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Manga / Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee

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"There is a land of perpetual night... a land called Amberground. Where the light of the man-made sun that shines over the capitol cannot reach... a rare breed of government agents travels this dark, dangerous territory on official business. People entrust these agents... with their HEARTS. And they have sworn to deliver... to deliver... letters. In all things... the heart must take precedence. The heart rules over all things... and all things come from the heart."

Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee is a manga by Hiroyuki Asada. It is set in the world of Amberground, a land where dozens of diverse and scattered towns are connected by the Letter Bees, an elite cadre of men and women who deliver letters, packages, and occasionally even people from town to town. Based in the shining capital city of Akatsuki, the Bees tirelessly work to deliver the mail... and with it, the 'hearts' of their loved ones... to all the citizens of Amberground.

If you're an optimist, you probably think that sounds really nice.

If you're Genre Savvy, you're probably wondering why an elite cadre is needed to deliver the mail.

You see, while the above description is all technically correct, it neglects to mention that Amberground is a truly awful place to live, perpetually shrouded in darkness except for a small artificial sun over the capital and infested by gigantic, Nigh-Invulnerable killer insects called Gaichuu. Gaichuu feed on the 'Hearts' of humans (not the literal organ, more like a sort of Life Energy), and since a person's letters contain fragments of their 'Heart', Gaichuu are naturally drawn to large concentrations of mail. As a result, the Letter Bees have to be elite; they have the single most dangerous job in the world. To aid them, they are equipped with special weapons that allow them to harness the power of their Heart to destroy Gaichuu, and travel with partners/bodyguards called 'Dingoes' that assist them in their work, but they still don't have a terrific life expectancy.

The main story follows the adventures of Lag Seeing, a rookie Letter Bee (and former Letter) as he seeks out Gauche Suede, the Bee who saved him after his mother disappeared... and who has since disappeared himself. With his Dingo, a somewhat... unusual young lady given the name of Niche, Lag delivers letters, battles Gaichuu, hunts for the missing Gauche, and slowly but surely begins to find himself drawn into a hidden conflict that threatens to rip apart the already troubled land of Amberground.

The second season of the anime Overtook the Manga, leading to several events to play out a bit different while still telling the same story.

The anime has been licensed in the United States by Sentai Filmworks and is available online.

The manga is licensed to Viz Media and is available wherever manga is sold. The manga ran from September 2006 to November 2015 for 20 volumes, and the English translation is complete.

This series shows examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Niche has a crisis of confidence and temporarily quits as Lag's dingo after failing to help Lag because of accidentally getting poisoned, and later losing to "Roda".
  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The Gaichuu are obviously 3D animated in the anime, which makes them look even more inhuman than in the manga.
  • Abnormal Ammo: The Shindanjuu shoot bullets made of 'Heart', the only thing that can kill a Gaichuu.
  • A-Cup Angst: This bothers Niche to some degree - especially given how nearly every other female in this series, if she's older than 10, has a larger chest than her.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Garrard and Hazel make their anime debut in Episode 30, which takes place between Chapter 20 and 21, rather than their canonical debut at the end of Chapter 31.
  • Adaptational Karma: Colbasso, Rei's Jerkass maid, eavesdrops on Lag's conversation with Rei and tries to claim the credit for sending Rei the picture postcards in order to con a reward out of Rei. In the manga, she's never seen again after Lag unravels her deception by shooting an Akabari and showing Rei Kimidori's feelings. In the anime, there's a brief scene at the end of the episode that shows her wearing civilian clothes and carrying suitcases while vowing revenge on Lag, implying that she was fired.
  • Adapted Out: Richard Belzaris BB Becktratus Jr. and Rubemius Bregiuroa Banjorelo the Second are not included in the anime, which only includes Lag and Macky as the Letter Bee examinees.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The English title of Episode 8 is "Seeing Sylvette Suede."
  • Aerith and Bob: Amberground names seem to consist of either relatively normal Western names (Largo, Vincent, Richard) and odd ones (Lag, Gauche, Jiggy).
  • Alliterative Name: Sylvette Suede, Largo Lloyd.
  • Answer Cut: When "Roda" tells Lag that "It will consume everything in the capital!" Lag asks what "it" is. Cut to a shot that slowly pans up to reveal Cabernet, a large and powerful Gaichuu.
  • Arc Words:
    • Hearts. They're not only people's life energy, but also the source of their feelings, which can be conveyed through letters. As such, letters not only convey people's feelings, but also serve as repositories of heart that attract Gaichuu.
    • "One who could not become spirit" is a rather cryptic name that isn't fully explained until late in the story.
  • The Atoner: Kimidori feels unworthy of Rei's friendship after being forced to sell her gift, but works for her as a maid and anonymously send her postcards of her hometown to repay her kindness.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Lag makes a very cute girl, and even Zazie acknowledges it.
  • Back for the Finale: Several minor characters are shown again in the climax of the anime, such as Vincent Alcott, who writes a book about what he witnessed.
  • Badass Normal: Hazel Valentine. This man took on Niche after her training with her sister and had the upper hand for most of the fight, despite being unarmed.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Gauche, toward Sylvette. He works hard to become Head Bee and heal her legs, even though she's content just to be with him.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Gaichuu resemble large mechanical insects and arachnids.
  • Big Damn Heroes: During the Honey Waters arc, Lag and Connor manage to flip the Cidre Gaichuu over, exposing its weak spot, but some townspeople show up and restrain them before they can finish it off. Hunt intervenes, declaring that he and Sarah have deceived the town long enough, but the Gaichuu then gets back up. Cue Zazie, who knocks the Gaichuu over with his Shindanjuu.
  • Birthday Buddies: Lag and Sylvette are both born on the Day of Flicker. Being born on the Day of Flicker caused Sylvette's legs to be non-functional from birth, while Lag has an eye missing. As one may guess, the Day of Flicker later turns out to have been the sign of something bigger going on. There are three other children who were also born on that day, and finding those people becomes Lag's goal late in the series.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • Macky Gee, Lag's main rival in the Letter Bee exam. Unlike the pompous rich boy who Niche forces to drop out, he seems like a Friendly Rival to Lag, but turns out to be willing to cheat to get ahead, and looks down on Lag for being from the poorest district of Yodaka.
    • Bonny, the woman Lag and Niche meet in Episode 15, initially seems to be trying to escape from a gang of Wild West-style outlaws with her lover Moss, but it turns out that they stole some Spirit Amber. By the end of the episode, it's revealed that Bonny doesn't even love Moss, and just wants money so she can reach the capital and reunite with her lover, Clyde.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • In the manga. Lag and Niche promise to be together forever and sacrifice themselves to defeat Spiritus and bring back the natural sun. Lag is reunited with his mother in the process and Noir is inspired by his actions into becoming a Letter Bee like Lag (just as Lag was inspired by Gauche).
    • The anime ends a bit differently. Lag manages to defeat Cabernet, and he and Niche survive to the end of the series. Gauche has to say goodbye to his sister and friends to live with those who could not become spirit, but he leaves on good terms with them. Dr. Thunderland researches how to help those who have lost their hearts, and Sunny appears to be recovering, even if she can't remember Connor. Garrard and Valentine appear to have gotten off scot-free, but have also left Reverse behind for an uncertain future.
  • Bodyguard Crush: The evidence that Niche has one for Lag just keeps building over time. Even if it isn't explicitly romantic, she definitely wants to be the center of his attention and isn't happy when she isn't.
  • Book Ends:
    • Episode 19 begins with Sylvette chasing Niche around the table, trying to get her to eat her carrots. Lag isn't able to eat her soup because he doesn't have an appetite, and collapses due to a fever. At the end, Sylvette chases Niche around the episode trying to get her to drink her milk. Lag, now healthy, declines to eat his soup because he's late for work.
    • The anime's first arc ends with Gauche saying goodbye to Lag while reaffirming that they are friends. It ends with Noir, whom Lag has accepted as being fundamentally the same as Gauche, saying goodbye to Lag in a similar manner before living with those who could not become spirit.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Episode 18 involves some self-styled Letter Pigeons who are fed up with the high rate of postage in Amberground and challenge the Letter Bees to a competition. On the one hand, they're right about the mail being too expensive for many; Nelli took extreme measures to deliver her brother's letter because she couldn't afford the stamps. The situation was even worse for an orphanage in the Letter Pigeons' hometown, which was what inspired them to form their own group. On the other hand, Lag's right when he says that not just anyone can do the Letter Bees' job, and he's proven right when the Letter Pigeons prove helpless against the Gaichuu. Considering how long it can take to deliver even a simple letter, and the danger involved, it's only natural that it would cost a lot.
  • Busman's Holiday: In Episode 31/Chapter 21, Lag gets a day off from work, but spends that day helping Sylvette deliver a doll to a customer, noting that he's basically Sylvette's dingo.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: The citizens of Amberground hope to one day become able to live in the capital of Akatsuki, but those who gain the right have their hearts fed to the artificial sun. Garrard doesn't take it well when he finds out that the dream every Amberground citizen aspires to is based on a lie.
  • Call-Back: After Lag learns about Gauche's disappearance, he asks what Niche would do if he lost his heart, and she says she'd do a long list of things to him until he regains his senses, mentioning dropping him twice(which Lag is incredulous about). When Lag gets ensnared by a Gaichuu and thinks he's the grandson of the lighthouse keeper, Niche brings Lag back to reality, and tells him about all the things she tried to get him to wake up. Lag once again brings up the double mention of dropping him.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Letter Bees tend to call out the names of their attacks when they use them- for example, Gauche has Kurobari (Black Needle), while Lag has Akabari (Red Needle).
  • Cannot Spit It Out:
    • Connor cannot bring himself to tell Lag about Gauche going missing, but Zazie can, possibly because Lag never told him about knowing Gauche.
    • Kimidori cannot tell her mistress that she is the one who is sending her the picture postcards because she believes she let her down by selling her present.
  • Cool Bike: Jiggy's Shindanjuu is a motorcycle. It runs on heart.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Sylvette takes canned soup which already tastes pretty bad, and then adds "secret ingredients" which make it taste disgusting. Only Sylvette and her brother actually think it tastes good.
  • Crapsack World: When the mail is always late because cockroaches the size of trucks keep eating the mailman's soul, you know your world sucks. Hell, it doesn't even have a sun!
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus:
    • The predominant religion in Amberground worships the Empress, who is allegedly both the wise and just leader of the country and a deity, while maintaining many of the trappings of Christianity (especially Catholicism), e.g. Statues of the Empress in churches resemble the Virgin Mary, burial markers are shaped like crosses but with extra lines to resemble a star shape.
    • Volume 15 then suddenly deconstructs the trope with The Reveal. The Empress is basically just a Living Battery that controls the Amberground sun. Lag's mother was abducted because she was due to be the next Empress, but she left a letter whose text and heart revealed the truth about the title (and the Flicker) to Lag.
  • Death by Childbirth:
    • Gauche's mother died giving birth to his little sister. Gauche, having forgotten his mother at the time of her death, unwittingly named his little sister after her.
    • Niche and her sister's mother, Celica suffers the same fate.
  • Deliberately Bad Example: Lag's two rivals for the Letter Bee job- an Upper-Class Twit whose rare lizard dingo gets curb-stomped by Niche and an incompetent Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who tries to cheat- basically exist to make him look good by comparison.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    • The series is listed on Crunchyroll as "Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee."
    • "I, your dingo, Niche, will be Niche, your dingo!"
    • When Lag asks Niche what she'd do if he lost his heart and memories of her, she says, "I'd lick you, and bite you, and drop you, and jump on you and scratch you, and drop you!" Lag notes that she listed dropping him twice.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Nelli's plan to get across the Bifrost Bridge with Lag's pass has two big holes in it. When she tries to create a diversion by identifying Lag as a Letter Bee, it instead results in a bunch of other people trying to steal his pass. Second, she doesn't account for the fact that Signal can verify the identities of people trying to cross the bridge, so she can't just take Lag's pass and claim to be him.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Episode 15. It turns out that Bonny was using Moss in order to get money in order to cross into Akatsuki. After the truth comes to light, Bonnie runs off into the wasteland, blaming Lag for exposing her. Moss claims that he had some suspicions all along, and thanks Lag for helping him realize the truth, but is still heartbroken.
    • The first season of the anime. While the Honey Waters arc has a Bittersweet Ending, with the Gaichuu defeated, Hunt and Sarah leaving to start a new life and the town remaining anti-government, Lag and Niche encounter Gauche Suede, who doesn't remember Lag at all and has become a "Marauder" for Reverse named Noir. Noir robs Lag, while "Roda," a woman accompanying Gauche, delivers a harsh "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Niche, shaking her confidence and causing her to temporarily quit being a Dingo.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Nelli assumes that her younger brother died hating their mutual (and in Nelli's case, former) friend Jiggy, but Nello looked up to Jiggy, and encouraged Jiggy to leave to pursue his dreams of being a Bee. When Nelli said he was "angry" a week before his death, he actually meant that he was angry about not being able to protect his sister.
  • Dr. Jerk: Dr. Thunderland really is a nice guy, but he does have the nasty tendency to scare the Hell out of people. Loudly announcing your desire to dissect the patient is not proper bedside manner, doctor.
  • Dreadful Dragonfly: The Cabernet is a Gaichuu with the shape of a giant dragonfly. It's probably the most powerful Gaichuu featured, and taking it down takes several dozen chapters, making it the longest-standing Gaichuu threat.
  • Dying Town: Kyrie, which is Jiggy, Nello and Nelli's hometown. Despite having the bridge to Yodaka, the town doesn't see much commerce, since few people pass across the bridge. Jiggy hopes to change that by building a church in town.
  • Easily Forgiven: Lag doesn't hold a grudge against Nelli for stealing his crossing pass and slashing his arm with a knife, even going so far as to save her from the monster guarding the Bifrost crossing. Averted with Niche, however, who remains angry with Nelli and even threatens to kill her, earning a rebuke from Lag.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • The man-made sun is alive. And it occasionally feeds on the citizens, taking away portions of both their bodies and their hearts. Yikes. Then in Volume 18 we learn this is the only way to keep it dormant because if it gets hungry and actually wakes up, the projection is that it true form will devour all life in the world in an instant.
    • That Cabernet that keeps flying around chowing down on folks; it's suggested the more hearts it eats the more it will continue to become one. It even appears to be getting/have a heart.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Reverse vs. the Government. The government is a highly corrupt and classist society that has been involved in abductions and illegal experiments. Reverse, however, is willing to steal letters, sacrifice people to Gaichuu and try to consume the artificial sun to plunge all of Amberground into darkness.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Lag's Spirit Amber eye classifies as one of the more fantasy-inspired examples, though it doesn't make him any more or less badass. It's later revealed to be the only thing that's keeping him in Amberground; it was placed into his eye as he started to vanish, shortly after he was born. To make him look more normal most of the time, the Spirit Amber is normally covered by bangs.
  • Fantastic Measurement System: Amberground measures hours as "bells." For example, 3:00 in the afternoon is referred to as the 15th bell.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Having one'sHeart devoured by a Gaichuu causes a person to be reduced to a mindless, emotionless shell that can do nothing but sit staring into space until they starve to death.
  • Filler: Most of Episodes 12-22 from the first season are original stories about Lag's deliveries as a Letter Bee, presumably intended to prevent the series from overtaking the manga. Some of the few exceptions include Episodes 14 and 17.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Episodes 21-22 are about Mana Jones, and how Gauche and Dr. Thunderland Jr. helped her keep her job as a scientist. Since she's first introduced as a successful scientist, it's obvious that they succeeded.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • After Gauche shows Lag the black Spirit Amber on his Shindanjuu, Lag asks if there are any red ones, an oddly specific question for someone who's only just heard about Spirit Amber. It turns out that Lag has a red Spirit Amber in his eye, obscured by his bangs.
    • Lag asks Connor if his dingo can be something other than a dog(the most common type of dingo), and Connor says that it can be anything Lag can tame, even a lion or a panther, and Lag can even hire a Rōnin if he can afford one. This foreshadows that Zazie's dingo Wasiolka is a panther, and the existence of a temp agency that Lag visits while Sylvette is unavailable for dingo work.
    • During the Imagery Lighthouse storyline, "Lugh" sees a shadowy figure with two sets of eyes, one on top of the other, who's telling Lag to get away from the lighthouse. Attentive viewers will notice that the lower pair belongs to Niche, and the upper pair belongs to Steak, who is riding on Niche's head.
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Aria Link's outfits tend to be like this, especially in the manga. In a later chapter Lag ends up staring at her after she dons her old Letter Bee uniform, which is a little... tight on her, and when she frets about having gained weight he reassures her that she looks sexy.
  • Full-Name Basis: Surprisingly common in this series, often used by characters who want to emphasize something. Gauche calls Lag by his full name when distancing himself from him, but switches to his first name when he starts becoming friends with him.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • The Dingo is an Australian species of wild dog. The author probably intended to invoke a dog's loyalty, but they are considered dirty, feral pests, and calling a person a dingo is very insulting. On the other hand, since these creatures (Dingos in this series can be anything) are supposed to help the Bees perform their job as bait for the Gaichuu (only the power of Heart can permanently kill a Gaichuu), your Dingo would have to be extremely crazy and fearless.
    • The locations whose names are usually in English, and often nonsensical (Blue Notes Blues, Goodbye Amsterdam, Love Someone Down, Honey Waters).
    • Although the Letter Bees are formally referred to as "Tegami Bachi," the literal Japanese translation for the title, the colloquial references to "Bees" are in English.
    • Dr. Thunderland Jr.'s name has the "Dr." and "Jr." in English, although he is often referred to by the Japanese title hakase.
    • In Episode 27, a drunken street performer named Pissarro yells, "Radies and Gentremen, ret's party!" in deeply accented English.
  • Haughty Help: Rei's older maid Colbasso frequently berates Kimidori for her mistakes, is rather cold toward Lag Seeing and her kindness toward her mistress appears to be entirely self-serving(since she lies about sending the postcards, and hints she'd like a reward).
  • Heel Realization: Sara realizes that the lies she told in order to ensure that she and her husband would have a place to live and be respected resulted in a girl's father trying to deliver some letters himself and getting killed.
  • Heroic RRoD: Overusing the Shindanjuu can leave the users highly fatigued, and those who use it too much and use up all their heart lose their identities.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: The Letter Bees perform a vitally important service by delivering mail to Amberground, but since they're also government employees, many people who hate the government are rather hostile toward the Letter Bees.
  • Human Mail:
    • It is possible to deliver humans through the mail service in this universe. The very first chapter has Gauche deliver Lag to his aunt. Though, it doesn't go as far as humans getting put in packages.
    • Lag meets Niche for the first time when she got lost on the way to be delivered, so Lag decides to complete delivering her, only to find out she was to be put in a freakshow for exhibition. They end up becoming partners in deliveries.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Belushi gives his friend Joey this warning before agreeing to ghostwrite Joey's fan mail for Mathilda. In reality, Belushi has feelings for Mathilda, and Joey wants Belushi to get together with her, even though he ended up falling for Mathilda in the process.
  • Insistent Terminology: The proprietor of Sinners insist that it's not just a bakery, but also a weapon shop. His wife disagrees, saying that hardly anyone comes to the shop to buy weapons.
  • I Reject Your Reality: After the lighthouse keeper's son refuses to inherit the lighthouse and leaves with his wife and son, the lighthouse keeper shoots the journal chronicling the event with a gun, then writes a new journal in which his grandson stayed behind as his apprentice and successor.
  • I've Come Too Far: Sarah and Hunt have run a scam in Honey Waters for five years, passing off Hunt as "one unable to become spirit," and essentially becoming the religious leaders of the town. By the time Lag arrives, Hunt has started to have his doubts, but Sarah is convinced that there's no other way.
  • I Will Wait for You: Darwin, who waits for the return of his Bee, Elena. She died years ago, and he is eventually delivered to her grave where he is reunited with her in death.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dr. Thunderland Jr. often comes off as imposing and doesn't have or want any friends (although Gauche and later Lag understand him), but he cares for the good of those his research benefits, and even has hand-made tombstones for his specimens.
  • The Klutz: Aria is legendarily clumsy, often slipping and falling while on a job. Because of that, she's significantly more effective as Largo's assistant.
  • Knowledge Broker: Largo buys information from a man who works at a tobacco shop, disguising his requests as cigarette purchases.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude:
    • Nelli has short hair beneath a small cap and wears baggy and boyish clothing, so Lag's surprised when she turns out to be a girl.
    • Rei/Ray is a wealthy young woman. Lag assumes that Rei is a boy until her maid addresses her as "Rei-ojou-sama" ("Mistress Ray"), at which point he apologizes. Rei doesn't mind, saying that she's long had to act like a boy.
  • Last-Name Basis: Dr. Thunderland goes by his last name, and seems to exclusively address Lag and Gauche by their surnames. This is unusual, considering that in this setting, everyone generally is on a First-Name Basis with the occasional use of Full-Name Basis.
  • Lawful Stupid: Lag refuses to doubt the Amberground Government even for a second, despite increasing evidence that they're extremely evil, guilty at the very least of performing horrible experiments on humans. Possibly justified by the fact that he's a naive kid with a serious case of hero worship towards the Bees, who serve said government, and that the main opposition, Reverse, is possibly just as bad or worse. Lag also justifies it by saying that he's doing his job for the people, not the government.
  • Lighthouse Point: Chapter 20/Episode 29 features a massive lighthouse that's far inland, in the center of the desert. The lighthouse keeper's bitterness and hatred, combined with the power of a Gaichuu, causes Lag to get stuck inside a illusion.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Lag called her Niche because he found her in a, well, niche. It stuck.
  • Lowered Recruiting Standards: After many Letter Bees are injured during the battle with Cabernet, the Bee Hive decides to reevaluate some candidates who failed the Letter Bee exam, resulting in Chico Nege getting a job as a Letter Bee.
  • Malicious Misnaming:
    • An older Bee named Moc Sullivan who doesn't think much of Lag's going beyond the call of duty deliberately gets his name wrong before leaving, and doesn't listen as Lag shouts out his name again.
    • During Episode 18, Zazie calls the rival mail delivery group, Letter Pigeons "Letter Flies," leading Brito to correct him every time. At the end, Zazie calls them by their proper name, and Brito corrects him, only to realize that he actually got it right this time and parts ways amicably.
  • Meaningful Background Event: In Episode 28, as Rei mentions that she wants to thank the anonymous sender of the postcard letters, the older maid, who's standing behind Lag in the background, briefly shifts her expression. It's implied that the maid then got the idea to steal the credit for the letters.
  • Men Don't Cry: Averted. Lag cries. He cries quite a bit.
  • Mood Whiplash: The story has a habit of jumping back and forth between two scenes at once, which can cause pretty heavy whiplash.
    • Chapter 19 ends with a heartwarming scene of Lag showing Rei that Kimidori had drawn the picture postcards, and was her friend from long ago; Rei wanted to make Kimidori happy despite feeling unworthy to be her friend. Lag gets the idea to do a picture postcard of his own to send to Gauche, only to do an awful job.
    • In Episode 37, Niche pulls a Big Damn Heroes entrance, enabling Lag to defeat a swarm of Lao Lao Gaichuu in one fell swoop. Lag's overjoyed to see her, but then notices that she's not wearing underwear again.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Yes, it really is a series about delivering the mail.
    "The stars... ...twinkle. But dawn never comes... in the land known as Amberground. There is a government service... ...whose agents travel to the darkest lands... ...regions where the light of the man-made sun that shines on the capital... ...never reaches... It is into their care... that the people... entrust their heart. Their job is... to deliver. To deliver... ...letters."
    Special Chapter: A Bee and His Dingo
  • Mundane Utility: Niche uses her sword-hair as a clothes-drying rack.
  • Never Learned to Read: Rei's maid Kimidori can't write, but she is a talented artist, so she anonymously sends Rei picture postcards.
  • Once More, with Clarity: The start of Chapter 20/Episode 29 shows Lag having come to believe that he is Lugh, a lighthouse keeper's grandson, and being stalked by a shadowy figure. The latter part of the episode shows that he went to the lighthouse while looking for Jiggy Pepper, only to get caught in a Gaichuu's illusion. It turns out that the shadowy figure was Niche, who was trying to bring Lag to his senses.
  • Once per Episode: In every story arc involving a delivery, Lag will fire a Shindan that shows the memories contained within the target to the audience and someone who will be affected by hearing this information.
  • Ontological Mystery: What the heck is Amberground? Why does it run on an artificial sun, and what happened to the real one? Where do the Gaichuu come from? The final volumes eventually put everything together:
    • What is the artificial sun? A massive gaichu called Spiritus. It only glows because it's fed with heart. It also keeps it asleep, as the fear is if it gets hungry, it'll lash out and eat all the heart in Amberground in a stroke.
    • Where's the sun? It suffered The Corruption and went dark. This darkness became Spiritus, the artificial sun. When Lag and Niche's spirits purified Spiritus, the original sun was restored.
    • What are the gaichu? Spirit Insects (guardian spirits of this world) tainted by The Corruption. Based on what ultimately happened in the end, it can now be assumed that shooting heart into them actually restored them as Spirit Insects.
    • What's so strange about Lag? He isn't human but rather a Spirit Insect (one of five) escaped from Spiritus during the Flicker and incarnated as a human. That's why he was disappearing after he was born: he was in the process of turning back into a Spirit Insect until he was anchored by the Spirit Amber (with a Spirit Insect encased inside) now lodged in his eye.
    • What was the wondrous world revealed in the heart of the Five from the Flicker? The revelation Amberground really did have a sun in the past. The fact it once existed meant it could be restored.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: Nelli overhears her sickly younger brother Nello sobbing and telling their absent friend Jiggy that he's "angry." Nelli thinks that Nello hates Jiggy, just like she does, but it turns out that Nello is angry that he won't be able to get better and protect Nelli.
  • Overly Long Name: Richard Belzaris BB Becktratus Jr. and his dingo, Rubemius Bregiuroa Banjorelo the Second.
  • Parental Abandonment: Gauche's mother dies in childbirth, Lag's is abducted, and neither of their fathers are around.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Nelli overhears her younger brother Nello talking about how angry he is, and assumes that he's angry at Jiggy for abandoning them. It turns out that he's actually angry at himself for not being able to protect his sister. Nelli probably jumped to conclusions because of her bitterness toward Jiggy.
  • The Power of Hate:
    • Zazie's Shindans are made from fragments of his malice, since he's motivated by a desire for revenge against the Gaichuu.
    • In Episode 29/Chapter 20, the lighthouse keeper's bitterness over being abandoned by his son, daughter-in-law and grandson taints the journals he writes, and enables the Gaichuu infesting the lighthouse to create an illusion to snare Lag.
  • Prehensile Hair: Niche's "golden sword," the weapon she has as the Child of Maka, is actually her hair, which can be formed into certain shapes and made extremely hard and sharp.
  • Privileged Rival: Both of Lag's rivals in the Letter Bee exam are this to him. Richard is obviously an Upper-Class Twit with a rare animal as a dingo. Macky G is a downplayed case; he comes from a poor village in Yuusari but looks down on Lag for being from Yodaka.
  • Promotion to Parent: After Gauche's mother died, he ended up having to look after Sylvette, although his Letter Bee job eventually forced her to become independent.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The chairman in the council assigned to determine Mana's punishment is the only one who's willing to give her a chance to prove herself worthy to keep her job. Once she succeeds, he convinces the rest of the council not to terminate her.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Lag gets sent to a place full of undelivered letters.
  • Red Herring: Lag investigates Honey Waters, and sees Sarah using a black Spirit Amber to heal people. Since it's the same color as Gauche's spirit amber, Lag assumes that Sarah somehow acquired it around the time Gauche disappeared. Instead, it turns out that it's special kind of stone that sparkles when used and can be used to treat Honey Water poisoning.
  • The Reveal: Episode 19 of Reverse reveals that Lag's mother also had her heart taken by the artificial sun.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Reverse organization opposes the government of Amberground, but through less than moral means, from robbing Letter Bees (who, despite being goverment employees, serve a vital role for Amberground's common folk) to sending a giant Gaichuu to devour the artificial sun.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Noir wields a revolver-type Shindan.
  • Rope Bridge: Lag must cross one of these on the way to Louisa Alcott's house. A Gaichuu attacks on it, resulting in a difficult battle when the ropes get cut.
  • Running Gag:
  • Scarf of Asskicking: The Letter Bee uniform includes a long white scarf, and they are among the few people who can fight the Gaichuu.
  • Scenery Porn: The anime is worth watching just to see the lush backgrounds. A far cry from your typical shounen series.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Vincent Alcott writers letters lying about being a successful writer to his mother Louisa, because he doesn't want to worry her, and he's guilty about how much she sacrificed for his failed career as an author. Lag has a dilemma over whether he's doing the right thing by delivering a letter full of lies, but it turns out that Vincent's such a Bad Liar that Louisa knew the truth all along.
  • Sick Episode: In Episode 19, Lag comes down with a fever, thus forcing Sylvette and Niche to look after him.
  • Significant Birth Date: Lag was born on the "Day of the Flicker": the day the artificial sun blinked out for just a moment. The Flicker is later revealed to be the beginning of the revelation of the Ontological Mystery. Lag learns that five were born on the Flicker, including himself. He needs to locate the other four.
  • Small Name, Big Ego:
    • The Letter Pigeons in Episode 18 seem to think they can do the Letter Bees' job just as well, for a much smaller price, and challenge Lag, Zazie and Connor to a competition to see who can deliver a letter first. The Pigeons get the letter first, but run into trouble when they encounter a Gaichuu, since their ordinary shotgun can't put a scratch in the Gaichuu's armor, and would have died if Lag and the others hadn't caught up with them.
    • Autobahn fancies himself a great thief, but he fails to steal a doll from Lag and Sylvette, who are both twelve years old. As he's being arrested, the officers mention that they've never heard of him before.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Zazie/Zaji, Moc/Mock. Additionally, there's the Japanese romanizations vs. official translations: Gauche/Goos, Sylvette/Silvet, Roda/Lode, Connor Culh/Connor Kluff, Aria Link/Aria Rink, Sabrina Mary/Sabrina Merry...
  • Spoiler Opening: The first opening of the second season prominently features Cabernet, as well as Connor holding a heart-drained Sunny in his arms.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Despite being sad to say goodbye to her, Lag initially thinks it's too dangerous for Niche to be his dingo as a young girl. He gets over it fairly quickly.
  • Super Civil Services: Letter Bees are basically mailmen who live in a world in which large insects known as Gaichuu roam in the wild areas outside towns. Gaichuu feed on a type of Life Energy that tends to be present in small quantities in letters, resulting in travelling Letter Bees being prime targets for them. This means Letter Bees need to have special weapons and skills to survive each trip between towns. In other words, the job takes Unstoppable Mailman to a whole new level.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • In Amberground, postal work is a dangerous job that only a small handful of elite operatives can perform, even when you don't take into account revolutionaries attacking Letter Bees and stealing letters to weaken the government. As a result, postage is much more expensive than it is in the real world, making sending letters a luxury that not everyone can afford.
    • Kyrie would seem to be prime real estate, since it's on the border of Yodaka and Yuusari, and would see a lot of traffic. Unfortunately, the Amberground government's strict segregation of the district means that hardly anyone crosses the Bifrost bridge, so Kyrie ends up becoming a Dying Town.
    • Macky Gee becomes desperate to pass the Letter Bee exam after being unable to fire a single Shindan, watching his dingo run off and dropping his letter in the mud, so he forges a replacement letter in pristine condition. Unfortunately for him, Zazie had been watching the entire time as a proctor, so he not only became aware of Macky's incompetence, but most likely witnessed the actual deed. He then has Lag fire a Shindan at the letter, exposing Macky's cheating and getting him disqualified.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: In Episode 13, a corrupt wealthy landowner serves Lag and Niche a large meal laced with sleeping drugs in order to steal Lag's letter.
  • Theme Naming:
    • The three districts of Amberground; Akatsuki (the capital), Yuusari (the middle class district) and Yodaka (the poor section) are named after the daybreak, evening and night, respectively, based on their varying closeness to the sun.
    • The Gaichuu are almost always named after liquor and cocktails.
  • Time Skip: The second episode skips ahead five years after Lag's delivery to when he sets out to take the Bee exam. Near the end of the manga, there's another time skip to just before Lag's final confrontation with Spiritus.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Lag's partnership with Lily. Niche even lampshades this by outlining the height difference with her Prehensile Hair.
  • Title Drop:
    • In Episode 44, the title, "Neither Malice Nor Hatred" is dropped near the end.
    Zazie: The heart in that Blue Thorn I shot was neither malice, nor hatred... It was the sadness of being forced to shoot my friend.
    • In the last episode of the anime, "Light of Heart."
    Largo: But we should have seen it that day as well... the light of heart.
  • To Be a Master: Gauche seeks the position of Head Bee prior to his firing and Face–Heel Turn, and so do many of the other Letter Bees. Garrard has Lag transferred due to not liking his having so many ideas despite being a rookie, and because he wants to be Head Bee himself.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Niche comes back to Lag with a few moves that she learned from her sister.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Episode 48 ends with Lag, Zazie and Noir shooting Shindans at the Cabernet. The preview for Episode 49 shows the Cabernet, revealing that the shots did not finish it off.
  • Tsundere: Niche has all the signs of a type A, bitter to just about everyone, but generally very loyal to Lag (and goes into Clingy Jealous Girl mode when another female approaches him) and genuinely wants to protect both Lag and Steak.
  • Tunnel King: At first glance, Connor's dingo Gus seems rather useless, since Connor carries him around, but he turns out to be great at digging tunnels, such as when he burrows a hole to help free Connor from Sarah and Hunt.
  • Unstoppable Mailman: The Letter Bees' job is to deliver mail, no matter what monster is in their way or how difficult the destination is to reach.
  • Weird Sun: This world has no sun of its own so somebody made one and stuck it above the capital. It's made of various people parts (most often eyes for some reason...) and heart. Um, yeah....
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Lily Confort shows up for all of four chapters before she gets her heart eaten by the Cabernet Gaichuu.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The end of the Letter Bee exam. Lag passes, but then learns about Gauche's disappearance.
    • The end of the Honey Waters arc. Gauche appears before Lag and reveals that he's turned evil.
    • After Noir's defeat and the first battle with Cabernet, Lag sees two unfamiiar faces at the Bee Hive. Garrard takes over as director, forces Largo to step down, and assigns Lag the worst duties possible.
    • Lag viewing his mother's memories reveals his mother's true role and helps set up the final act of the story.
  • Wham Line:
    • Lag sets out on his journey to become a Letter Bee in order to reunite with his mother, aswell as Gauche Suede, who had gotten a promotion to go to the capital. When he finally succeeds, he hears this.
      Zaji: Your delivery is just as good as the record holder. And seeing how Gauche Suede isn't a Bee anymore, you're pretty much at the top.
    • After telling Aria about the true nature of the sun, Hodai Franklin begins talking about Gauche.
      Hodai: Poor girl. That fellow who was precious to you? His now part of the light of the world. Yes...He'll whole again!
    • Much later, Lag figures out what exactly is wrong with Gauche.
      Lag: Ever since you woke up, the whole time, you've been lying to us. Everything you said about me and Sylvette...did you learn it all from the letter bullet I shot into you? I believed...the real Gauche had returned. I believed it. Sylvette believes it. But no. You're not Gauche! You're Noir!
    • In Episode 44 of the anime, Lawrence, leader of Reverse, delivers one when Lag confronts him about stealing people's hearts.
      Lawrence: It is the Amberground government that steals people's hearts. Gauche's heart was also stolen. As well as that of your mother, Anne Seeing...
    • In Episode 49, Noir delivers a short but chilling line showing that Cabernet is not like any other Gaichuu, and has changed since the last time Lag and the others fought it.
      Noir: It has no gaps.
    • Lag's mother delivers a fairly shocking revelation after Lag exposes the "heart" inside her letter, revealing why she disappeared.
      Anne: My family has a certain duty regarding the artificial sun. It is a great burden, but I must carry it out. It is my fate. Our duty... carries a certain title in Amberground. "The Empress."
    • When Zazie and Connor find an imprint left by a large scorpion-like Gaichuu.
      Connor: Laphroaig?! That's... the Gaichuu... that stole your parents' hearts!
  • Wham Shot: In Episode 47, Lag, Connor and Zazie have prepared a trap for the Cabernet. They see the ground rumble as a Gaichuu approaches from underground, only it's not the Gaichuu they were looking for. Garrard and Valentine had anticipated their interference, and scattered Spirit Amber to lure another Gaichuu to them.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: Not only are heart bullets the only way to kill Gaichuu, but Lag's also reveals the contents of people's hearts, and resolves many misunderstandings.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Lag dresses as a girl to sneak into a convent suspected of being a Reverse base. Roda is not fooled.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Niche and Steak get paralyzed after drinking the honey water, leaving them unable to save Connor and forcing Lag to flee Sara and Hunt's followers.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish:
    • In the anime, the viewer repeatedly gets reminded of Zazie's desire for vengeance against the Gaichuu for killing his parents, as well as the flashback to him trying to feed his parents. This is possibly because Zazie has several appearances in anime-only episodes prior to the Honey Waters arc, when Connor officially tells Lag about his backstory, requiring the show to tell viewers about his backstory before it's canonically introduced.
    • The last few episodes frequently flash back to Noir saying that the individual known as Gauche Suede is gone forever, whenever Noir's identity is discussed.

Alternative Title(s): Tegami Bachi, Letter Bee