Title: “Tegami Bachi/Letter Bee: Volume 12”
Author: Asada Hiroyuki
Genre: YA, fantasy, AWESOME, manga & comics
Publication Date: February 5, 2013 (Viz – North America)
Source: Edelweiss Review Copy
Summary: Amberground is locked in darkness. A man-made star casts only a dim light over the land. The pitch-black wilderness is infested with Gaichuu–colossal insects with metal exoskeletons. The Gaichuu make travel between the cities of Amberground extremely dangerous. But thankfully the Letter Bees, a brave corps of messengers, risk their lives in order to keep the hearts of Amberground connected.
☆: 4.5/5 stars – an excellent new installment in this series!
Review: Guys, get ready for your feels to get kicked in the feels because this volume in the series has a huge Big Reveal right from the jump, and it affects not only everything we know so far about the Marauders/Reverse, Noir, Gauche, Lag, Roda, and Niche – but also affects everything going forward. If you haven’t read up until this volume, you might want to wait on it until you’ve gotten caught up. A fantastic addition to this series, “Tegami Bachi/Letter Bee: Volume 12” is nothing short of amazing, alluring, and feels-poundingly good. Note, there are spoilers from here on in, so you’ve been warned.
So, we have Gauche returning. Awesome, right? Especially after everything Lag and Niche have gone through to get him back from the Marauders. Not so fast. We get a heart-pounding confession from Gauche on the first page – he’s still Noir, he’s still lost his heart, but he’s starting to grow it back again thanks to the letter and the shindan (heart bullets) Lag shot at various Gaichuu in order to save his life. He’s developing feelings all over again for his sister, Lag, Roda (who also regained some of her former self), and Niche.
Doubly awesome? Cabernet, the Gaichuu most associated with the Marauders and is pretty much the Godzilla of the series, is coming after Yuusari and the Bee Hive, where all of the Letter Bees get their letters for distribution.
Triply awesome? We find out what Gauche/Noir really went through at the capitol before joining up with the Marauders after he lots his heart – though cleverly, Asada doesn’t show his hand entirely when talking about it through his characters. There are lots of mysteries to be clarified there left. We also find out the secrets of the man-made sun, the sun that heats and lights all of Amberground.
So basically? A lot is revealed in this volume, a lot of questions we’ve been wondering about since volume 1, and the wait is so worth it. We see the Marauders for what they are – experiments, done in secret by the government, and we see why they want to put out the sun. There’s a lot of switching of sides and betrayals from both sides in this volume, along with some double-agent action on the side. Everyone bands together on both sides to encourage or try to take down Cabernet, and the Secret History of Amberground journal is found. Who will reveal the secrets of Amberground first? It’s becoming a contest. There’s so much wonderful tension, and I feel like with each volume, Asada’s really growing not just as an artist but a writer/author as well.
I definitely read this entire volume in one sitting, and it’s just flat-out amazing. We learn so much, yet there’s so much yet to be revealed, making Asada one of my favorite manga storytellers out there today. Or rather, reinforcing that. Definitely one of my favorite volumes in the series and one of the best of 2013 so far, “Volume 12” is out now from Viz in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!