The Day of Flicker has been mentioned a few times in Tegami Bachi, usually with the hushed overtones usually reserved for disasters. Now we finally get to see that happened that day...
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 traumatised 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.
Aria and Niche finally make it to Houdai's house. Aria tries to hand over the letter right away, but rather than accept delivery Houdai attacks and injures her. But Aria doesn't flinch, and tries to convince him by talking about how a person dear to her lost something important on the Day of Flicker. When Houdai hears this he relents, lets them into his house, and begins to tell the story of his memories of the incident that happened on board that airship. Meanwhile, Dr Thunderland is treating Lag and Gauche, and the unthinkable occurs...
The episode simultaneously covers Aria at Houdai's house and what she's learning there, and what Thunderland - who was also on the airship on the Day of Flicker - is telling Lag back at the beehive. It's two different perspectives on the same story, but ultimately they both reveal the same thing: that Amberground's artificial sun is something to be feared, is something that is slowly and surely sucking the life out of the world - and that the government seems to know full well what it is. Where they differ is in whether there's any hope for the future: Houdai firmly believes that there isn't, but events back in Thunderland's lab leave open the possibility that there may be.
Right from when I first started on Tegami Bachi, a large part of the appeal of the show has been the setting: Amberground itself, its apparent artificial nature and how the world worked. I didn't originally have much hope that any of the would be addresses, though, thinking it was just a curious background to Lag's story, a story that would go in a different direction. Now, though, it's clear that the nature of the world is central to the story - and with the sun being the centre of the world, it's now become the most central mystery of the series and one that, given how this episode has panned out, one that is going to have to be resolved in the remaining episodes. Frankly, I can't wait - the series is going in just the direction that I wanted it to go, and the way it's handling its story when it's dealing with the main arc, I have every confidence that we're in for a killer of a closing arc.
When we get there. The other thing that has marked Tegami Bachi's card is that it's very, very heavy on the filler material, and when it does that the series goes from being completely engrossing to merely okay. With this season set for 25 episodes, we've got 11 to go, and I can't help but wonder how much of that will be padding. I fear a lot - and I hope I'm wrong.
This episode, though, it top-notch material - it's nearly all pure plot exposition, but it's essential information and delivered in a way that never lets your attention waver. The more time that Tegami Bachi spends with its main story arc, the better the series gets, and the more I want to know about that artificial sun and the people in in the capital who are feeding it. More. Please. Now.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple MacBook Pro 17" with 4GB RAM and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.