This week's episode of Letter Bee brings the Bees back together, in a town that Reverse seem to have a major foothold in - although Connor's too busy lusting after the local nuns to notice. A little investigation by Lag, though, uncovers a plan that involves something that no-one on the side of good wants to see: human sacrifice...
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.
Leaving Niche with the Maka and her sister while she recovers from her injuries, Lag heads back to the Bee Hive, and on the way meets Zazie. The pair join up and head for the town of Lament where Connor is, but when they arrive there they find Connor in bad shape - the unfortunate side-effect of too many cookies. More seriously, though, Lag also spots Roda, Noir's dingo, picking up a delivery of letters at the local abbey, so he goes undercover to infiltrate the abbey and find out if it is a Reverse base...
There's a lot to like about this episode, which is heavy on plot exposition (the origins of the gaichuu, the Maka's role in maintaining Amberground, and at least some of what Reverse are planning) while also fitting in some of the more down-to-earth aspects of the show, with the interactions between the Bees - and Lag's eventual appearance in drag as he tries to infiltrate Lament's abbey. They only allow women in there, y'know...
While Lag complaining about the breeze up his skirt & Connor pigging out on holy cookies undoubtedly have their appeal, though, that side of the episode is the supporting act. The main meat comes in two particular scenes, at each end of the episode, that tie together Amberground's nature and Reverse's plans in one neat package. In the first, Niche's sister explains the life cycle of Spirit Insects, like the one that's embedded in his eye, to Lag: creatures of power while they still have heart, when their heart runs out they become the Gaichuu that terrorise Amberground's people. The Maka has kept the worst of them locked away in its cave, where they can cause no harm. Until Noir came along and released at least one of them, that is. The second scene explains at least part of why he did that, as Lag runs into Roda while scouting the Abbey, and she's kind enough to explain (no doubt as instructed in the Evil Genius' Handbook) what her part in Reverse's plans entail - and it's not pretty, with the entire population of a town being placed in harm's way for what Reverse perceives to be the greater good.
Here's the thing, though: the more that we get dripfed about the Amberground government and what they're up to in the capital, the more it becomes easy to believe that Reverse have a point and may potentially turn out to be the good guys here. Lag is certainly beginning to put two and two together, and is now wonder just how much is being held from them about the true nature of the world. Reverse's methods, though, leave a lot to be desired, with their followers here being painted as little more than brainwashed cultists, ready to sacrifice themselves on the altar of their organisation for no reason other than that Roda has told them to, and that approach is very much not what you'd expect from a movement with honourable intentions. So while the situation does require action, the morality of the people taking that action is still very much up in the air, and I'll be interested to see if there's any change in how Reverse are presented as the story moves forward.
Tegami Bachi is just getting more and more interesting as it goes on, and the flow of answers - something that the series was doing a damn good job of keeping to itself until recently - is now becoming a flood. There's still a lot left up in the air, though, to keep you guessing and to keep you wondering just who is on the right side here, and I suspect there are quite a few surprises to be thrown into the mix yet. Good stuff.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple MacBook Pro 17" with 4GB RAM and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.