Sunday, October 18, 2009

First Impressions: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra

Yet another anime about librarians. Last time, it was Library War - a comedy about librarian armies fighting against a corrupt, totalitarian government. This time, it's about, yes, an army of librarians with psychic powers fighting against a hedonistic, totalitarian church. I’m trying to figure out what could be the attraction here.

I still don’t have any idea.

Blame the dismal anime lineup this season. But it’s probably more than that. I think I just like to live on the edge. And by that, I mean I like to choose anime that try to make entertainment out of the most boring concepts. I like to call it the “doomed ones.” Concepts that seem destined never to work, not even in fantasy land where animators live. Once in a while I do find a gem (i.e. Ergo Proxy, Real Drive) and maybe that’s what keeps me going. I don’t know. No matter.
EPISODE 01: A Bomb, A Book and a Sinking Ship
More Screencaps from Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra 01

OP: Datengoku Sensen (ALI PROJECT) [4shared] [YouTube]
ED: Light of Dawn (Annabel) [4shared] [YouTube]

Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra is about a group of -- well, the title pretty much speaks for itself -- fighting against an organization called the Shideki Church. Exactly why they are fighting is not clear from the first episode but I’m guessing it has something to do with basic human ethics (the Shideki Church is using human bombs) and the Armed Librarians’ self-appointed duty of protecting “books,” which are actually pieces of stone tablets, fossilized versions of the human soul. Oh and yeah, there’s the fact that the members of the Shideki Church believe that man and god are the same. Naturally this heresy does not rest well on the Armed Librarians so there’s that, too.The whole thing appears very political and convoluted but I’m sure the producers would come up with a simplified explanation for everything. Already, there are hints of an historical figure, who quite resembles Joan of Arc, except that she bears the ridiculous name of Yckulucu (I think it’s a kind of anagram for “Lucky Lucy”) and might be a bit of a pyromaniac. Her revelation seems to be an important plot point just as her enmity with Hamyuts Meseta (yet another absurd name), a powerful sorceress who is also the Acting Director of the Armed Librarians, could very well explain the latter‘s true goal. Speaking of which, considering Hamyuts’ position, it’s not surprising that the Shideki Church are specifically targeting her with their “human bombs.” One such human bomb is Colio Tonis, who incidentally carries a fragment of the book of Yckulucu.Other characters include Volken, the green-haired dude with a child star’s “entitlement” syndrome and Miropec Finedel, Volken’s blond girl Friday whose helmet-style bob reminds me a lot of one of the characters from Pumpkin Scissors and whose entire character design is a shout-out of Cate Blanchett's Irina Spalkov from the latest Indy movie. There are, of course, several other characters, majority of whom are women and majority of whom are, err, well-endowed. I don’t particularly like the character designs but I do like Miropec’s costume for no apparent reason.

Sorcery seems to be the name of the game as almost everyone has powers and fight scenes are mostly comprised of people zapping each other. No worries though because there are enough blood and flying severed limbs to keep people used to more graphic depictions (like moi) happy. Other than that, the action scenes are not spectacular in any way. I guess this anime will eschew action (strange move, considering its title) but will instead focus on the hopefully compelling plot.There seems to be a lot of CGI. I’m not too fond of CGI in anime, unless they are so cleverly blended into the background that you hardly ever notice them (i.e. Eden of the East). In Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra, the CGI animation doesn’t look too crisp or too clever either. Personally, I think the anime would look better without it.

Now for the music, the opening and closing themes are quite good. Not by any means great but by anime music standards, they more than do their jobs of catching attention and sustaining it for twenty-five minutes. The BGM, I didn’t like so much. There are some medieval tunes included, which sound quite out of place and simply awful. They sound like game music for pete’s sake.IN SUM --

I don’t really know what to make of this anime. I think I’m gonna keep on watching it for about two more episodes and only then will I decide whether or not to continue. In a phrase: it looks very touch-and-go at the moment and I’m never too sure whether or not the complicated plot will be able to hold its own.

Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra @ ANN
Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra @ Wikipedia
Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra Promo [YouTube]
Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra Trailer [YouTube]