In the not-too-distant future, excessive censorship is no longer the domain of Mary Whitehouse and her ilk- instead, every piece of media is subject to it! Under these excessive restrictions, one group decides to fight back, ultimately becoming the Library Committee, complete with the power to preserve that which would otherwise be erased. Inspired by a heroic man who rescued her favourite fairytale from censorship, teenager Kasahara Iku decides to sign up to the Library forces without her parents’ knowledge and consent, and soon becomes embroiled in a mix of office politics and field combat that will test her to the limit.
A member of the fabled noitaminA block of legend, Toshokan Sensou somehow became a series that was fashionable across the blogworld- one that almost everyone seemed to find something to like about. Then, as now, I remained bemused- call me stupid for not ‘getting it’ (although do so at your peril), but I really couldn’t see much that made the series stand out.
The trouble with Toshokan Sensou is that it seems to be a series that wants to offer several different things- and quite frankly, it doesn’t do a particularly good job of any of them. First off, don’t expect to learn how and why this world of extreme censorship occurred; much as it pains me to mention such a vastly superior series in the same sentence, like Saikano, the focus isn’t on why the world is the way it is, but how the characters within react to it.
With that in mind, what we get are two different types of episode- lighter-hearted instalments in which our barely competent lead must deal with ‘comical’ situations such as dealing with an unexpected visit from her parents, and heavier episodes involving conflict over books and other media. Average and predictable as they are, the former segments are at least preferable in that they at least offer a semblance of entertainment; whenever it turns to the war between the library and the Media Committee, everything becomes dull, ponderous and faintly ridiculous. The conflict, such as it is, is one that owes as much to red tape and regulations as actual face-offs, with the Media Committee basically being those bullies in the playground who don’t care too much about following the rules but cry foul the instant someone else breaks them. The result is a situation where nothing makes much sense, or if it does, it’s just so uninteresting that you can’t be bothered to decipher it.
For many viewers, however, the allure of the series arose not from its setting and story, but from the characters- although once again, here I cared little for what was paraded before me. With a line-up that spanned the likes of the energetic yet largely incompetent Kasahara, her book-smart room-mate Shibasaki, the obligatory overachieving rival and of course the teacher and mentor whose pupil reminds him of himself, the series presents as bland and generic a group of people as you could hope to meet- none of whom seemed worthy of much in the way of care and attention. There’s little reason to care about them at the beginning of the series, let alone invest the time and effort needed to watch over them until the end.
Visually, Toshokan Sensou is a largely simplistic series; whilst there is certainly technical competence, everything from character designs to settings just looks bland and uninteresting. Similarly, background music is entirely forgettable.
Whilst it may have captivated others, for me, Toshokan Sensou was simply too mediocre to make much of an impression. A tale of bland characters alternating between light entertainment and ponderous seriousness, the series didn’t strike a chord no matter what it tried, and ultimately ended up in the one place it was suited for- the Recycle Bin.