Tatakau Shisho to Koisuru Bakudan (2009)

‘Tatakau Shisho to Koisuru Bakudan’ is the anime adaptation of a novel series by author Yamagat Ishio and artist Maeshima Shigeki and it ran from late 2009 till early 2010. Its English name is ‘Armed Librarians: The Book of Bantorra’. This is one hell of a show.

I was recommended this anime by a certain someone, who had suggested ‘Yumekui Merry’, after checking out its review. By the name alone, I was intrigued. Librarians? Armed librarians? Oh, boy.

Along with the name I was also giving a video snippet from the show. This, along with the fact that upon Googling I had discovered that the studio was David Productions (of JoJo fame), made me look forward to Tatakau Shisho all the more.

And, after the first few bumpy episodes, my expectations had been somewhat met. I say this because I had thought it would go to a certain place but, it went entirely somewhere else. Well, either way, the show was still great.

Synopsis from MyAnimeList: In a world where dead people turn into books and are stored in the Bantorra Library where anyone who reads a book can learn their past, Bantorra Library is maintained by Armed Librarians who wield psychic powers and their enemy is a religious society known as Sindeki Kyoudan (Shindeki Church).

One of the biggest reasons why I was so looking forward to Tatakau Shisho was because I had a rather similar idea stashed in my head from a long while back. It’s sort of exciting seeing something similar to what you cook up in your head take physical shape out in real life. Although, the overarching plot is almost entirely different, the fact that the deceased can turn into books and the whole 50s-ish (or 60s) setting handled the way only the Final Fantasy crews would, has stayed the same.

Leave alone explaining, even summarizing Tatakau Shisho is a painfully long and convoluted ordeal and I’d rather not deal with it. But, for the sake of this review, I’ll talk about the first few arcs in some detail and over-zealously praise the rest (lol).

The Bantorra Library and the Shindeki Church hate each other. The Library’s goal in the upholding of justice and collection and organization of books while the Church believes that humans should indulge in wanton sex, drink, and primal desires so that their lives can produce the greatest book possible for admission into/approval of Heaven. Basically, it’s a black and white scenario.

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An example. jk lol

But, the fact of the matter is that it is not what it seems.

Tatakau Shisho has no apparent good guys or bad ones until the very last few episodes. Almost everyone seems to be conspiring against others and keeping secrets. With numerous twists and constant heavy changing of perspective, the conflict between the characters and the plot points is kept fresh and interesting.

At many places before you reach episode 21 or so, you will be very confused as to what events are unfolding and what they mean in the bigger picture (if you manage to see the bigger picture at early game) of Tatakau Shisho. This may possibly prove irksome to many people who expected Armed Librarians to be only a B-rate action oriented show.

I myself found it quite taxing as I had to keep all the many different plot points and subtle hints in my head at all times so I could keep up with the course of the show. This isn’t a bad thing, though. It just goes to show how well detailed the world of Tatakau Shisho actually is.

Everything and everyone from episode 1 till the final episode 27 is connected to each other. Many things are brought back later in the show which disappear early from the show. It’s a good way of showing that there are things going on behind the scenes of what we’re seeing. This is great a example of good story-telling and world-building. Everything is important.

Speaking of important, it’s now time for the characters. The characters of Tatakau Shisho are given the same treatment as the story itself. There is no ‘main character’. Everyone, no matter how much of a background character they are, serves a purpose. You don’t know who is right nor wrong until the last few episodes.

Since there a lot of characters in this show, I’ll only talk about the few most interesting and relevant.

Hamyuts Meseta is the busty Acting Director of the Library. She has the usual crazy and lively woman personality prevalent in seinen stories. Volken Macmani is the dude who I thought was the MC until I realized there was no actual MC. His childish innocence and ideals are entertaining to look at. Mattalast is Hamyut’s boyfriend and right-hand man. Cool and always in a suit, this gunslinger is my favorite character. Enrique Bihilas (or however his last name is spelt) is the source of most of the twists in the show. Seeing his early story edginess turn towards that of hope and retribution is a delight. As are his interactions with the busty Armed Librarian-in-training, Noloty.

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Oh, Mattalast. What insight!

The last paragraph is just fraction of the varied cast of Tatakau Shisho and, believe me, they are all sort of unique in their own way – even if some of them may be one-dimensional.

The animation is pretty good. Sometimes gets rough during fight scenes which is off putting in Tatakau Shisho’s case because David Production’s signature bold outlines don’t work well with the roughening.

The soundtrack is nothing special. Background music is boring. Nothing memorable. The first Opening is sexy and cheesy. I like it! The second Ending is okay-ish, I guess.

Overall, it was as 7.5 out of 10 for me but one specific line in the last episode which made me grin like an idiot and brought the score up to an 8.5.

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This is the line.

As the net shows, you’ll either love or be mightily unimpressed by Tatakau Shisho.

Me? I loved it.

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