Romance is in The Way of Feeling: Letter Bee (Light and Blue Night Fantasy & Episode 01)

letter bee light and blue night fantasy mail

When my wife and I started going out, we wrote letters to each other. We wrote long, clumsy, and indulgent letters in silly stationery (by silly I mean Slam Dunk, and Doraemon silly). We would only see each other once or twice a week, so we’d put a lot of our thoughts and feelings — as rushing and excited as people who’ve just begun to know about each other. Each epistle would contain so many words that pretty much the same sentiments:

How are you? This is what I think about the things that are happening in my life. This is who I am.

We would just exchange these letters after our date, leaving something behind of ourselves to each other not sure when we’ll be seeing each other again. When I was traveling around the archipelago, I was seized by inspiration and actually mailed her letters… with stamps, and air mail envelopes, and dropped them in mail boxes by the provincial post offices.

Given the Philippine Postal System, I would arrive at her doorstep days before my own letters did. It didn’t matter, really. It felt wonderful anyway to lick those stamps and seal the envelope with kisses. When they arrive, they felt good. It felt right. So imagine my delight to watch this show about messengers. I remembered love. Oh indeed.

ghostlightning letterI can only hope our correspondence survived the recent floods. I could not find them. Hence this poor example.

Letter Bee is a fascinating idea. Couriers daring grave dangers posed by gigantic armored beetles to deliver our messages. The anachronism, nay, the animanachronism is lovely. Communication in our current age is fast, inexpensive, and has the power of broadcast to large groups of people. In my lifetime this wasn’t the case. Perhaps this is why I’m so charmed by this show. I wrote (and ghost-wrote) love letters back in the day.

Given this, I can easily get behind the idea of civil servants courageously bearing literally chapters of my love story across dangerous distances. I want to trust my messenger at all times, to be able to have faith in his ability. And in the world of Letter Bee, the ‘bees’ are beings of considerable ability, armed with weapons that allow them to use the power of their hearts to overcome dangers.

letter bee ED cap and gun

I mean how about that? The heart is literally a finite source of ammunition, its beats a rhythm that allows these couriers to face enemies, and when there are no more fragments left to fire, they die. The use of their weapon, which works via a ‘spirit amber,’  which is a gemstone dug in Amberground that allows their heart fragment to fuse with the spirit energy of the land and form a beam that strikes at the giant beetles.

A curious phenomenon occurs at times when such a power is used: the heart fragment reveals its memories to the witnesses around the firing of the weapon. A flashback scene plays, and this I believe will be a narrative device that the series will employ time and again. The episode itself is clumsyor more obvious in its attempts at exposition than the DVD special Light and Blue Night Fantasy, which I saw first and is I think the best way to get into this series. LaBNF seemed more concerned to let you into a world, while episode one of the TV series is more blue-collar in its work to set up a narrative.

That special episode charmed me very much, and makes me want to see more of the series. The parcels, the cobblestoned streets, the rows of houses evocative of a fantasy role-playing game (European) town, the bridges, the maps, and the paths in the wilderness… the confluence of these touches make for a setting that’s very interesting to me. I can’t identify the substance itself, or how these things make the subject so… romantic; but I feel it. I think I’m going to trust this feeling for a while.

letter bee ED lag niche snark

Further Reading

A review with a notes about the production (21stcenturydigitalboy 2009/10/05)

A review that also takes into account Light and Blue Night Fantasy (k1y0~suki yo~ 2009/10/05)

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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38 Responses to Romance is in The Way of Feeling: Letter Bee (Light and Blue Night Fantasy & Episode 01)

  1. digitalboy says:

    :DDD I am so glad to know that you are enjoying this series. I definitely feel the romance in it myself – something that just reaches out an touches me. I’ve never written a letter in personal interest in my entire life, so perhaps my enjoyment is purely vicarious. Either way, Letter Bee resonates with me.

    • Try it sometime, it’s quite a novel experience. Even better if you put something together like a package, like a memento — a Pokemon card or some kind of anime token to a friend who’s moved away.

  2. Ryan A says:

    Given the Philippine Postal System, I would arrive at her doorstep days before my own letters did.

    Ah, good to see you are interested in something. I’m still not sure if I’ll take this series up, but I’ll likely have more intrigue if the episodic blogumentary commences ^^

    Letter correspondence is cute!

    • The first episode is rather action-packed, in keeping to it being a shounen show. Part of my concern is that action shows may not lend themselves well to my kind of blogging. We’ll see. There’s a whole world/setting to explore, so there’s definitely some interest there on my part.

  3. Seinime says:

    Letter Bee is definitely a show to watch for this season. 😀

  4. usagijen says:

    So the letters are forever gone? NoOooOo! Stupid flood TT__TT

    I remember engaging in a letter correspondence with my best friend back in high school, when we got separated during our 2nd year because she had to move to Manila. It was great, to be able to convey a “lump sum” of thoughts and feelings for a certain period of time… totally bridges the distance gap. Then when it stopped, we lost some sense of closeness and grew apart as well… sad. Makes me want to do it all over again.

    I miss writing letters, and the funny thing is, I thought of doing (reliving?) this with the uhm, guy I dated / dumped, and what a big turn off it turned out to be when he wasn’t exactly keen on the said idea. He just wanted to receive letters, not exactly write them.

    Letter correspondence is cute, romantic, and a lot more. There’s something ‘special’ about people who could spend their time in quiet solitude, pen down their thoughts and feelings, reflect about what happened in their life, share bits of who they are… so much more special than the typical date activities people engage in. Makes you see how people can enjoy both the exciting and mundane moments in life. Gah I have to stop rambling and actually watch this.

    • There’s a chance that I might have kept a lot of them back at my family’s home where I spent most of my bachelor days. So I’m concerned but it’s not over yet.

      I think you’ve described quite well part of what makes letter writing an involving activity. Time becomes cut up in chunks… the letters make for historical documents and are appendices to your personal memoir.

      I recommend writing letters to friends. It’s a different kind of romance… I had many nonsexual correspondences back in the day. Usually there’s a theme to each correspondence — back in university I exchanged letters with writers about writing; with musicians about music, etc.

      I suggest watching the DVD special first. It’s just as long as an TV ep anyway and it communicates the charm far more effectively than the more shounen first ep of the TV series.

    • Kabitzin says:

      Did you dump him cause he didn’t want to write letters? I used to write letters, and it helped score me a wife. Good thing I didn’t mess up like usagijen’s ex!

  5. My plan is to wait and see how this one develops by checking up on your write ups before I decide if I want to watch it. No pressure or anything. 😛

    • As I’ve mentioned to Ryan above, I may have problems with writing on a series that may place action as the centerpiece. Also, it will depend on how interesting I find the other shows. I can only blog one this season I think.

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  7. animekritik says:

    having seen the first ep, i’m kinda 50/50 on this one. let’s wait and see..

  8. schneider says:

    I’m definitely in love with the idea of letter-writing. However I do not have a willing correspondent [of the opposite sex], so I just content myself with reading stories about them.

    I remember that the Zambani guys in Xam’d were couriers as well. Raining letters on a battlefield in the end, even a letter meant for someone who couldn’t read, it was just ❤

    Still waiting on the wings for Letter Bee though.

    • Yeah the Zambani had this as well, though the depiction of their service is decidedly meat-and-potatoes that contrasted sharply with the fantasy setting of Xam’d itself.

      As I told jen above, write correspondence with friends. It needn’t be a sexual relationship. If you have old buddies that live far, send things in parcels — small gifts and tokens. Then you can add a letter inside. If they reply in kind, then the game is on.

  9. kadian1364 says:

    I saw that DVD special/Episode 0 and have yet to see the first episode proper, but I didn’t think too highly of it. With the concept of mail carriers, I immediately thought of Shigofumi, but Letter Bee ain’t no Shigofumi.

    I guess with your background and fond memories of letter writing and receiving, the concept would appeal to you much more, but I thought it was generic bleh cutesy shounen through and through. The character designs, awkward CG, nonsense exposition, cheap sentimentalism, it rubbed me all the wrong way. I know you have a proclivity to write up shows and episodes to be way better than they sometimes are, so I’m going to hold off for at least a couple episodes and see if the buzz is still high and this show is worth following.

    • This is where we differ. I don’t write about good shows. You’re clearly more interested in establishing what is good. I care more about what is interesting. If you notice I don’t give ratings on shows…

      Well it’s because I don’t review shows. So statements like “better than, ordinary, bleh” are just things that I don’t usually indulge in here in these posts. You’re more than welcome to give your opinion or insight on quality matters of course!

      I get that you got rubbed the wrong way, but “nonsense” exposition? Really?

      • kadian1364 says:

        Well, “Terminology” and “Random English Words” are one of my pet peeves. And weaponizing the Power of Your Heart made me wince. I haven’t had the opportunity to see episode 1 proper like I said, so the exposition might still be another thing altogether. The impressions across the webs seem to be up on the show, so I’ll probably take a look pretty soon.

        • It’s subjective. It takes some doing to un-cheese anything that uses the power of heart, love, friendship, etc.

          The concept annoys you, nothing can be done about that. Ep 01 is clumsier than the special, so this show may really be not for you. From the title of this blog you can tell that I have no problem with sentimentality.

          Cheap, exquisite, sublime, etc… when used to qualify sentimentality, are subjective to a high degree. One person’s kitsch is another’s high drama and vice versa.

  10. maAkusutipen says:

    I think the anime did have some basis on Japanese history. In all the world, only Japanese and French people have armed mailmen, i think.
    I do not know why the French armed their mailmen but for the Japanese it was practical. Way way back, the mail system was also the public bank. Everyone who is a registered citizen and has an address can open up an account. So the mailmen also work as tellers so to speak. They carry with them crazy amounts of money. So they are really thief baits. So around the meiji era the government decided to give them pistols as a way to protect themselves.

    I am not sure if the mailmen in Japan still carry pistols as the postal system is now semi privatised. But I think it being a bank is still in practice.

    Oh about mailing each other is really romantic. It won’t happen now though. With FB and all the crazy fangled electronic connectivity options, there is no more lag. It can be that anyone can know what you are doing provided you go post it up.

    • Thanks for the cultural background that gives me some perspective on possible premise-related precedents.

      Man, a traveling teller carrying all sorts of valuables in addition to hard cash… they had better travel under cover!

      Oh about mailing… it can happen, if the individuals are interested enough. My wife and I were text messaging madly at the time we were writing, and we were in friendster even then. Like Jen said, a letter is handy for ‘lump sums’ of thoughts… things that are awkward to say on an email or a reply to a status update.

  11. The Longcoat says:

    I will definitely check this out. I saw a few seconds of the pilot but didn’t want to spoil anything for myself. Has a kind of Last Exile or Dinotopia feel to it; Doing something simple and uneventful for us like delivery becomes an epic adventure. That’s awesome. I agree, the Old Europe feel definitely adds aesthetic charm.

    • Yes, and be sure to check out the short special first. That’s where I got most of the charm, compared to the more workman-like exposition of the first episode of the TV series.

  12. gloval says:

    Saw the OVA. It’s emotional alright, but the background universe doesn’t appeal to me that much.

    The Blancs sure die off in anime, don’t they?

  13. 2DT says:

    You make this sound really fascinating. Onward, then.

  14. asher says:

    First thing that came to mind in letter writing was ‘effort’, especially nowadays when technology makes everything hassle free. For someone to exert time and go through the nitty gritty process of picking up a pen, writing legibly, sending it and waiting for a longer period of time for an acknowledgment, I think anybody who would do old school mail must find the recipient to be of significance to his/her life considering the effort s/he would make to get the message across.

  15. coburn says:

    Definitely agree that the special is where it’s at for Latter Bee so far. In any case, this episode kind of brought me down to earth with regard to the show, and I can see the substance in kadian1364’s criticisms. As with all of these sentimental kiddy shows there’s a dangerous balancing game between charming emotional honesty and the flat-out dumb. Inevitably, when there’s a stumble in the execution of a moment, due to low budget or clumsy storytelling, I find myself struck by that sense of some hack *ahem, failing to manipulate us.

    Oh, and,

    • Had I seen the TV episode first, I may not have had the will to see the special. But since I stumbled (mistakenly) saw the special first, it made enough of a deposit in the emotional bank account that the first episode didn’t completely withdraw. On to episode two!

  16. DonKangolJones says:

    First reaction to your remember your love of your lovey dovey gobbleddy-gook love letters … BLEGH! XP Though I can’t say I didn’t do the same thing with my high school girlfriend, now wife.

    There is so much symbolism in this show, that I can understand why you would write about it. The atmosphere seems cold and lonely, at least for now. And there is something about that that I enjoy. I’m weird, despite my heritage in that I enjoy cold weather.

    Writing love letters & living with out cellphones (at least competent ones like we have now) makes me wonder how they do things like that now. Email & text is faster. There’s pretty much no need for mixtapes now. Everyone seems to have an MP3 player so they can make their own custom mix with little effort. I guess I’m remembering love for a time when things were more difficult, personal & not so easy to duplicate. There’s no duplicating those letters, rewriting them sucks the soul right out of the content. I feel like my alter ego “Old Man Jones” is gonna come out & start complaining about random sh*t. Like moe & internet porn & American football being “softer” than it used to be.

    • I haven’t gotten into the symbols yet… I haven’t tried any interpretation of such, but I do found some of the images interesting.


      I guess I’m remembering love for a time when things were more difficult, personal & not so easy to duplicate. There’s no duplicating those letters, rewriting them sucks the soul right out of the content.

      You can write love letters still. Surprise yourself.

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