Review: If the Media Cleansing Committee were real, Library War would be among the very first anime to be censored. It has extremely rebellious theme that is seldom seen in any anime. It inspires viewers to stand up for their ideals and protect their rightful freedom of expression even if doing so would mean taking arms and fighting against the narrow-minded government and those conservative people.
The anime, inspired by the Statement on Intellectual Freedom in Libraries, sets in an alternate reality in which the Japanese government releases the Media Betterment Act law that allows the agents of the committee to confiscate any media containing potential threat to the society. As a counter measure, the libraries form their own armed force under the Freedom of Libraries law to protect libraries from being raided and to collect endangered books from being destroyed. The story follows a young woman named Kasahara Iku, a new recruit of Kanto Library Force. Inspired by a mysterious library officer who stopped the Media Cleansing agent from confiscating the book she wanted to read, Kasahara decides to become an officer and calls that mysterious figure her ‘prince’.
The first half of the show is mostly about Kasahara’s learning the art of librarians and of combat skill and also about her dealing with her family and her devilish tutor, Dojo. A good amount of time is spent on these personal matters and it proves to be a smart thing to do. The bond between Kasahara and the viewers is swiftly established and the viewers will find themselves rooting for her even before the first episode ends. The romantic aspect of the show between Kasahara and Dojo may seems a little stereotypical and over the top especially when Dojo suffers from brain injury but the theme is subtly blended into other storylines and I found myself totally absorbed by it.
Later in the series, the war between the Media Cleansing committee and the Library Force gets more attention. I was somewhat taken aback by the intensity and the length people would go in order to protect their ideals. I’ve never seen people fights to the death to protect dusty old books but the anime makes it clear that it’s not the books that are worth dying for. It’s the freedom to read them that matters. Library War may not be entirely logical since there are several other ways to control media other than raiding libraries and confiscating books from book stores but the anime’s intention is utterly pure, touching and admirable. Ultimately, what really matters is the message sent to the viewers rather than the credibility of the details. Although it might sound a bit silly, I was actually touched by the show’s extreme ideals.
The show has all the familiar things we usually see in anime or any soap opera. What’s great is how all the familiar things are presented and arranged in perfect combination and in exactly right proportion. It is a coming of age story of a girl growing up and learning the harsh truth in real life while holding on to her ideals. It is also a story about the beauty of freedom and the fight for it. Or it can be perceived as a love story between a hot headed, reckless girl and a proud, stubborn guy. The production quality of the anime is also very appealing. Bright colors and clean drawing are extensively used to maintain the overall light hearted and energetic tone of the show. Although not actually standing out, the original soundtracks successfully enhance the various emotions during each scene.
I am fully aware that the anime’s premise about freedom of expression and library raiding is ridiculous but I respect its ideal. So unless you can accept this idea, you will not appreciate this anime at all. For me, this is the anime that captures me completely. After the show ended, I felt so many things at once that I feared my heart would burst. I was happy, I was inspired, I was speechless yet I was really sad that the anime ended so soon. Conclusion: welcome to my ‘Favorite anime’ list!
Title: Library War (Toshokan Senso)
Genre: action, drama, romance, political
Released date: April 11, 2008 – June 26, 2008
Episode: 12 and 1 ova
Director: Takayuki Hamana
Animated by: Production I.G