Tegami Bachi(テガミバチ,Tegami Bachi?, lit. Letter Bee) is a shōnenmanga written and illustrated by Hiroyuki Asada. The manga is set in "AmberGround", a fictional land illuminated by an artificial sun. The story follows Lag Seeing, a Letter Bee with the ability to see the memories of people and items, and his personal dingo Niche on their journeys across AmberGround.
The series was first serialized in the September 2006 issue of Monthly Shōnen Jump. After ten chapters, the manga was moved to the new monthly magazine Jump SQ. after the Monthly Shōnen Jump was ended by Shueisha in June 2007. The manga is still currently being serialized Jump SQ. Tegami Bachi was adapted into two separate anime television series, entitled Tegami Bachi and Tegami Bachi REVERSE respectively.
At the 2010 Comic-Con International, Viz Media announced that it acquired the license for Tegami Bachi in North America. The company serialized the manga in the North American Shonen Jump magazine from March 2009 to March 2010. It is currently releasing the English version of the manga in the tankōbon format, with 16 volumes released as of June 2014. Both seasons of the anime have been licensed to Sentai Filmworks.
The story takes place in AmberGround, a land of perpetual night only partly illuminated by an artificial sun. Lag Seeing is a newly minted delivery boy, called a "Letter Bee", who worked at the Bee Hive delivery service with his Dingo, Niche, and her "pet", Steak, travelling with him. As a Letter Bee, Lag's job is to deliver letters and packages from town to town while avoiding AmberGround's deadliest hazard—Gaichuu, giant armoured insects who attempt to feed off the "heart" that reside within these letters and packages.
When Lag was very young, his mother was kidnapped by men from AmberGround's capital of Akatsuki. He was sent as a "delivery" to his aunt thanks to Gauche Suede, who Lag started to idolize and was inspired to become a Letter Bee. But as Lag becomes a Letter Bee, he is informed that Gauche has disappeared; at the same time, a resistance movement called "Reverse" begins stealing letters from travelling Bees.
Lag later encounters Gauche, who appears to have no memory of his past, and is now devoted to Reverse's cause. In desperation, Lag vainly tries to make Gauche remember. At the same time, Gauche awakens a giant flying Gaichuu that is headed for the town Yuusari, the location of the Bee Hive; and later Akatsuki to destroy AmberGround's man-made sun.
The main protagonist in Tegami Bachi. He is a 12 year old boy with a very focused mindset, regardless of what situations he gets into and always focuses on delivering the package. He was also born on the day of the Flicker. He's very emotional and is nearly constantly crying. He has a special gun called the Shindanjuu, literally the "heart bullet gun" where he loads a "fragment of heart" into the gun, then fires Akabari (Red Needle) at the target. He is seemingly being able to control the direction of the shot. His spirit amber visualizes memories of an animated object. As a child, he was "delivered" by the letter bee Gauche Suede, and was inspired by him to become a letter bee. He is searching for his mother, who was kidnapped to the capital of the country. His left eye is made of red spirit amber, allowing him to better use the Shindanjuu and also allowing him to fire a heart bullet from his own body. He originally has an antique from Campbell, though he receives the Nocturne #20, Gauche's gun. In chapter 29, after Sunny lost her heart to a Gaichuu, Lag's body glowed like spirit amber as he fired a special letter bullet at Noir (Gauche) in hopes of restoring his heart. His name is derived from "lagrima", a Spanish word for tears, "rag", "Lú" or "Lugh", the name of the Celtic god of the sun of the Danann family, and "seeing", the measure of sight.
His "Dingo" is Niche, a girl he saved from a Gaichuu (armored insect) who decided to stay at his side when he said yes to her asking him if saying goodbye would make him sad after seeing his memories via the Shindanjuu.
Lag's personal Girl Without a Smile. She travels with Lag, acting as his bodyguard against Gaichuu, and sticks closely to Lag along with her "pet", "Steak", on her head. She battles using her hair, also known as "The Golden Sword", manipulating it into powerful blade-like tentacles capable of lifting things several times her size. She has bearlike forearms and claws which she usually keeps covered with oven mitt-like gloves. Niche displays animal-like characteristics, such as licking wounds and sniffing the air for any trace of danger. She dislikes wearing underwear, but wears them for Lag's sake, claiming that he is the first person to ever make her wear underwear. Lag assumes that she is 7 years old based on her appearance but it was later revealed that she was born approximately 200 years ago in the town of Blue Notes Blues (永久氷河,Eikyūhyōga?, lit. Permanent Glacier). Later on in Blue Notes Scale (氷河湖路,Hyōgakomichi?, lit. Glacier Lake Road), a cave by Blue Notes Blues, Niche finds out that she has a twin sister with the same power as her and that she was the child of Maka. The sister refers to Niche as "imouto" (younger sister). Her name is derived from "niche", a crevice or narrow space to put flowers as an offering to the Holy Mother.
Lag found Niche at a train station on his way to his Bee Interview. She was a "letter", but the address on her mailing label was incomplete and she was scheduled to be "abandoned" in two more days. Lag offered to take her to her new home ("Rabu Samuwan Daun (ラブ・サム・ワン・ダウン,Rabu Samu Wan Daun?, lit. Love Someone Down, translated as Lovesome Downs in the Viz Media Manga)" according to the mailing label in the local writing, which he thought was an orphanage) even though he was on a deadline for his Bee job interview. While traveling, Lag found she had multiple names, so he named her Niche after where he found her - in a niche at the station.
After delivering Niche, Lag found out she was to be put in a side show act as "The Child of Maka" (摩訶の子,Maka no Ko?, lit. Child of Greatness), Maka being a mysterious being both worshipped and feared in AmberGround's Northern territories. Lag hurried back to Love Someone Down with the excuse that Niche's delivery receipt had not been signed. When he got there he found that Niche had already wrecked the sideshow tent with her "Golden Sword" and gone on the run towards Gaichuu territory. He followed her and consequently saved her from a Gaichuu. She decided to stay with Lag after he explained that her address had become unknown (since she had destroyed the mailing label), and she insisted that from then on she would be Lag's "Dingo".
Gauche Suede/Noir (ゴーシュ・スエード/ノワール,Gōshu Suēdo/Nowāru, romanised as Goos Suede in Japanese media?)
Lag's rescuer, who first appears in chapter 1. He is the letter bee that finds young Lag Seeing marked as a letter in "Cosa Bell", a small town in the "Yodaka District" (The low class district in Amberground). He has to deliver to "Campbell Litus" a town also in the "Yodaka District" so he can join his aunt who was trusted to take care of him from the person who wrote Lag's letter data. Gauche is also a caring and enthusiastic letter bee, he is trying to become the "Head Bee" (Captain of the letter bees) so he has enough money to help his sister and live peacefully. In Chapter 7 it is revealed that Gauche is no longer a Letter Bee. Gauche later appears before Lag and steals the letter he is delivering. He refers to himself as a Marauder known as Noir (meaning "Black/Dark" in french) and appears to have no memories of Lag or being a Bee, possibly having lost that part of his heart. His personality greatly differs from the time he was Gauche: as Noir, he is usually expressionless, although it is shown that he deeply cares for Roda and will do everything to protect her. Later on a Marauder is explained to be a "Plunderer" who takes on the job of theft. Marauders mainly target Letter Bees to keep them from delivering their letters. His name is derived from Gauche the Cellist. In chapter 30, Lag fires a letter bullet through Gauche, which brings back Gauche's memories, but also leaves him comatose til chapter 38.
It is revealed in Chapter 10 by Aria Link that Gauche's sister Sylvette was born on the Day of Flicker. He'd gone to the Hill of Prayer to pray for his mother and sister when Sylvette was born. The Day of Flicker (romanised as "The day of blink" in Japanese media) was the day when the government went out for an investigation and a modification of the manmade sun. His mother died after Sylvette was born. Subconsciously, Aria says that to fill the void in his heart left by the missing shards of his memories of his mother, he started focusing all his attention on making Sylvette happy.
Gauche's Spirit Amber attack is called Kurobari (Black Needle). During his time as a Letter Bee he owned the Nocturne #20, but his current Shindanjuu is Gymnopédie that uses the attack Raven Black.
Sylvette Suede (シルベット・スエード,Shirubetto Suēdo, romanised as Silvet Suede in Japanese media?)
Gauche's younger, paraplegic sister. Born on the Day of Flicker, like Lag. Her brother left her to go to Akatsuki, and eventually disappeared. When she would meet Lag, years later, she had claimed to have given up on Gauche being alive. She later learns he is alive, and Lag promises to find him. After the encounter with Noir outside Honey Waters, when Lag returns home, Sylvette throws him a party because he had found Gauche, as promised. She rents Gauche's room to Lag, Niche, and Steak, and she makes Dolls to cover the rent and expenses. Lag thinks her soup is as terrible as "The Three Brothers' Soup" Gauche had brought with him on his journey; Zazie sympathizes with him on this.
Roda (ロダ,Roda, romanised as Lode in Japanese media?) (dog)
Gauche's "Dingo". She is a skillful dog that seems to be very well trained for fighting and tracking situations. She appears to be a skilled hunter as well.
Roda (ロダ,Roda, romanised as Lode in Japanese media?) (human)
A child that was given to Gauche as an assistant from the leader of Reverse. Gauche subconsciously named her after his former Dingo.
She is also from reverse for she was an experiment and many species/creatures were mixed with her but the experiment failed,thus throwing her out,then found by Lawrence.She told Lag about this and said that maybe one of the creatures mixed in her is the former dingo of Gauche/Noir.
Steak is Niche's live bait and emergency food supply. He followed her from the LOVE SOMEONE DOWN's sideshow after she destroyed it. He is usually seen traveling on her head, very rarely moving from his perch even while she is battling Gaichuu. He has the ability to sniff out the weak spots of Gaichuu, allowing Lag to fire his Shindanjuu at the weak spot, killing the armored insect. Steak is also known to bite people on the head, his whole body represents that of a mouth.
Niche has remarked that Steak would taste delicious (hence his name). Steak seems to have accepted his fate as a future meal and appears to have meekly submitted to Niche's (interrupted) attempts to cook him. But in all the attempts to cook him, he only got a perm.
Steak may be the last of the Kapellmeister, a species that once co-existed harmoniously with the Spirit Insects, and was thought to be extinct.
Connor Kluff (コナー・クルフ,Konā Kurufu, romanised as Connor Culh in Japanese media?)
A young Letter Bee who was first seen in chapter 2, escorting Lag to his Bee job interview. Connor made regular deliveries to Campbell Litus as Lag was growing up, and seems to be popular with the townspeople. He has a hearty appetite and a stocky build, and tires easily. His Dingo is a hound dog named Gus (ガス,Gasu, romanised as Gas in Japanese media?), who is skilled at tunneling. He fell in love with Sunny, a young girl from an abbey in Lamento Town, not knowing she and all in her abbey were members of Reverse. When she, along with all other members of her abbey, lost her heart to the massive Cabernet Gaichuu, lost control and furiously tried to attack the Gaichuu, but eventually ran out of heart and passed out. As of the latest chapter, he remains in Lamento Town with the comatose Sunny, still believing she will regain her heart one day.Later in the series it is revealed that Sunny didn't lose all her heart and becomes Connor's girlfriend
Connor's Spirit Amber attack is called "Heart Landmine", or 'Kibaku', Yellow Bomb, which he executes by setting shards of his "Appetite" on the ground and igniting them under the Gaichuu.
The Sub Master of the "Bee Hive". Aria acts as Largo's right hand, taking care of the minor things for him. She was earlier introduced in the series in Gauche's memories as a letter bee and Gauche's love interest.
Aria's Spirit Amber ability is the Heart Restoration Bullet, which she executes by playing music on her violin. The music has a healing effect on everyone who hears it. The closer one stands to her while she is playing, the stronger the healing effects.
Aria's Spirit Amber attack is called "Benihiiro no Senritsu" (Crimson Melody), which is ejected from her violin.
Sabrina Mary (サブリナ・メリー,Saburina Merī, romanised as Sabrina Merry in Japanese media?)
Lag's aunt who lives in "Campbell Litus" and was trusted with Lag's care since he was delivered to her at the age of 7 by "Gauche Suede" the letter bee.
A biologist who belongs to the Third Bioscience advisory panel of Amberground division. He specializes in pathology and collects corpses for dissection and study, earning him the nickname "The Corpse Doctor." He has a morbid interest in dissection. Nonetheless he has a kind heart, and makes a star-shaped memorial for each corpse he dissects. Zazie hated him at one point, because he thought Thunderland had taken a group of street kittens Zazie liked, however, it was shown he only quarantined them.
Dr. Thunderland Jr. is also one of the five survivors of the airship that crashed on the Day of Flicker due to the blindness of the light going out.
Zazie is a young Letter Bee who was introduced in chapter seven. He is very skilled at killing Gaichuu. Zazie's parents were killed by Gaichuu when he was young, leading him to become a Letter Bee so that he could seek revenge against all Gaichuu. Because he is so focused on killing Gaichuu, delivering Letters is of course of little interest to Zazie. Zazie is very fond of cats. At one point, he was mad at Dr. Thunderland because he thought that the Doctor killed an alley cat he was feeding. However, when he found that Dr. Thunderland quarantined the cat because of a disease, Zazie forgave him.
Zazie is also quite fond of Jiggy Pepper, and looks up to him as, in a sense, 'his idol.' A minor reference to that is at the end of Chapter 20, when Lag is telling Zazie (and Conner, who happen to be at Sylvette's) about what had happened, and Zazie yelling in disbelief that he really rode Jiggy's Bike. He then goes on to questioning every detail, with a hint of jealousy in the comic panel that it's explained in. There's also been a four-strip comic in which Zazie questions Jiggy's pay, and finds that he plans to be a express delieverer like Jiggy. Lastly, in chapter 43, Zazie wakes to find himself on Jiggy's bike, and, while combating the Cabernet Gaichuu, he claims that he'd 'rather die' than back down when Jiggy speaks of the risks.
Zazie's Spirit Amber attack is called Aotoge (Blue Thorn), which uses shards of his "Malice" instead of his heart.
A semi-recurring Bee, whose Shindanjuu is his motorcycle. He was first mentioned in chapter three by his adopted sister, Nelli. Nelli hated him because she blamed the death of her brother Nello on his leaving them. When Lag shot off a heart bullet at Nello's letter, it was revealed he wanted to get stronger for Nelli. Jiggy later appeared saving Lag from a giant Gaichuu that had trapped him in a trance. He said he had received a letter from his sister Nelli, telling him about Lag's efforts, and thanked him, before departing. He later appears due to a request from Largo and says that he follows who he wants to follow and no one else. Largo then gives him a wounded Zazie to take care of and they leave pursuing the Gaichuu heading towards the capital. Zazie worships him as a hero. His Dingo is a hawk named Harry.
Jiggy's spirit amber is Gunjou, Sea Blue Ultramarine, which he executes through a Shindanjuu he carries besides his motorcycle.
Lag's mother. She was kidnapped to the capital of the AmberGround, Akatsuki at the start of this manga.
Letter Bee(テガミバチ,Tegamibachi?): A delivery person who is entrusted with shards of the population's "hearts" in their letters, which they have to deliver despite the threat of armored insects.
Dingo(相棒,Dingo?, lit. "Partner"): A bodyguard who is picked and trained by a Bee to protect them from armored insects. A dingo can be anything from a dog to a human.
Bee Hive(ＢＥＥ－ＨＩＶＥ,Yūbinkan Hachi no Su?, lit. Mail House Beehive): The headquarters of the delivery service where all the "Bees" work. Located in Yuusari, the middle-class area of AmberGround.
Gaichuu(鎧虫,Gaichū?, lit. "armored insect"): Giant insects covered in jeweled armor, said to be spirit insects that lost their hearts. They live in the dark lands outside of the artificial sunlight and attack anyone who travels along the darkened paths. Each Gaichuu that has appeared thus far in the manga is named after an alcoholic beverage.
Shindan(心弾,lit. "Heart Bullet"?): The "fragments of heart" used when firing the "heart bullet gun." Overdoing this will cause the user to lose all memory of their identity and become a "blank slate"; Guache became "Noir" as a result of this, but retained subconcious memories of his sister and Lag.
Shindanjuu(心弾銃,Shindanjū?, lit. "Heart Bullet Gun"): The weapon Lag uses to combat armored insects. He first loads a "fragment of heart" into the gun, then fires it at the target, seemingly being able to control the shot's direction.
Spirit Amber(精霊琥珀,Seirei Kohaku?): A powerful amber stone that has the power to allow its user to shoot a heart bullet from its heart bullet gun. It comes in a wide range of colors that each have different abilities. It contains this power because of the spirit insects trapped inside it.
Spirit Insects(精霊虫,Seireichū?): Extinct insects from ancient times, they have all either become Gaichuu or imprisoned in Spirit Amber.
Reverse(リバース,Ribāsu?): A group trying to cause a "Reverse" (再生,Ribāsu?) of AmberGround. It is led by a man known as the "Person who was not able to become a Spirit."
Marauders(略奪者,Ryakudatsusha?): Agents of the group "Reverse" who steal letters from Bees.
Letter Bullet(手紙弾,Tegamidan?): A bullet used to convey one's heart to another person. A small letter is written and placed within the bullet, with an address to a specific person on whom the bullet will only work. The bullet also stores more "heart" than a normal heart bullet. This is also a physical cartridge with a red liquid within it.
Picture Letter(絵テガミ,E-Tegami?): A letter written with heart, but that consists of solely an image. Such a letter conveys hopes and feelings of nostalgia, and has a strong message (sometimes) for the receiver of the letter.
The first ten chapters of Tegami Bachi were originally serialized in the now-defunct Monthly Shōnen Jump. A special un-numbered chapter was published as a one-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump prior to the launch of Jump Square, where Tegami Bachi is now serialized.
Viz Media announced that it had licensed Tegami Bachi for an English-language adaption in North America at the Comic-Con International on February 28, 2010. It was announced that Tegami Bachi, otherwise known as Letter Bee in English translations, will be serialized in the monthly manga anthology Shonen Jump, where it replaced the manga series Slam Dunk. It debuted in the March 2009 issue of the magazine. Serialization ended after the March 2010 issue, while the volumes have since continued to be released. Additionally, in Australia and New Zealand, another English version of Letter Bee was released by Madman Entertainment.
A special anime adaptation, running for about 30 minutes, was shown during the Jump Super Anime Tour events in Japan in the fall of 2008. It was titled Tegami Bachi: Hikari to Ao no Gensō Yawa(テガミバチ 〜光と青の幻想夜話〜?, Letter Bee: Light and Blue Night Fantasy), and was animated by Studio Pierrot. The Original Video Animation was translated for free by Anthony Carl Kimm on the Jumpland website with English subtitles. It was later released on DVD in the beginning of 2009.
In the June 2009 issue of the Jump SQ magazine, it was announced that Tegami Bachi will get an anime series in the fall of 2009. This anime series is directed by Akira Iwanaga, and it features the same voice cast which had voiced characters in the previous 2008 special anime. This anime started airing in Japan on the TV Tokyo, TV Osaka, TV Aichi and other affiliated television networks around Japan on October 3, 2009, and it ended on March 27, 2010. The first opening theme song for this anime was revealed to be the song Hajimari no Hi(はじまりの日?), which is sung by Suga Shikao and features Mummy-D, on September 7, 2009. This theme song was replaced by the song Love Lettere no kawari ni kono shi o.(ラブレターのかわりにこの詩を。,Lit. Rather than a Love Letter, Choose This Poem?), which is sung by singer Seira, in episode 14 of the anime onwards. In 2013, Animax Asia re-aired Tegami Bachi in English, under the title Letter Bee.
A second season of the anime, called Tegami Bachi: Reverse was announced in the Puff magazine in Japan during an interview with the artist. This season of the anime retained its previous voice cast, and is also directed by Akira Iwanaga. The second season of the anime premiered on October 1, 2010.
Deb Aoki of About.com reviewed Tegami Bachi Volume 1. Aoki said that the series "has the right stuff to appeal to both male and female readers: thrilling action, a magical world full of mysteries, likeable characters that are worth caring about, and lovely artwork, all done with a touch of light-hearted humor."
In Japan, volume 2 of the manga debuted at the 6th position during the first week of its release.
Carlo Santos of Anime News Network reviewed the first 6 episodes of Tegami Bachi. He commented that the series "may be one of the last few adventure series that is genuinely about adventure" and "an adventure with a unique vibe". Santos went on to say how the series as a whole isn't like typical adventure series, which deal with "the triumphs and tragedies of having the best sword", as it is built on "the triumphs and tragedies of the human heart". A negative point he said was about the animation - describing the Gaichuu as "plastic-looking CGI beasts looking woefully out of place among the scenery". However, Santos complimented the series' art direction by saying that "the artistry is far more commendable: the blend of feudal and industrial eras results in a unique visual aesthetic". Overall, Santos gave a positive review of the first 6 episodes of Tegami Bachi with an overall grade of B-.