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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Manga Review: Library Wars GN 11

Library Wars volume 11
Author: Kiiro Yumi
Original Concept: Hiro Arikawa
Viz Manga/Shojo Beat
188 pages
Fighting censorship at her hometown art museum, Iku Kasahara and her fellow Library Forces team members are involved in a fierce skirmish in which several ranking officers are severely injured. The damage is far reaching, causing a rift in the Library Forces management that makes Iku question her place in the organization. In the midst of this controversy, Iku’s relationship with her direct supervisor, Dojo, grows more intimate when a long-discussed tea-date begins to sound more like a romantic liaison! (Source: Viz)
Dearest fellow Library Wars fanatics: run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore. Pick up a fresh copy of volume eleven of this series. Pay for it, for goodness' sake. Immediately sit down and read it. Don't even bother reading the book's back blurb, just crack it open as soon as possible and read. This is top notch Library Wars, a series at its peak, a perfect combination of action and drama, humor and romance, struggle and triumph.

In the eleventh volume of Library Wars, Iku and her colleagues fight to protect the controversial art currently on exhibit at the Mito Headquarters. Iku and Dojo are on the front lines, which Tezuka works from his position as a sniper alongside Shindo, working to divert some of the heat facing the front. Alongside the Mito forces, Iku will have to stay strong as she jumps into the hardest, bloodiest battle of her career so far.
When the fighting stops, the action continues. Even after the nine o'clock siren sounds, the risk of danger is high and several people end up risking their lives after the battle for the preservation of art. In the aftermath of the clash between library forces and government forces, Iku is left shaken, having experienced real combat for the first time. Luckily, Dojo is there for her to fall on - but are Dojo's feelings for his colleague becoming softer and gentler? Could Dojo and Iku be getting closer with every passing moment?
I'm keeping vague and spoiler free because the first half of this book is a roller-coaster ride of major series-changing events, and the second half covers all the fallout from these gigantic plot twists. I'd rather fans go into this book with as few spoilers as possible. Everything going on in this book is brilliant. All the various subplots in this series so far, from the Mito clash to Iku/Dojo and Tezuka's relationship with his brother as well as Shibazaki, are in play and they all run well together without becoming incoherent.
I should however warn that this volume of Library Wars is a lot bloodier than previous volumes. When Iku gets into the thick of things, it's when bullets are flying and bodies are being crushed. There's blood and violence and gunshots and wounds, and while it's not explicitly grotesque, it's a major shift in atmosphere from what came before it.
But it's a wonderful volume, with its own highs and lows, and is a true game changer in the course of this series. People come and go, relationships shift towards one end or another, characters grow in ways they never thought possible, and the world changes and gets a little wiser. Already, book eleven of Library Wars has become one of my top favorites of the entire series. It's a brave new world, and I can't wait to see where it takes Iku and company on the road to protect the libraries of Japan.

Viz Manga will be publishing the twelfth volume of Library Wars this September. It is already available for pre-order online.