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.
Armed Librarians: The Book of Bantorra has had a very strong divide among opinions this past season. I have seen many people praise this show in the anime blogosphere, while forum activists on big sites such as ANN criticize it to death. I’m sure there are many people in the middle who just don’t know what to think or are uncertain to try it. I hope that my review will clear some of that uncertainty away.
Now here is something original. After a person dies, their memories turn into a stone tablet called a "book" that leaves their body to be
collected. When someone comes along and touches that person’s book, they can see vivid imagery of their past as if they were really there to witness it. These are very special books and must be kept safe at all costs, and that is what the Bantorra Library serves to do. A group of people known as the Armed Librarians guard these books with their lives using psychic powers.
This story is NOT linear with a one-track mind. Instead, it branches off into many intricate subplots. You will see the Armed Librarians tracking down stolen books, recruiting new members, having personal quarrels and drama, going on adventurous missions, and each character pursuing their own personal and hidden agenda. They also fight their common enemy known as the Sindeki Kyoudan, an enigmatic religious group that manipulates people against the library for its own reasons. There is much discussion about heaven and what it means to be a “true man” to enter such a place.
After a while, the story does not seem to have a clear focus. It hops around to many different issues, never staying on a single one for too long. Criticism has been heavily placed on this area because the story can get confusing fast. Often times you might be mislead to believe that main story will be about this or that particular thing. I actually like that, but it is required of you to pay close attention to the events to appreciate how they all come together near the end.
The last thing I will say about the story is that I love its unpredictability. This anime makes you think. Nothing is straightforward, and there seems to be a plot-twist within every subplot..and that’s a LOT of plot-twists. The story, so full of secrets, character betrayals, and philosophical questions, will take you for an entertaining ride.
There are 30+ characters listed under this anime, and you’re introduced to a whole lot at once. The characters shine just as magnificently as the story does; they each have very detailed backgrounds and different motives. It is not really clear on which people are the bad guys and the good guys. It is also not clear on which character is the main one that we should be focusing on. Everyone gets the same amount of attention.
I give much praise to the characters because a handful of them are refreshing and have strong personality. I had my doubts about how well they would turn out to be, but they took me by surprise. The characters are very dynamic, meaning that they change and develop internally. As the show steadily progresses, you’re constantly being introduced to someone new and exciting.
The character section on this page does a good job in describing each character and their psychic ability, so I recommend reading those if you want to know the specifics.
One of the first things I hear people say when they start watching this is that the characters look unappealing, and the CGI looks very out of place.
Either you love the character designs or you don’t. They appear more on the dark-outlined, shadowy side without much shine, but it's best if you take a look for yourself. Some of the female characters look a bit masculine also. Despite all this, I thought that the designs were okay.
If you are patient enough to get to the best fighting scenes in this anime, you won’t be disappointed. High production values were saved for these moments, and the CGI gets put to good use.
This is where your personal taste really comes in. I found the OST to be fantastic. As a fan of Ali Project, I liked the first OP theme called “Datengoku Sensen.” The background music is also enjoyable and consists of many low-key orchestral sounds that suit the suspenseful atmosphere.
Armed Librarians is an entertaining, action-packed anime that uses its large, developed cast to its advantage. The story may seem rather confusing and directionless at times, but it all pays off towards the end. I recommend this anime.
-Bantorra has very complicated story and is really serious with few funny moments. Sometimes its just hard to connect the story, but if you pay attention you will see that almost everything is properly explained. The end of the anime really pays off if you survived other arcs first.
-it is recommended that you watch it whole at once, if you can, if not, try not to make long hiatuses with this anime, cause it will be easier to remember some important stuff such as minor details that come in handy.
-As for the story itself, it has really unique ideas.
-The art was what
mostly made me to watch this. There are no chibi faces and moments and no big eyed shoujo girls with sparkles all around, thank god.
-it has pretty cool looking guys
-also cute and serious looking girls
-Animation can be weird in some moments, but in almost all scenes its well drawn and animated.
-has pretty colors and beautiful scenery as well.
-didnt impress me much though both openings were ok. There is well known Ali project ofc.
-The effect sounds were amazing though :D
-are the highlight of the series.
-they are various and deep
-anime provides background of the characters in arcs, and you get to know them better and their decisions :D
There are 5 main characters such as:
-Hamyuts "Hamy" Meseta-the acting director of the Armed Librarians, battle crazy "defeat me if you can" kind of a girl;
-Volken McMarney- has a strong sense of justice and kind personality ;
-Noloty Maruchie- is a straight-forward person who does not like to kill people;
-Mattalast Balory-known as a liar and one of the strongest librarians;
-Mirepoch Finder-cute but really strict person and in love over her head.
well better to say, it depends from person to person. In my case its 10 because i love serious stories and idea itself was pretty much awesome.
If you dont like serious stuff than it isnt for you, if you do though, i highly recommend it.
I highly recommend it to people who love deep stories and characters. The only thing i do mind is that story itself IS hard to follow and you MUST pay attention to every single detail. But itself is an anime which can move you, that is to make you smile or cry, filled with lot of action and with an original idea.
When it comes to settings of fictional pieces, Armed Librarians: the Book of Bantorra has certainly an interesting one: deceased people who turn into books, and librarians that keep those stored in the huge library of Bantorra. Although it has an intriguing story to show, its narrative is lackluster, never really knowing on what it wants to focus on. Don't get the wrong impression, it has some good story arcs alongside some endearing characters.
The anime focusses on the books as well as the armed librarians, people with psychic powers, tasked with retrieving and maintaining the huge archives. As it will, it is not that simple:
an organisation by the name of Sindeki Kyoudan thwarts the librarians because of opposing ideologies. The integrants of said organisation strive becoming the best and most valuable books by achieving maximum happiness, what basically boils down to doing whatever one pleases, including homicide. In essence, armed librarians exist to counter said party.
The whole anime is divided is several small arcs, ranging from background stories of the main cast, to people affected by the divide between the two powers. An example would be the "Meat", who are mindless humans turned into bombs. It shows audiences the various powers, the effects of books on the population, as well as exposing the reason of the library including some of the characters. However, when taking a closer look to the structure of the narrative, in addition to some of the arcs provided, it is quite messy.
First of all, some of the plots introduced are carefully executed, just to be resolved in a matter of episodes with arguably weak conclusions that do not live up to the quality of the build-up episode(s). Other problem is the sparse introduction of plot lines, just to be left aside to suddenly pop up again much later. A non linear narrative is not an issue on its own, yet when done with little to no coherence, it just leaves confusion in the viewer on the reason of such approach. Finally, the conclusion of the series is rather underwhelming, where it simply culminates into a cluster of battles with a rather poor explanation on the existence and reasons of some of the mysteries surrounding the lore of that world.
As for the characters of Armed Librarians, it is as a whole rather generic and uninteresting to the exception of a few, despite having a large cast of characters. The cast can be easily described by their personalities: the one blinded in self justice, a strict person, the incredibly person, a battle hungry killing machine, a lady-killer, you name it. The main problem is that most characters are either left unexplored or are too one-dimensional to feel any interest in them.
Naturally, there are some exceptions; for instance there is long hair Enrique whose struggle with his destiny as a "Meat" has interesting consequences to his character, as well as providing development as a person. Volken is another example, although it offers interesting points to the main plot, as a character he is wasted. Then there is the strongest librarian of all, the killing machine Hamyuts Meseta, who receives some fleshing out explaining her nature, albeit being a bit uninspired; but hey, it can be very entertaining watching a woman kick ass as she does, and that with a simple sling.
The animation was overall well executed with fluent battle scenes in addition to some great backgrounds. Character designs are not too generic providing a nice change to the usual ones, although in some occasions some discrepancies could be found when viewed from different angles. As for the soundtrack used, it is as whole matching with the anime, yet not outstanding. The same could be said about the voice actors, although in some cases they managed to convey ones personality in a great manner.
Armed Librarians: the Book of Bantorra was overall an enjoyable watch, with intriguing small arcs, where sadly the structure of the narrative as well as the somewhat aimlessly story were the main reasons for a lesser experience. It offered some interesting characters, alongside a nice setting. Although personally it is not a great anime, it surely is entertaining enough, and thus recommended to anyone with some spare time, and not swayed by the messy narrative.
A big breasted well tanned mature beauty wearing a half opened shirt posing in a quite lascivious manner with a pearl white grin on her face. Yeah, right, you watch this show because of the deep characters and the exciting and intelligent story, don't ya?
- The Story:
The Book of Bantorra features a whole new world full of superpowers and complex rules and organisations surrounding the endless battle for happiness and salvation at Heaven's door. And the best thing is: it does not tell you a thing. This show is NOT something you can just watch without paying attention. If you want to take a
dive into the Armed Librarians' world you have to stay focused and think about what you see. The anime gives you the puzzle, but it demands you to place it yourself. Doing that, Book of Bantorra, unlike Serial Experiments Lain or other complex works, never really leaves you in the dark, but gives you just the information you need to deduce for yourself. Every single story arc is presented in a very intriguing manner, introducing multilayered characters and creative scenarios, dealing with the dark secrets the world of Bantorra contains.
- The Atmosphere:
If you are willing to follow the show's lead, take all the info you get and try to figure out all the untold stuff, you will find yourself drawn in by the group called "The Armed Librarians" and its many interesting members. You will get to know characters who seemed unlikeable at first, understand their motives and soon you will get emotionally attached to them (although it really takes time in some cases). The tension that is created here is pretty high, because the show features a certain degree of realistic and merciless violence towards the show's characters. In most cases, death is abrupt and unpredictable, so you're always reminded of the fact that your heroes and heroines may be able to use super powers but are not immortal.
- The Design:
As I hinted at the beginning, some of the characters' designs are quite questionable. Looking at the show's main character, Hamyuts Meseta, I'd say her design may be quite deterrend for people looking for a serious anime instead of some breast bouncing ecchi show, because she NEVER buttons her shirt and there are more than a few shots on her decollete etc. BUT, despite having a body Shirley Yeager would be envious of, Hamyuts Meseta is a very intense character and her design (and those of other female characters here), which seems to originate from some puberty dream, only contrasts her complex character and history. As for the rest of the crew, there are some other strange costume designs like brash colored uniforms or medieval-esque fantasy magician coats, but, after watching a couple of episodes you will get used to the shows strange design style.
- The Final Conclusion:
There are many many popular anime series out there, scoring their 10/10 points every now and then, only containing a fraction of Tatakau Shisho: The Book of Bantorra's ingenuity and dramatic resourcefulness, deep characters and wonderful scenarios. This is one of the many very underrated and unfortunately unpopular anime series here on MAL, probably due to its complexity and challenging narration style which does not feed you chewed for cake.
I've been thinking a lot about how the show ended, because I had my problems with the way they did it. Don't want to spoiler anything, but I have to add that there are a few plot lines forgotten along the way, while the ending itself felt a little inappropriate in terms of style. That's why I'll downgrade Tatakau Shisho to 9/10.