After a spectacular pilot episode, my hopes were set pretty high for Letter Bee, and the series (which begins some good amount of time prior to the events in the pilot) does not disappoint. This could be the show to look out for this fall as a surefire heart-bleeder and artistic joy-ride.
The first episode is largely driven along by dialog from the temporary main character Gauche, which is why it’s a good thing they chose the great vocal talent of Jun Fukuyama (Lelouch in Code Geass, Lawrence in Spicy Wolf) for him. Playing the other half of the dialog is Miyuki Sawashiro as the young boy Lag Seeing who is the series’ true main character. Sawashiro narrowly manages to pull off the boatloads of yelling and crying that come with playing a young boy without getting annoying.
Possibly the most notable aspect of Letter Bee is it’s gorgeous background art. I will be seriously surprised if Yoshihiko Umakoshi (Casshern Sins, Mushishi) isn’t somehow involved in this production, because the art is very similar to his style. The first episode doesn’t quite show off the same level of immense detail that the pilot did (I recommend watching the pilot as highly as possible, though it will spoil certain series events), but the series still boasts some impressive and VERY blue visuals.
Aside from the spectacular art, what sells Letter Bee isn’t so much the writing or plot, either of which is only a couple steps above generic for shounen anime. It’s more about the directing and pacing as well as the way the show builds an interesting world from the ground up. The pilot saw fit to spend as little time in the town as possible and really explore the barren wastelands that the Letter Bees travel. Episode one doesn’t even bother with the town at all except in memory scenes. The whole episode is out in the thick with our two main guys walking a tightrope between safety in their route and a total struggle to survive in lands unknown. There is definitely a lack of safety in Letter Bee’s world, exemplified if you watch the pilot.
I have to go ahead and recommend Letter Bee highly to everyone, because I think this is the show that will emotionally attach the viewer enough to keep watching as well as fuel some interesting discussions along the way. I generally find it impressive if a series can move me early in it’s run, and the pilot episode managed to shake me up a little. With knowing what happens in the pilot, I can see how the first episode is going to quickly lead us down a path paved with tears to come. It’s also worth mentioning that it has my favorite op song so far this season. Will follow closely.
(By the way, is it just me, or is Lag totally a young Ginko?!)
All images shamelessly stolen from Metanorn