Monday, October 19, 2009

First Impressions: Tegami Bachi

Okay, remember the movie, The Postman, starring Kevin Costner? Well, Tegami Bachi is also about postmen, heroic guys who deliver mails often traveling through dangerous terrains, only instead of marauding armies the anime version finds our guys fighting gigantic, CGI bug monsters.
EPISODE 01: Letter and Letter Bee
More Screencaps from Tegami Bachi Episode 01
Hajimari no Hi (Suga Shikao feat. Mummy-D) [YouTube]
ED: Hatenaki Michi (HIMEKA)

The first episode shows us a lone postman (they call them "letter bee" here -- or tegami bachi, hence the title), Gauche Suede and his Dingo ("partner"), a white dog, arriving at a place to pick up a letter. However, instead of a letter, what Gauche finds is a little boy, Lag Seeing, whose mother was taken somewhere, leaving the latter alone. Gauche is tasked to deliver the boy to his aunt in Cambel but to do so, he would first have to earn Lag's trust while traveling safely through the bug-infested land.
The package: Lag Seeing

The first thing that really struck me about this anime is the great-looking visuals. I can't really put a finger on it. The art style is certainly generic but I like the designs -- the clothes especially, and the weapons. Very steampunk. They remind me a lot of another steampunk-inspired anime, Kino no Tabi, though I think Tegami Bachi is lighter on its treatment of the storyline. Indeed, the show does not strike me as very serious even as I get the feeling that it might turn serious as the story progresses. But at the moment, it's still pretty light fare and it's good that way. At the very least, it touches on keeping a good work ethic without being heavy-handed about the whole thing.
The deliverer: Gauche Suede

Ah, the CGI. I dislike it. It makes the bugs, the villains in the story, comical instead of scary. I do not feel for one moment that the characters are in any sort of danger, even as they are right in the middle of a fierce fight with said bugs. The anime calls them gaichuu, by the way, which means "armored instincts." They are cumbersome-looking, crab-like things that glow in the dark. Something about their appearing out of nowhere in a desert landscape reminds me a lot of the monsters from The Third - The Girl With The Blue Eye. What is cool about having these monsters to battle in Tegami Bachi is that they provide the perfect excuse for Gauche to whip out his deringer, called the Shindanjuu ("heart bullet gun"), and shoot the crap out of 'em, providing the only action in an otherwise slow-moving tale.As for characters, Lag is apparently the main protagonist. He's not much of anything at the moment but I can see from a mile away the sort of development he has to go through in order to become like his "idol," Gauche. And considering Gauche's attitude towards his work and his dedication to his sister, it's not hard to understand why Lag would eventually grow to idolize someone like him. Now if only Gauche was voiced by someone other than Jun Fukuyama. Don't get me wrong. I like him as a seiyuu but in Tegami Bachi he's using his Tamaki voice from Ouran Host Club, complete with that self-congratulating, megalomaniac tone that makes Tamaki a total dear but does the complete opposite for Gauche. It's quite a turn-off. A pity, since I kind of like Gauche, just not his voice.IN SUM --

Tegami Bachi could be a very interesting or very boring anime, depending on your disposition. The pacing is slow, as is to be expected from traveling shows like this one, but with that usually comes excellent character development. So if you are one to wait for the good part to come, then you might like this show.

Tegami Bachi @ ANN
Tegami Bachi @ Wikipedia
Tegami Bachi Trailer [YouTube]