Carrying on from where we left off last week, Tegami Bachi continues its dig into the pasts of Niche and her long lost twin sister, with strong feelings of loss and a heavy helping of misunderstanding disrupting what should have been a happy occasion
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.
200 years ago, Niche and her twin sister were shunned as cursed by the residents of their hometown, and were eventually disposed of. Thrown into a river, with the most precious thing in the world, her sister, split apart from her, Niche's sister matured all on her own, and has lived together with the Maka ever since. When Niche finally encounters her, she has no memory of what happened, and instead protects Lag, a "human". Shocked by seeing her sister in such a state, she tries to kill both her sister and the other people. Lag tries to stop her, and shoots a shindan into her...
I'm kind of torn with this episode, to be honest. One the one hand, it's a good look into the past of Niche and her sister that continues the good character development that Niche started getting last episode, and that's no bad thing. On the other hand, it's so full on inconsistencies that it's hard to really get into it without all the little niggles building up and becoming overwhelming; and the way a lot of the story is told, there's a good case to be made to tagging is a clip-show / recap episode, especially in the way that it tries to explain Lag's feelings for Niche.
Chief amongst the niggles, although be no means the only one, is Lag's use of his shindan against Niche's still-unnamed big sister: whereas we've got 33 episodes of precedent that says that, when Lag uses his power, you get to see the heart of the person who gets shot, this episode breaks the rules and shows us Lag's feelings - and that makes no sense at all. The episode doubles up on the error by doing it not once, but twice.
Second niggle: overuse of the old prehensile hair trick. Niche has been doing this for a while, but she's quite restrained in how she uses it compared to her big sister, who spins her hair into all sorts of unlikely tools and weapons at the drop of a hat, with little apparent regard for the rules of basic physics. It soon gets tired, and as each bigger-than-the-last weapon is pulled out of nowhere for her to beat up on Lag and Niche with, my patience wore down just a little more.
I could go on, but that would maybe create the impression that I hated the episode when, in spite of all its flaws, I didn't. The reasons for that are simple enough: underneath all the posturing, there's still an interesting tale being told and the eventual realisation of what Big Sis has been feeling for the past 200 years does explain a lot of her attitude problem. There's also the ongoing hints that there's something about Lag that we're not fully aware of, that he's not fully human - and in an important enough way that the Maka itself breaks its silence to comment upon it. That's a pretty big unresolved plot point hanging in the air, and I hope it's dealt with soon.
Unfortunately, the episode ends with little in the way of closure - Lag leaves, Niche stays with the Maka and her sister, and neither side says what they're planning to do next, so it's completely up in the air what happens next. Chalk up another mark in the "cons" column for this episode.
I do enjoy Tegami Bachi, almost despite myself, but this episode flips a lot of the switches that annoy me most about it, most annoyingly in the way that it leaves more questions hanging than it answers. As a character-developing interlude it's okay at best, with its real value being in what it hints at for future episodes. Moving quickly onwards...
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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