Library Wars Volume 2
The plot in Library Wars might not be the most serious, and the art might not be the best out of all the shoujo series that I’m currently reading but this manga about a militarized task force of librarians seems tailor made for me. In the second volume Iku struggles with her relationship with new recruit Tezuka, whose excellence at academics and marksmanship cause him to look down at his bumbling female classmate. Iku’s roommate Shibasaki figures out that there might be a mole in the library corps. Iku’s team comes together in an attempt to foil the evil temporary head librarian. Dojo continues to act hot and cold, throwing himself over Iku to prevent some shelving from falling on her, then flicking her in the face after he tends to her wounds. When the Media Betterment Committee executes a raid on library corps headquarters, Iku’s quick tactical thinking and physical courage cause her to finally win Tezuka’s respect and he asks her out. She isn’t sure what to do.
One of the things I find amusing about Library Wars is the more intelligent members of the supporting cast are all aware that Iku and Dojo are in love with each other, even if the hapless future couple are determined not to confront their feelings. Shibasaki runs to Dojo with the news that Tezuka has asked out Iku and mockingly proposes herself as his replacement girlfriend. Dojo tells her “I don’t think I can take the competition. There are going to be a lot of jealous men.” Dojo doesn’t try to prevent the recruits from going out, but he warns Tezuka that if he goes out with Iku, he better take it seriously. Iku and Dojo continue to grow closer, and when Iku finally answers Tezuka it is clear that the two trainees are much better off as friends.
Library Wars Volume 3
This volume puts romance aside to focus on censorship, specifically the very common “Think of the children!” type of censorship that often results in book challenges at school libraries. Not surprisingly, children aren’t happy about having their access to their favorite series limited, and a pair of boys touches off an incident when they try to set off fireworks at a pro-censorship rally. Dojo sends Kasahara to grab the perps, and her super speed results in their capture, much to Tezuka’s dismay. Kasahara ends up bonding with her two juvenile delinquents when they reveal that their favorite series is going to be censored. She yells “It’s a great series! Why would they do that?” Dojo quickly warns “Don’t conspire with suspects!” After being lectured by the frightening Major Genda, the boys decide that they’ll fight censorship with research, designing a survey and compiling the responses from the other kids. The kids’ book censorship problem ends up getting solved in an unsubtle way, but I still enjoyed the way the library corps members worked together in an attempt to solve the problem
Dojo confronts Iku over her habit of romanticizing her mysterious library corps prince who helped her when she was a child and her favorite book was about to be censored. Dojo says “If he hadn’t mislead you by overstepping his authority, perhaps you would have better respect for the rules.” Still not realizing Dojo is talking about himself, Iku fires back “If it had been you in that bookstore, I wouldn’t be where I am today!” Iku’s life is complicated further when a reporter wants to profile her, and her parents announce that they are going to come for a visit.
Since everyone but Iku and Dojo know that the couple is going to end up together, there isn’t a whole lot of suspense in Library Wars: Love and War. In some ways, the lack of suspense translates into a cozy and stress-free read. It is easy to see where the plot is going, but I enjoy the characters and the militarized library setting so much the shortcomings of this series don’t bother me at all. I tend to read Library Wars for the scattered moments when Iku and Dojo seem like they’re getting close to an emotional breakthrough, and the fighting scenes as librarians battle censorship are a bonus.
I do hope that Iku comes into her own soon though. It seems to me that she lacks the life experience to leverage her gifts to her advantage. Dojo says to Iku at the end of the second volume “Your honesty and sense of justice, they’ll become your strength in the future.” I think that Iku’s quick reflexes and tendency to leap into action have been hindering her so far, but for someone who appears to be not very intelligent about alphabetizing books, she has some soldier’s instincts that can’t be taught. So far Dojo and Iku have been locked into a mentor/mentee relationship, so I hope they’re able to function more as equal partners by the end of the series.
Review copy of volume 3 provided by the publisher.