Kokoro Toshokan, a small library, lies nestled in an unpopulated mountain far away from town. Three sisters, Iina, Aruto and Kokoro, call the library home and run it from day-to-day. Kokoro is just beginning her adventures at the library. Will she become a full-fledged librarian? Will the remote library ever attract readers? Kokoro tries her best to make her dreams come true at Kokoro Library, a place where miracles can happen.
Once more my passion for "oddness" rears its super-deformed head, this time bringing me a bemusing, yet slightly surreal, take on libraries.
Kokoro Toshokan originally began as a manga by Takagi Nobuyuki in 2001. The popularity of the series led to it quickly being adapted as a TV series direct by Masuanri Koji (Read or Die TV & OVA, Kamichu!), and the influence of both the mangaka and the director really stands out in the anime.
The story is about a library situated in the mountains. This is Kokoro Library, and it is run by three sisters - Iina (eldest), Aruto (middle), and Kokoro (youngest). The
two eldest sisters are fully qualified librarians, however Kokoro is still in training. The library is important to all three sisters as it was built by their parents shortly after a war destroyed the old city library, and whilst the sisters work hard to maintain it, it also doubles as their home.
Now viewers may find themselves a little bit bemused by the story in the first few episodes, as nothing major really happens. It's almost pure slice of life, however this may turn some people off the show. There are a few slightly surreal elements introduced into the series as it progresses, which gives the latter half of the show a slightly dream-like quality (something which was used to great effect a few years later in Aria), and it's these inclusions that add a certain refreshing quality to the show.
In addition to this, whilst the series is mainly episodic, the last few episodes do have a pretty decent plot, and explain some of the history of the library, and why it's considered important.
The art style is pretty good overall. The characters are designed to look like individuals, however I did wonder why the three sisters had to wear what look like maid uniforms, as it seemed a bit odd for a library uniform. The supporting characters are also well done, however there is a certain genericness to them, as well as to the sundry townsfolk. That said, there are some features of the character designs which could have been improved upon, however as the design follows that of the mangaka, I feel that this can be forgiven.
The backgrounds and scenery are very well done, giving the series a slightly quaint, rural feeling which belies some of the more strange story elements (androids for example). The timeframe used for the series seems to be that of the early to mid 20th century, and this is reflected in the clothing and transport used throughout the show.
The sound is very good throughout the series. The effects are pleasant, and add to the atmosphere of a given scene. The thematic music generally works very well within the boundaries of the series, often adding to the dream-like quality of the show, however there are some moments where the track choice may seem odd. The OP, a song called "Beagle", is a rather pleasant track that wouldn't be out of place in a theatre musical. The ED is pretty much the same, featuring a melodic, yet slightly off-kilter vibe (this was done on purpose though, and adds to the effect of the song).
The characters are pleasant, if nothing truly outstanding. I found all three sisters to have a certain amount of charm, as did several of the supporting characters. However, the series never really tries to develop its cast to any great degree, yet even with this factor Kokoro Toshokan is still enjoyable to watch (very much like Aria and Binchou-tan, although this series preceded both by a few years).
There will be people out there who dislike this sort of show, as they like their anime to have a strong story, excellent animation, well developed characters, lot's of T & A, fights, explosions, guns, people looking cool while eating crisps, etc, etc. Kokoro Toshokan is severaly lacking in most of that list (it does have guns and explosions at one point though), yet it is still a nice way to spend half an hour.
On the other hand, fans of Aria will probably like this show, as it has many of the elements that made Aria a joy to watch. As a slice of life show it works really well, pleasantly mixing various elements to produce a show that, whilst lacking certain "polished" qualities, is far more charming overall than many other series with bigger budgets and stronger casts.
It's worth giving it a try if you have a little time to spare.
Kokoro Library basically revolves around Kokoro who is named after the library she works in. Together with her two sisters, they work to maintain the library their parents left them even if hardly nobody ever comes there (since it's at the top of the mountain or something).
At first, I was bored by the series and was struggling to finish it. I'm glad I stuck through it until the end since the story progressed quite nicely as it went on. It may seem boring at first, but there is some humor in the episodes. Thing I didn't expect like obsessive sister love and robots kept popping
up and made me laugh.
In total, I recommend giving this series a try. Hopefully like me, you'll be surprised that you enjoyed this anime after watching it.
Now, well it's normally not within my forte to mention other reviews, I would like to point out that this anime is most definitely not bad enough to receive the lowest score possible. That person must have just had something against the genres this anime represents. If you read that review first, I highly suggest reading this as well before you decide to avoid this anime altogether.
Kokoro Toshokan follows the titular Kokoro as she has random adventures around her library. Thanks to my general loving of the Slice of Life genre, I very much enjoyed all of the relaxing tones that this anime offered me.
And, surprisingly, I'd even have the nerve to say the background music has potential to be in my favorite anime OSTs simply because it perfectly captures the essence of the genre it's categorized in. Comedy is also warm and innocent, but nothing too memorable with a few exceptions.
The most memorable episode of the entire anime is definitely the origin of the library which was very beautiful and a highlight in the anime for sure. If the rest of it was like that episode in terms of writing, I would have given it a much higher score for sure.
So, I think Kokoro Toshokan is certainly worth your time if you like the genre, as the soundtrack complements it very well and it definitely has potential to satisfy any fans of the Slice of Life genre. I can't possibly give it anything lower than above average since it is a very nice anime to watch and I could easily see myself giving it another look in the future just for when I decide to marathon some of my favorites.
I teared up surprisingly more than I expected to with the drama moments as well, so the anime is fitting of being in that genre as well, despite primarily being about the other two. I want to say it was for sure the soundtrack that made me feel so emotional, though I am definitely very sad that it's a very rare anime soundtrack to come across. I did search for it for hours, but came up with nothing. Would certainly love to learn the piano songs myself someday.
Extra Thoughts (CONTAINS SPOILERS)
Speaking of the score, although I believed this anime reached my standard quota, I had to shave off some of my score due to an unusually sexual scene present in the anime. For what it had given me in the first two episodes, it just came off as strange to witness.
In particular, and I am only spoiling this for those uncomfortable with the stuff and decided to mention it down here since it did not pace very well in the overall review, the third episode starts off Aruto sleeping, Kokoro coming to wake her up and being made out with.
It seemed innocent at first, since it felt like Aruto was just kissing her on the mouth due to dreaming of her lover or something and I expected it to end with Kokoro jumping back right after, but you hear moaning in it and it feels a bit unpleasant to watch since it goes on for a little while (with Kokoro not even resisting) before Iina steps in. And I don't mean the moan you hear when a girl is surprised, oh no. You actually do hear her moan for a while. And if anyone is even a bit familiar with how kissing in anime goes, you know that moaning means there's french kissing involved. Really, having to hear it for that long felt like it was meant to be in another anime. I'd say there was just enough going on where I'd even go so far as to say that anyone that watches Ecchi stuff may have actually been aroused by this.
The scene is actually kind of funny since it reveals to the audience that Iina follows the trope of being obsessed with her younger sister and it has a running gag I actually enjoyed throughout the episode, but for what seems like a mostly innocent anime to have such a sexual scene that has both yuri and incest in it comes off as too random and partially disturbing, even though the humor is still mildly fitting with the rest of the anime. I know it's also inadvertent on Aruto's end since she was sleeping, but still.
Oh, I also forgot to mention that after Iina stops Aruto, she too is made out with; again, moaning is heard for a bit, but it's not nearly as long as it was with Kokoro. Afterwards, she goes on to say it was an indirect kiss with Kokoro, clearly showing that she has a bit of a disturbed obsession with her. And throughout the anime after this scene, you can blatantly see it.
If you actually are uncomfortable with this stuff, though, and decided to take a peek down here anyway before watching the anime yourself, my suggestion is to skip to the 3:02 mark of the episode, assuming you are watching it right as the episode starts and there is no extra stuff at the beginning. The title card of the episode even shows up around here anyway, so it feels like the opening portion was more of an extra.
No, no, no... Cuteness and good background music is nowhere near enough to save an anime where meaninglessness is allowed to run amok to this extreme degree.
Many anime are slow paced, but in Kokoro library time almost stops. There is no story and no character drive (but I have to admit the actual library itself and its surroundings is a cousy place).
Edit: Was this show "comedy" classed? If there was any comedic ambitions with Kokoro library, the creators have another failure on their list.
Technically good, but character design is awful. The only one that looks even remotely good is the homophobic sister. The rest of
the cast is cursed with horrible haircuts, boring facial expressions and a wardrobe that makes your eyes bleed.
Backgrounds and the general feel of the library is nice, though. Seems like a cousy place, but I wouldn't go there until someone strangled the librarians.
OP/ED are uninteresting, bordering to bad, but background music is unusually good. Well composed and performed, it increases the cousy feel of the library.
Voice acting is average as far as I could tell. I was kind of preoccupied being irritated on the stupid things the characters said, so I didn't pay much attention to the accoustic qualities of those stupid things.
There is no story. Towards the end comes an explanation of part of the setting, but it doesn't justify all the stupid fillers up to that point.
The three librarians are cute, innocent (kinda) and stupid beyond repair. Almost nothing they do feels motivated or rational. They overreact, underreact and come up with one breathtakingly meaningless idea after another.