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Review: Library Wars: Love and War Volumes 5-9

It is the not too distant future, and libraries have armed themselves to protect books and other media from the federal government’s Media Betterment Committee. Iku Kasahara has settled into her job on the Library Task Force, but the MBC and other forces haven’t given up their battle to stop libraries from keeping speech, all speech, free.

Library Wars: Love and War Volume 5-9
By Kiiro Yumi; Original Concept by Hiro Arikawa
Older Teen
Viz Media, June 2011-April 2013; ISBN: Vol. 5: 9781421538440, Vol. 6: 9781421539775, Vol. 7: 9781421541235, Vol. 8: 9781421542683, Vol. 9: 9781421551586
280 pgs, $9.99 USD ea.

Library Wars: Love and War is an action/romance series that is based on a the light novel series Library Wars. Volumes 1-4 were previously reviewed here. Picking up from volume 5, Kasahara has survived a visit by her parents, but the MBC is back, this time targeting Sergeant Komaki. This story then leads into an arc involving the Future of the Library movement, who claims to want to end censorship but whose methods aren’t much better than the MBC.

After targeting the Library base directly, the MBC sets its sights on more individuals, as they accuse Komaki of abusing a disabled person. The person is question is Marie Nakazawa, a childhood friend of Komaki’s, who lost her hearing while in middle school. Now in high school, she has strong feelings for Komaki, who has been helping and supporting her. Komaki is physically tortured by the MBC who are trying to get a confession out of him. But when confronted by the LDF, and Marie herself, who turns the tables on them, calling them the abusers, he is set free.

A more insidious plot is set in motion after this that targets Kasahara. She is implicated in a book burning on the library grounds and has to undergo an inquiry. Here, psychological torture is used, as she must endure not only the accusations of the inquiry but also the isolation of her colleagues who judge her as guilty until proven innocent. This is the much harder of the two tortures to endure as a reader, as it is so obvious how unfairly Kasahara is being treated, which is only compounded when the reason why she is put through this is revealed.

These volumes feature less gun-toting action in favor of more character development. Now that we know the characters and what they are capable of, Yumi delves further into their backgrounds and romantic possibilities. Marie’s history with Komaki is revealed, and as a result of his interrogation, they grow closer as a couple. Tezuka’s background is finally revealed. His older brother, Satoshi, is the leader of the Future of the Library movement. Their goal is to make libraries a government institution and accept censorship with the idea that the road lost now would be made up later. Satoshi’s ideas tore Tezuka’s family apart, and it’s his determination to get Tezuka to join him that causes Kasahara so much grief. He gives up when neither Kasahara nor Tezuka will play ball with him, but he can’t leave with dropping one last bombshell on Kasahara. I think Kasahara is too nice in not telling Tezuka what his brother was up too, even though he already knew.

Some light is shed on Shibazaki’s past, explaining why she is the way she is, and that with Kasahara, how easy it would be for her to go back to her sheltered and distrustful ways. She and Tezuka team up to root out the Future of the Library agents within the Kanto base, and there may even the beginnings of a something between the two. Politics really takes the forefront in these volumes, often represented by the temporary Head Librarian. Toba, the temp that came in at the start of the series, is forced to resign when he sides with the MBC and allows them to take Komaki. The man who takes his place, Eto, is a supporter of the Future of the Library and uses intelligence and gaining respect to get what he wants. In the end, neither seem good for the Library in the long run.

My favorite episode in this run was the test Shibazaki, Tezuka and Kasahara had to take to get a promotion. It is in two parts, and the second part is a skills test. The candidates must keep a group of children entertained for an hour. Kasahara comes up with a game that really inspires them instead of just reading to the kids. Shibazaki is evil in the best way, while Tezuka stutters through a simple reading of Aesop’s Fables but is still able to pass. I really liked how this skills test showed that a library can be for more than just checking out books and research.

The two big issues in these volumes are book burning and abusive behavior. What I found surprising, and probably shouldn’t, is that anyone would think that giving a disabled person a story with a protagonist with the same disability is abuse. Having someone to identify with is often what people need, disabled or not. But being isolated as they often are, disabled people need this more. It’s really a reflection on the classmates and parents who reported it as abuse. They are the ones that find disabilities uncomfortable and having more pointed out as difficult to deal with. They should check if the person was bothered before filing a complaint. The book burning is just unacceptable no matter what the subject and is censorship of the worst kind.

Library Wars: Love and War continues to be a good balance of humor, romance and drama. While the characters have always been the focus, they become more so with these volumes. I continue to enjoy Yumi’s artwork, especially the way she portrays MBC goons. They are shown as faceless entities, minions of a larger group with no individual characteristics of their own. There are some nice nuanced moments between characters as well. With dystopian titles being popular, this is a great title to add to any YA bookshelf. The subject matter makes it more than appropriate to be spotlighted for Banned Book Week, or anytime censorship becomes an issue.

 

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Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!

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