In this double-bill of episodes, we take a little detour into Sylvette's world before returning to the world of Reverse, as Noir's actions start to impact directly on the Bees we know - and Lag learns some unsavoury 'truths' about Akatsuki'
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 traumatized 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.
Sylvette's doll-making seems to be getting her some attention - she's received a fan letter from a girl named M Croce, asking her to make a doll that looks like her that she can give to her brother when he leaves his hometown to work in a coal mine. Sylvette hurries to make the doll, and after spending all night completing it heads out the next morning to deliver it, while Lag tags along to make sure that nothing happens to her. Sylvette's all-nighter has taken its toll, though, and they both end up falling asleep on the carriage they've taken - and by the time they wake up, they've travelled far past the town they were meant to get off at, and someone's stolen the doll.
Later, "Noir" - Gauche, to you and me - is been spotted up in the frozen northern reaches of Yodaka, and Largo Lloyd feels that the sighting is important enough to require investigation. Lag is ordered to travel to the area and to find out what Noir is up to, and he heads there with Niche and Steak. Near the sighting area he discovers a shell of what appears to be a giant gaichuu, as well as a used cartridge that Noir left behind. Eager to learn what had happened, Lag fires his shindan into one of the spent cartridges.
We're getting to the stage of the series where I'd normally complain loudly about yet another detour from the show's main story '" Tegami Bachi wastes quite enough time on sidestories as it is '" but somehow when it's a combination of Sylvette and cross-dressing criminals it doesn't seem so bad. Surprisingly, we get to see Sylvette being something of an action-girl '" she can get up quite some turn of speed on that wheelchair - and while it's really nothing more than a bit of comic filler, it's good comic filler, and gets no complaints from me.
Episode 32 brings us back to Reverse, though, and between another appearance from Noir, and the revelation of a number of behind the scenes 'secrets' of what the Amberground government are up to in Akatsuki, there's plenty of material that moves the story forward quite well. Those secrets are told from the Reverse point of view, so it's possible we're not getting the full truth here, but it certainly does paint the government in a rather bad light. Surprisingly, we don't immediately get to see Lag's reaction to this, which would have been interesting given the circumstances of his mother's disappearance.
There are a few other mysteries unfolding over the ep, with Niche also getting in on the act, but let's not spoil too much. It does seem, though, that Tegami Bachi is finally kicking into gear and getting to the meat of its story, and the way it's unfolding raises as many questions as it answers, in a way that gets you thinking about what's really going on behind the scenes. There's a good sense of mystery to it -and I love a good mystery.
Tegami Bachi has been slowly picking up speed lately, and with episode 32 starts filling in some very intriguing background that gets the old brain cells ticking over. After a long run of the show being more atmosphere than plot, the balance is finally being redressed - and that's no bad thing.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple MacBook Pro 17" with 4GB RAM and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.