Friday, February 20, 2015

Case Study No. 1856: The Library Defense Force

Library Wars Trailer (2013) HD - Subtitled
????? (Toshokan Sensou) is a live action film based on a Japanese light novel series by Hiro Arikawa. It was released on April 27, 2013.
Tags: Shinsuke Sato (Film Writer) Toshokan Senso Trailer (Website Category) Freedom Of Speech (Issue) Censorship (Issue)
Added: 1 year ago
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[scene opens with the young female recruit of the Library Defense Force speaking to a group of her superiors]
KASAHARA: [translated] I want to protect books from being confiscated ... just like he did.
[cut to a group of soldiers (wearing gas masks) firing their weapons inside of a library, striking both the bookshelves and the patrons]
NARRATOR: [translated] In a world robbed of the freedom to read books, the Library Defense Force was formed to protect that freedom.
[cut to a male officer talking to the recruits]
DOJO: [translated] We're not fighting for the sake of fighting ... We're fighting for Preservation.
[cut to scenes of the female recruit struggling in her training]
KASAHARA: [translated] That lousy commander! What a jerk ...
[cut to Kasahara laughing with another female recruit]
KASAHARA: [translated] More like a hobbit!
[she turns and sees the officer (who is shorter than her) staring at her with an angry look on his face, then cut to her talking with a male recruit]
TEZUKA: [translated] Picking a fight with the teacher, eh?
[cut to Kasahara and Tezuka (in civilian clothing) standing outside at night]
TEZUKA: [translated] Will you go out with me?
KASAHARA: [pause] Huh?!
[cut to Kasahara talking with another female recruit]
SHIBASAKI: [translated] You're better off with a friend who's interested in you instead of someone you don't know.
[cut several shots of Kasahara staring at her male officer, then to the two female recruits talking again]
SHIBASAKI: [translated] You really like Professor Dojo?
KASAHARA: [translated] So what if I do?
[cut to Kasahara arguing with Dojo]
KASAHARA: [translated] I want to become like the librarian that saved me when I was in high school.
[cut to a flashback of Kasahara (as a young girl) sitting on the floor of a library, as an older man in uniform pats her on the head, then back to her and Dojo]
DOJO: [translated] That guy isn't fit to be a librarian ... He shouldn't be someone you idolize.
[cut to a scene featuring a hostage situation, then to several members of the Library Defense Force preparing for battle]
GENDA: [translated] Just now, Commander Nishino has been taken hostage ... Kasahara is with them.
[cut to more scenes from the movie]
KASAHARA: [translated] How did the world get like this?
DOJO: [translated] Whenever she pushes herself this hard, I can't sit idly by!
KASAHARA: [translated] He's always yelling at me ... but to me, he's an ally of Justice.
[cut to more scenes from the movie]
KASAHARA: [translated] He always comes to save me.
DOJO: [translated] I'll be there no matter what.
NARRATOR: [translated] "Library Wars" ...



Movie: Library Wars
Romaji: Toshokan Senso
Director: Shinsuke Sato
Writer: Hiro Arikawa (light novel), Akiko Nogi
Producer: Kazuya Hamana, Tamako Tsujimoto
Cinematographer: Taro Kawazu
Release Date: April 27, 2013
Runtime: 128 min.
Genre: Action / Romance / Comedy
Distributor: Toho
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan


Set in the year 2019 in Japan. In order to crack down on free expression, a new law is passed, which allows for the government to create an armed force to find and destroy objectionable printed material. Meanwhile, to oppose this oppressive crackdown, the Library Force is created. The Library force, including instructor Atsushi Dojo (Junichi Okada) and Iku Kasahara (Nana Eikura), work to protect the libraries. A fierce battle then ensues between these two groups.


1. Based on the light novel "Toshokan Senso" by Hiro Arikawa (published February, 2006 by MediaWorks, Inc.).



Toshokan Senso (lit. "Library War") is a Japanese light novel series by Hiro Arikawa, with illustrations by Sukumo Adabana. There are four novels in the series, though only the first novel is called Toshokan Senso; the subsequent novels are named Toshokan Nairan, Toshokan Kiki, and Toshokan Kakumei. The novels were published by MediaWorks between February 2006 and November 2007. Two volumes of a spin-off series entitled Bessatsu Toshokan Senso (lit. Supplement: Library War) have also been published by ASCII Media Works. As of April 2008, the original four novels and volume one of the spin-off series have sold over 1.25 million copies in Japan. The story was inspired from the Statement on Intellectual Freedom in Libraries of the Japan Library Association.

A manga adaptation by Kiiro Yumi started serialization in the shojo manga magazine LaLa on September 24, 2007 published by Hakusensha; another manga adaptation by Yayoi Furudori started serialization in the shonen manga magazine Dengeki Daioh on November 21, 2007 published by ASCII Media Works. A twelve-episode anime adaptation by Production I.G aired on Fuji TV's Noitamina programming block between April and June 2008. Two Internet radio shows started in April 2008 meant to promote the series which are hosted by voice actors of the anime. An anime film produced by Production I.G was released on June 16, 2012. A live action film was released on April 27, 2013.

The premise of Toshokan Senso 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 MBA 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. In accordance with the Japanese era calendar scheme, 1989 in Toshokan Senso is rendered the first year of the fictional Seika era, rendering 2019 as Seika 31.

Iku Kasahara
Voiced in Anime: Marina Inoue
Played in Live Action Film: Nana Eikura
Iku Kasahara is the main character of Toshokan Senso; she is twenty-two-years-old and is initially ranked Library Clerk First Class, but is later promoted to Library Clerk Supervisor. She joined the Library Defense Force's Kanto Library Base 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. She holds this unknown person in high regard, thinking of him as her "prince", and she wants to be an "ally of justice" as he was for her. As such, she has a strong sense of justice when it comes to freedom of expression and is willing to put her life on the line for the books she has sworn to protect. When she enters into recruit training however, she finds it to be very challenging, especially since her drill instructor Atsushi Dojo seems to have singled her out for more attention and pushes her harder than most other recruits. In high school, she had been a member of the track and field team, so she has a lot of stamina and drive to continue with the Library Defense Force.

When the story begins, Kasahara is a sub-par recruit who constantly prone to making critical 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 she still finds it difficult to make a positive impression on Dojo, her superior officer. Later on, Kasahara finds out that Dojo, her superior, is actually her "prince" and she begins to warm up to him somewhat.

Atsushi Dojo
Voiced in Anime: Tomoaki Maeno
Played in Live Action Film: Junichi Okada
Atsushi Dojo is a twenty-six-year-old member of the Library Task Force and is ranked Librarian Second Class. He is 165 cm (5'5") tall, though is thought to be too short for Kasahara, despite her only being 5 cm (2") taller. He is very tough 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 realises 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.

Mikihisa Komaki
Voiced in Anime: Akira Ishida
Played in Live Action Film: Kei Tanaka
Mikihisa Komaki, like Dojo, is twenty-seven-years-old, is a member of the Library Task Force, and is ranked Librarian Second Class. 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.

Hikaru Tezuka
Voiced in Anime: Tatsuhisa Suzuki
Played in Live Action Film: Sota Fukushi
Hikaru Tezuka is a member of the Library Task Force and is initially ranked Library Clerk First Class, but is later promoted to Library Clerk Supervisor. He is drafted into the Library Task Force at the same time as Kasahara, though shows himself to be much more capable in terms of knowledge gained in lectures, clerical work in the base's library, and in typical combat. He finds it hard to give credit to Kasahara in the beginning since she is not up to what he considers to be the standards of a Library Task Force member, though he later recognizes her improvement. Due to a comment by Dojo that he could learn some things from her, Tezuka asked Kasahara if she would date him, though she later turns him down. He has an older brother named Satoshi Tezuka, who is a part of the government's Future of the Library Committee.

Asako Shibasaki
Voiced in Anime: Miyuki Sawashiro
Played in Live Action Film: Chiaki Kuriyama
Asako Shibasaki is in the Library Task Force and is initially ranked Library Clerk First Class, but is later promoted to Library Clerk Supervisor. She works as an intelligence specialist, and is very good at gathering information. She is Kasahara's roommate, and after Kasahara joins the task force, Shibasaki helps her study the catalogs in the base's library through a form of negative reinforcement involving giving her candy when she gave the wrong answers which leads her to break out in pimples. Shibasaki often tells Kasahara things she finds out in regards to Kasahara and her direct superiors such as Dojo or Genda. She tries to give Kasahara advice and cheer her up when she is sulking due to events most often brought on by Dojo, though in the beginning of the series, she has slight feelings for him.

Ryusuke Genda
Voiced in Anime: Kanji Suzumori
Played in Live Action Film: Jun Hashimoto
Ryusuke Genda is the forty-three-year-old captain of the Library Task Force and is ranked Supervising Librarian Third Class. It is partly due to him that Kasahara is drafted into the Task Force, since he is the captain and had the final say. He is very strong, and Kasahara even thinks he has enough brawn to take on a bear. He is a veteran field commander and possesses great politic acumen; on one operation he ensured the Media Betterment Act forces secured books and magazines the Library Defense Force already had copies of so that they do not leave empty handed and in disgrace. He is willing to take great risks to achieve objectives, such as purchasing a building for declared use as a future library only so that the Task Force could raid the premises in order to rescue Kasahara and Inamine when they are taken hostage.

Kazuichi Inamine
Voiced in Anime: Haruo Sato
Played in Live Action Film:
Kazuichi Inamine is the commander of the Library Defense Forces who is in direct charge of the Kanto Library Base and has been involved with the conflict between the Media Betterment Committee and the Library Defense Force since the beginning. Twenty years prior to the beginning of the story, a major conflict between the two factions, called "The Hino Nightmare," occurred at the library in Hino, Tokyo where a group siding with the Media Betterment Act raided the library. Inamine was caught in the middle of the conflict and lost his wife and his right leg because of it.



Library Wars, a new live action movie based on the anime and novel series of the same name, was released in theaters across Japan just over a week ago. It is everything from a war story to a light-hearted romantic comedy. But at its core, it remains an excellent social commentary on the dangers of censorship while still giving the viewer an engaging story.

Good – Fahrenheit 451 for a New Generation
Fahrenheit 451 is a 1953 novel that explores a society where books are outlawed and government censorship reigns. Library Wars presents a similar world, where after certain books become banned by the national government, local and regional governments created their own laws that allowed libraries the ability to protect any book, regardless of whether it was banned or not. After censorists begin attacking libraries and burning them, the libraries formed their own armies for the sake of protecting the books and knowledge within.

Set in this world, Library Wars is not only a social commentary on the dangers of censorship but also a personal story about a strong woman living life, hunting for love, and striving to find her place in the world. On the other hand, it is a war story brimming with action. In many ways, it is the perfect way to introduce the social issues in a way that will entertain both young and old, male and female alike.

Good – Positive Changes
In comparing the live action film to the anime, there more than a few changes—the worst of which involves the classic, cop turning in his badge and going rogue shtick. However, the rest are all for the better when making a two-hour adaptation of the story. To start with, there is far more action. Not only are the war scenes longer and more climactic, a hostage situation that ends within seconds in the manga is spun into a tense action scene that serves as the movie's climax.

The other major change is the "bad guy" of the story, which was little more than a mob in the anime, now has a face in the form of a terrorist leader responsible for the burning of a library, murder of civilians, and crippling of the Library Defense Force commander. The climax of the film becomes much more enjoyable as our heroes get to face down this villain and show what they are capable of on a more personal scale.

Good – The Perfect Cast
The most important thing when doing a live-action adaptation of an anime with well-known character designs is to make sure the actors match those designs. The female lead, Iku Kasahara (Eikura Nana), and the male lead, Atsushi Dojo (Okada Junichi), are particularly well cast. And despite being the same height in real life, the excellent direction always manages to accentuate a large height difference between the two (a plot point in the story).

The supporting cast is also quite well done with the characters being instantly recognizable to anyone who has watched the anime.

Bad – Military Issues
I understand that despite being at war, the censorists and Library Defense Force, don't really want to kill each other. After all, it looks bad in the press if either side is doing lots of killing. However, even I, a person who only knows about war through games and history books, know that when you have literal ranks of men approaching behind bullet shields, chucking a grenade or flashbang into their midst is going to do a hell of a lot more than shooting the shields with a sub machine gun. The lack of any kind of explosive in the war scenes is further accentuated when a flashbang is used near the end of the movie—making viewers wonder why they weren't used many times before.

More than that though, the battles are set up like trench warfare, where the enemies invade from barricade to barricade, pushing toward their objective. Of course, this is more than a little silly as all the defenses are set up to face the libraries’ main gates. But as we see numerous times that there are other, often unguarded entrances (not to mention the possibility of breaking down a wall), it makes both the censorist soldiers and the Defense Force seem laughably foolish—like two ranks of soldiers lining up to shoot at each other a la in the civil war.

Final Thoughts
Library Wars is a movie that manages the rare feat of being both deep and entertaining. On one hand, it addresses the implications and fallout of government-controlled censorship. On the other, it presents an entertaining movie filled with entertaining action, comedic moments, and deep characters. If you enjoy action movies, romantic comedies, or thought experiments centering around censorship, Library Wars will not disappoint.

Library Wars was released in Japanese theaters on April 27, 2013. There is currently no word on a Western release.

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