So I was bored as hell, and figured that I must be criminally behind in my anime consumption. Well off to anime freak I go, a few clicks, some ambush ad pop-ups I had to fight through, and some multiple choice genre search… military. Quickly reminded why I don’t often search military, most anime military are heavily mechanized (bi-pedals are inherently unstable, I can’t see any sane financier budgeting billions on giant military mechs), overly romantic, or magical; I just want plain ol’ fashion blood guts and gore, is that too much to ask? Le dramatic sigh, Kantai Collection is a fun watch, but that pantime Strike Witches was such a let down… scroll scroll scroll…
The concept is nearly ten years old (how the eber liben hell’d I miss this???), starting out as light novels. Quickly got turned into a manga, followed by a twelve episode season anime. A few years ago, it got turned into a movie, shortly followed up by a live action movie.
It’s set in the “near” future, the Japanese government passed a bill called the “Media Betterment Act”. The act itself began as a method to censor what gets published, but the publishers being the cagey bastards that they are, used the ambiguity of the act to sneak around it. So the “Media Betterment Committee” (MBC) was created in order to confiscate books considered a “bad influence”, and they proceeded to begin a book burning campaign. Many members of the MBC were shoehorned into service by honor of family; some truly believe the brass do know whats best for the public.
Once books started burning, the librarians who held “freedom of expression” (still part of the constitution) dear to their hearts, got bent out of shape of the wholesale sacrilege. Libraries became battlegrounds as librarians took up arms against the MBC to protect the books under their care. This culminated into what is referred to as “The Nightmare of Hino.” The library was burned to the ground, and several people died, many innocents.
As a result, a wounded man who lost his wife to the battle got a counter-act passed and established the “Library Defense Force.” It was now an official war, with strict rules of engagement. Libraries and museums are official battlegrounds. Bookstore engagements are often settled by highest rank, as civilian locations are no-fire zones, and harmed bystanders are cause for mountains of paperwork and public apologies. LDF’s have the power buy questionable books, right out of the hands of MBC’s if they so choose, but they still have to get those books to the library for full protection, so unless the book in question is rare, new, or the library in question doesn’t yet have copies already, the LDF often let confiscated books go in the name of public peace.
Enter one high school girl, tall and awkward, who just got her hands on the final chapter of her favorite fairy tale. At that moment the MBC arrive on a routine inspection, and books start hitting the crate, her treasured book is among those destined for the incinerator. With all the will of a high school girl against supreme authority, she stubbornly refuses to let the book go, risking harm and jail (for “theft”). Then a member of the LDF encounters the debacle, and with a confident flip of his ID, he settles the matter, and the MBC leave, for now. The scene is imprinted on the girl’s memory, and her hero is henceforth referred to as, “My Prince Charming.”
Cut a few years into the future, and Iku Kasahara has entered Kanto’s LDF training program, determined to become the first woman in the “Library Task Force”, an elite troop charged with carrying out dangerous missions regarding acquisitions. Her large stature gives her a much needed edge, allowing her to keep up with the men in her training group. The other women who enter the LDF often take a different track, favoring information and public affairs. Kasahara is emotional, but dedicated, thrilling at adventure, aggressive in nature, and… somewhat obtuse. Her physique and dedication manage to keep her in the program, but she struggles to achieve the minimum requirements for the rest.
Despite the allusion of rank, and career path, ALL LDF’s are librarians. “Librarian” is no longer simply a person who cares for books in some quiet building; military training aside, they have become a skilled career to rival any known trade. These “indoor duties” are the bane of Kasahara, and her instructor appears to use her physical training as a means of punishment, as according to her roommate he has high hopes for her. Her biggest hurdle though, is not any of the choices she’s made, but rather, the conservative and overprotective parents she was born to, or more to the point, her manipulatively crying mother.
Asako Shibasaki – the aforementioned roommate – excels at intelligence and presentation, and does what she can to help with Kasahara’s shortcomings. As any good intelligence agent, she quickly builds herself a group of invisible contacts, and becomes crucial to Kasahara’s (and the library in general) longevity.
Along the way, during a mission gone array, Kasahara is hiding with good natured but wounded senior officer, Mikihisa Komaki. The mission was simple enough, acquire a book, and get it back to base. However, the book in question is colloquially known as “The Book of Prophecy”, written some sixty years previous, much like Orwell’s “1984”, the book is about an information war, and the protagonist is a member of something similar to the MBC. Komaki makes a statement to Kasahara, “If we were observed by people whose world has no Media Enhancement Act, or library Freedom Act, we would’ve looked absolutely ridiculous.”
Enter one suave well to do politician, and older brother of a new LDF recruit. There had been a family fall out, and he is now something of a pariah. He disdains the LDF’s method, but regardless, he is most assuredly anti-censorship, and has started a group of his own, with the express purpose of bringing down the Media Enhancement Act by peaceable means.
Five hours plus a movie later, I was tearfully saddened that it was over, but fret not, it wasn’t left hanging; there was closure. Sigh… a gritty realistic civil war story always makes me cry.
Hey… young punks, over here, shh, listen… this could be the basis for a good independent flick huh huh, shhhh.