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Library Wars (2013)
"Toshokan sensô" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  27 April 2013 (Japan)
6.0
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 240 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 11 critic

Set in the year 2019 in Japan. In order to crack down on free expression, a new law is passed, which allows for the government to create an armed force to find and destroy objectionable ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Jun'ichi Okada ...
Atsushi Dôjô
Nana Eikura ...
Iku Kasahara
...
Asako Shibasaki
Kei Tanaka ...
Mikihisa Komaki
Sôta Fukushi ...
Hikaru Tezuka
Kôji Ishizaka ...
Gen Nishina
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kazuyuki Aijima
Jun Hashimoto ...
Ryusuke Genda
Kiyoshi Kodama ...
(archive footage)
Tomoya Maeno ...
Akashi
Shuichiro Masuda
Ozuno Nakamura
Taiju Nemoto
Naomi Nishida ...
Maki Origuchi
Kyûsaku Shimada ...
(as Kyusaku Shimada)
Edit

Storyline

Set in the year 2019 in Japan. In order to crack down on free expression, a new law is passed, which allows for the government to create an armed force to find and destroy objectionable printed material. Meanwhile, to oppose this oppressive crackdown, the Library Force is created. The Library force, including instructor Atsushi Dojo and Iku Kasahara, work to protect the libraries. A fierce battle then ensues between these two groups. Written by anonymous

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Drama

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27 April 2013 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Library Wars  »

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2.35 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Cute action film / romantic comedy, but falls down on the anti-censorship message
30 July 2013 | by (Montreal, Canada) – See all my reviews

I saw this at Fantasia Festival here in Montreal. It was billed as a "warning cry against the excesses of censorship and a thrilling, high-powered action film." Well, it did a fairly decent job at the latter, but sort of fell down on the former.

I think Library Wars couldn't quite decide whether to be a light-hearted romantic comedy or an action movie with a cool urban backdrop. It attempted both, at times fairly well, interspersing shoot-em-up military action scenes and martial arts against a classic tale of a slightly inept heroine looking for her prince charming. There were plenty of funny moments in the romantic plot line, and the action sequences started slow but the pace picked up in the second half. So the movie, overall, was entertaining enough.

The thing is, entertaining doesn't necessarily mean smart. The whole premise of the movie didn't really stand up to much scrutiny. You had two ostensibly legal government forces fighting one another using military force, which was a bit of a head-scratcher. The dialogue and script were -- even allowing for a poor translation -- pretty cheesy. And for a movie supposedly set in a near-future in an alternate reality, there was next to no attention paid to world-building.

Most problematically, the movie claimed the turf of an important, highly relevant issue -- censorship -- and then relegated it to little more than a MacGuffin. After establishing the Library Defence Force as the good guys and the Media Betterment Committee as the bad guys, you basically have an old-fashioned western with white hats and black hats, and the issue they're fighting for is never explored or delved into in any way beyond that setup. They could have been fighting to protect anything and the plot would have been exactly the same. We never get the sense that books or the thoughts they contain matter to the storyline or to the message of the film.

Library Wars is based on a book, which I haven't read but can only assume spent more time developing some of these premises. As for the film, it was good for a few laughs, some charming (if exaggerated) comedic acting, and a few good action sequences. I could easily envision it being turned into a video game, with a female main character battling bad guys through library stacks.

But the film never quite rises to its subject matter. The issue of censorship has perhaps never been more topical, relevant or critical, and Library Wars doesn't really seem to have anything of importance to say about it, which is disappointing considering all that it could have been.


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