If the series continues as it has been…I’m afraid I’ll run out of ways to praise it!
Story: Hiroyuki Asada
Art: Hiroyuki Asada
Translation/Adaptation: Rich Amtower
What They Say:
As the ferocious Gaichuu Cabernet closes in on the capital of Amberground, the Letter Bees form an army to stop it. Lag is paired off with a novice Bee who informs him that he’s become a legend in the Beehive. But Lag’s reputation as the “Child of Light” won’t do him much good against the terrifying power of Cabernet…or the dark secret he’s discovered about his hero, Gauche Suede.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
If volume 11 was a terrific Hollywood action movie in the form of Tegami Bachi, then volume 12 is that particularly nail-biting scene where things start to fall apart and ramp up simultaneously thus elevating the overall plot to something greater than we expected. This book was pretty intense from start to finish and it really does ramp up the series as a whole. The book begins with Lag’s confrontation with Gauche, whom he has discovered is actually still Noir, just pretending to be Gauche with his heart restored. The previous volume really sold us on the fact that Gauche had returned. This could’ve been perfect in the scope of the grander story. Gauche could’ve teamed back up with the Bees, infiltrated Reverse, brought down the bad guy, etc. etc. Instead Gauche is still gone, Noir is still hell-bent on destroying the man-made sun and plunging Amberground into chaos and our hero’s heart gets broken again. It is very effective and really quite sad to see this turn of events after all the hope, joy, and promise we were fed in the last volume. Noir is gone now and nothing has been changed or saved.
The rest of the book focuses on the Beehive calling into action all available Bees and coordinating a strategy to try and finally defeat Cabernet. I have to hand to Asada; after 10 volumes of being in a very comfortable zone with the story, these last two books show a real flair for the dramatic. It’s the kind of rousing stuff we see in big budget blockbusters that really get the blood pumping. Only difference compared to the majority of those movies is that this is actually really well done on top of being rousing. The Bees are separated into groups and sent off to attempt to engage Cabernet at different points alongside its flight path so that it can be prevented from entering Akatsuki. Naturally, Lag is sent to the last checkpoint before Cabernet is scheduled to hit the Cobalt Glass River and enter Akatsuki. Lag is teamed up with a new character; a young girl name Lily Confort. Lily is a scared girl whose resolve has taken a severe beating since becoming a Bee. She has no confidence but believes in the work of a Bee so strongly that she must do whatever she can to protect the hearts of the public.
We’ve all seen tons of movies before, we’ve watched other anime, and read other manga; we know the options for how this is going to turn out. Regardless of the plot following a predictable path, it works! Lily is a terrific character and in the chapters she is featured in here, we get plenty of development and background to have her mean something to us. Take all of this action and suspense and toss in a lengthy scene of Former Director Lloyd traveling to and eventually meeting the leader of Reverse, Lawrence, and we get almost more than we can handle. In my review for the previous volume I’m pretty sure I mentioned that Lloyd’s ploy to meet Lawrence was a simple double cross and fit pretty well into the scope of this whole “war against Reverse” thing. Well, I’m not so sure anymore. Lloyd actually may betray Amberground. Who knows!? Either way, the way the scene is handled is riveting. It’s not some crazy, left-field plot twist that damages the credibility of the story; it is a sensible development that just goes against our preconceived thoughts and feelings. That, my friends, is quality entertainment.
Tegami Bachi has been a consistently good series ever since volume 3 or so. It took me a bit before I could get into it but ever since then I have constantly enjoyed each volume. Some books are better than others, some arcs are more intriguing and investment-worthy than others, but one thing’s for damn sure…the series has been firing on all cylinders for the last two or three books. Constantly gripping, enjoyable, interesting, and above all, written with such clarity of vision that we sense that everything means something and the ending will not be a total let down. Speaking of not being let down, the ending to this book is one of tragedy and rejoicing. But we all get spit in our faces upon the final pages as hopelessness and peak curiosity sets in with no clues to help us along. Next volume please!!!
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: February 5th, 2013