Title: Library Wars: Love & War
Author: Kiiro Yumi (original story by Hiro Arikawa)
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 8 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2011 by Hakusensha, September 2012 by Viz Media
Genre: Romance, comedy, drama
The team is still reeling from Iku’s inquiry (there’s been some people within and outside the library trying to discredit the Library Forces, and they’re trying to pin Iku for something she didn’t do). Iku’s really been feeling the consequences of his false accusation, but is doing her very best to whether the withering stares, harsh gossip, and all out shunning from everyone around her. Fortunately, her team believes in her, as always, and is doing everything they can to help, though it isn’t much. Until Iku gets a phone call from a surprising source – Satoshi Tezuka, Tezuka’s older brother and leader of the “Future of the Library” political group. Satoshi has decided to use Iku to get to Tezuka, but when he fails to convince Iku that his methods – to relax the Library Law and make the libraries national institutions and fight censorship slowly from the inside – are the right way to go. He quickly blackmails Tezuka through Iku, telling her that all charges will be dropped against her if Tezuka will join him and his organization. Shocked by the revelation that Satoshi has been pulling the strings for some time, Iku struggles to reply until Dojo suddenly appears to whisk her away. Without the case’s only witness, the charges against Iku are dropped, and the traitors are uncovered, including the young man Shibazaki has been seeing. The romance aspect of the series go into overdrive when Satoshi sends Iku a letter and describes Dojo as her heroic prince. (The implication here is that Satoshi knows Dojo is the man from Iku’s past, but it’s not completely spelled out.) Iku completely freaks out, remembering some of the horrible things she has said and done to Dojo. Of course, she also remembers all the times she’s mentioned her prince in front of Dojo, and the rather negative ways he reacted, which instantly makes Iku think he hates her. Completely distraught, Iku seeks advice from Komaki who encourages her to see Dojo for who he truly is. A new problem arises at the library when Marie (the young hard of hearing girl who is friends with Komaki) is sexually molested by a serial molester inside the library. Not only has one of their friends been harmed, the incident is a mar on the library, so the team gets together to catch the pervert and bring him in…using Iku and Shibazaki as bait. Two bonus chapters touch on the growing friendship (and perhaps budding romance) between Shibazaki and Tezuka, who have been working together to uncover Satoshi’s plans.
Wow, the romance really does explode all over this volume, spewing shojo sparkles everywhere. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but for someone who has been bemoaning the lack of action and politics that could make this series really amazing, it’s a bit disappointing. Well, disappointing is the wrong word. It’s adorable and sweet, as it should be. But sometimes it’s like this manga isn’t quite sure what it wants to be. However, if the relationship between Iku and Dojo is what gets your heart going doki doki, you’re going to get a bit of what you’ve been waiting for in this volume. At least on Iku’s side. She becomes a sobbing confused mess, fretting at a glance, or a lack of a glance, from Dojo. Endearing in its way. Her emotions just kind of explode and she can’t handle it. Lots of tears, lots of blushing, lots of getting completely flustered where she used to bicker and throw a punch. Hopefully that’s not gone, since it’s a lot of the comedic relief for the series. Other developments center on Tezuka and Shibazaki, who are become fast, if unexpected, friends. They’ve been doing a lot of digging around together, trying to find Satoshi’s moles within the library and uncover the root of his plans, which has caused them to grow closer. Shibazaki tries so hard to be this tough, completely independent person, not relying on anyone, not sharing her burdens, so it’s nice to see a character like Tezuka who can see through her and knows when to reach out with just enough support to be there for her without interfering with who she is. The library pervert story is kind of just an excuse to dress Iku up so they can parade her around in front of Dojo a bit, but it’s still nice to see the gang working together again to protect what they believe in. Hopefully there will be more tension with the “Future of the Library” group soon, because that’s the heart of the series (or what I wish it was, perhaps) – protecting books and the rights of the people who want to read them.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.