Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Case Study No. 0009: Iku Kasahara and the Kanto Library Defense Force

Toshokan Sensou - Strength in Adversity
Kasahara: Kage-Ichihashi

All other voices taken from the original video.

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[Kasahara Iku has been "ambushed" by a television news crew, in order to get her statement on the government's "Media Cleansing Force"]
TV REPORTER: Miss Kasahara, please give us a comment on the Cleansing Force's casualties.
KASAHARA: Wait a second ...
TV REPORTER: [sticks his microphone in her face, causing her to drop her book, which he then steps on]
[the scene changes to a view from the TV feed - with graphics reading "New Ichiban: Head on Interview! Close up on Kanto, Library Force, Task Force Member" - as Kasahara quickly bends down to retrieve her book]
KASAHARA: [angrily looks at the TV reporter]
[Kasahara suddenly remembers being told that "you must train yourself to always be calm and not overcome by your emotions"]
KASAHARA: [to herself] Not overcome by my emotions ...
[she composes herself and speaks directly to the camera]
KASAHARA: Allow me to make this clear. We also have a legal agenda called the Library Freedom Act. I was told that my superior officer was greatly influenced by this very book as a young boy. I too have many books that I cherish. Movies, television shows, art, music, manga, anime. Everything that allows humans to express themselves have made my life richer. Haven't you ever experienced that? I believe it is wrong for anyone to have the right to take away that freedom of expression.
TV REPORTER: [stunned] But even so, a law is a law.
KASAHARA: Outrageous indeed. If we must blindly follow unjust laws, without ever even questioning them, then why are we capable of expression?
[she takes out her badge]
KASAHARA: This emblem here is the Chamomile flower. It means "strength in adversity." Right now, the Library Force is going through a terrible storm, but we will never give in! We will protect the human's right to express!



"Toshokan Senso" (Season 1, Episode 12) - "Toshokan wa Dare ga Tame ni" (English transl. "The Library is for Who's Sake?")

Public criticism on the Library Defense Force, due to the massive "Media Betterment Act" casualties, begins to grow against the LDF until Kasahara is ambushed by a reporter. Kasahara tells the reporter that the people should not be oppressed due to the MBA and their pro-censorship activities. Due to this, public criticism against the LDF dies down and instead, support grows thanks to pro-LDF media and Tezuka's older brother works in the background to eliminate anti-LDF bias.



"Library War"

This is a classic high-concept show – it's Fahrenheit 451 with more guns. In the very near future (or perhaps just an alternate present), Japan's central government creates the "Media Cleansing Act," allowing for widespread censorship of books and magazines by Gestapo-style goons in foreboding uniforms. To oppose this, local governments counter with the "Library Freedom Act," and create their own paramilitary forces to protect their repositories of banned books and other media.

Essentially, then, this is about civil war in Japan over sleazy magazines and Catcher in the Rye. It's told from the viewpoint of a new recruit to the Kanto Library Force, Iku Kasahara, who's kind of like a very young Yomiko Readman with a very big chip on her shoulder.

The show's also like Read or Die in that it eventually gets around to the stretches of intense action, but it starts out with stretches of…intense bibliomania, for lack of a better description. Anyone who's ever worked or spent a lot of time in a library may get a kick out of those bits, like where Kasahara judos some greasy fanboy into submission before he can razor the swimsuit centerfold out of a weekly magazine. A few of the details are really funny, too, if you have the grounding to pick up on them – for instance, in this alternate world, public libraries still have gigantic banks of catalog cards. (Yes, to a professional librarian, that's funny.)

The Up Side: To get the obvious out of the way, yes, this show is completely ridiculous in concept. It's also sometimes an eensy bit ridiculous in execution – Kasahara is one of those characters who are earnest and serious nearly to the point of self-parody. (Imagine Noa from Patlabor or Tanabe from Planetes, except totally obsessed with defending Japan's reserves of banned children's literature.)

For the most part, though, the cast is believable and likable, which means that they carry the weird premise along with them. Kasahara has plenty of dependable character types to back her up – a gruff drill instructor with a hidden soft side, an astute friend and confidant to bounce ideas off of, a would-be perfectionist rival with a hidden weakness.

Library War looks good, too, even in an age when quality animation is the rule instead of the exception. The realism of the visuals is another thing that helps keep the show comparatively grounded. There aren't many bright colors here, or weird chunks of futuristic architecture, just ordinary people and things drawn with a great deal of fluidity and fidelity. The Library Forces wear plain old O.D. green military uniforms, for instance, which is the right choice in this context. If they were dressed up in colorful Gundam-looking sci-fi gear, it would just heighten the silliness beyond the point of no return.

The Down Side: If I may break down the fourth wall a bit, yours truly (David F. Smith, the guy writing these reviews) earned a master's degree in Library Science from the University of North Carolina 10 years ago. In other words, I like a lot of the scenes in Library War that the average viewer is probably going to find boring and pointless. I think it's hilarious when Kasahara struggles to master her library's classification system, fulfill interlibrary loan requests, and quickly retrieve books from the closed stacks for impatient patrons. Most people are likely to wonder when the show's going to get around to something with shooting in it.

The parts with the shooting in them are pretty good, on the whole, but they do leave a few questions about how violent this show wants to be. In the early going, at least, Library War is basically bloodless, despite the fact that the Media Cleansing Force and the Library Task Force throw an awful lot of automatic weapons fire at each other. That's only going to work for so long – G.I. Joe notwithstanding, the law of averages dictates that at some point in all the shooting, somebody's going to have to get shot. The series doesn't have to reach Fist of the North Star levels of carnage or anything, but it'll be interesting to see what degree of seriousness it eventually decides to settle at.



"Toshokan Senso" (English translation: "Library War") is a Japanese anime series directed by Takayuki Hamana and written by Takeshi Konuta, which had its premier April 11, 2008, on Fuji TV's Noitamina programming block. The show is based on a Japanese light novel series by Hiro Arikawa.

The background of the plot is based on the "Statement on Intellectual Freedom in Libraries" of the Japan Library Association that went into effect in the country in 1954 (amended in 1979), and the terms are a little different from the Freedom of the Library Law that appears in Toshokan Sensou.

The simplified declaration:

It is the most important responsibility of libraries to offer collected materials and library facilities to the people who have the Right to Know as one of their fundamental human rights. In order to fulfill their mission, libraries shall recognize the following matters as their proper duties, and shall put them into practice.

1. Libraries have freedom in collecting their materials.
2. Libraries secure the freedom of offering their materials.
3. Libraries guarantee the privacy of users.
4. Libraries oppose any type of censorship categorically.

When the freedom of libraries is imperiled, we librarians will work together and devote ourselves to secure the freedom.

In Toshokan Sensou, the fourth chapter of the Freedom of Library Law states:

30. Libraries have freedom in collecting their materials.
31. Libraries secure the freedom of offering their materials.
32. Libraries guarantee the privacy of users.
33. Libraries oppose any type of improper censorship categorically.
34. When the freedom of libraries is imperiled, we librarians will work together and devote ourselves to secure the freedom.

The details will be amended anytime according to the Media Betterment Act and its enforcement.

The premise involves the Japanese government passing the Media Betterment Act (MBA) as law in 1989 which allows the censorship of any media deemed to be potentially harmful to Japanese society by deploying agents in the Media Betterment Committee (MBC) with the mandate to go after individuals and organizations that are trying to exercise the act of conducting freedom of expression activities in the media. However, local governments opposed to the Media Betterment Act establishes armed anti-MBA defense force units to protect libraries from being raided by MBC agents under the Freedom of the Libraries Law. The conflict between MBC agents and library soldiers has continued to 2019, when the story begins.

Toshokan Senso follows the life of Iku Kasahara, a new recruit in the Kanto Library Base who joined in 2019 after being inspired by a high ranking Kanto Library Defense Force member who saved a book she wanted to buy that was targeted for censorship. After joining, however, she finds the pace to be very demanding, and that her drill instructor Atsushi Dojo seems to have it out for her by making it especially difficult for her. On multiple occasions, Kasahara shows herself to be reckless, particularly when she puts Dojo in danger by not securing a criminal in the base's library, and later getting involved with Media Betterment Committee agents despite not being a high enough ranked official; in both instances Dojo has to help her out of trouble. Despite these imperfections, Kasahara is enlisted into the base's Library Task Force, an elite group of soldiers who go through rigorous training in order to respond during difficult operations. This is partially due to Dojo realizing that he did not give Kasahara adequate training, so he gives his recommendation that she join the task force, of which he is a member, in order to correct this mistake on his part. Other recommendations come from the captain of the task force, Ryusuke Genda, and second class task force library officer Mikihisa Komaki who is the same rank as Dojo. Along with Kasahara, another new recruit named Hikaru Tezuka is also enlisted into the task force who is much more capable at the position than Kasahara. Kasahara continues to try her best in the face of difficult challenges while protecting the books she has sworn to protect.


The Library Team Defense Force (Toshotai Boebiu), or Library Defense Force (LDF), in Toshokan Sensou is a military organization in Japan which serves to defend against the Media Betterment Act (MBA) enforced by the Media Betterment Committee (MBC) and other pro-MBA independent factions. Different from the normal librarian department (gyomubu), which performs librarian positions like modern librarians, the LDF's main goal is to provide self-defense from the MBC during library raids, though their jurisdiction only extends so far as in the confines of library facilities in connection with the LDF, meaning they cannot extend their effort even into the city where an LDF base is located. However, there are provisions around this, such as in accordance with Library Law Article 30 regarding book collection in that LDF Library Officers or above can choose to buy any book they want, even books targeted for censorship by the MBC. The LDF has ten bases throughout Japan in ten regions of Japan: Hokkaido, Tokyo, Hokuriku, Chubu, Kanto, Kansai, Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. Each of the bases act under the provisions of the local government, and houses a public library where civilians can read and check out books.

The Library Defense Force has several branches which contribute to the organization as a whole. At the top is the Administrative Department where library administrators work doing daily administrative duties such as planning, organizing, staffing, budgeting, or directing. The Department of Defense works on defending against the Media Betterment Committee, and one section of the department consists of the Library Task Force, an elite group of soldiers who go through rigorous training in order to respond during difficult operations. At the Kanto Library Base, there are about fifty members in the task force. The Logistical Support Department works on stocking books and supplying the Department of Defense with military equipment, though does not get involved with general outsourcing. There is also a Human Resources Department in charge of human resources, and an intelligence agency. There are approximately 30,000 members in the Library Defense Force throughout Japan. The German Chamomile is used in the insignia of Library Officers and above because the flower was a favorite of the late wife of the Library Defense Force commander Kazuichi Inamine.


Supervising Librarian Special Class
Supervising Librarian First Class
Supervising Librarian Second Class
Supervising Librarian Third Class
Librarian First Class
Librarian Second Class
Librarian Third Class
Library Clerk Supervisor
Library Clerk First Class
Library Clerk Second Class
Library Clerk Third Class


Kasahara Iku (Private First-Class Librarian, 22 years old, Height 170 cm) - Voiced by Marina Inoue. Kasahara is a sub-par recruit who constantly makes fatal mistakes and is not as knowledgeable about the cause she is in the middle of compared to others around her, mostly due to her not paying attention in lectures on the base. Despite these apparent flaws, she is recruited into the base's Library Task Force, an elite group of soldiers who go through rigorous training in order to respond during difficult operations. While at first she starts out slow, she soon becomes capable of clerical tasks in regard to working in the base's library, though still finds it difficult to make a strong presence on Dojo, her superior officer.

Doujou Atsushi (member of Special Library Task Force, First Lieutenant Librarian, 27 years old, Height 165 cm) - Voiced by Tomoaki Maeno. He is very rough on Kasahara due to her not inspiring enough trust in him, and the fact that he believes he did not give her adequate recruit training. Part of the reason why he pushes Kasahara so much is that he sees his old self in her, and he is angry that she is bringing that back to him with such emotional force, despite him trying to forget about it. He later realizes that he hurt her just so he could protect his fragile self. He often worries about Kasahara and even defends her from comments from others.

Komaki Mikihisa (First Lieutenant Librarian, 27 years old, Height 175 cm) - Voiced by Akira Ishida. He is typically seen smiling or laughing at his coworkers, especially concerning the conversations between Kasahara and Dojo. He is also one of the instructors in the task force. He often gives advice to Dojo or Kasahara in regards to the relationship between them, whether it be on a personal or professional level. He is partly responsible to Kasahara being drafted into the task force.

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