Manga Monday: Library Wars: Love and War
Story and Art by Kiiro Yumi
Original Concept by Hiro Arikawa
Article by Mara Wood
Happy New Year! I hope each of you had a lovely and relaxing holiday season. Did any of you happen to get any new manga or anime for Christmas or Hanukkah? I was given a bunch of new Bleach DVDs and Ranma ½ Blu-rays, so I’ll be going on a anime binge pretty soon. In the meantime, let’s talk about Library Wars: Love and War. This manga series is based on Hiro Arikawa’s light novel series entitled Library Wars.
Oh man. This shojo series is something else. First off, unlike many shojo series, the heroine is in her early 20s. This age immediately takes her out of the high school romance trap that shojo tends to fall into. Instead of a high school setting, Library Wars takes place in a library. However, it’s not as straightforward as that.
Library Wars tells of a near future where books are heavily censored. An uber-conservative group monitors all publications, from books to TV to magazines. The idea behind this group is to protect the young and impressionable youth. This of it as an expansion on book banning. Any book can be argued as harmful to readers. In response to this national movement, libraries were granted special permission to not only collect these banned books, but also to distribute them to their patrons without repercussion.
The major conflict in the world exists between the Media Betterment Act (MBA) and the individual libraries. The MBA is heavily armed and militaristic and will stop at nothing to protect consumers. The libraries believe in free speech and the right for readers to discern books for themselves. In order to protect their collections, the libraries have militarized. Each library is staffed with highly professional librarians to help patrons navigate the enormous collections and specialized soldiers to protect those patrons and their right to read.
Pretty different from your normal shojo high school drama.
If you’re a fan of shojo series, don’t be discouraged about this wider world-building. There is still plenty of drama in the pages. Iku Kasahara dreams of working for a library – as a soldier. She’s trained since junior high to be on the defensive force. As a young girl, the MBA attempted to confiscate a book she wanted to read. A library agent stepped in and rescued her. Since that moment, she aimed to become just like that agent and find the man who saved her. When she is accepted into the force, she quickly learns she has a lot going against her as the only woman on the team.
With a series with far more male characters than female characters, Library Wars could easily fall into a love triangle (or square or hexagon or what have you). Instead, Library Wars focuses on the brotherly love Iku has for all of her team – except her boss, Dojo. It’s easy to see from the beginning that the story will focus on the romantic relationship these two characters develop. Though the relationship is more comedic than in other series, Library Wars has an obvious OTP and is truly rooting for their eventual happiness.
Besides romance, Library Wars features many action scenes of the team working to protect patrons and books. Iku herself is a hard worker, the first to any scene. Her dedication to her job and unashamed love for praise makes her more brash than the traditional shojo heroine, but not less endearing. Action scenes in manga can sometimes get convoluted (I don’t care what anyone says, it’s not always clear what’s going on in the Sailor Moon manga series). Yumi’s artwork is crisp, making it easy to follow the line of action and the results. Her artwork is very traditional in style, another bonus for apprehensive readers.