Tegami Bachi returns for a second season, and I can't help but notice that the "down-one-when-Lag-cries" drinking game is still a viable pastime whilst watching...
What They Say
Lag Seeing, who was rescued at a young age by a national postal service worker known as a Letter Bee named Gauche Suede, idolized this Bee and finally met him again after he went missing. However he calls himself the Marauder Noir and steals the letter from Lag. Lag, injured, is saved by the Express Delivery Bee Jiggy Pepper and taken to the Bee Hive, but Lag's partner, his dingo Niche, doesn't take it very well...
A quick recap: when we last left Lag and Niche, they'd just saved the town of Honey Waters from a rampaging gaichuu, and been run out of town for their trouble. On their way out, the encountered the one person that Lag's been wanting to meet again for over five years now: Gauche Suede, the man who had made him want to be a Letter Bee in the first place. Given that Gauche has been missing for most of the intervening years, meeting him now is a Big Deal.
Lag's reunion with Gauche doesn't turn out how Lag had always hoped it would, though - not only does Gauche refuse to acknowledge that they've met before but, as per the instructions from his client, he takes Lag's delivery from him and leaves. Now going under the name of Noir, he's become a Marauder - a thief - and seems to have no memory of his time as a Bee. Niche's own encounter with Roda (Gauche's dingo) doesn't go well either, only proving to Niche that she's got some learning to do if she's to become the dingo she wants to be. That leaves them heading back to the Yuusari Bee-hive under something of a cloud, and with Lag dreading telling Sylvette the bad news about her brother...
It's made clear that something has happened to Gauche - perhaps an accident, more likely not - that left him injured and with amnesia. The member of Reverse who had previously tried to recruit him, Lawrence, has taken advantage of this to turn Gauche into one of his Marauders, getting what he'd wanted from him in the first place. So there's a simple possibility being dangled here: find a way to restore Gauche's memories, and restore the man in the process.
But that's not something that's going to happen anytime soon. Before that, there's a crisis of confidence that Niche is already beginning to work through, and no doubt Lag is going to have to work out what he wants to do as well. With there being no gap in story time between seasons - Reverse picks up immediately where the first season left off - all that's good and bad about Tegami Bachi remains in place: I find Amberground to be a fascinating setting and a large part of the show's appeal, with the apparently artificial nature of the place and its reliance on the mysterious "heart" as part of the cycle of life intriguing. Most of the characters are well-rounded personalities, too - making it somewhat ironic that the show's two lead characters, Lag and Niche, are its weak points, with Lag's ability to burst into tears being a trait that seems to almost universally annoy. I've never been entirely comfortable with Niche's perceived innocence and general attitude, either, always finding her a little jarring.
But to my mind, the show has never really been about them anyway - instead, they're facilitators in the search for Gauche, with the eventual aim to bring him back to Sylvette and his friends at the Yuusari Bee-hive, and the people around them who support and help them are just as important to that goal as Lag and Niche are. Look at the series that way, and the little annoyances with their personalities drop away, allowing the atmosphere that pervades Ambergound to take over. And that's what makes the series enjoyable for me.
There are some things I'd like to see this season of Tegami Bachi do, apart from lead Gauche to redemption, if it's to really make me sit up and take notice. This episode doesn't give any indication either way as to whether I'll get what I want, but it's a solid episode that reintroduces the characters and setting well and sets the story up to be moved forward. So far, so promising.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple MacBook Pro 17" with 4GB RAM and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard