Tegami Bachi Reverse Episode #42 (Mania.com)

By:Bryan Morton
Review Date: Sunday, January 30, 2011
Release Date: Saturday, January 29, 2011

Okay, confused now. "Gauche" is fooling someone, but the question is: who? His former allies at Reverse, who now seem to consider him defective and want him dead, or Lag, who's living in denial at the whole possibility that his plan to restore Gauche's heart could have failed? Don't expect the answer to that one just yet...

What they say
Gauche Suede is on his last delivery before a big promotion. In the outskirts of Yodaka, the darkest area of Amberground, Gauche is surprised to find that the package is a young boy named Lag Seeing. Lag had been traumatised by his mother's abduction and is due to be delivered to his aunt. In this remote area rife with Gaichuu, Lag and Gauche face a dangerous journey that inspires Lag to become a Letter Bee.

The review
Garrard and Valentine, under instructions from Reverse to kill Gauche, will go to any lengths to find him, even visiting Sylvette. When Lag hears this, he tries to do something to make sure Sylvette doesn't get caught up in Reverse's plans. However Noir, now reunited with Roda, arrives at what was once a Reverse base, only to find Garrard and Valentine - and Lag - waiting for him. Lag tries to bring Noir back with him, but Noir restates his loyalty to Reverse and refuses to be drawn...

The main thing I got from this episode was that Gauche himself doesn't really know who he is anymore - there's an internal battle going on between the Noir personality that Reverse instilled in him, and the pieces of Gauche that he got back from Lag's shindan, and that battle seems to be some way from being settled. In the meantime, then, he's playing for time, trying to convince Reverse that he's still Noir (to get that death sentence lifted), and perhaps working on an elaborate double-cross that will see him turn on Reverse just when they come to trust him again.

Or perhaps I'm as much in denial at what's unfolding here as Lag is. Time will tell.

The possibilities that all this raise, though, are undoubtedly just what we need after a few mediocre episodes, and the way the episode pulls in as many characters as it does in telling its story only adds to the appeal. Add on a few gratuitous fanservice scenes, as Lag ends up crossdressing again while Aria's clothes are gratuitously shredded by Niche (to the approval of her mail onlookers), and it's a decent episode.

It still feels, though, as if it's focussing on the minutiae rather than the big picture. Gauche has a role in Reverse and has had a role in making Lag who he is, and that makes him relevant to the story - fine. But so much has been trailed about what's wrong with the Big Picture in Amberground - government experiments, conspiracy, and the creature at the heart of its artificial sun - that that's now the side of the story that's caught my attention and that I want to see progressed. This is a sideshow, and while it's a good sideshow, it's still a distraction from what, at the moment, seems to be the better and more important story.

In summary:
It's frustrating watching a sideshow when you know there are greater things afoot, and that's what you get here. There's no doubting how important Gauche is to Lag, but to the audience, I'm betting not so much. Let's get back to the real secrets of Amberground, please...

Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Apple MacBook Pro 17" with 4GB RAM and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: NA
Video Rating: NA
Packaging Rating: NA
Menus Rating: NA
Extras Rating: NA
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: Crunchyroll
Running time: 24
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tegami Bachi