When at the library, I checked over the manga section to see if anything struck my fancy. I came across this interesting looking cover, so I figured I would try it. And I am glad I did.
In a land of perpetual night (called Amberground), there is no sun. The world is heated from something called Spirit Amber, which is a source of energy that is buried deep beneath the ground. Light (low as it is) seems to come from either the stars in the sky, or a small man-made sun that hovers above the capital, Akatskui (which is restricted only to the “elite” and those with a special Capital Crossing Pass).
An eighteen-year-old man named Gauche Suede, along with his dog, Roda, travel from place to place to deliver messages. This position is called a Letter Bee (basically, they are a postal service). Gauche comes across a town that has been burned down, and to his surprise he finds a package in the form of a young boy (named Lag Seeing). On their journey, both Gauche and Lag inadvertently (and in a strange way) exchange glimpses into each other’s hearts. They form a bond, which five years later, brings Lag to go off on his own to become a Letter Bee himself.
However, that is not Lag’s main goal. You see, the elite of Akatskui captured his mother, and now he seeks to find a way into the Capital. Gauche promised Lag that he would look into the issue, but there was no word from him over these past five years (after Lag was safely delivered to his aunt). Therefore, Lag goes out to have an interview to become a Letter Bee. In the process, he comes across a strange animal-like girl who he ends up helping, which causes him to miss his interview. But in doing so he gains one of the Letter Bee requirements, a “dingo” (a companion, usually a dog, that has a contract with the Letter Bee).
There is a lot I left out in the overview above, but I did not want to give away too many spoilers, even if I did, there is not enough room to list all that went into this story. One of my requirements for a great story is that it has to have heart. This has that and more. I was refreshed to find a manga with artwork in the elegant and clean style that I appreciate so much. But that’s not all. I love the characters, and a story about a dark world without any sun? It can’t get any better for a speculative fiction buff. I am thoroughly looking forward to reading the next one once it comes out.
Things to consider:
This is rated “Teen” from Viz Media, but honestly, I can see it being appropriate for younger. There is the typical action violence, but it is done without any gore, and there were no inappropriate nude or sexual scenes. The closest was where Lag sees that Nichi is a girl, but this was done in good taste. Now, I cannot say anything for the series as a whole (as they are not yet released in the US), but this one gets a preteen (tween) safety stamp from me.
Opportunities for discussion:
Heart is one of the dominant themes in this tale. Heart is what powers the guns of the Letter Bees, but that is not all. Heart also powers the drive of the main characters. A good discussion topic would be to ask your teen what it is their heart is driven by right now. If the opportunity is open for it, share with them the Bible verse that states, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-24.)