Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Library Wars (manga) vol. 1-2

I've been reading a lot of manga lately because that is what the kids at my library are reading. How can I resist a manga about library employees fighting censorship?

Book: Library Wars: Love and War (volumes 1 and 2) by Kiiro Yumi and Hiro Arikawa
Vital Stats: Volumes 1 and 2 were published in June and September 2010 respectively with volume 3 due out in December 2010. All are around 200 pages in length, published by Viz.
Age Appropriateness: Rated by Viz as T+: For Older Teens
The Quick and the Short of It: Recommended with reservations

Book Synopsis:
In an alternate Japan, censorship is legal under the Media Betterment Act. In response libraries have militarized and formed the Library Defense Fore. (Side note, my library would be one thousand times more awesome if we had our own army.) After a childhood encounter where a member of the LDF saves her book, Iku is determined to join their ranks. She enrolls in librarian training and is the first female recruited into the defense force. There she has numerous run-ins with one of her instructors (Dojo) and a fellow recruit named Tezuka. She learns to work with them as they form a unit for both training and some real world missions. Of course there are the beginnings of some possible romantic intrigues (as you would expect in a book subtitled Love and Wars).

My Take:
I like Iku as a main character, she's a strong girl who cares about more than boys. (That's not as common as it should be in manga.) In fact when a guy expresses interest in her, she is very surprised and confused. She's more athletic than smart, but works hard to overcome it (once she realizes it is a problem). The series is simplistic in plot, a bit predictable, and I would have loved it when I was 12 that is f I had known what manga was when I was 12. It's going to appeal more to teens than adults, but it's going to appeal to people. It's fun, mostly lighthearted, and enjoyable.

Possible Issues/Christian Connection:
The T+ (or OT) rating for older teens can cover a variety of issues. So far, only through volume 2, I've not seen anything too egregious. There was one locker room/shower scene with some minor nudity (backs mostly). I'm worried that we might see more "fan service" wherein a manga creator (or manga-ka) includes nudity solely to make her fans happy. This could include two characters having a conversation in a shower/locker room that could easily happen in a cafeteria. No romantic relationships have formed yet (just hints and one date asked for) so I don't know how graphic or intimate those will get. And of course there is violence (the wars half of Love and Wars). They literally battle (guns, camo, the whole nine yards) over books. But the violence is sparse and not too graphic. I can recommend this to Christian teens with the caveat that I do not know what will develop in later volumes.

He holds victory in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.
-Proverbs 2:7-8


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