Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Kiiro Yumi
Original Story: Hiro Arikawa
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shojo Beat Manga)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T+ (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
I wish our public library was this exciting.
What if the book you always wanted to read or that manga you’ve been dying to pick up was taken off the shelves because the government decided to label the work as indecent without even allowing anyone to form their own opinions on the subject matter? It’s not a far-fetched notion and one that made Hiro Arikawa’s series of novels of the same name such a fan favorite worthy of turning it into a manga. In Volume 2 of Library Wars: Love & War, the conflict against the government and those who protect books from censorship heats up.
Iku Kasahara finds herself on the Library Task Force under Team Dojo an in a position she has been hoping to become a part of ever since she was inspired by that unknown hero so long ago during a library raid. Of course, it hasn’t been easy for this tomboy seeing as Sergeant Dojo has quite a temper and her overachieving comrade, Hikaru Tezuka doesn’t seem to like her very much. Still, Iku is the kind of girl who doesn’t let things get her down for very long.
It’s a good thing she has somebody to unload all her frustrations in the form of her attractive roommate, Asako Shibazaki. When she begins to tell Asako about her latest gripes with Dojo, her sexy roommate tells her about some missing books that have been flagged by the Media Betterment Committee. Asako believes that the disappearance of these books might have something to do with the temporary Director of the Library Base who has taken over the post in the absence of the actual Director. Of course, they have to prove this first since the only clue they have is that this man leaves the office late.
So Iku and Asako begin their investigation and it isn’t until Asako finds a shopping bag with the missing that they involve the high-ranking task force members. A trap is set for the temporary Director but – in the meantime – an unusual moment occurs between Iku and Tezuka. Having often complained about Iku to his superiors, Tezuka’s request comes as a massive surprise to the cute tomboy. As word spreads, even Dojo doesn’t know what to make of this possibility. In fact, Dojo gets a surprise of his own from Asako.
As the girl finds herself in an awkward position that has her avoiding Tezuka, more immediate business has the Library Task Force on alert when armed agents of the MBC decide to raid the library. With no choice but to arm themselves, the Library Task Force moves into action. In the middle of the raid, however, Asako thinks the MBC forces are after the banned books that are upstairs so – defying orders – Iku and Tezuka go after the books. During the chase, Iku proves to Tezuka that he knows his partner’s weakness and has trust in his abilities to shoot.
The situation was certainly frightening for Iku who is saved – again – by Dojo who came to her aid when the MBC forces were searching for her and the lost books. So soon after that incident another one pops up, this time one that brings up the question: When is it Ok to take away a person’s rights? You see, a boy commits a horrible crime and his reading preferences comes under fire by the authorities. Insisting the Library Task Force release a list of the boy’s reading habits, Iku learns that the wheelchair-bound Commander – who is not going to give the authorities nothing – was the survivor of a terrifying incident where he was the only survivor.
With the Commander not wanting to back down because he believes that everyone – even a criminal – still has rights, a public and media frenzy begins. Iku believes in the laws created by the Library and stands with the Commander. She even confronts the press but things are definitely going to get ugly in the next volume. As far as the Iku-Tezuka relationship is concerned, I have to say that I was disappointed by the outcome. SO far, there’s no real mystery to the romance in this manga.
Volume 2 of Library Wars shows its true colors when it touches on the subject of censorship and the battle to preserve a citizen’s rights but still falls short on the romance department. In fact, the shoujo elements aren’t coming through as strongly and are even on the predictable side but – then again – it’s too early in the series and it might surprise us later. Still, the series is filled with plenty of great moments that keep this series intriguing and fun to read.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
When flagged books start going missing in the Kanto Library Base, Asako comes to the conclusion that the temporarily placed Director of the Library Base might be the one involved. In the middle of this problem, however, the Media Betterment Committee sends agents to raid the base. Meanwhile, Tezuka surprises Iku with a proposal and a crime puts the Library Forces on the spotlight when the police put pressure on them.
The art might not be very original or the kind that will knock your socks off but it does the job well with the comedic and action scenes standing out nicely.
As far as the shoujo elements are concerned, Volume 2 of Library Wars seems to be leading the romance down a predictable path but the rest will not fail to grab its readers and take them on a more interesting journey with a message about censorship. This is still a good read with a lot to offer.
Review copy provided by VIZ Media