In 2008 during the Jump Super Anime Tour and the 40th anniversary of Jump an OVA was made of Hiroyuki Asada’s series Tegami Bachi also known as Letter Bee. The OVA was based off of a one-shot side story of the main series and is the only chapter of the series to have been published in a weekly magazine.
Summary: It starts off giving some background info on Amberground (the country the series is set in) and how it is illuminated by an artificial sun and ravaged by giant armored insects while mail carriers “Letter Bees” have to rough through it all with only their “dingo” companions (basically some kind of guard in general be it animal of human). Anyway, the main protagonist of this series, 12 year old Lag Seeing, is one of these Letter Bees and is given a special assignment to deliver a package and a letter from the supervisor of the “Bee Hive,” Largo Lloyd, to a former Bee and her brother respectively. Since the mission is to an outer region a guide is also assigned:
Making the team consist of four: Lag, Niche (Lag’s dingo), Steak (dingo’s live food), and Darwin the guide.
As it turns out the real delivery is Darwin himself, but Lag’s superiors chose not to inform him of this since Darwin would abandon the mission if he found out. Some other information divulged is Darwin being the recipient’s former dingo and hat the only way to kill and armored bug is with a “Heart bullet,” a bullet made from a fragment of the shooter’s soul.
While traveling, Darwin collapses so they stop in Georges Village to rest.
When questioned about his gun’s spirit amber (an insect encased in amber that allows the use of Heart Bullets), Lag has a flashback of the time he spent with Gauche, the Letter Bee that inspired him to become one. During this time we see that the spirit amber Lag uses is his right eye which was given to him by his mother.
Back in the present Lag gets a warning about the path hes taking, how another Letter Bee (Elena Blanc) fell off a cliff ten years prior and died, the same person the delivery is for. Once they get there all they find is a landslide has blocked the path and an ambush by an armored insect. After Lag nearly falls off the cliff trying to save Darwin, Darwin saves Lag while Niche and Steak fend off the insect; after getting it on it’s back Lag fires a heart bullet into the weak spot on it’s stomach, the bullet nicks Darwin’s tag in the process. After the bug is destroyed Lag sees the tag’s memory and learns that Darwin was Elena’s dingo and she got killed after she told Darwin to stay behind so he could heal from injuries sustained while on the job. Darwin stayed right where Elena told him to wait for her during the remainder of his life until this delivery where he dies quietly in front of Elena’s grave.
The package is a pair of amulets that Elena wanted for herself and Darwin.
Impression: Only fans of the series or those who have read the manga would probably understand this OVA. I felt the voice acting was done well, but I question if they will retain their role for the full anime adaptation due out in the Fall of 2009. The animation is a mix of what one would typically expect blended with CGI that makes for some interesting effects, especially with the armored insects and stars shown. Overall quite typical of studio Pierrot.
Edit: the voice actors will retain their roles in the full series.