Posted by psgels on 27 March 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews, Letter Bee

Letter Bee as a series that’s difficult to recommend. I mean, the heights it can reach is amazing, but its quality does tend to fluctuate and it tends to waste time, the fillers of the first season being the biggest example of this. The second season of Letter Bee is a huge improvement over the first, though, let there be no mistake about that. The amount of amazing episodes has pretty much doubled and the cast of characters grows into an amazing one that plays off each other wonderfully. It’s just not as good as what it could have been, but more on that below.

First of all, the first Letter Bee Left with an absolutely amazing cliff-hanger. It was tedious to sit through that series at times, but everything just came together in those final ten minutes. The second season immediately builds further upon that, and does so wonderfully. The creators just come with episode after episode of character-building that makes the main cast a delight to watch, with some of the most gorgeous artwork and very imaginative episodic stories that are just full of charms. The first half of the second season shows Letter Bee at its utter best.

And then… the creators found out that they only had 50 episodes to work with. With a manga that’s still ongoing, they had to make the choice to continue adapting the manga that this show is based on, only to cut off somewhere in the middle of the story, or make up their own finale. They chose the latter.

Now, I know that anime original endings are notorious, but Letter Bee actually does a very good job of wrapping up its story: a breath of fresh air after all those countless series that just refuse to end because the manga or light novels that they’re adapting doesn’t fit into 13, 26 or 52 episodes. Most of the storylines that needed to be wrapped up are wrapped up pretty decently while at the same time most of the characters also get a good closure.

This really could have gone wrong terribly, but the end result is a cohesive and enjoyable series. But the fact remains that the creators of the anime just aren’t as good storytellers as the writer of the manga. The adventure parts feel a bit sloppy and lack detail, and the emotional turmoil dies down a lot in the anime original parts. The tension becomes just less dynamic and interesting and overall it just never really manages to reach the height it once got to. It’s not bad at all, it’s just… less good. That’s one disappointment that you do need to take into account when watching this series.

Overall, today it’s very rare for series to have 50 episodes. Letter Bee’s biggest fault was that it didn’t use them well. Make no mistake, though: when this series is at its best, it really is amazing and this last for more than a dozen episodes. The big difference between the first and second season is that even when the second season is disappointing a bit, it’s not like it becomes too annoying, boring or unwatchable: there’s definitely enough interesting stuff happening, it’s just not as interesting or well executed as it once was.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Excellent at building up and closing off its story. Especially the first half is wonderfully told with a lot of creativity.
Characters: 9/10 – The main selling point of this series: at this point in the series the characters have received some excellent development that is used wonderfully.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Gorgeous at times, but unremarkable at others. The soundtrack still is very good.
Setting: 8/10 – Dulls in a bit after a while, but still good and full of moral dilemmas.

Popolocrois Story 1998
Argento Soma
Natsume Yuujinchou

6 Responses

  1. Kyubey says:

    So let me get this straight. The amberground government is so evil that it literally makes mountains of corpses from its citizens.

    And good old Lag and friends have no qualms about getting their paycheck from this organization.

    One of the worst shows in recent memory.

    • Hello there. says:

      I heard there’s a fight set up against the Government in the Manga where (SPOILER) Largo’s father is revealed to be the one who took Lag’s Mother away. Not merely that, but it’s revealed that he experimented on his own son and his wife as well, making them Ones Unable to Become Spirit.(END OF SPOILER)

    • Morgion says:

      My thoughts exactly. After knowing what they do about the amberground government are are seriously just gonna go on about their lives as usual? Basically supporting an government that makes “makes mountains of corpses from its citizens” as you said. The only thing this ending did for me was making me despise Lag and friends.

  2. Solaris says:

    I still didn’t watch the finale. I stopped it soon after Lawrence tried to recruit Lag. I was just waiting for the manga scansub to catch up, cause I really can’t trust the anime anymore, after the major screw-up they did before.
    Man, the people who rewrote this masterpiece should be really executed to prevent them to trash more good stories like this.
    But still, for God’s Holy Grace, somehow the show didn’t turn to a complete disaster. Still it was hammered hard, but I can’t rate it more than 6/10 that is barely enough to graduate. I blame it to the lack of direction the anime had in the most important part of the story, that it would’ve had to really shine but was obscured instead.
    Chars are actually affected there and reverted to their self they had in the first serie. Lag just goes back being the awful crybaby he once was, and it’s a real pain to witness that knowing how much his char was developed in the manga counterpart.
    It’s incredible how a single change lead to obliterate half a dozen manga episodes full of development like that.
    It’s pointless to say that they could fit the whole show in a year run easily unless they put too many filler in the first season and destroyed episodes (and what episodes!) in the second. But yet they wanted to end the first in a cliffhanger that was meant to show up at 1/3 of the whole show, so, why not to plan 3 series instead? What a pity. What a real pity. At least I thank God that made the miracle to let these series be still pretty much coherent and watch-able. Thank you, God!

  3. yamapishy says:

    I finally finished watching this series! The latter parts of the 2nd season were indeed frustrating, but I stuck to it till the end. The characters are just lovable.

    Uhm, I just want to ask, coz I think I heard the marauder guys mentioning about how sylvette got ill like that but they never told the reason… was there ever an explanation in the anime about that matter that I just overheard? or it’s still not explained???

  4. James says:

    Finished both the 1st and 2nd season in 3 days and I must say the anime is splendid in its own way. I sincerely hope that they will produce a 3rd season for this anime. In my opinion, there are too many loose ends in the story. For example, why was Lag’s mother taken away in the first place? What is the thing inside the man-made sun? What does the spirit amber in Lag’s left eye has to do with him? Too many questions, too few answers.

    Overall, the anime was very nice and I actually cried throughout the anime but I think it’s because I haven’t read the manga yet. Thanks for your review though, very insightful and a total pleasure to read. I am looking forward to your next review of an anime.

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  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 06:51 PM)
    Hype kills anything. In regards to the kind of emotional manipulation Clannad and maybe Undertale uses, it’s like a drug. The more you are subjected to it, the less of an effect it has.
    Still there are examples of something which comes close to expectation. People say Muv Luv Alternative gives you PTSD and in a kinda does. Though it’s helped by the connection you build with the characters though the first two games.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 06:47 PM)
    @Kaiser,I haven’t updated the old entries of my MAL in quite a while. Pretty sure Code Geass is sitting at a 10 on it and I am sure if I give that a rewatch that rating is going to fall harshly.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:59 AM)
    I say this because people often like to hype up the genre or those elements. I bring this up/think about it now because I played a game called undertale lately on my brothers recommendation and he was all like it emotionally destroyed him but I never ended up crying, I mean don’t get me wrong its a good game, there were laughs to be had and there was sentiment but it wasn’t THAT sad/funny.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:44 AM)
    Given how many people cry at some drama, clannad included.
    That reminds me…
    I can’t actually remember the last time in my life where I cried, I draw a blank.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 07:58 AM)
    @Aidan: Something always feels off to me when you criticize clannad, I mean I’m critical enough of key these days too but it seems odd that you rank it as an 8 on MAL when you’ve always made it sound its more of a high 6 or a 7.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:45 AM)
    But I’m no fan of gung-ho soldier games/most fps games so I am glad clannad, a visual novel outsold call of duty.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:44 AM)
    I said it once I’ll say it again. I preferred the clannad movie over the tv series, had more style, a more mature feel to it and cut out all the superfluous arcs/comedy for the better. It also concludes better than the series. The emotional involvement in the kyoani version doesn’t work for me anymore, doesn’t hold up. However the film remains emotionally engaging after revisiting it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:19 AM)
    Holy hell Clannad is selling like hotcakes on Steam. Even beat Call of Duty in sales at one point.
    Kinda happy to see a VN get recognised and it would help open up the market for more titles to come over. But..well..Clannad really isn’t all that great.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 02:29 AM)
    I can remember when I first got into anime when I was a whole lot younger I always said I would watch lodoss war, El Hazard and slayers, yet I never ended up doing so…
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:34 AM)
    Ha, the child in me would love to see a film like that I’d imagine, when I was young I was pretty crazy about Egyptian supernatural stuff.

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