Friday, September 10, 2010

Library Wars: Love & War Volume 2

By Kiiro Yumi, based on the novel by Hiro Arikawa. Released in Japan as "Toshokan Sensou: Love & War" by Hakusensha, serialization ongoing in the magazine LaLa. Released in North America by Viz.

Usually when I review a new volume of a series I've already covered, I go back and read my last couple of reviews to make sure I don't accidentally repeat myself. This was especially amusing for me as my review of Volume 1 of Love & War went on about how the series was not about the romance between Iku and Dojo, but about their futuristic world of censorship and military intrigue.

Ahahahaha. Sorry, I spoke too soon. Not that it's a bad thing. This is a great, light and easy read, filled with lots of blushing looks and people insisting that their love is merely tremendous respect. But yes, I had forgotten why this series was created. It's not to tell Library Wars all over again. One can assume fans of this series would be reading the light novels for that. It's to tell the story filtered through the pages of LaLa magazine, which also features vampire romance, reverse harems, Class Presidents dressed as Maids, and whatever Natsume's Book of Friends is. When you read a shoujo magazine, you want shoujo.

We do certainly get enough of it here. Not only is Iku dealing with the fact that Dojo seems to show a special interest in her, and why it makes her heart beat so fast, but now Tezuka, who was demanding Iku be discharged from the Library Forces only a chapter or so ago, is asking her out! What's a girl to do? Luckily, Iku is in the classic mold of Hakusensha heroines, which means that she's strong like an ox but idiotic in terms of love matters, so she doesn't really have to do much except get progressively more frustrated that she can't figure out what these guys want. She's perfect for Dojo, really, who is doing the exact same thing, insisting that he's only interested in her development as a soldier.

This is not to say that there is no political intrigue in this volume. In fact, I was surprised at how serious it got. Ripping stories from today's headlines (despite apparently taking place at least 30 years in the future), the government is up in arms about a serial killer being caught who had a number of 'questionable books' in his bedroom. Naturally, the evil books made him kill people, so it's time to ban them. Our heroes aren't having any of that, though. We get our first big raid with Iku on the job, and she performs exactly as you'd expect - disobeying orders and going off on her own, but saving the day. (If this weren't a fictional shoujo manga, she'd never have even made the squadron, but hey, I don't want realism in my Library Wars.) We also get to see their big boss, the head librarian, stand up to the police and insist on the privacy of their borrowers. The manga definitely takes a stand against censorship full force.

I also can't believe I haven't mentioned Asako, Iku's roommate, who spends this entire volume being amazing. She figures out who's been stealing library books, she works out that the giant raid is just a fakeout, *and* she tries hard to get Iku and Dojo closer together. Even for 'best friend of the heroine' characters, she goes above and beyond. And she's hot, too.

My favorite moment in the manga was one that combined the simmering romance with the intrigue, as Iku is enraged to discover that even among Library Forces, there are those who still think censoring 'the bad titles' is OK. She gets ready to go mouth off, but is stopped by Dojo, who once again reams her out for her uncontrollable temper. But then, continuing his growth from Volume 1, we see him note that her honesty and sense of justice are her strength. It's a great line, and exactly what she needed to hear. When these two get together as a couple, they'll be awesome.

Not that I expect that to happen anytime soon. The series is up to Volume 6 in Japan, and is still running monthly in LaLa. Assuming there is a romantic resolution, it probably won't happen till the final chapters. Still, this remains a great read, combining frustrating romance with nice action scenes. The heroine may annoy some readers, in that her temper and inability to do things a soldier has to do can rankle, but that's why she has Dojo there to make her shape up. Recommended.

1 comment:

  1. This review got me so excited to read the volume (which fortunately arrived soon after)! It's really a fun series :D Also, I can't help thinking there must be a rule about friends named Asako being awesome.