I wish Rieu took an image of Komaki instead. I like him better. Iku is all right, I guess.
This is the third series in the spring 08 season that I am very keen about. Library War plays on a rather unique storyline: the understanding of information and the use of information as a social control. In my undergraduate studies, I have been very interested in politics and the use of information. In one of my research papers, I discuss on the ban of the podcast during the Singapore General Elections, using a laboratory experiment to see the persuasion effects between using podcasts and text-based websites. Currently, on my graduate courses, I have taken a module on Information and Communication technologies.
Needless to say, the concept of Library Wars attract me a lot. I will try to add in a bit of what I have learned in my studies. I hope that it will be an enriching look, yet sticking with the ditsy style of Impz’s writing. Also, I will like to thank fellow lover of Toshokan Sensou, Usagijen, for her invaluable insights to the characters.
The Media Improvement project is a clause created by the government seemingly to restrict access of offensive media and the freedom of expression. From that project, the Media Improvement Brigade Militia (MIB) is born, a group that can take to task any personnel who attempts to impede the project. Iku Kasahara, then a young girl, picks up a novel that she has been waiting. A group of the MIB came to the bookstore, attempting to confiscate all the books. She notices that the book she is holding is within the pile and tries to hide it. When she struggles to hold on, a man from the Library Task Force’s Defense Group (LTF) protects her.
In present day, we see Iku running drills under the supervisor of Dojo. She collapses in exhaustion, only to be punished by Dojo. After training, she complains how Dojo is clearly picking on her. Her friend, Asako, thinks he is quite cute. However, Iku says that he is short and has a horrible character. Dojo hears it and warns her how he might take it personally during their training. Asako “betrays” her, saying that she only complimented Dojo just now. While leaving, Iku drops a letter that is addressed to her parents, telling them that she is doing fine. She tells Dojo that she will not send it back since her parents banned her from joining the LTF.
We learn more about the MIB, and the reason for their harsh measures. As a counter measure, The LTF is set up to protect these books, and bring books to protected zones. These two forces have clashed over the control of information, and it has become a militarized war. Komika asks how Dojo thinks of Iku, and it’s clear he knows about her good physical abilities. Komika asks if Dojo has made “his choice” and Dojo says he is not sure since it is not all about physical strength. In the judo ground, Iku dispatches a fellow classmate, only to be beaten flat by Dojo.
After the training, Iku complains why Doujou deliberately picks a fight. Her friend asks if that constitutes a drop kick on him, but she complains that he literally made a painful arm bar grip. Asako tells her that Dojo probably took it easy on her but is not appreciated by the wild monkey (Iku). Asako asks about Iku’s parents but Iku says she is hiding it from them. Asako also asks why she joins despite the objections and it is clear Asako has checked on Iku’s background. When Asako presses further, Iku goes to sleep to avoid the embarrassing situation. Iku joined the LTF due to that person who saved her, and thinks of him as a prince charming.
The next day, Iku discusses about her hate of studying to Komika. Komika also gives a hint to Iku on why Dojo is so harsh on her. He tells her about how training is similar to her former athletics training. Iku, while meeting Dojo, does not understand Komika’s words. A suspicious person seems to be hiding a book underneath his clothes. It seems that he is trying to cut out a swimsuit poster, and charges at Iku with a penknife when he is discovered. Iku easily floors him but is too complacent as the man charges again. Dojo took a punch for her, and easily pins down the man with handcuffs. However, he slaps her due to her complacency, saying that she should quit if she thinks she is just doing sports.
Iku is still feeling down, but Ayako tells Iku that he places her name as the officer who caught the man. As she goes to the lounge, she gets into an argument with him. She asks why Dojo puts her name and starts to cry uncontrollably, as she mumbles she does not have the right to be listed. Dojo just tells her to rest. Iku says she will not give up as she wants to be like her prince charming. The next morning, Iku goes out with Ryusuke, with Ryusuke secretly telling Iku that Dojo has been depressed that he is unable to protect Iku well.
The MIB is seemingly trying to steal books from a girl in a bookstore. Ryusuke warns her that they cannot do anything in a bookstore, only in the library. They are not justice enforcers. However, Iku rushes in, and Ryusuke calls Dojo to help. Iku warns the three MIB officers about taking the book, only to realize that her rank is too small for any enforcement duties. She faces the same situation back when she is young, only for Dojo, Komaki and Ryusuke to save her. Dojo literally screamed the living lights out of her as she acted like an idiot, just like her prince charming. Nonetheless, he told her to give the child the book. After that incident, Iku finds out that she is invited to the secret “task force”.
You know, without our Rabbit blogger whoring the life out of the show, I am already interested in blogging this show. Her endorsement (which is one of the few bloggers I bother listening to, though I sound elitist) just piles up to the “must watch” factor. I must say that the episode does not disappoint. In fact, it went beyond my expectations.
Using information as a storyline is a very refreshing approach for a story. It is perhaps over dramatized, but there is a hint of truth in which information is used as a form of controlling or managing social life. Let me explain. In an information society, information can now be easily be broken into digits and bits (the 1 and 0 as they say). In that case, it allows the information to be commodified in a capitalistic market. That means we consider certain information (like watching a World Cup match on pay-per-view) to have a cost.
Hence, with the increasing ability to measure and commodify the information, we are seeing a situation when technology can monitor our movement easily. That is why in times of war, the mass media is often the one that propagates pro-government values. Remember Hitler, Mussolini and their use of the mass media? Despite people using their personal view to resist such messages, they manage to bring a whole nation into a fervent war path.
In addition, books and the mass media represent values that can spread. Can democracy spread in a world where no one is able to read any books that are remotely promoting this form of ideology? In a condition where there is a fear climate, will there be a widespread of knowledge and information? The loss of talent and knowledge during the WWII is tremendous with the Holocaust, and the fact that something so stupid like a bikini babe poster has to be banned shows the amount of desperation of such times where information becomes a scarce commodity. Hence, it’s definitely not silly. All right, enough of theory, back to the show.
The first thing that catches my eye is the animation. I am not a crazy sucker for animation, and I am fine with just average. However, I am not stupid to see that graphics is great in Library Wars. The music (OP + ED) is awesome, something that many series do not have. I am quite appalled at the poor OPs by most series in this season. This makes it all worthwhile for me for such a show that I am anticipating.
The characters are also voiced by excellent seiyuus, including Marina Inoue, Miyuki Sawashiro and Akira Ishida. All of them have been excellent in bringing their characters to life. I particularly like Komaki, if only because his funny behavior seeing Iku and Dojo fighting it out all the time. I think his response is just so hilarious, considering he keeps laughing at the antics of the two. Iku is a very strong lead, and it’s good. Without a good female lead, I cannot watch a show.
So, will I recommend the show? Hell yeah! Action fans, shoujo fans should find something nice in this show. I am sure that the series will become a bit more famous at the juicy parts. Moreover, the chibi forms are used in a very good time, creating nice humor. There is something for everyone, blended in with a very eclectic mix. This show is one to catch, without a shadow of a doubt.
After doing it 3-4 times, the whole sub-section audio/animation/etc stuff got kind of old, so I probably won’t be doing that for the rest of the series that are coming out this season (the few that are left). I’m much more excited to just bring you my initial impressions and reactions in whatever form my randomness decides to take.
So, Library Wars (LW). This was one show that I was interested in when I heard about it, although the only details I knew about it were the things you could read in any summary on any website/blog. I haven’t read any of the manga (didn’t know there was one until Impz informed me that he’d been reading it), and I honestly don’t understand that much Japanese.
In a sense, you can say that I watched the Library Wars RAW clueless as to what was being said and with only a basic understanding of the plot. That, readers, is why LW has managed to impress me so much with a single episode. I got excited about Nabari, then flipped my lid over Soul Eater, and right now, I’d say that LW now has a place in my Top 3 Most Anticipated shows of the season.
Why? The animation is top-notch. I like the character designs, something about the hard black edges that frame the characters really appeals to me. The chibi-ish forms and over exaggerated expressions are something found in about every anime, but LW still managed to have a subtlety distinguished style of it’s own. The music was sometimes a little repetitive, but not bad repetitive…you noticed that the same song had been playing for a while, but it wasn’t a bad song so you didn’t mind that much.
Most importantly, with the exception of 1-2 places where the focus was on scenery (ie: an overview of the city), LW had me riveted to the screen. Absolutely sucked into it’s world and characters even though the episode was relatively calm and despite the fact that I didn’t know what anyone was saying. I am surprisingly impressed and humbled, and you should definitely not miss the chance to check this series out. Oh, and did I mention that I like both the OP and the ED?