Thursday, May 29, 2014

Reader's Diary #1125- Kiiro Yumi, translated by Kinami Watabi: Library Wars 1/ Love and War

Though it says right there in the top left hand corner of the cover, I had forgotten what shojo manga was; a term I first heard when I read (and didn't enjoy) Natsuki Takaya's Fruits Basket. It was aimed at teenage girls. D'oh!

Not that I haven't enjoyed the occasional book aimed at this demographic before, but it may have been the problem here. I've been wanting to read it ever since a blogging friend and coordinator of the Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge, Nicola, brought the series to my attention with her positive reviews. Plus it's about libraries and supposedly about a library organization that saves books from government censorship and confiscation: things I'm passionate about. The original novel series it was based on, by Hiro Arikawa, was supposedly inspired by the Japan Library Association's Statement on Intellectual Freedom in Libraries. That's not something you typically see aimed at teens of any gender.

Unfortunately the story seemed way too preoccupied with a love story for my taste. Not that I'm opposed to love stories, but it wasn't what I was led to believe would be the focus of the book, nor is it a particularly interesting love story. The book follows Iku Kasahara, a young woman who joins the library Library Defense Force; a dream she's had since she was younger and a LDF soldier had protected  a book of hers that was about to be confiscated. However, there's a whole lot of tension between Iku and her dojo (instructor), that is so clearly and predictably romantic tension, that what could have been a book with strong philosophies about censorship and with political overtones, turns into an annoying Who's The Boss? episode. It certainly doesn't help that Iku is a bit of an airhead.

I wonder how the target demographic feels about this and if the sequels get any better.


Nikki in Niagara said...

I can't believe you read this! LOL Yes it most certainly is shojo! Compared to other shojo, the romance angle is very light, if you can believe that?! That's one of the reasons I'm liking it. Haha. The plot, in and of itself, is pretty heavy duty for a shojo, but, yeah, no the series never turns philosophical. There are some good scenes of the librarians in soldier mode battling the ,uh, Media Betterment Committee (I think it's called). The latest volume was surprisingly bloody. I like the idea behind it all but the further the series goes on the more it is about the characters and romance and I have to say I've become entangled in the romance of Iku and Dojo. I believe I have actually used the word "Squeee" in one of my reviews of further volumes :-0

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Who's the Boss? Ouch!

John Mutford said...

Nicola: You had me at "library." Actually, I would even have been okay, even if not as excited, to read about a love story set in a library. I just think it wasn't presented as if that would be the focus, and it wasn't a particularly unique love story. Still, I suppose I can see that they might grow on you after a few volumes. Not sure if I'll make it there though. But if I do, and if I ever utter "Squeee!" you'll be the first to know ;)

Barbara: And without Alyssa Milano.