Library War: anime review – Finally, something worth dying for

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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.

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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.

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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!
Rating: A+

Facts
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

22 responses to “Library War: anime review – Finally, something worth dying for

  1. This one is a gem indeed.

  2. The battle over the control of ideas has been one that’s been steadily waged in plenty of corners of the globe. The only question that I have is how the society in the series ever got to that state in the first place.

    Anyhow, I did enjoy the interaction between Iku and Dojo in this series. It’s cute how the two are very much like one another with their sense of righteous indignation when the situation calls for it.

    • You have a god point. No government in their right mind would allow two laws that cause people to fight each other.
      Oh, I love the chemistry between Iku and Dojo as well ^_^

  3. It’s rare to see an anime able to present both an ideal worldview and subtle personal growth and romance. After all, these themes are on opposite spectrum in terms of scale. Anyway, censorship and the broader theme of oppression and freedom are explored in many anime. I’m glad you found that it was executed beautifully. After all, it is so easy for an anime dealing with this to come off as pretentious or too philosophical (in a pompous way).

    This is something I look forward to watching.

    • I think the best way to tide together two subjects that are extremely different in size is to stick with the smaller one. This anime never tells the story more than what Kasahara can see and things goes pretty smoothly :)

  4. Never heard of it ! How could it be ? That picked up my interest as i love great theme involving great fights for core values.
    Thanks :)

    • To be honest, this anime is not very popular and it just so happens that I love talking about unpopular things every now and then.
      Personally, this is an absolutely great anime :)

  5. This show has a nice charm–the thick borders are something you don’t see everywhere, and I loved it. Protecting books with guns is cartoonish and all, but they really go for it.

    It’s hilarious how both sides trade bullets but no one really gets killed. Also, that scene where Doujou started a fistfight in the middle of a firefight…

    • It was pretty obvious that the anime tried its best to avoid death and violence, but the violence was still evident all over the place. It’s in the show’s context. The think border isn’t something I see very often, I wonder why…:)

  6. I always thought this looked kind of stupid…..but now that I know what it’s actually about, it actually looks intriguing.

  7. This looks highly intelligible, with your description of it. As Yi said, it’s all too easy for narratives dealing with worldly themes to seem pretentious – if this managed to do so then all the more power to it.

    It reminds me of the Chinese Revolution, which in turn reminds me of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, what with the freedom of literature, pursuit of knowledge and how books change lives. Have you read that book before? Pleasant little read. You might like it; from your review it’s thematically pretty similar stuff.

    Oh, and wanna blogroll exchange? I’ve already added you.

    • The book name is familiar but I’ve never read it. My book shelve is full of sci-fi/fantasy books :P
      Nevertheless, I did do a little info search on its general synopsis and yes, the government’s oppression sounds similar, though Balzac seems to focus deep within its main characers rather than political situation of the country.

      Thanks for adding me (added you already ^_^)

  8. yea thanks for the review

  9. I read another awesomely positive review many months back and added this one to my MUST WATCH list! But man I have no idea when I’ll get around to it. I have so many series on that list that I’m working through.

    • The waiting list will keep getting longer and longer. It’s very normal to me and presumably to everyone around here. That’s why a lot of people, including me, tear certain bad anime apart mercilessly because we realize we could have chosen something better.

  10. Library? Books? Freedom of expression? Quality anime? I have to see this, as I love each of the things mentioned. Any clues if this anime is inspired by Fahrenheit 451?

    • As far as I know, the connection to Fahrenheit 451 has never been mentioned. (unlike ROD the TV which clearly refers to that novel) ^^

  11. Just finished this series, and I really enjoyed it. If I could I would pick up a copy of this show for my collection in a heartbeat. I love the idealism. The interactions between the characters were fun. It frequently looked great. Plus I love libraries!

    The manga is being released next month, so I’ll have to pick that up instead.

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