Manga: Tegami Bachi – Postmen Delivering Light of Heart in a Forever Dark World
In the contemporary society with the advent of highly advanced information communication technologies, smart phones and internet are the major means that connect people. However just before the development of such information devices, letters were the main communication tool, and postal carriers who deliver them have appeared in various stories. Mailmen and letters played an important part of the stories, in the movie “The Postman” and the western movie masterpiece, “Stagecoach”, or in “The Postman Always Rings Twice”, which was made into movies in several versions.
This time we would like to introduce “Tegami Bachi” (literally Letter Bee), a manga that features such mailmen who deliver mails in a little unusual world.
The story unfolds on a planet where the night never ends.
In a country called “Amber Ground”, an artificial sun shining directly above the capital of “Akatsuki” illuminates the world instead of a real sun.
But its light is feeble and the more distant you go from the capital, the deeper the darkness is. People are making meager living in a world dominated by the darkness.
“Tegami” (letters) have supported people’s hearts in such a world.
And this “tegami” can project the sender’s heart directly to the receiver as images.
The mailmen that deliver such “tegami” are usually called “tegami bachi”.
But there are creatures in this world called “gaichu” (armored insects), a life form that subsists on human memories and reminiscence, and they would attack “tegami bachi” to get heartfelt letters.
The main character, Lag Seeing, travels with “Gauche Suede”, one of the “tegami bachi”.
They survive through battles with “gaichu”, and Gauche manages to deliver tegami to its destination. Admiring Gauche, Lag Seeing himself becomes a “tegami bachi”, and starts tackling with the delivery work.
1. Lag Seeing
He is the main character of this story.
Having become a tegami bachi, his goal is to become “Head bee”, the most excellent tegami bachi.
He has an albino-like appearance with silver hair and red eyes, and one of his eyes is a special prosthetic eye called “seirei kohaku (spirit amber)”.
He is serious and polite, but he also possesses innocence to tease friends, just like an average 12 year old boy.
She is Lag Seeing’s buddy of the delivery service.
She has long blond hair which she can manipulate like tentacles or she can harden into blades.
She is actually a descendant of legendary creature “maka”, and though she looks younger than Lag Seeing, her real age is about 200 years old.
She is naïve and weak in commonsensical knowledge. She is easy going and not fond of thinking about details.
3. Gauche Suede
He is a catalyst for Lag Seeing to aspire to be a tegami bachi.
After Lag Seeing is employed as a tegami bachi, he is attacked by the gaichu during delivery and his trail becomes lost.
He has a little sister Sylvette who is disabled in both legs.
Perhaps because of such consideration, many scenes of this story are illustrated with sharp contrast between white and black, unlike the modern illustration method that utilizes screen tones quite often.
A decadent world dominated by night is conceptualized and illustrated with a civilization similar to that of the pre-modern age, right after the industrial revolution.
The creator Hiroyuki Asada is a manga-ka, and other than working on manga he has simultaneously worked on other medium such as designing album covers for CD’s.
With such experience as a designer, his drawing techniques appear to be extraordinary in designs and majestic preliminary sketches.
The artificial sun he draws shines in the night sky like a symbol or a sign, and his illustration of the night sky resembles the abstract world in children’s picture books.
The first half of this story presents a human drama in which Lag Seeing delivers tegami that support people’s hearts despite battles against the gaichu, and it also depicts human drama of the people who have received tegami delivered by him.
However the tone of the story gradually changes in the latter half and the story unfolds as if you were proceeding through the darkness of the night, which we were terrified of as children.
It is a story accompanied with mysterious silence, despite of its intense, hot actions, perhaps because it is a story of a night world.