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Library Wars ("Toshokan Senso")

Canadian Premiere
  • Japan
  • 2013
  • 128 mins
  • HD
  • Japanese
  • English (subtitles)
Hosted by Director Shinsuke Sato
Official Selection, Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival 2013

“Delivers engagingly over-the-top militarized mayhem, all in the good name of saving books… makes the most of the most incongruous of action concepts” – Mark Adams, SCREEN DAILY


“Where they burn books,” the German poet Heinrich Heine once wrote, “so too will they in the end burn human beings.” Since the 1980s, a rising movement to control, censor and even destroy books has swept Japan. These advocates of suppression and though control claim their efforts are for the protection of society. They link controversial publications to horrific crimes. But there is also resistance to their tyrannical ways. The Hino Massacre of 1999, a harrowing act of mass murder and destruction by agents of the anti-book movement, makes it clear that just as they have taken an aggressive, paramilitary approach to their crusade, so too must the bookworms and free thinkers. Thus is the Library Defense Force formed, trained — and armed.

It is now 2019, and a delicate balance of terror has been established. Neither the Media Betterment Committee nor the Library Defense Force has the upper hand. Young Iku is an enthusiastic reader, radicalized to defend books after being roughed up in a Betterment raid for refusing to surrender the book she loves. It was an anonymous officer of the Library Force who protected her, and she wants nothing more than to follow in his footsteps. But training in the Force is no easy task. In fact, it may be too tough for Iku, who seems to have earned the contempt of her commanding officer, the gruff and hard-driving Dojo. Can she meet Dojo’s high standards or will she become a fatal liability for her fellow book protectors?

A warning cry against the excesses of censorship and a thrilling, high-powered action film (the Japanese ministry of defense lent a hand in providing the convincing environment), LIBRARY WARS succeeds in injecting humour and romance into its intense, dystopian tale of conflict and conviction. The live-action adaptation of Hiro Arikawa’s popular 2006 novel is guided by the sure hand of director Shinsuke Sato (PRINCESS BLADE, the live-action GANTZ films), and watch for KILL BILL’s Chiaki Kuriyama in an important supporting role. Watch these WARS and you’ll likely never see librarians as mild-mannered wimps again!

Fantasia 2013 - Library Wars from Fantasia Film Festival on Vimeo.

— Rupert Bottenberg