Jmovie: Library Wars

My first job was at my local library. I even worked in the college library during my undergraduate years. My first passion and obsession was reading. So the title definitely caught my eye while perusing movies online. This movie is based on a light novel series by Arikawa Hiro with illustrations by Adabana Sukumo. Later the novel series became a manga, then an anime, and then a live action movie series.

Interesting to note that the main basis behind this story is rooted in real life. The novel was inspired by the Statement on Intellectual Freedom in Libraries from the Japan Library Association. Some of the facts given in the series are directly taken from that and other parts are purely fiction.

This movie opens with an introduction to the Library Freedom Act:

  1. The library is free to collect materials.
  2. The library is free to circulate materials.
  3. The library guarantees the privacy of its patrons.
  4. The library can oppose improper censorship.

From there we see a group of terrorists infiltrate a library and open fire on its patrons and workers. They then put away the guns and bring out the flame throwers. From this destruction we are launched into a somewhat dull history lesson, but you need the lesson to understand the plot of the movie as a whole. We learn of a Media Improvement Act created in 1988 to restrict pornographic, violent, and discriminatory depictions which caused a huge debate on whether such an act violates freedom of speech and other basic rights. The Act does pass and a new era is ushered in known as “Seika”. We then see a montage of different news events that start with small censorship and move into a more full scale oppression by the Media Betterment Committee (MBC).

We are then introduce to our heroine in this montage. We learn that in 2004 the Library Defense Force was created in opposition to the MBC. Fast forward several years later and we have Kasahara Iku [Eikura Nana] during her high school years trying to buy a book, but the armed MBC come in and start pulling books off the shelve to destroy as they have been deemed “harmful.” Kasahara tries to hide her book, but she is caught and a struggle ensues. An LDF members steps in and saves both her and the book and he became her hero (aka Ouji-sama). Thanks to this incident, Kasahara desires to join the LDF and protect books just like her prince.library-wars-00001

In 2019, Kasahara joins the Kanto Library Branch in Tokyo. She is trained hard by Dojo Atsushi [V6 member Okada Junichi]. Due to her reasons for joining and her personality, Dojo does not find her a suitable member for LDF and is pushing her as hard as he can to make her give up with no luck. Instead he incites her temper and she constantly talks back to him. She’s a fast runner and good at martial arts and physical activities. She’s a horrible shot and hopeless when it comes to clerical work and you can see she doesn’t put in the full amount of effort that she should in some of her classes and duties. This makes wunderkind Tezuka Hikaru [Fukushi Sota] dislike her as well as he doesn’t think she’s qualified.library-wars-00002

On Kasahara’s side though are her roommate Shibasaki Asako [Kuriyama Chiaki] who works in the General Affairs department, branch head Nishina Iwao [Ishizaka Koji], Dojo’s right hand Komaki Mikihisa [Tanaka Kei], and LFD leader Kenta Ryusuke [Hashimoto Jun’’]. Nishina and Kenta allow Kasahara into a newly formed elite squad and she is the first female ever to be allowed on it. Of course, Dojo heads up the squad so neither of the two are happy and are always in conflict with one another.library-wars-00003

The first half of the movie is really exposition and introduction. We got the opening history and more and more is added to it. We learn that a very special person who has a private library is dying and his death could mean an all out war between libraries and the MBC. Also, we get a lot of Kasahara’s training and her interactions with both Dojo and Tezuka. We get to see Kasahara apprehend a man who was cutting dirty pictures out of magazines and fail to properly restrain him so she is nearly knifed, but is saved by Dojo. We also get to see her act against orders. On the way back from a training mission, she jumps out of the convoy to interfere with the MBC’s censorship of a bookstore. She might have not done such a thing if she did not see a little boy desperately trying to hold on to a book an MBC member was trying to confiscate. She rushes to save the day for that little boy like her Ouji-sama did for her. Despite his cold actions and his hazing, Dojo is quick to follow the girl and protect her.

library-wars-00004

It’s here that we learn Dojo is actually her Ouji-sama. Of course he’ll never reveal that, although Komaki constantly badgers him about it. Komaki really enjoys watching Kasahara and Dojo interact especially since he (and a few others) know that it was Dojo’s big error during Kasahara’s high school days that brought her to the LDF. This, of course, does make Dojo feel responsible for her life and her safety. So…that is one reason he’s really trying to boot her out.library-wars-00005

While all this has been going on, the media and MBC are in an uproar because horror novels were found in a convicted serial killer’s home. This leads the MBC to head to the Kanto Library to confiscate the horribly dangerous books. The library refuses to let them do so and also refuses to let them see the records for the killer who was also their patron. MBC gives notice they will attack and the LDF gives notice they will defend. Seems to be a more older form of battling. Let us announce what we do and then meet at the appropriate hour. It was funny.

During this raid, Tezuka and Kasahara are paired together as no solo missions. They are sent to guard the back door, but before they can get there something happens! Shibasaki was on her way to join library personnel and patrons in bomb shelters for protection when she sees MBC members sneaking in. They originally thought they were going after the archives in the basement, but they headed to the conference room where the library was preparing an event on the history of censorship. They collected all the books and were getting ready to run when Shibasaki risks her life to do a PA announcement. This sends Kasahara running and Tezuka following since he’s her “partner” for the moment.library-wars-00006

The two capture the MBC members and regain the stolen books. During this, Kasahara gets caught out in the open and gets shot at. This enrages Dojo since she could have gotten killed, but luckily he was there to save the day and right after a cease fire was called and the MBC prisoners were returned. Tezuka felt that Kasahara had changed with this mission and asks her to go out with him. Totally random. Totally. Shakes head. It didn’t make much sense to me. Of course Shibasaki lets this slip to Dojo who doesn’t seem to keen on the idea, lol. But it doesn’t matter since Kasahara only has her Ouji-sama in her heart. And she later declares to Dojo that until she finds Ouji-sama, she will aspire to follow Dojo and become and excellent LDF member just like him. Awww. Warm fuzzies!library-wars-00007

The next major happening comes with the death of Nobeyama Sohachi. His will left his private library to the Kanto Library. Of course MBC wants the collection as there is proof of evil deeds done in their organization. Dojo, Komaki, and Tezuka along with their team members will be holding the front lines while Kenta and others get the books packed up and airlifted to safety. They all know that the MBC will come and will have the upper hand with superior numbers and firepower. And where will Kasahara be? She’s assigned funeral detail to protect Nishina as he speaks at Nobeyama’s funeral. She’s unhappy, especially when Dojo said the decision was made because she’d be useless in action. Ouch.library-wars-00008

The day dawns and again we have the pleasantries of war. The MBC head arse instructs they will use force and that the LDF should give up. Of course the LDF announces their intent to defend and when the clock hits 12 all hell breaks loose. It is a losing battle for the LDF who are pushed back 3 times. If they lose the third line, they lose it all. Dojo and Kamaki are on the frontlines while Tezuka acts as a sniper. The problem with the LDF is they can only defend. They aren’t allowed to kill and warning shots must be fired at feet to deter their attackers. Like that works.library-wars-00009

While this battle is going on, the funeral is taken over by a private group that supports the censorship efforts of the MBC. They take both Nishina and Kasahara hostage. The MBC then uses the two to barter with the LDF. Kenta ceases the operation, but not before the LDF scored two of three huge storage containers filled with documents. Takeyama Kenji [Suzuki Kazuma] instructs them to burn the containers already received. Decisions, decisions! They allow the LDF to hear Kasahara’s voice and she gives away a clue to her and Nishina’s location that Shibasaki is quick to understand. Shibasaki tells the location and Dojo hands in his badge and rushes out to save the day. He’s joined by Komaki because no solo missions, right?

While the LDF says they won’t destroy the containers they did receive, Takeyama shoots Nishina in his good leg to prompt them. Kasahara takes the chance to lunge at the attacker, but she only gains the upper hand momentarily and is soon thrown and beaten. At this point, Nishina’s leg starts transmitting. The exact location is given to Dojo and the rest of the team arm themselves to go in. Dojo and Komaki manage to get in to Kasahara and Nishina. Komaki piggybacks the older man while Dojo covers the escape. Of course, Kasahara being Kasahara, she can’t leave Dojo behind—especially since he’s out gunned, so she runs back to help him. Of course you get the usual back and forth struggle and eventually a much battered Kasahara wins the fight over a gun. A beaten Dojo clings to Takeyama’s legs to stop him from attacking and Kasahara fires off three successful shots (I don’t think any are fatal as she seemed to hit his limbs and not his trunk).

With the main battle over (oh, more goons did come and it looked like our couple was in dire straits), in comes the cavalry. Oh, this next scene was priceless. Once everyone was safely outside, Dojo quickly squeezes Kasahara to him. He then chalks it off to being “like her father” in this situation. Snort. Riiight. Where have I heard something like this before? Shakes head. Provided a nice shot of humor, though.

Life goes back to normal for the time being. Back in the library, Dojo apologizes for what he said before the mission and pats her on the head. This sends Kasahara into a tailspin. She never clearly saw her Ouji-sama’s face, but he did pat her head and she believes she can recognize that hand. So when Dojo pats her head, the feeling clicks. No way! Is he really her prince? End of this movie.

A special was released in Fall of 2015 on TBS called Library Wars: Book of Memories which was gearing up for the final movie released in October, Library Wars: The Last Mission. I’ve watched this movie and the SP and am now eagerly awaiting the DVD release of The Last Mission.

While at times the plot was slow, there was also a lot of action and it did not feel dull. I really enjoyed the bickering interaction between Eikura’s Kasahara and Okada’s Dojo. How she could give it to him just as well as he did her…was awesome. I also seriously loved Komaki. I now want to see everything I possibly can with Tanaka Kei in it—that’s how much I loved his acting and the character in this movie.

The majority of the plot issues come with love lines. While I’m not convinced Tezuka ever liked Kasahara all that much, his confession was so flipping random. Friends…sure…automatic dating? Heck no! And they had that brief moment between Shibasaki and Dojo which hinted that she might like him and that was just weird as nothing more was done with that. I was a tad annoyed with Kasahara’s attitude sometimes. She insisted she joined because of what Ouji-sama did for her and that she wanted to protect people and books like he had…so if she really wanted to be this great defender of justice, why didn’t she try a bit harder in some classes and not get all bored and slack off? But…overall I didn’t mind her at all. While she was very girlish when it came to Ouji-sama, she really was a strong female lead and could totally kick butt! Always a welcome change from weak heroines who need men to save them.

And who can forget that despite the whole Ouji-sama thing, that at the heart of this movie, it’s really about freedom vs. censorship. How can one defining moment where a government tries to reduce certain materials turn into something so outrageous and corrupted? The book that our heroine fought with the MBC to protect was a fairy tale deemed bad because a dragon’s head was cut off. A bit gruesome yes…but really? Oh…and you should hear what happens in the SP. Craziness. Things escalate out of control. Even the newspapers don’t have freedom to publish the truth. Those that do quickly get confiscated and destroyed. Take away freedom of information, take away books…what is left? The younger generation will only know whitewashed versions of the truth. The quote from the beginning where they introduce the Library Freedom Act is very true:

We protect the books and freedom of the people for nations that destroy their books will eventually destroy their people.

Definitely check out this series when you get the chance.

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