Tegami Bachi seems to be really getting into its stride now, with the machinations of Reverse having finally come to centre-stage and the story now being deep in the Good Stuff. But in this episode, a group of people who have been seemingly hoodwinked by Reverse into being their sacrificial pawns are about to have some very Bad Stuff happen to them...
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.
With Connor's affection for her having become known, Sunny is ordered to put poison in the cookies that she regularly bakes for him - an order that she's not happy about obeying, even if she has been taught to believe that the Bees are their enemies. Connor, meanwhile, has seen Lag and Road fighting and has reluctantly accepted that the residents of the Abbey - Sunny included - are members of Reverse. But with a giant Gaichuu, Cabernet, on the way to the town, there may not be much time for them to do anything about it...
Love never really does run smoothly when the two interested parties are on opposite sides of some kind of divide, and so that's the case here between Sunny and Connor, who are clearly in love with each other, but who have some work to do to overcome the Reverse - Bee divide. The nuns of the abbey, and those who live under their "care", became involved with Reverse as a way of bringing money into their orphanage - Reverse were willing to "donate" when no-one else would. But their donations came at a high price, and the Abbey's residents have now been thoroughly indoctrinated into Reverse's beliefs - and the belief that the role they'll play in Reverse's plans, as human sacrifices to help create an immensely powerful Gaichuu that can be used to attack the capital, Akatsuki - is somehow both honourable and unavoidable. After some of the revelations of recent episodes, that painted Amberground's government in a very bad light, Reverse's actions here just go to reinforce that they're no angels themselves. If you're looking to find who the "good" guys are, in terms of the big picture you'd have a hard time telling.
Coming down to a more individual level, though, it's easy to see - Lag and Connor have their hearts in the right place and are determined to Do the Right Thing, so when Lag eventually comes face to face with Noir, and has his specially-charged bullet ready, he does what he needs to do to restore Noir to his old Gauche self, and fires. The bullet seems to do what it was intended to do, and restore Gauche's memories of the time he'd spent with Lag so many years before - but what the consequences of that will be, we'll have to wait until next episode to find out.
The theme of the episode, though, rest heavily on betrayal and redemption. Sunny is ordered to betray Connor and poison him; Connor has his own issue to deal with in the aftermath of that; and Lag is seeking to lead Noir / Gauche to redemption when they eventually come face-to-face. It unfolds in a style that's more what you would expect of an end-of-season finale, but with the show still set to run for another cour (as far as I'm aware), you do have to wonder how it's all going to unfold from here. What I hope to see is the show maintain its current run of arc-relevant episodes up until the end of the series - if we do get down to facing down the government's misdeeds and finding Lag's mother, then there shouldn't be any problem finding enough story to do that with. What I fear, though, is a peak in the next episode or two, followed by a return to the more standalone type of episode for a while.
Like most shows, Tegami Bachi is at its best when concentrating on its main story - it's doing that now and reaping the rewards in terms of how enjoyable it's become. What it needs to do now is keep up the good work, and not lapse back into doing easier but less enjoyable things.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple MacBook Pro 17" with 4GB RAM and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.