Do you see that distant figure over there? That’s my good friend Doubt. I waved goodbye to him after this episode of Letter Bee. He wasn’t needed anymore. I may need him if I’m watching Sacred Blacksmith but he’s certainly not needed when I’m watching Letter Bee.
That’s my rather long-winded metaphor for implying that this episode was pretty damn good.
The episode started off with more Gauche and Lag bonding sessions, mainly discussions about what Lag saw in that memory fragment belonging to Gauche. One noticable thing about Gauche was how composed he is, even when Lag starts goading him about his possible girlfriend (have you felt her boobies? Sigh, kids these days have no respect). I’ve gotten so used to watching characters over-react to everything in anime, such as in Fail-y Tail (see whut I did thar), that a part of me thought maybe Mr.Jun Fukuyama was doing a half-hearted effort voicing Gauche. I wonder why I thought that, maybe I’ve been watching too many dubbed anime or something. What shot that thought out of my mind was the scene when Gauche was hanging from the scarf above that horrible CGI bug. The camera specifically zoomed in on his bleeding arm and his shaking hand holding the scarf and yet he remained as cool as always. He is a man capable of keeping his emotions at bay.
Lag did an awful lot of crying in this episode didn’t he. But he is seven years old in these scenes. I’m generally quite good with kids, mainly because it’s the only opportunity I get to play with train sets and toy castles, but by god do seven year olds cry an awful lot. What I liked about Lag though was he developed a backbone over the course of this episode. Literally. How else would he carry a grown man several miles? None of the scenes he had those blobby bits of cling-film fall out of his eyes (no really, I call them Ghibli Tears. For all the amazing animation in Ghibli movies, they are incapable of animating a crying person correctly) did it feel like a crying scene was just thrown in randomly. Gauche rejects his over as a friend, the one guy he had just put all his faith on = cry worthy. You are about to get killed by a horrible CGI bug = tears worthy, and even then he fought back those tears to take on the bug. The development felt natural and never once did they make Gauche appear to be this near-godly protector, which is what can happen quite a lot of the time with guardian figures. Neither was he the ‘harsh but fair’ guy who you ‘only truly respect when you are older’. He’s an unusual character Gauche. I can’t quite pin him down in any character archetype.
Despite the fact that not only did the show his crazy eye not only in the pilot episode, but also in the bloody opening song, I still got a shock from seeing that his eye was made of that magic amber stuff. I’ve got such a short memory span. Now I’ve never seen D-Gray Man but I’ve read the first manga (absolutely amazing artwork in that series too) so I can understand why people will make the connection between D-Gray Man and Letter Bee. Main character has white hair that flops over a magic red eye etc. Others have compared it to Kino’s Journey. It’s obviously not exactly similar to either but at the same time to call it a cross-between the two wouldn’t be far from the truth. It has the atmosphere and the same simplicity in its story-telling as Kino but has a lot of shonen elements and artwork as in D-Gray Man. One thing that’s only noticeable by its absense is the fact that no anime website seems to know how many episodes this series will last for, which lends belief to the theory that this could be one of those long-running shonen series. The fact that it’s done by Studio Pierrot (Naruto and Bleach) certainly points towards that fact as well. However ANN, while not exactly saying for certain that there’s 13 episodes, says that it has 13 episode titles. Plus only 8 volumes have been released so my guess is that were only in for a 13 episode long series.
Now I’m going to take a moment to wow at the pretty artwork yet again. Just before this scene I found myself wondering “if there’s no sun in this world then is there any vegetation? I certainly haven’t seen any yet. Surely the people living there must eat more than meat and horrible meat soup” and then, as if to shove my question in my face with a big ‘HAH, I showed you’, out came these dandelion seed things floating everywhere, giving asthmatics a terrible time altogether. The CGI bugs may be as horrible as ever but the artwork and most of the rest of the animation quality has been top tier stuff. Now if only they had stolen the CGI guys that work at Satelight. It’s not like they’re being used in Fairy Tail. Wait, have I made two digs at Fairy Tail in the one post? Damnit, this is getting as repetitive as all those Endless Eight jokes, I’ve got to stop after this post.
And so the episode ended with a time-skip of five years where Lag has all grown up and no longer sounds like a little kid and instead sounds like a 20-year-old women. Yes, I do not like Lag’s new voice. I’m probably get used to it instantly in the next episode though, I’ve never been picky with how my characters sound. Besides I’m reading the subtitles on Crunchroll’s horrible media player. Arrgghh, Crunchyroll, what the hell is up with your media player! Any video I try to watch lags and jerks whenever the subs come up. I’ve bought myself Crunchyroll membership like a good consumer, pumping money back to the animation companies, but I really hope Crunchyroll sort themselves out a bit. You’re no longer dealing with those kids who used to haunt your website. There’s grumpy 20-year-old men and women buying membership now and we are a lot pickier about what we are spending out money on. I fully support this move to legal, online-streaming that’s revolutionising anime in the west but I just wish they could be a bit more professional about it.
So yeah, I loved this episode. The artwork, the music, the subtle yet simple story-telling. It all just works so well. In a disappointing season, this is one of the few series that stands out, alongside Darker than Black and Book of Bantorra. And for my usual warning, I have not read the manga. Please keep spoilers out of your comments.