After a few episodes that were heavy on plot, this week sees Tegami Bachi get back to something more comic as Aria is bumped back to making deliveries - something that she's not very good at. Tastes great, less filling.
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.
The Letter Bees are tasked by the government with going after the Cabernet, which although weakened by the attack that Lag and Gauche made is still considered a serious threat. With not enough personnel left at the Hive as a result to carry out normal deliveries, Aria's left dealing with the rounds herself, and one of her deliveries sees her carrying a letter to one Houdai Franklin, who was on the airship that was nearby Amberground's artificial sun during the Day of Flicker. Niche tags along as her dingo, but the new duo has a tough time working together...
Aria is a complete klutz. While she's the model of grace and poise around the Hive, no sooner has she struggled into her delivery uniform (and she's clearly grown a bit since the last time she had to wear it), she turns into a top-grade clumsy girl, tripping and falling over any obstacle. Which does make you wonder how she ever became a Bee in the first place, given that successfully making deliveries is a key part of the test that all new Bees have to take (one of a few little inconsistencies that the picky could point at in this episode). I have to say, though, that there's something about clumsy anime girls that definitely adds to their adorableness score, and this episode moves Aria from the 'cold and aloof' category to somewhere much closer to 'daaawwww'.
Lag's out of action from exhaustion and, when he hears of Aria's legendary clumsiness, he decides to send Niche along the help her out - but the two really don't get along. Niche is used to Lag letting her have her own way, for the most part, while Aria's own experiences with her own dingo (a big hairball of a dog by the name of Bolt, who's now too old and infirm to be a working dog) means that there's a huge gap between what she expects an dingo to be, and how Niche behaves in the role, that leads to a great deal of friction between them.
Until several Gaichuu arrive on the scene and nearly rob the pair of them of their heart, at which point - you guessed it - the pair must quickly learn to put aside their differences and develop the teamwork required to save their skins. Stop me if you've seen that storyline before, like in almost any anime series known to man. The episode also dangles things in front of you that it doesn't deliver on - at least not yet (with the recipient of Aria's letter possibly having been directly involved in the Day of Flicker, there's the promise of an explanation of what happened that day) - while there are some infuriating inconsistencies, most notably in the way we're able to see Aria's memories. The series has set this up all along as Lag's special power - be shot with his shindan, see your memories released for all around you to see. But Aria's memories just randomly come out in two separate scenes in the episode, for no reason other that it's expedient to the plot for them to be there - and that's not how it's supposed to work, and the lack of consistency with what the series has established before is infuriating.
There's one thing, though, that makes the episode almost worth watching despite the faults with its main story. Right at the end of the episode, there's a tacked on scene that quickly gives us an update on what Reverse are up to, which drops another tidbit of information about what the Amberground government are up to and that muddies the water again between who the good and bad guys are in this series. I'll not spoil, but as a hint I'll say - how very Soylent Green of them. A potentially very interesting development.
After the plot-heavy episodes that preceded it, dropping back to filler was always going to be a disappointment, and the way this episode lacks any sort of originality and messes with the show's established way of doing things doesn't so it any favours. But Aria's a decent character to watch, and the closing scene promises very interesting developments ahead, so it's not all bad. Far from being Tegami Bachi's best work, though.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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