Tegami Bachi, Vol. 1
written by Hiroyuki Asada
Normally letters are made up of paper. But one day Gauche has to deliver a letter in the form of a young boy.
That’s not the only thing off kilter in this fantasy manga. The story occurs in a place known as Amberground, a land of darkness, where there is one manmade star that mainly gives light to the elite caste. Other places of Amberground are very, very dark and it’s called a “land of perpetual night.” There is also the problem of running into Gaichuu, which are more or less gigantic insect monsters that roam the countryside and wreak havoc.
Gauche works as a special kind of delivery person known as a Letter Bee. He and other Letter Bees are described as “a rare breed of government agent [who] travel this dark, dangerous territory on official business. People entrust these agents with their HEARTS.” He has to face Gaichuu as he delivers his mail. His parents are gone, but his younger sister is still alive, and if he earns enough money, he can heal her crippled legs. He works with a strong dedication to his job.
Still, he’s surprised when he has to deliver a boy. The boy is named Lag Seeing and he’s in a terrible, depressed space because his mother was taken away from him. So far, it’s not clear exactly who took her or why. Gauche can’t help him there, but he can take Lag Seeing to his aunt, which is where Lag’s supposed to be delivered anyway. A little more than half the book covers this part of the story.
Five years pass, and the story picks up again with Lag Seeing having decided that he’s going to be a Letter Bee as well. He wants to catch up with Gauche again, but he also wants to find his beloved mother. He sets out into the world, not knowing what will happen to him. Readers, likewise, are still learning about the world presented in this manga.
The art looks like pretty typical shonen work: It’s neither very detailed nor too sparse, and it has its fair share of action scenes with plenty of fighting and big action words across the page. Tegami Bachi has been intriguing so far, especially with how it often talks about hearts. The theme of the heart is almost constant in these pages. A land of darkness is archetypical, and many aspects of the plot are still murky and mysterious.