|Continues story, Decent Conclusion||Anime Original ending seems a bit rushed|
The fall season of 2009 was host to a lot of great series, among them, the cute, calming and very immersive Letter Bee/Tegami Bachi series. Based on the manga of the same name, Letter Bee told the heartwarming story of Lag Seeing, and how his meeting with a Letter Bee named Gauche Suede changed him. Lag followed in the footsteps of his friend and older brother figure Gauche, and went on to become a Letter Bee. The series progressed, at a mostly calm pace, highlighting a lot of small stories and quietly weaving them into a very immersive and believable world, one that captivated many. As the series neared its end, things really got good and viewers were left with one hell of a cliffhanger.
Expectations for Letter Bee ~Reverse~, the second season were high. Would Reverse continue the amazing and exciting pace of the last few episodes of the first season? Would it complete the story? Many of the questions lurked in the minds of many as everyone geared up for the second season in Fall of 2010, nearly a year later.
The short version? Letter Bee ~Reverse~ is a definite crowd pleaser, and is sure to meet the expectations of all those who enjoyed season 1. At the same time though, the series is far from the definitive conclusion that every fan of the franchise yearned for. Letter Bee ~Reverse~ accomplishes much, but it also leaves you craving for more, A LOT more.
The second season picks up exactly where the first one left off. Now… a word of caution: For those who haven’t seen the first season, its best to go back and see that or read the review for it at least. Continuing to read this review could ruin the experience for season 1, as spoilers are unfortunately unavoidable. Warned and ready? Alright then!
The series starts off with the fateful reunion of Lag Seeing and his friend Gauche…. Or does it? The man Lag encounters claims to call himself Noir and has no recollection of him at all. Worse still, Lag is shot down by one of Noir’s shindan blasts and Niche is severly overpowered by Noir’s Dingo, a woman calling herself Roda. As Noir vanishes once again, Lag Seeing vows to find him and bring him back to his friends.
For the entire first season, and the first few episodes of this series, the anime adaption clearly follows the manga. Shortly after a key metting with an important character from Niche’s past however, things change. For the greater purpose of giving a somewhat real ending, Letter Bee ~Reverse~ opts for an Anime original story and changes certain events from the manga for its own alternate ending.
Fans of the first series need not worry, however, as Letter Bee ~Reverse~ has a great story which mostly follows the manga. The series also fixes its slow pace issues rather quickly, and is a lot more exciting, thrilling and enjoyable this time around. Major characters and events happen, and they happen fast, giving fans and viewers exactly what they’ve been craving. All the characters from the first series, and plot points are integrated into one hell of a finale, which really gives viewers the payoff that they want for investing in the series world and characters.
Its worth noting that the actual episode length for the series is much shorter, clocking in at around 20 minutes with the OP and ED included. This unusually short episode length makes for a much tighter knit story, and makes the series perfect for marathon watching. Unlike the first series, Letter Bee ~Reverse~ hooks you soon after it starts, and reaches its conclusion before you even realize.
On that note, the ending of the series, is a good one, even if it isn’t completely satisfying. As the source manga is still ongoing, the anime series does its best to wrap up all the major plot points introduced from season 1, while leaving the more grand issues of the Letter Bee world open for future iterations, or mostly probably for the manga to answer. The issue of Gauche, why he disappeared, and what the anti government organization Reverse had planned is all dealt with and brought full center. Added to that, there is a good deal of character development and back-story for all of the major characters, from series protagonist and hero Lag, to Niche, to Zazie and even Connor gets a nice character arc in between the major events of the series.
The story is just as a great if not better than the first series, but while Letter Bee ~Reverse~ fixes the pacing issues from the first series, it presents a crack in the immersion of the world. As the series deviates from the manga, certain small tidbits definitely begin to stick out, if only the most careful eye.
The crux of the story’s main conflict is a battle for and against the Government and the capital city, Akutsuki. Despite being the center of attention though, Akutsuki itself is never actually shown in the series. The government also plays no major role in a fight that determines their very survival. These can be considered small issues, but ones that hamper the otherwise picture perfect immersive illusion of the series’s great and very distinct world. More grander questions of Lag’s own origins and the Gaichu are also left unanswered and many character arcs are significantly developed but not totally resolved.
Speaking of which, the cast of characters is just as strong as ever. We aren’t introduced to too many new characters, but those that are introduced help to strengthen an already expansive and deep cast of characters. Lawrence has a much larger role, and serves as a great villain for the story. Two inspectors from Akutsuki (the Capital City) are also introduced, and add a very interesting anti-hero element to the series. As mentioned earlier, we have some great character development for the old cast. The characters face some truly core shaking events and obstacles, and emerge as more deep and relatable characters from them.
As with the first series, Letter Bee ~Reverse~, is once again handled by Studio Perrio and thus has great production values. The animation and art style are just as fluid and jaw dropping as before. The same level of consistency and the unique purple, blue color palette is present and is executed beautifully. The music is actually a step above the first, with more memorable OP/ED themes. The OST does a great job of really setting the mood for the series various events as well. The voice work, is of course, once again top notch, with the usual great work done by the seiyuu responsible. In many ways, ~Reverse~ is essentially part 2 of the first season, and the great production values from the first series definitely carry over.
In conclusion, Letter Bee ~Reverse~ is a “good” conclusion. It is a wrap up to a series that had some of the most human and loveable characters alongside a very immersive world. While its not picture perfect, and there is a sense of longing for a more true ending to the series, it does a decent job of it nonetheless. Compared to many other anime series that just randomly cut off at some random part of the story, Letter Bee ~Reverse~ does its job of being the conclusion with grace. The series makes for a thoroughly enjoyable experience, going as far as to trump its prequel series. We award Lag Seeing and Letter Bee ~Reverse~ with a heart filled, A Grade.
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