Reverse’s plans go fully into motion which will radically change the world.
What They Say:
While most of Amberground remains blanketed by perpetual darkness, the capital city of Akatsuki basks in the light of an artificial sun. But as Lag Seeing’s investigations deliver him to the doorstep of Houdi Franklin, survivor of an ill-fated airship journey on the infamous Day of the Flicker, the secrets behind the light in the sky begin to cast dangerous shadows on the Letter Bee’s future. Yet the death and blindness unleashed by the abomination in the heavens are only the first salvos in Lag’s greatest series of challenges to date.
The molten Gaichuu monster Cabernet is still on the loose, wreaking havoc and destruction. The sinister organization Reverse has agents working behind the scenes everywhere, attempting to undo the fabric that holds Amberground’s society together. The Bee Hive, headquarters of the Letter Bees, is itself abuzz with treachery, and the restoration of Gauche’s memory may be about to come back on them as a double-edged sword. Can Lag, Niche and Steak cancel out each of these incoming dangers and return them to their senders?
Contains episodes 14-25.
The audio presentation for this series is straightforward in that we get the original Japanese language only in stereo encoded at 224kbps. The show has a good blend of styles to it overall as there are some decent action scenes where the weapons and creatures have a good presence to them but there’s also the softer moments that let the wonder of the world seep in quite well. The show tends to focus more on that and the dialogue by its very nature, but it doesn’t skimp when it comes to the action,t hoguh it’s also not one that really overdoes it either. The softer scenes with the instrumental music and just the way it draws you into the visuals works quite well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing from 2009 to 2010, the transfer for this twelve episode series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show is spread across three discs in a four/four/four format since it also includes four Tegami Bachi Academy episodes on each volume as well. Animated by Studio Pierrot, the show has a very appealing look to it with its world design and the transfer handles it pretty well considering it’s full of darks, both blacks, blues and purples, without being a completely noise-fest. The colors generally hold up well though there are areas where background noise is more pronounced, but not in a way that’s strong or problematic during regular playback. A lot of the still scenes in particular look great as the colors have a certain pop to them when it comes to the skylines. When the show shifts to the action, it’s better off overall as it has a higher bit rate and the animation picks it up a few notches as well.
The packaging for this release is a straightforward single sized keepcase with a hinge inside to hold all three discs. The front cover for this final installment is pretty good as we get Lag in the foreground with a rather happy expression while behind him we get a distant shot of Gauche/Noir, which has a lonely feeling to it when you combine in the general background design and colors. The logo is simple along the bottom, spread out a lot for the English language version, but it also includes the original series name as well. The back cover works some darker colors into it with an almost ghostlike feeling to it. Though it may be dark, it’s effective with what it does here. The summary is fairly easy to read and it covers the basics well. The disc and episode count are clearly listed as are the extras. Production credits are a bit small here but still readable and he technical grid lists everything clearly and accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is simple but pretty nicely done as it works with the same colors as the cover. The design is the same overall for each volume though it changes out the artwork. The left side dominates with about two thirds of the layout showing off artwork of various characters and settings that has the earthy and purple toned feeling that definitely sets the mood right. The right side gives us the episode navigation which provides numbers and titles which are set against a black portion of the background that definitely makes it easier to read and navigate. Being a single language release, the only extra navigation we get are the special features which are very easy to move about it.
The extras for this release are pretty good as we get the next Tegami Bachi Academy episodes spread across each volume tied to the main episodes themselves. They run about three minutes each so it’s an additional half episode or so per volume, giving you just a bit more content. They’re generally silly pieces with simpler and more colorful animation that lets the cast be silly and more comedy oriented. The set also includes the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this set of Tegami Bachi, we come to the close of the anime adaptation of the work. With the manga still ongoing now, a few years after the anime series has ended, you know you’re going to get something a little different. But that’s what happens when you work off of ongoing manga series that manage to hit some good length with its run. The first three collections managed to work through some good material overall, though in a somewhat slow and somewhat roundabout way at times, but the main focus from the get go is still there as we see Lag trying to find and save Gauche since he feels like he owes him pretty much everything in his life.
The reveals about the Reverse group, its leader Lawrence and how Gauche got drawn into it after losing his heart has been interesting. The focus of Lawrence on his attempts to deal with the Amberground government is something that has a lot of potential but also feels like it’s barely – barely – scratched the surface of it all. With the design of this world and its political make-up, we get very, very little of it and what we do get is kind of abstract when it comes to the way Akatsuki works and that of the artificial sun itself. There is, for me, just too many things left unknown and it kind of drives me crazy in some ways since there aer so many little foundation layer things that need to be cleared up so parts of it makes sense. But still, the general idea makes sense in that Lawrence holds a big grudge and is using a lot of different things for his larger plan to destroy the artificial sun.
And admittedly, a good part of me wanted to see him succeed. There’s just a sense that this world is so off kilter in such odd ways that it may need a radical kind of change to get back to something normal, which we have a few minor glimpses of across this set as an artists representation of the past is given a nod. But the show just wants to tease that more than anything else as its real focus is on the character interactions and connections and the drama that comes from it. And the big one that spilled over from the previous collection was the seeming recovery of Gauche, who has been brought back to the Hive. Lag’s obviously keen on being able to help him recover who he is, but there’s also some concern about just how much of Gauche is in there, even if he does seem like he’s showing aspects of who he was and not a lot of Noir.
With Gauche not being in the series for awhile, discounting his Noir time, it’s really nice to see Lag becoming so happy so quickly and trying to do what he can to show Gauche that he’s followed through on his dreams and promise to be a Letter Bee. And this also allows Gauche to reconnect Sylvette with him as well, which has been a long time coming and definitely important. There’s a quasi-family of sorts that does come from all of this and it’s really fun to see, even if it doesn’t last too long and the Gauche that returned is still really Noir, but with a few changes that allows him to have more of a sense of who he was before.
Naturally, everything has to lead towards what Lawrence is trying to do with destroying the artificial sun and we get a good bit of expansive background on the past with the Day of the Flicker. There’s some intriguing things to it as it expands the cast a bit, but it also doesn’t feel like it fills out enough of what’s needed in order to truly cement the artificial sun itself and some of the plans that went on to try and deal with the possibility of losing it. With Lawrence and his group, we get a look at some of the experiments that went on, but again it all just feels superficial and rather rushed in some ways. The big ending is fairly decent here as the two sides collide and Lawrence’s plan goes into motion, and we see the return of other characters that were part of the setup, but it doesn’t carry the weight or finality that would really help it feel real and important.
Over the course of four seasons and a total of fifty episodes, Tegami Bachi presents an intriguing world that it never manages to flesh out in a way that feels real or solid in some regards. There’s much to like here with the setting itself, the design and visuals of it and the creativity of how the Letter Bee’s work and the cast as a whole. It’s expansive and has lots of lingering connections that continue to surface throughout that helps bind many together, even if it is often a little too pat and neat. But at its core, there’s something engaging about Tegami Bachi and that does keep drawing you in, wanting more but never quite getting the deeper material that it needs to really stand out. It’s a good show and worth spending the time with, but it’s an under the radar piece overall that never quite reaches as high as it could.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Tegami Bachi Academy Episodes
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.