Your Books or Your Life
by Bob Johnson
Fahrenheit 451 gets the anime treatment in the biggest brouhaha over print media since Read or Die. In an alternate year 2019, book learners and book burners have fought it out for over 30 years – while the general public is terrorized by the Media Betterment Committee, libraries retain academic freedom, guaranteed by the law and the Library Defence Force.
We see these struggles through the eyes of Kasahara Iku, a plucky 22-year-old trackstar who has become the first woman inducted into the Task Force, the elite security force of the LDF. Though gifted with physical ability, statuesque height, and stubborn determination, Kasahara struggles with the mundane business of sorting and finding books, which is still the main job the LDF does between battles.
In this, she’s assisted by her competent classmates Tezuka and Shibahara, while her instructor Dojo attempts to drill more discipline into the impulsive young cadet. Meanwhile, she wants to find the LDF officer who inspired her to join the force, and protect books just like him. From time to time she also deals with drop-ins from her tiger dad and worried mom, ever-fearful their daughter may be the next victim of a censorship raid.
Though it can be excessively moé at times (Kasahara is a Greek god in hand-to-hand combat, but a startled klutz with a book cart?), Library War is a solid show, well-drawn and animated. As a battle anime, the LDF are careful students of tactics and strategy, with a focus on preparation: planning, training, learning regulations. When you fail in battle, it’s because you didn’t do your homework. None of your Code Geass make-it-up as you go along here. Then again, the villains aren’t too fleshed out – the LDF is always the good guys, always quoting law and regulation, and never firing first. The MBC, on the other hand, are cartoon mooks whose main goal in life is to take books out of the hands of little kids, or just generally smash and grab dead trees.
In romance, Iku is a true half-and-half tsundere, and faces two leading options. Tezuka is a pretty dry candidate, simply ticking the boxes needed for ‘responsible boyfriend’, while Dojo is pretty clearly best guy, but also is kind of her boss, and ‘too short’. And oddly enough, there’s not much in this show for bibliophiles, beyond the fact that they work with books: none of the leads is constantly nose-in on a tome or constantly quoting literature.
Library War is perhaps not significant enough to merit a solo watch, but its pacing of stretches of interpersonal drama, punctuated by pitched battles or hilarious reaction shots, keeps it engaging as a group or club title. It certainly won’t offend sub purists.
Maybe Look It Up:
Library War (2008) 12 episode anime
based on the light novels by Hiro Arikawa and Sukumo Adabana
Produced by Production I.G., Licenced by Discotek