Library Wars, Love & War, Vol. 1-4
written by Kiiro Yumi
illustrated by Hiro Arikawa
Iku has always loved books, and now she has to fight for the right to read them. The government has put in strict new censorship rules, wanting to be rid of “offensive” books. In response, libraries set up their own armies, and the government and the libraries fight over the right for knowledge. Iku joins the Library Defense Force, which is something she’s wanted to do for a few years because she was so impressed when a soldier from the force protected her and a book she had. She refers to him as her prince…and, in shojo manga form, do you suppose her prince might be very nearby, and possibly someone she knows couldn’t be him? Hmm.
Iku knows that Instructor Dojo isn’t her prince…she can’t stand him. Well, sometimes. At other times, she seems to be falling for him. And even though he acts as if she’s a difficult recruit, the truth is that he admires her for her bravery and tenacity. Part of Library Wars concentrates on this romantic element, while other parts focus on its strong anti-censorship message. It shows how far people will go to censor works they don’t like…and how hard people will fight back in order to stay informed and be able to speak their minds.
There is a fantasy element to Library Wars, though there can be no doubt that there are countries with very strict censorship rules where people can’t read whatever they want. Library Wars celebrates a person’s right to learning, art and individuality. Things get so dangerous that people protecting the libraries can be killed, and at one point Iku is captured and used as a hostage. When a boy is found out to be a murderer and “offensive” books are discovered in his room, this gets the government all the more gung-ho about its idea that reading certain books can only lead to trouble.
Library Wars started out as a light novel series by Hiro Arikawa, who is credited as the creator. The manga, however, has been adapted and drawn by Kiiro Yumi. The whole Library Wars franchise — from the books to the manga to the anime — has been very successful in Japan. Its love of books and the availability of books ought to make it fun for bibliophiles and those concerned about censorship. Each volume also has an additional short story or two involving the main characters.