ability and that viewers won’t get bored and drop it after the first episode. It’s telling a story how it should be told and not worrying about tv ratings and so on.
So yeah, I really enjoyed that episode. It may not have blown me away to the extent that Darker than Black did but in its own quite way, easilly trumped most other series this season. If I was to go by my ratings I’ve been giving anime in my first impressions posts, I’d give this a B+.
And now time for the most important part of the post: I have not read the manga. If you have read the manga please try to keep this in mind while writing your comments. This means absolutely no spoilers and no hints. I know it’s hard but try to hold yourself back. That doesn’t mean don’t comment, but please, no spoilers.