The government has passed the Media Betterment Act, establishing a military police force to stop the spread of "negative influences harmful to society;" and in response, libraries have organized their own military units to protect freedom of expression. After being saved by a Library Defense Force agent in a bookstore, Kasahara is inspired to enlist in the Library Defense Force. Although she proves quite athletic and capable, she must endure the harsh but meaningful training of her instructor and superior officer, Doujou. As she learns how to be a good soldier, she participates in LDF operations, helping protect literary freedom for everyone.
Toshokan Sensou AKA Library Wars is a unique 12 episode political military action anime featuring some light comedy and romance. It’s definitely an anime unlike any other and the way it comes across, it’s not aimed at the usual younger (and male) demographic, but rather a wider audience. This might be one to watch if you don’t like anime. The fictional story has themes of censorship, liberation and even war. Animation From the get-go the animation quality was brilliant for a 2008 anime. I got it in full 1080p HD and it was worth it. The objects and characters are very well defined, though quality does start to drop at a certain distance. But not that much that it had a negative influence on the overall quality, at least for an anime made back then. The detail given is clearly visible in the intro/outro sequence, I could actually read the individual Japanese characters in the first shot of the intro for example. I did mention that certain things were well defined, that because this anime has an almost cell-shaded look. There are dense black outlines and the colours are very blocky, with little variation. This simplicity to the palette works out at an advantage, the mellow look added to the quality. The character designs were nothing unique, but there was one small issue. The main character looked a bit too masculine at times, it may have just been the facial design but I was initially thinking that without a voice, I wouldn’t be able to figure out what gender they were. Other people have taken this small error a bit too seriously, but I got used to it. It didn’t bother me too much. Thinking about it, it kinda makes sense, since she’s a physically fit woman. There’s also good use of comedic facial animation and comic-book-style pop-outs for the funny bits too. Being a noitamina anime, aimed at folks other than dumb, horny, adolescent boys, this doesn’t have anything in the way of fan-service/ecchi. There may be a shot or two or half-dressed women, but they are depicted sensibly and fully within context (getting changed after some work/training for example). Sound The intro and outro music was great. Even though it wasn’t exactly J-rock, leaning a bit towards J-pop, I still went and got the soundtrack albums. Just very good music, heck these sequences seemed to have the quality of a movie intro/outro. The music within the anime was also great, sound design was on point and tracks played at the opportune moments. I was absorbed in the anime too much for fine details, of course the good use of music helped the immersion. This anime is only available in Japanese and the voice acting is of high quality, with appropriate voices. The main characters voice really matches her looks, she looks a bit like boy at times and her voice sounds like it could easily play the role of a teenage boy in some other anime. Turns out this voice is none other than Marina Inoue, in addition to voicing Iku Kasahara here, she’s voiced Armin Arlert in Attack on Titan, Eve Genoard in Baccano, Kana Minami in the Minami-Ke series (I knew I recognised this voice from somewhere!), Pheles in Shankugan no Shana II, Yoko Littner in Gurren Lagann and Alicia Melchiott in Valkyria Chronicles (both the game and anime). Atsushi Dojo is voiced by Tomoaki Maeno, who voiced Teshigawara in Another among other roles in anime I haven’t watched/don’t like. Asako Shibasaki is voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro, the voice of Masami Iwasawa in Angel Beats, Kanae Kudou in Da Capo SS, Sakura Suzuhara in the Evangelion remake and Kotoha Isone in Yozakura Quartet. Hikaru Tezuka is voiced by Tatsuhisa Suzuki, who voices Yuji Sakamoto in Baka to Test, Kazunari Takao in Kuroko no Basuke (his blooper scene was hilarious) and Eishiro Sugata in Sora no Otashimono. Mikihisa Komaki is voiced by Akira Ishida, the voice of Judeau in Berserk, Kaworu Nagisa in Evangelion, Ryuunosuke Uryuu in Fate Zero, Aru Akise in Mirai Nikki, Apos in Mnemosyne and Kally in Tower of Druaga (recently watched). Finally, Ryuusuke Genda is voiced by Kanji Suzumori, who hasn’t voiced many character in anime, even for a Japanese voice actor. Characters Iku Kasahara is a 23 year-old Library Clerk First Class in the Kanjo Library Task force. She joined to protect books like the man who saved her when she was a high-school student, whom she regards as her prince. While she is capable physically (except with things like guns), having been on the track team back at high-school, she’s not the smartest grape of the bunch. She often sleeps through lectures and this contributes to her lack of knowledge and incompetence during her work as library staff. She is tall for a woman and dislikes how short her superior officer/instructor Dojo is. She is often scolded by him for her mistakes and ineptitude. She hasn’t told her parents where she works, since her mother especially wouldn’t approve of such a dangerous job. Her personality is energetic and she can be funny, she can be tough on the inside but is actually soft-hearted and sometimes cries. She reminds me of Kana from Minami-Ke (voiced by the same VA), but she isn’t as dumb. Atsushi Dojo is a 27 year-old Librarian Second Class/Sergeant, a member of the Defence Force in the Kanto Library Task Force. He is a harsh instructor, especially towards Iku and seems to be easily angered. He’s often telling her off for her various mistakes. But he values his subordinates and mentions this in a variety of ways throughout the anime. He is of relatively short stature, most noticeable when he stands next to Iku. He seems to give Iku especially harsh treatment, but also is capable of being especially helpful to her, supporting her when she needs it. Komaki often refers to his past mentioning that he was much like Iku and the two are said to be similar to each other, despite Sgt. Dojo being very capable and responsible, unlike Iku. He's clueless about how Iku feels towards him and the same goes for her. Asako Shibasaki is a 24 year old member of the administrative staff at the Kanto Library Task Force and specialises in intelligence/information gathering. She is Iku’s roommate and best friend in their living quarters at the Kanto Library Base. She is a beautiful and a girly-girl of a woman, much more so that Iku, since she does more girly things like facial therapy and such. She is also very sensible and calm, she never panics like Iku and knows her friend like a book. She is always on hand to help her out and give her advice, especially when concerning Dojo. She later develops a close bond with Hikaru Tezuka. Hikaru Tezuka is a new recruit similar to Iku, a Library Clerk First Class in the Kanto Library Task Force. Unlike Iku, he is skilled and smart, he has no problems with training and is a good shot with guns too. However his one weakness is his fear of heights. He also has an older brother Satoshi, who is a manipulative individual with his Future of the Library Committee. He’s rather blunt and tends to state things the way they are, which isn’t always the best thing. He isn’t the best when it comes to people skills and is often given a nudge by Sgt. Dojo. Later on he becomes well acquainted with Asako. Mikihisa Komaki is a 27 year old Librarian Second Class, also a member of the Defence Force within the Kanto Library Task Force. He is Sgt. Dojo’s best friend and drinking buddy, often hanging out in Dojo’s room with him during the off-hours of the evening. They joined at around a similar time and have been together throughout much of their career within the Force. Thus he knows about Dojo’s history, which he often divulges to Iku to try and make her feel better. Story The year is 2019, the 31st year in the fictional Japanese Seika Era. The Seika period began with the declaration of the Media Betterment Act (MBA) law in Japan, which censors any media deemed harmful to the Japanese public and enforced by the Media Betterment Committee and their armed forces. Opposing this, with the intent to protect the freedom of speech are the Libraries and the Library Defence Force, which legally protect books under the Freedom of the Libraries Law. The two paramilitary forces are at conflict over books, one to destroy and burn and the other to save and protect. It’s a lukewarm war, with small scale battles waged over caches of books and information, with a surprisingly realistic number of casualties for a controlled modern day/near-future conflict. The plot follows the main characters as members of the Kanto Library Defence Force as they live their lives and jobs at the main Kanto Library Base. These people are effectively librarians, but more badass and with military training, which they use to protect and secure books. The library has a budget is has for buying books and bringing them under its jurisdiction, thereby rendering them safe from the MBC. Overall the plot has promise, it purveys a unique story with-in this pseudo-familiar setting. A few niggles, like how smartphones and tablets aren’t in much use in 2019. The technology looks like it’s from 10 years ago. Also, the libraries being… well libraries, means that MBA could potentially disguise themselves as civilians or recruit the help of supportive individuals to legitimately borrow books from the library to then destroy. This plothole isn’t addressed that well, are the censored books not available for loan for the library for security purposes? Even normal people who borrow them would be capable of being robbed of them, for the book to be subsequently destroyed and censored. And surely the government would step in and sort out these two conflicting laws by outright supporting one of these two factions and proclaiming the other illegal. Innocent civilians actually are capable of getting hurt in this war of freedom of speech vs censorship. The plot feels kinda intermittent, a different situation occurring every episode or two. For the most part it isn’t predictable, though one major point of the backstory becomes obvious to the viewer, despite not being revealed in early episodes. The overall plot doesn’t seem to be there, sure there’s the big struggle for freedom of speech, but this is just a small window into that. Were this a longer anime, then there could have been more story. It feels almost like a slice of life. Some of the characters go through some difficult situations, which made me feel empathic towards them. Of course, this anime has some obvious political themes embedded within. Not only is there the censorship vs freedom of speech debate, but also the way in which people go about doing thing, whether that involves violence or non-violence. It seems to try and want to get a message across that the brash, brutish aggressive way of doing things is not beneficial, that rather people should seek a passive approach and do things like ‘write stern letter of complaint.’ Being an anime, it can get away with these things working, but in real life, when it comes down to the moment, the peaceful way of thinking might not yield results. There’s also the aspect of various groups within both within and outside of the government and the media siding with certain parties and, particularly the media, twisting the truth for their own biases. If you’re an intellectual person or an adult in the midst of current events, this might be an interesting story to immerse yourself into. Conclusion Once again Toshokan Sensou is a unique anime unlike any other, mostly due to the story and setting. While it isn’t aimed towards young boys, I think this anime has something to offer to most people, thus I recommend it to everyone to watch. Except those who want a traditional complete story, this isn’t exactly that, leaning towards the slice of life, even though some situations may take a couple of episodes like the last one. If you’re an adult or intellectual person, this may be of great interest to you also, due to the important subjects this touches upon. I personally enjoyed it a bit, though I almost felt like the romance was shoehorned in, it was too similar that of a shonen anime, mostly non-existent and one-sided with no conclusion. Thankfully it takes a backseat, so it shouldn’t affect enjoyment of this too much. Family-friendliness Rating: 3/5 Nothing offensive, but some heavy themes (lower is better) Overall Rating: 7.5/10 (higher is better)
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.
There are some animes where you feel like the runtime was way too short. Library Wars is one of those, and its not just for the viewer's pleasure that this anime needs more episodes. The 12 episodes were insufficient in really developing the characters and showing the awesome storyline that this anime had going for it. As a result, the start of the anime was too rushed and it felt like viewers were thrown right into the heat of things without much prologue. It also diminished any opportunity to feel for the characters because viewers have yet to warm up to them. That being said, this is a splendid anime that tackles future governmental reign and possible societal clashes that can happen. It is a wonderful story that adds romance, comedy at the right parts to this military centric show. The characters all had their own personality and it really (kind of) depicted how military life is like to a little extent (minus the love life and overly friendly superior). Definitely a recommended show to watch for any form of genre lovers.
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