Hein (fub) wrote,

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Finished series: Toshokan Senso

We've finished watching Toshokan Senso. My first episode review is here.

The premise of the series is pretty silly. The Japanese government signs a law into effect that brings into existence a censorship department (complete with vaguely nazi-like uniforms) that raid bookstores, libraries, art exhibitions etcetera, to suppress anything that is deemed to be 'harmful to society'. These thugs have armed task forces, too.
At the same time, another law is signed that allows libraries full authority over the information they possess (be it magazines, books, video, or even art sculptures). That means the censors can't touch the libraries. The libraries have armed task forces, too (though those wear simple combat coveralls -- it's clear where our sympathies should lie).
This leads to completely ridiculous, stylised firefights between the censors who want to, for instance, take away the collection of a library that is to be closed, while armed librarians hold them off while the collection is air-lifted away to another library for safe-keeping. And then, when the last container is off, everyone ceases firing, dusts themselves off and goes their merry way.
Sounds crazy, and it is. These two groups fire at each other with live ammo, but when someone gets wounded, everyone is shocked! But that doesn't mean that it isn't exciting or interesting.

The main character is Iku, a girl who starts to work as a librarian when she finishes highschool. She wants to join the armed forces -- when she was in highschool she once got into a scuffle with a censor over a book she wanted to buy, and an armed librarian 'saved' her. She wants to follow in that person's footsteps.
Through lots of training, she manages to become the first woman in the armed taskforce. However, the library isn't constantly under attack, so she has to work as a 'regular' librarian as well -- a task Iku's impulsive and high-adrenaline character isn't very well suited for. However, when the shit hits the fan, it is precisely that impulsiveness that both exasperates her superiors and often saves the day.
There's the plot about the library collection that has to be airlifted to safety. There's the rare book that has to be recovered at night, when the librarians are ambushed by the censors and have to improvise their way to safety. There's the abduction of the Library General by a pro-censorship faction. All quite exciting -- not because of the firing, but because of the tactics employed to ensure the safety of men and material in advance. Evasion, stealth and interception are often key to the battle.

But meantime there's the personal life of Iku as well. Her superiors (most notably Dojo, who of course turns out to be Iku's "prince") are frequently frustrated with Iku's inability to follow orders when the going gets tough. There's Iku's roommate Asako who is scarily well-informed. There's Iku's parents who must not find out she's in the armed task force -- otherwise they'd force her to return home!

That makes for a nice mix of low-key personal stories and grand battlefield heroics that stays interesting throughout the series.

Visually, the series is very nice. The character designs are quite varied and done in a very nice 'realistic' style. That gives the whole thing a 'real' feel as to what it would be like to live in a society where every piece of information can be supressed by the whim of a government agency. The voice acting is pretty good as well, though there's a lot of shouting to and fro (mostly between Dojo and Iku).

Good points:
- Just the right mix between personal and grand plots;
- Visuals that fit very well with the story;
- Shows the silliness of censorship.
Bad points:
- Very, very silly premise;
- As a viewer, you sometimes feel the same frustration at Iku's impulsiveness as Dojo...

All in all, a very good series that hits all the right notes. I'll give it an 8.
Tags: anime, full review

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