Library Wars: Love & War, Volume 3 – Manga Review

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

Striking a blow against censorship, this library is heading for war.

While there are many things about Library Wars that makes it overly predictable and somewhat preachy, it does manage to make enough valid points that remind us of the many forces that conspire to take away our freedom to read material that might seem – to them – as objectionable. In Volume 3 of this series, Library Wars show us that even the youngest of citizens has the right to show their distaste for censorship.

Ok, I’m sorry if my opening remarks came off as predictable and preachy as well but this manga might not be so great in the romance department (so far) but it is great at making you think. As Iku Kasahara finds herself still standing strong against those who wish to censor books, she finds that the task can also be quite dangerous and – with her parents looking to pay her a visit – she fears said parents might be worried enough to pull her out of the Library Task Force.

First, however, she stands guard over a protest rally that has been organized by the PTA who is looking to pull a few questionable books from the shelves of every school library to protect the children. Suddenly, two figures step out to lob fireworks at the PTA organizers and run off with Iku and Tezuka chasing after them. What the pair discover is that the culprits are two grade school boys who did the deed to protest against the banning of their favorite books.

So begins Iku’s quest to help the boys protest this ban and make their opinions known during a Board of Education meeting that will include speeches. With the aid of the scary Major Genda lending a hand by also include his attractive reporter friend named Maki Sekiguchi who will cover the two kids’ speech during the meeting. As it turns out, they make excellent points that impresses everyone except for the head of the PTA who is a stubborn woman. I mean, kids have the right to form their own opinions about what they read but she doesn’t see it that way and does something that has Dojo – once again – rushing to shield her.

Despite this rather romantic moment, Dojo goes back to making Iku upset and this time the handsome instructor goes too far when he insults the man who inspired her to join the Library Task Force. In turn, Dojo feels upset that he’s not the man that Iku considers her “prince.” It’s very clear that Dojo wants to protect Iku and even more so now that Major Genda’s journalist friend printed a picture of Iku during the PTA meeting. What would Iku’s parents do if they saw the picture?

Meanwhile, word quickly spreads that the owner of the Museum of Information History in Odawara has passed away and the Library Task Force expects the MBC to send armed troops to collect that library’s many articles. The only to stop this from happening is to confront the MBC and secure all the library’s articles and take them back to the base. Dojo, surprisingly enough, keeps Iku off the roster that will be heading to Odawara and, instead, placing her on security detail to make sure nothing happens to Director Inamine. This decision, of course, doesn’t sit well with Iku who confronts Dojo only to be shocked by what he says.

As Tezuka joins Dojo and the others in Odawara, he comes to see real combat as the MBC decides to shoot first and take no prisoners. Members of the Library Task are shot and in the fight it is Dojo who begins to think about Iku. In the meantime, Iku finds herself rather glad she’s watching over the Director who thinks back on that black day that is now called The Hino Nightmare. Unfortunately, the operation doesn’t go smoothly and Iku finds herself in quite a predicament.

The volume ends in a cliffhanger and things are going to get more interesting and slightly more serious as a war is certain to break out between these two factions. To ease the tension of the main story, the volume includes two lighthearted bonus stories. The first story has Dojo discovering a book that Iku has wanted him to read and, in the second story, Iku finds Dojo shopping for cute stuff and decides to help him out.

Volume 3 of Library Wars changes gears to a more serious chapter in the series and things are definitely looking promising in the action department as the Library Task Force and the MBC are headed for war. Sure, the shoujo element of this manga is so too obvious but it’s the other stuff that makes this a worthy read. Here’s hoping the next volume will not disappoint.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: B+
During an organized protest rally headed by the PTA to censor books in school libraries, Iku and Tezuka detain two boys determined to go against the PTA and their book banning. They aid the boys in making their own protest against the organization itself. Meanwhile, the closing of an important museum will pit the Library Task Force against the MBC in a violent battle that Iku will not participate in thanks to Dojo leaving her out of the squad.

ART: B
Kiiro Yumi is certainly making Iku look a lot cuter with each volume and even more so with this volume. I mean, even the cover is cute.

OVERALL: B+
Taking a more serious tone as far as the main story is concerned, Volume 3 of Library Wars gets a lot more interesting while maintaining its pleasant comical nature. The volume also makes an excellent point about how censorship is perceived through the eyes of children as the battle to preserve literature not only gets heated but very violent.

Review copy provided by VIZ Media

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