I don’t often do lengthy book reviews, but I really wanted to do a post about the great Library Wars manga series because I can’t imagine a librarian not loving this series, and I want to get it on the shelf in as many libraries as possible! Just look at this scene-setting;
“The Library Freedom Act
Libraries have the freedom to acquire their collections.
Libraries have the freedom to circulate materials in their collections.
Libraries guarantee the privacy of their patrons
Libraries oppose any type of censorship
When libraries are imperilled, librarians will join together to secure their freedom.”
Seriously, is there any way in which that doesn’t rock as the setup for a manga series? How many librarians reading this would secretly love to have this as their philosophy/mission at work? Go on – admit it!
Library Wars (Love and War) is a Shojo manga series created from the plot of “Library Wars” – a Japanese novel series by Hiro Arikawa which I think hasn’t been translated into English. The manga have though, published in the last couple of years by super-manga-publisher Viz Media. The basic premises for the plot are the rules above, set up at the start of the first volume (kinda similar to Tsugumi Ohba’s Deathnote series.
The plot follows the progress of Iku Kasahara, who is a new recruit to the Library Defence Force. This is an elite group of people who act against the insiduous Media Betterment Committee, who are trying to remove library books they’ve deemed inappropriate. The series is a cute mix of friendships, adventures and beginning romance, set against a backdrop of a fight for freedom of information. Iku is a lovable power-chick character, super fit and adventurous, but sometimes liable to act without thinking, and she has an unpredictable love-hate relationship with Dojo, her brusque commanding officer (who I think is rather cute when he’s angry).
I have seen a couple of reviews comparing it to Fahrenheit 911, and it’s nothing like as complex (or grim) as that, but it has great potential for introducing the idea of censorship – I’m hoping to give it a go with my new Manga group at school this term. The series is also great for counteracting library stereotypes – maybe these don’t exist in Japan in the same way, but it’s still a breath of fresh air. Most of the characters are young and hip with great fashion sense, and those in the Library Defence Force are strong and athletic. Iku’s friend Asako, who works as a regular librarian, is more gentle and feminine, but savvy enough to quickly spot a library manager who’s up to no good. I’d love to work with a library team like this, (and/or wind up dating one of them 🙂 )
If you’ve never tried manga before, I highly recommend this as a way to dip your toe in the water. Just remember, read it (both pages and frames within pages) right-left, top-down. And find yourself going to buy the next volume as soon as you finish!
If you’re already a fan of this series, it would be great to hear from you in the comments below – I’d love to have some suggestions for the next manga series I should try… 🙂