I believe that one of the greatest experiences as an anime fan is when you try a show that you believe may not be very good and find out it is truly a hidden gem. I get super excited when this happens to me because honestly I usually find a good show by hearing about it and then trying it. Only a few times have I stumbled upon an anime on a whim and enjoyed it as much as I did the anime I am reviewing today. I stumbled upon it trying to find a show to review while on break and not one I had seen before. I tried to see if I could find some strange online generator that would give me a random anime to watch, but I could not find one. Then I tried just going through a long list and whichever I landed on was the one I would review. Well that did not work either. I even tried a “If you like this show, then try this show” but I saw all the ones it recommended to me. At this point I was about to just finish watching Classroom Crisis but then I got an idea. I went to myanimelist.net and clicked on a random season. I found an OVA for a show and when I read the description of the original anime I thought I would give it a shot, and even if I hated it then oh well I would have a bad anime to review. Boy was I wrong.
So here my 23rd Anime Review for an anime that I honestly did not think I would enjoy at first: Library Wars
Library Wars (or Toshokan Sensou as it is known in Japan) is an anime that originally aired back in April of 2008 as a part of the Spring 2008 anime season. It had 12 episodes in total and finished in June of 2008. In December 2008, it released its one OVA episode or “unknown episode” (the one I originally discovered) which was a continuation of the main story. That was not the end of our story, however. In June of 2012, a sequel movie Library Wars: The Wings of Revolution which was the final installment of the anime story. Library Wars is based off of a series of light novels written from 2006-2007. There are also many manga that tell the story of the light novels and two live action movies that are also follow the main story line.
The story of Library Wars is set in a very different Japan from today. In 1989, the Japanese government passes the Media Betterment Act that allows for the censorship of any media deemed harmful to Japanese society. Agents of the Media Betterment Committee (MBC) go around to remove the “harmful” media. However, this did not sit well with many in Japanese society. Smaller governments were opposed to this law and passed a law opposing the MBA called the Freedom of the Library Laws which was created to prevent libraries from being raided and the books seized. The Libaray Soldiers are at a constant conflict with the MBC forces and that conflict continues to when the story begins in 2019. In present day, Iku Kasahara joins the Kanto Library Base after being saved by a high ranking member of the Kanto Library Defense Force who saved her when a book she was trying to buy was being taken for censorship. Despite her recklessness and constant arguing with her superior officer Atsushi Dojo, she is appointed as the first woman member of the elite Library Task Force. The story continues with Iku and the rest of the task force, as well as a few others, work hard to try and save all kinds of media from the MBC.
Our main character is 22 year old Iku Kasahara who in high school was saved by a high ranking member of the Kanto Library Defense Force. The even motivated her to join the Defense Force against her very conservative parents’ approval. She starts off as very reckless and has made some very critical mistakes since joining the LDF along with hardly ever paying attention to the lectures. Despite her flaws, she gets promoted to the elite Task Force within the LDF who handle very intense and difficult missions. She grows a lot over the course of the series and becomes a person who looks at things seriously and can complete tasks she was once unable to do. I actually love Iku as a main character. We really get to see her evolve as a person and I loved that. She actually reminded me a lot of myself in some aspects, which was fun to experience because the similarities were kind of scary.
Next is Atsushi Dojo, Iku’s commanding officer. Part of the reason I think I like him so much was because early in the anime when a character appears for the first time in an episode a very brief description is given. Dojo’s says “an easily angered chibi” and I really enjoyed that. A little joke is that he is shorter than Iku is, by 2 cm, and she brings that up a lot which is kind of funny. He is very hard on Iku in her training and tries to get her to be the best soldier he can be. The nice this about Dojo is that he is hard on Iku because he sees a lot of his younger self in her (being 26 when the story beings) and that brings back a lot of his old self to his personality. There are points where Dojo is either being but in a dangerous situation by Iku or Iku is actually physically (or mentally) tormenting him. I like Dojo as well because despite his reasons for helping Iku being a little selfish, he is trying to help her be the best she can be and does care about her. I really like the relationship between these two and they are a fun duo to see on screen. They play off one another very well.
The final character I want to discuss in length, but I will discuss the other three a little bit, is Hikaru Tezuka. He is drafted into the Task Force along with Iku and becomes here rival for the early part of the anime. Tezuka is smarter than Iku, better at combat than Iku, okay he is basically better than Iku at everything. This originally made me think he was just the generic rival character who is there just to show us how dumb the main character can be. After Dojo mentions that Tezuka could learn from Iku, he becomes a very different character. We find out that Tezuka is not perfect. He has things he is afraid of and issues that he tries to deal with. He thinks of Iku as a good friend once he gets to know her and the rivalry kind of goes away and is turned into just a normal arguing coworker relationship. I really liked this aspect because I find it more realistic than some other rivalries in anime. It changes and evolves as our character do and I find that refreshing.
The three other characters are Mikihisa Komaki, Asako Shibasaki, and Ryusuke Genda. Komaki is also a really fun character. He has known Dojo since they got into the LDF and often tells the stories of dumb things Dojo did when they were first enlisted. The two are very close and discuss a lot of things with one another. He is the one who kind of mediates the arguments of Iku and Dojo, so we spend a lot of time with him in the course of the series. Shibasaki is Iku’s roommate who works in intelligence for the LDF. It is mentioned the she works in intelligence at the beginning, but was hardly ever brought up until the second half of the anime. She is always there for anything Iku needs help with, whether that be a date or passing a promotion test, but becomes more helpful in the later half as I mentioned before. She was also a nice character but sometimes I just felt like she was there for Iku to have someone to talk to. Finally, Genda is the leader of the Task Force who leads them in missions. He is funny as well, but we do not really learn a lot about him. Genda takes a lot of risks but is usually successful in whatever he does. He is a very entertaining person to have as the leader of the task force.
The one thing I liked about this anime is that it did not give us a huge cast of characters. It had a small group of 6-7 people who we got to see interact. Our main characters were the main focus of the story with hardly any annoying side characters getting involved. I liked this because we got to spend time getting to know the main character evolve as people. Sometimes less is more and here is worked out very well.
Okay so the soundtrack. The opening and ending were actually both very catchy and fun to listen to. Although I will admit that since I binged this whole thing I did skip the ending more of the time. I did really enjoy both of these songs very much though. The overall soundtrack was very well done. It fit the story very well and helped to intensify the moment when that was what it needed. I thought it was very well done as a whole. Library Wars was animated by Production I.G. and it was good. Nothing was too over the top but it was not too simple. Considering it was made in 2008 the animation is actually not that bad at all. Another thing that I liked was that nothing major changed from from each installment. Some things were improved to make it look and flow better but the overall character design and animation remained the same.
I was honestly very surprised with how much I actually liked Library Wars. When I first heard the concept of these battles going on between the LDF and the MBC I was not impressed. Neither can fire at each other unless it is on library grounds (which is open to the public) or permission has been granted on both sides. If you shoot and it is not aloud then the police step in and you are in big trouble. Another thing I thought was strange was how normal everyone surrounding the conflict acted. Sure later on it should how public and involved the media and Japanese government was, but at first I thought it was just strange and was not sure how it would work out. What I discovered as an internal conflict within one nation where there multiple political aspects involved. It is something I have never seen before in an anime and once I got into the story I was hooked. Even the movie ended up being a pleasant surprise. There was one major conflict with the Task Force protecting a writer who was being threatened to have his writing privileges taken away because a book he wrote was being used as a guide for a group of terrorists. It was a good movie that answered every question you may have had after the original anime ended and wrapped things up nicely. The story surrounding people losing a freedom of speech and let us look at military and government issues in a way I have never seen before.
The final thing that made me like this anime is that it involved multiple genres of anime and did them each very well. The military/action aspect worked well with the comedy part of the show. Then sprinkle a romance aspect that just flowed along with the story line. In some anime, multiple genres (especially when comedy is a huge one) it makes it seem like other genres are being forced. To me at least. There are shows who do this very well. Then there are some show that mix the action and comedy together, but when the romance is added it seems to forced and not really a part of the show. Library Wars handled every aspect very well and they all fit well together. It was an anime where at times I was near tears because of the battles that were going on or the intense situations the characters were in. It made me laugh and care for all of these character a great deal.
All in all, I award Library Wars with an A. I thought this anime was good in all aspects. There were a few things that may have been done a little better but as an anime that I just stumbled upon and did not have high hopes for I think it did very good. To me it is a hidden gem I am proud I discovered. This is the first time that I have ever just randomly picked an anime without a recommendation or hearing about it and I am actually very happy with the way that it turned out. Maybe I will try doing it again soon.
That is all that I have for today guys!! What do you guys think? Was there an anime you randomly stumbled upon and enjoyed? Or maybe one you did not like? How do you find new anime to watch when you have nothing else to watch? Let me know down in the comments below!!
See you next time!!