One change for the better in the second season of Letter Bee is this: based on the quality of the anime original episodes so far, they’re doing a much better job of seamlessly blending that material in with the manga-based eps. Though #5 was entirely anime original, it felt perfectly in synch with the story and characters.
The big news this week was the introduction of two new characters – Garrad and Valentine. Valentine’s an inspector from the head office and a former bee; Garrad his very normal-looking, cigar-chomping dingo. They don’t appear until later in the manga and never in this context, so this was an interesting change. They’re both attention-grabbers, right from the start – gruff, cynical and (in Garrad’s case) loud – they’re like a couple of guys that stepped off the pages of Fullmetal Alchemist. They’re quite unlike anyone else in Tegami Bachi and the contrast totally works. In terms of story, what they offer here is a glimpse inside Reverse – the terrorist (revolutionary?) organization that’s wreaking havoc on Bees and their letters in the South. Via a shindan Valentine even gives Lag a peek at Gauche attending a Reverse meeting as Noir.
While the story is still in the hinting stage in terms of what’s really going on with Reverse and Gauche, the ending very strongly hints that Valentine and Garrad are secretly in league with them. Valentine’s experimenting – successfully, with Lag as a guinea pig – with a way to call up gaichu using letters and some funny little pills.
All this is new so basically no one can say where it’s going from here, but with the manga ongoing and only 20 episodes left, the possibility of an anime-original ending is certainly there. As long as it’s handled the way episodes like this one are, that’s OK by me. The track record with anime-original endings isn’t great in anime, but we can always hope. Right now I’m very happy with Letter Bee as it’s going – it’s one of the safest, most reliable bets out there – quality-wise there’s been very little fluctuation from week to week, anime-original or manga. Next week it’s back to canon material for a Sylvette-centric story that should be a real tearjerker.