Library Wars: Love and War, Vol. 2

The inception of Volume Two sees Ika training for the uber elite Library Task Force, a group for which she is one of only two people to be handpicked for the job. The other slot is occupied by Hikaru Tezuka, a handsome young perfectionist who seems all too aware of where his strengths lie.

As if constantly being shown up by Tezuka weren’t enough, Ika also gets to deal with his coarse opinions of her, which are topped off by Dojo’s oft scathing remarks on how she simply isn’t doing well enough. At least with Dojo, Ika has the odd, if not confusing benefit of understanding that his rough remarks come with an underlying sense of encouragement.

No worries, however, as Ika is served well–especially in the eyes of Tezuka–by her physical strengths combined with her ability to think ahead during intense and spontaneous situations.

The latter comes especially in handy as the library becomes the target of an MBC raid for the first time since Ika and Tezuka have become task force members.

Two different aspects of trust are presented, as task force members learn to rely on each other within dire circumstances; and again when it becomes apparent that not everyone employed by the library has the integrity of the mission at heart. Helping to make the difference throughout these tough situations are a few more characters that I’ve left previously unmentioned.

First is Ika’s roommate, Asako Shibizaki, a corporal training as a library clerk. Kind of a discreetly sexy librarian type, Shibizaki is an intelligent young woman who seems to know how to take advantage of the assumption that she’s “simply a clerk.” Flirtatious and blunt, Shibizaki is both a good friend and an intelligently stealthy attribute to the Library Forces.

Then there’s Ika’s other boss, Mikihisa Komaki. He may very well be my favorite of the bunch. In addition to being an awesome foil to the ultra-serious Dojo, Komaki provides readers a reliable cadence throughout the manga. Tezuka and Dojo are being jerks. Is it okay to laugh? Look for Komaki. Ika is having doubts about her abilities as a soldier! Is it all in her head? Look for Komaki. Want to see an attractive blonde male playfully riling Dojo’s feathers over his unspoken feelings for Ika? Look for Komaki. The man just does it all.

While on the topic of important secondary characters, I’ll also mention Major Ryusuke Genda. Captain of the Library Task Force, he’s a good-natured grizzly of a man. He’s got as much faith in Ika as one can have, and has been around long enough to remember when Dojo was essentially in her position. Which makes him interesting to me. While I’ve got nothing to indicate as much, I’m very  afraid for the well-being of this character. Considering that he’s this lovely, capable, enormous man who can also instill the fear of God into his soldiers, I just have a feeling that he’s going to be the one major tragedy that really pulls this team together. Let’s hope I’m wrong!

Moving away from the well fleshed out character development, Volume Two also brings a bit of ethical dilemma to the table.

With the capture of a young serial killer, we see blame geared toward violence in the media and a call for some measure of censorship. On top of that, the commander of the library base is asked to assist police by providing a record of the serial killer’s library records. Now, Commander Inamine, who lost his wife and right leg during what is considered to be the worst MBC raid ever, could easily be expected to sympathize with the notion of breaking protocol in order to help convict a proven killer. Alas, he refuses to aid the police, in doing so sets the stage for an unpopular public image for the library.

When he’s called into question for not doing the “right” thing, Inamine is quick to call the police out on their own actions, “So you’re implying that criminals don’t deserve to be protected by the law? That the rules ought to be compromised on a case-by-case basis? We have an obligation to uphold the law. The library is built on it. And as police, you certainly shouldn’t be trying to circumvent it.”

Indeed, the police’s request of the commander is in itself criminal, and readers are slapped with the concept that good intentions do not defend one’s actions.

Or do they?

I hope future volumes of Library Wars maintain this underlying theme of whether or not rules should ever be broken. An always relevant concept in any society, it’s a great way to gauge where our own beliefs lie, and a chance to assess how the world we live in functions.

It should be pretty good for the story, too.

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