Library Wars: Love & War, Vol 15

Library Wars: Love & War Volume 15 by Kiiro Yumi and Hiro Arikawa

When I started reading this series, I admit I was drawn to it more due to the premise than the execution, because it is a rare thing for there to be a manga about librarians organized as a fighting force to combat censorship. But as the series continued to grow, the simple slowly developing romance between Kasahara and Dojo became more and more interesting, and the supporting characters began to be more multidimensional, causing Library Wars to be one of the most emotionally satisfying Shojo Beat series, even if it doesn’t have terribly flashy art.

There’s never really any question where this series will end up, and with the ending telegraphed from the start the focus is much more on how the characters all get a version of a happy ending. For a character that struggles with being competent, with her main advantage being on improvisation and action, Kasahara’s strategic thinking is the main focus of the final story as she ably plots a way for an author to defect and save himself from censorship. She’s all alone, and manages her mission capably, finally showing that she’s grown up and can take care of herself and others. It is fitting that the final romantic confession and resolution only happens after Kasahara has fully realized her true potential.

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The resolution is everything that fans of the series would have hoped for, and there are enough cameo appearances from the supporting cast that everything feels nicely wrapped up. Library Wars will always have a special place on my bookshelf not only for the awesome but slightly silly images of librarians fighting off censorship with automatic weapons, but also because the romance in the manga is genuinely heartwarming.

Library Wars: Love and War, Vol. 9

Library Wars: Love and War, Vol 9 by Kiiro Yumi

This manga is one of my go-to comfort reads. As a librarian, I am always happy to read about Library Wars‘s slight goofy premise of librarians becoming a paramilitary force to fight censorship, and while the development of the inevitable romance between overly tall rookie recruit Iku Kasahara and her intense, slightly short, and ever capable instructor Dojo might not be filled with much suspense, there are plenty of adorable and amusing moments along the way.

Iku now knows that Dojo is her fabled “Prince”, the long lost officer from her past who inspired her to join the Library Force. Dojo doesn’t yet know that she knows, but it is growing more and more difficult for the would-be couple to hide their feelings for each other. This volume is fairly episodic, but the stories do serve to push Iku and Dojo closer together. Iku takes part in a sting operation to catch a pervert that is preying on disabled women in the library, and Dojo isn’t very happy that she was placed in harm’s way even though she does manage to finish off the mission capably. Most of the volume centers around the skill test that Iku, Tezuka, and Shibazaki must pass to move up a level. Tezuka and Shibazaki don’t need to worry about passing the written part of the test, but Dojo volunteers to subject Iku to some merciless tutoring to make sure that she’ll be able to advance in her chosen profession. The skills test is where Iku will shine, because it involves leading a storytime for little kids. Tezuka has a bit of a child phobia, and he isn’t sure how to handle it. Iku seems incredibly casual about the situation but as she wanders around going on extra walks, she’s actually designing an incredibly successful active learning activity that ensures she’s going to pass the skill test with high marks. There are some great moments of awkwardness as Dojo apologizes to Iku for not having more faith in her, and she tries to give him a present in thanks for his help on the test.

In many ways, Library Wars is a standard sort of shoujo title, but Yumi’s art easily shifts between showing details of blushes and cartoonish negative emotions as the characters experience the agony of unexpressed love. The paramilitary library plotlines are amusing if one doesn’t think too hard about them, and Iku and Dojo are such a cute couple that I’d happily read many more volumes of the manga.

I didn’t realize that a live action movie adaptation was going to be released in Japan next month! Check out the trailer, what do you think?

Library Wars: Love and War Volume 8

Library Wars: Love and War Volume 8 by Kiiro Yumi

I knew that this volume was going to be dangerously adorable when I saw Iku and Dojo in an over-the-top romantic pose, complete with a ribbon in a heart shape proclaiming “Prince and Princess.” I’m always in favor of shoujo manga featuring prominent ribbons. Iku’s administrative woes are revealed to be caused by the machinations of Tezuka’s big brother – the evil library futurist. He asks for a meeting with Iku, hoping to win her to his side and use her to influence Tezuka. This meeting is where Iku’s so-called simplemindedness comes in handy, because she just flatly rejects him and his evil plans even when she has the opportunity to save herself from an administrative witch hunt. She says “If Tezuka learned that his big brother did something so shameful, he would be hurt. I mean how could I be so selfish? Tezuka is my friend.” Dojo shows up in a dress uniform halfway through the meeting and drags Iku away. What then follows is a totally cute scene where Dojo forces Iku to sit on a park bench because he can’t pat her head to praise her when she’s standing due to her high heels. Iku begins to ponder Dojo’s prince-like behavior, but when she gets a letter from Tezuka the Elder pointing making insinuations about Dojo and Iku’s princely ideals, she finally realizes that Dojo was the library officer who helped her save her favorite book from censorship when she was in school.

Iku spends the rest of the volume in full freakout mode as she attempts to process her own emotions and understand Dojo’s current feelings for her. There is a nice sideplot that shows Tezuka saving Shibazaki from unwanted male attention. It took eight volumes for Iku to finally realize her feelings for Dojo, but I have to say that as a fan of the series, it was worth the wait. There was much more focus on the emotions of the characters and their shifting relationships in this volume, as opposed to the usual library crime of the week. While I do enjoy all the paramilitary exercises about library books, I found this volume much more gripping than the past few volumes of Library Wars. It looks like this series is up to ten volumes in Japan, and I’m guessing it will get wrapped up in a little bit now that the central romance is finally starting to move forward. I’m looking forward to Dojo’s reaction once he knows that Iku knows he’s her prince.

Review copy provided by the publisher.