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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Manga Review: Library Wars GN 8

Library Wars volume 8
Authors: Kiiro Yumi, Hiro Arikawa
Viz Media/Shojo Beat
200 pages
The Media Betterment Committee’s inquiry into Iku’s role in the so-called book burning continues, and an evil conspiracy comes to light. Someone on the team is deliberately manipulating Iku, and even her attraction to Dojo becomes fodder for the fight! Will Iku ever understand Dojo’s feelings for her? (Source: Goodreads)
Spoiler warning: This review contains spoilers for the eighth volume of Library Wars, as well as events in the series leading up to it. Please read on with caution!
I love this series so very much, and I think volume eight is the best volume of the series so far. It is, without a doubt, absolutely brilliant. But before I start fawning over its every minor and major quality, let me tell you why: it's explosive. It's jammed packed with plotty stuff and emotional drama and Iku/Dojo material galore. Plus, it's a very character-driven book; fans of folks like Shibazaki and Tezuka will not be disappointed.

This volume brings a conclusion of sorts to the story arc on Iku's inquiry and Tezuka's brother with the "Future of the Library" group. I say 'of sorts' because I refuse to believe that Satoshi will leave these folks alone any time soon, even after striking out with converting Iku to his side. He is too tenacious for that. I also hope that somehow, Satoshi and Tezuka may one day come together and become true brothers again. If that means Satoshi abandons his library group, all the better.
One of the biggest stars of this volume is Tezuka. His character shines in a way that he hasn't been able to in previous installments, especially now that his family is the center of attention thanks to Satoshi. Now that the audience can see more of his family life and learn more of his past, Tezuka becomes more developed as a character and someone who is more relatable. He's still aloof and arrogant, but his shell has significantly cracked; he is a much more approachable person compared to the Tezuka who first joined the Library Forces.
Another surprising highlight of volume eight is Tezuka's developing relationship with Shibazaki, who shook up the established narrative by dropping Asahina like a rock. Of course, considering what he did and the hell his actions put Iku through, Shibazaki had every reason to break up with Asahina. In Asahina's absence steps in Tezuka as Shibazaki's confidant and unusual friend. It's hinted in one of the bonus stories that Tezuka could be Shibazaki's personal 'prince'. Romantic or not, I can't help but cheer for their relationship and hope they stay friends for the rest of the series.
The biggest bombshell event of this volume, without a doubt, is the letter Satoshi sends to Iku and the consequences of it. Mainly, the fact that Iku has now realized that her prince and her Commander Dojo are one and the same person. This revelation floors her physically and emotionally, and it's not hard to see why. She has always idolized and looked up to her prince from afar, believing him to be out there somewhere waiting for her. Never would she guess that her own commander would end up being the same bookstore prince who inspired her to join the Library Forces in the first place.
Naturally, Iku deals with this in her own special hysterical way, concluding with an accidental full body flip of Dojo while on duty. Whoops. Love hurts, it really does. At least the series doesn't try to laugh off this event or Iku's feelings in general, which is always a plus. I wish Dojo had heard Iku in the hospital room, but it probably wasn't time for him to hear all of that anyway. He doesn't deal well with other people's emotions, or even his own. Dojo's stoicism plays off well against Iku's regular chaotic emotional state, but sometimes it's better if one of them is unconscious.
The volume ends with a brand-new story arc that actually seems terribly typical on its surface: a pervert lurking around the libraries. However, one of his victims has been Marie - so Komaki is now on the warpath in order to take this creep down. Whatever volume nine brings, I'm sure it will involve copious amounts of Marie/Komaki and Iku/Dojo (and maybe, if the series goes in this direction, Tezuka/Shibazaki). I look forward to it very much!
The ninth volume of Library Wars: Love & War will be available in English on April 2, 2013.