Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee Volume 1 is a manga with the story and art by Hiroyuki Asada. Viz Media holds the North American rights to distribute the manga in the United States, and this manga volume was published in 2009. This English adaptation, which is presented as an “unflipped” release, was adapted by Rich Amtower; the translation was done by JN Productions. Tegami Bachi, Letter Bee is rated “T” for Teen.
This volume starts out with Gauche Suede, a Letter Bee who works for the government (as you can probably guess, a Letter Bee’s job entails mail delivery). As a Letter Bee, it’s Gauche’s duty to deliver any letter to its destination. The first story in this volume has Gauche finding his next delivery; it turns out that the letter he needs to deliver is a young boy named Lag Seeing. Lag’s mother has disappeared, and Gauche needs to deliver Lag to his aunt. During their journey, they encounter the Gaichuu, which are big insects with metal exoskeletons. Gauche has a special gun that allows him to use part of his heart to defeat the Gaichuu. During their journey, Gauche and Lag end up becoming friends. After Lag is safely delivered to his aunt and Gauche heads on his way, Lag decides that he wants to become a Letter Bee, just like Gauche.
The next story in the volume takes place five years later. Lag is on his way for his Letter Bee interview, and he finds a girl addressed as a letter at a train station. Her paperwork is incomplete, so the Letter Bees cannot deliver her. However, since Lag is not technically a Letter Bee, he decides to take the girl to her destination. As they travel, Lag learns the girl doesn’t have a name; he ends up naming her Niche. After delivering Niche to her destination and Lag heads on his way, Lag learns a terrible secret about where he delivered Niche. Lag goes back to rescue Niche from her predicament.
The art in Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee is very bright; Asada uses a lot of white and contrasts to make the art seem brighter than what you would normally expect to see in a manga. Several of the pages have “busy” panels, but this is probably due to the fact that this is a shonen title. One of the main problems I see with the art in this volume is Asada’s style for showing characters crying; in most instances, it really doesn’t look good. Outside of that, though, the art is pretty decent. As for the story, I think there’s a lot of potential for future volumes of Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee. The story in this first volume intrigued me enough to want to find and read future volumes of this manga series.
I wrote this review after reading a copy of this manga volume that I checked out through the King County Library System.