Animated by Studio I.G. which means it’s going to have amazing science fiction overtones… What the heck, it doesn’t? And it’s a romantic comedy to boot??? Man, these guys are out of their league for trying to pull something good out of this. And the show is directed by the guy who did Prince of Tennis! Ok, I guess the premise is over the top here as well (Books are serious bizness!) but it seems like we are heading for the rule of cool and not because the story seems interesting. And I mean it does sound interesting; 90% of the people who decided to watch the show was because of the description.
“Many books are banned and libraries now have armies in order to protect them.”
Don’t you just want to find out what this is all about? Doesn’t it sound familiar to Fahrenheit 451? Isn’t it relevant to the recent Act Japan voted in order to censor several works of fiction? Isn’t this a social-political heavy story around law-given liberties?
And the answer is no, it isn’t; it is just an excuse to place the main characters in a situation where they need to team together for the same goal. The whole premise is handled very lightly, it is hardly exploited beyond the obvious, and it is usually thrown aside for comedy and romance. In effect, it is just a lure to watch a romance with a pretext. And before you think of anything else YES IT WORKS! Romances work fine as long as they have something other than high schools (gah, how I hate those) and the characters have some sort of goal or objective that keeps them together (other than being forced to go to the same school every day that is and study hard to pass in the same college). So there you go, this time it is in libraries, and they are armed and trained to defend the bookshelves from opposing oppressors of free thought or something.
As I said, it is just a cool premise; nothing too violent or important ever happens and it is mostly stereotypical comedy and romance. Which is just fine if you realize the target audience is GIRLS and not BOYS despite being tagged with a seinen demographic. And thus you get some clutz girl who pretends to be dynamic but keeps being in need for some hunk to save here from pretty much everything in a most non-violent and romantic way. I mean, ok, there is action too, but it is cartoony and aimed at destroying books and not at killing or injuring people. For the same reason, you must love books or be a strong supporter of liberties, or even the premise won’t work and the whole thing will backfire as being completely stupid. A WAR FOR BOOKS? And since it never tries to be serious or delves deep into politics and morals, it is nothing more that a generic excuse for the story to exist and to lure in the bookworm audience. It worked for Inkheart, so why not here as well?
Well, it’s still an almost standard shoujo fare if you check out all the important characters. The dynamic female protagonist who is otherwise frail and in constant need of her super handsome commander… and some others. Yup, it is basically a two-character show with the rest flavouring it with silly action and goofy comedy. It works to place everything in a context (other that goddamn schools) and to have a theme while everything unfolds predictably but also nicely and end rather satisfactory after 12 episodes. It is still very basic as a whole, and all secondary characters are left undeveloped and always easily acknowledged as either good (supporters of books) or bad (Nazi-wannabies and trashers of the former). It would be really cool to see some reasoning behind the baddies and some actual political implications but NAH nothing of the sort happens.
I leave for last the production values which are nothing much in terms of background details or cinematics. To the most part everything looks ok and the crossfire scenes lack tragedy or excitement for being light and bloodless. There are also no exceptional music pieces or memorable voice action, and the comedy is almost ever-present to make things appear even more simplistic with deformity and cartoony violence.
So as a whole it is not a great show but if you get past the stupid logic of WAR FOR BOOKS then you get a nice time waster. But nothing more. I prefer my wars with blood spilling, lives lost, and people screaming.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: General Artwork 1/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 1/2
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 2/4, Sound Effects 2/3
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: Premise 2/2, Pacing 1/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 0/2, Conclusion 1/2
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 1/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 1/2
VALUE SECTION: 2/10
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 0/3, Memorability 2/4
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10
Analysis: Art 0/1, Sound 0/2, Story 1/3, Characters 0/4
Well, I went into this series with no expectations, virtually blind, only led on by a seemingly interesting concept mixing military conflict and...libraries? There have been more bizarre matches made in anime heaven, but many of them are destined to fail. So, would Library Wars pass the test and avoid the trap of not actually developing (or even following) its own setting?
In a word, yes. The creators dreamed up a world that isn't a million miles from reality in some instances (the idea of censorship), and mixed it with some...odd happenings, such as libraries having their own Defense Force to combat the military excursions of the Media Cleansing committee. As expected from an anime that essentially remains slice-of-life, the setting is a vehicle for the characters to a large extent, but the story certainly isn't neglected, and there are some surprisingly deep moments and comments throughout. One that stands out is Komaki's reflective comment that books for children are often targeted for heavy censorship, as 'adults can no longer see the absurdities of the world in which we live'.
The general story thread follows Iku Kasahara as a cadet in the Kanto Library Defense Force, a feisty lady who wants to protect books from censorship, making them available for all. The plot largely tracks Kasahara's interactions with other characters as she tries to climb the ranks, against a backdrop of various incidents that are thrown up (very unfairly in most cases) against the Library Forces. I found the situations to be pretty entertaining in all, and although some were fairly 'standard' as it were, they were often varied and executed well - I can only applaud Library Wars for not boring me at any stage.
The tone of Library Wars was one that I found increasingly endearing as it went on - a slice-of-life series that managed to successfully balance outright comedic moments (chibi faces an' all) with the more serious ramifications of the military backdrop. It could've been done very poorly, or shied away from, but the writers did a good job of carefully weighing them against each other. I would've liked to see more expansion on the political side of things, and further exposition on the overall world scenario. On the whole, the world concept was very unique, handled well and whilst it hardly tackled many issues head-on, it'd be too much to expect a slice-of-life anime to go too overboard on the deep philosophical debates.
Surprisingly, very good. The animation itself seemed detailed enough, and although I'm no real judge, I was impressed by it - I didn't expect such quality going in. That said, had I known that Production I.G was the same studio that animated Ghost in the Shell: SAC and The Sky Crawlers, then perhaps I wouldn't have been quite as clueless. At any rate, in a series with a fair bit of action and therefore potential pitfalls for lazy animation and corner-cutting, the movement was fluid and smooth.
However, where Library Wars most impressed me was the presentation of the environments. The stills were clean and the backdrops were lush and varied - it certainly felt like a summery anime at times, with a warmth that helped bring the story and characters to life. The characters themselves were well-designed and distinguishable despite the standard uniforms of the Library Force, with a crispness to their appearance without seemingly overly sharp. I have absolutely no complaints here, and the high-production values are evident.
Library Wars is unremarkable in terms of the soundtrack - this is certainly no Baccano!, and isn't especially musically-orientated. The standard gentle piano rhythms complimented emotional scenes nicely, but the soundtrack generally set calmly in the background, taking no particular risks and not grabbing my eye. Sound effects were similar, crisp and bright, but nothing outstanding. It had a few good moments, but overall the ambient music allowed the seiyu to do their job without interruption.
...which they did, and well. I'm still hopelessly naive on voice actors, but the entire cast performed admirably and both Komaki and Kasahara stood out to me as characters who were correctly matched in terms of their VAs, bring a vivacity and realistic portrayal to the table.
I cared about these characters a lot more than I probably should have done. It's not a psychological thriller designed to draw you in, and nobody commits unspeakable sins to make you despise them, and yet...this group of closely-knit Library Defense Officers were designed with empathy in mind, I feel. The cast generally interact believably throughout and their actions reflect this, whether in personal conversation or in the middle of a raging firefight. That said, they all develop considerably as the series goes on - you almost feel like you know them personally by the end. This, in my view, is what designing good characters is all about, and why I remain pure sucker for an excellent slice-of-life series.
Kasahara and her instructor, Dojo (I know) form the main 'generic romantic pairing', although this is handled tastefully throughout and developed genuinely well. Both characters have considerable flaws, but they remain likeable and it's nice to see how their relationship alters over the course of the series. It's not hamfisted, and is quite elegantly done for the most part. Kasahara in particular I found to be a surprisingly empathetic protagonist with her bold sincerity and emotion, not something that I would've expected based off the first episode.
The supporting cast fill out their occasionally generic roles well - Komaki standing out as the 'smiling logician' of zen-like calm. I felt that more could've been done with Tezuka (and his brother), but ultimately the cast of characters was fun to watch and they almost felt like a little family by the end. D'awwwww. On a personal note, only Shibasaki particularly irritated me, but that's more due to her flippant attitude and occasionally manipulative intentions/actions than anything overtly annoying about her. Then again, I guess she is an 'informant'.
It's no big secret that I'm a massive fan of reading, and that's perhaps what drew me to Library Wars in the first place. I didn't get too much depth on that subject, but the series kept me hooked throughout and I wasn't bored for even a moment - comedy and drama were both there in abundance. With a strong cast of characters that stuck together admirably in strength for all 12 episodes, The overall score almost seems low given how much I enjoyed the series, but I think that reflects my view - the concept of the series was maximised within the constraints of the slice-of-life genre, and turning it into a mindf*ck series would've resulted in an entirely different tone.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, will watch it again, and would recommend it to anyone with a hankering for a slice-of-life show with a bit of uniqueness about it.
In a near-future world, an oppressive "media cleansing act" threatens freedom of expression and the proliferation of literature. The Library Task Force is formed to counter this threat. Libraries have become fortresses defended by well-armed and well-trained military units. The animation in this series was unusually crisp, with sharp black lines highlighting character outlines. It was a great story overall, and while the main theme involved the struggle between the two factions, a nice bit of romance was also well-developed.
This was an average anime, had the standard model for the love story and general story thus nothing special there but also nothing bad either just Meh. The characters I would have to say the same thing about them to, nothing about them stood out because again it just had that standard model feel to it.
Now I will say this the plot is kinda weak because it revolves around the idea that the government is doing a mass censoring of books, music, film, and ect. But libraries are declared they own system/government thus can fight against this censorship, which leads to them having there own private armies that in turn fight against the inspection groups. The battles are very red vs blue and what I mean is it just seems like both side are just having a friendly deadly game with firearms. Because both sides seem serious but they also seem like they are just well idiots that have to learn as they go.
Overall this is just average, nothing stands out in it nor does anything really make it bad. I say if you have stuff you wana watch already just pass this up otherwise give it a try.
What I Liked: The setting and world-building. Intriguing concept.
What I Didn't: The fact it's really a rom-com. Both the OP and the ED were boring and forgettable. The series didn't really do a lot with the setting created, I felt as if the romcom-military/censorship balance was out-of-whack the whole time. Almost everything else about the series was pretty average fare.
Final Verdict: Toshokan Sensou / Library War neither makes an effort to invoke moral discussion about censorship and war nor tries to be an intellectual military-focused anime. In fact, it's nothing more than an action-oriented, slightly disappointing and uneven Romantic Comedy.