Posted by psgels on 2 April 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra




Without a doubt my favourite show during the past Winter Season. Armed Librarians was always interesting to watch, it always brought nice ideas to the table, and it always was wrapped in a tight script. There are just so many thing to like about this series.

For a fantasy series, the premise already stands out with its simple idea to turn people into ‘books’ after they die: these books can be read by anyone who touches them, and the lead characters are basically bookkeepers of these books (so yeah, the term ‘librarians’ in this series has very much a double meaning). The idea an sich is already very creative, but the beauty really lies in how the series makes use of those books to weave past and present into one.

Every arc is basically laid out with a number of seemingly unrelated plot-threads, that get woven into one brilliantly. Past and present cross each other in the explanation of the ties between the different characters in each arc as we learn about why the central characters became involved with the plot in the first place. Each arc really takes care to make its characters complete and even the character-development is very well thought out within the plot. Conclusions are often very clever combinations of circumstances of everyone’s unique circumstances.

And this just goes on for the entire series. Every arc continues to throw interesting plot twists that are full of creativity like it’s nothing! This comes at a price, of course. While this series really has had the best plot I have watched in YEARS, the characters don’t feel exactly like characters, but instead are much more part of the plot. Because of this, you don’t want to watch this sereis for realistic or characterization. The reason the characters rock in this series is because of what they represent, and how their development ties into the rest of the series.

Then there’s also the matter that this show would have fit better within 35 episodes. Throughout the majority of this series, you won’t notice much of it, however the final arcs are clearly rushed, and you can visibly see that the creators have troubles fitting everything into such a short time spam. Nevertheless, whem compared to so many series that were put into the same situation, it really got away with its rushed ending. While cheesy, it always stays true to what it is, and ands with a huge bang that gives it its best shot to resolve the plot as good as possible.

So overall, Armed Librarians has been an utter delight to watch for me. If you’re looking for an exciting fantasy adventure then it’s an excellent recommendation. The production values by David Production get increasingly better after its first episode, and its soundtrack is truly epic and fits its setting perfectly. It’s been a consistently fun an entertaining ride for me, and I hope it will be for you as well.

Storytelling: 10/10 – One of the best plots I watched in years. So many plot threads weaved together.
Characters: 9/10 – Excllent and imaginative development, but no character is realistic.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Awesome soundtrack, animation that may not be the most accurate, but continues to keep the balls in the air for the rest of the series.
Setting: 9/10 – A highly imaginative world that combines many, many interesting concepts into one. Also is the first fantasy I have seen to actually have democracies.

Suggestions
– Vision of Escaflowne
Hi no Tori
Pandoa Hearts

28 Responses

  1. Avatar Kei says:

    this series has a great plot with interesting concept on ‘books’. the characters from different arcs do not seem to be related to each other but when put together, what an awesome finale! a must-watch :)

  2. Avatar Topspin says:

    It’s a shame so few people followed this one. It was one of my favorites of the past year as well, and it was nowhere near as cheesy as something like Railgun or BakaTest (but people will still defend those crappy shows to the death).

    David deserve an award for trying so hard with this one, because it takes a lot of cheese and turns it into an really interesting show. It doesn’t feel like anything really comes out of left field either, except for the wild premise-establishment episodes early on in the anime.

  3. Avatar PL says:

    I think A1 studios and David Productions are the next generation of great anime…

  4. Avatar tomtom says:

    This series was spectacular but imho a bit too far-fetched overall.
    Mostly commenting to say that I really like the new feature of giving suggestions for older animes, based on current series/ reviews.

  5. Avatar Zoberraz says:

    Personally, I couldn’t stomach the female antagonist and became so disgusted with it that I stopped watching beyond episode 7, I think.

    While this blog’s author and I seem to share many likes, this wasn’t one of them. I never really could relate with his impressions. ^_^;

  6. Avatar nandaka tarinai says:

    Sadly, the one thing you can count on with almost all “fate of the world” series is that the ending falls short of the buildup. Bantorra is no exception here.

    I felt bad for all the people Ruruta ate who weren’t Hamyuts’ personal aquaintances, lol. I guess the few modern day librarians were so much more awesome/powerful than all the other folks accumulated over 2000 years… It’s also nice that the people of the world basically got mind-controlled into saving it, heh… I could go on, but like I said, falling short in the end is pertty much expected.

    I’m a bit surprised I could never really get into Hamyuts, although I tend to like characters like that. Perhaps a different seiyuu would have done the trick; Paku Romi isn’t a bad actress, but she lacked that certain je ne sais quoi for me here.

  7. Avatar theone says:

    You know, I Just had a though, if neeniu never met ruruta, he probably would have saved the world and That would have been the end of it lol

    So that whole thing where Neeniu didnt want to forgive rurta. . .the whole thing was her fking fault! 
    LoL.

  8. Avatar Machi says:

    Meh I’ve given my praise throughout the series already. I do wish the production company opts to do some OVA’s of the chapters they didn’t animate, alas if only it were possible.

    Moving on, I guess the real gripe with this series falls under 2 things (not mentioned much here). Which is that one yes the plotting is intricate but at times it does as tomtom says it can get farfetched. While I love detailing to connect things at times it did go to the point that its almost like a magician pulling a rabbit from his hat to connect things. Which is both good and bad, good for the obvious reasons stated numerous times. Bad because it does feel overworked. I think Kaiba succeeded better at connecting small details to reveal plot points better because it left the realizations to its audiences, especially after episode 8 and you opt to re-watch the past episodes. In this show the details would never be realized by the audience at all until the show contrives to bring it to life. Don’t get me wrong the show did a good job bringing it to life but I do think it put too much work there, I don’t necessarily think this is a fault of the production company but the source itself.

    Second, fault well the cheese but I’d like to argue with this one. In the end I think with this fault you’d actually have to propose your own definition of cheese. Sure we have what we’d call characteristics of it present, dead coming back to fight side by side & whole speech on love and courage to save the world. Yes we have those but those that necessarily = cheese? Sure the definition is subjective but to a degree there should be commonality with what can be agreed upon as elements of it. Such as considering it kitsch, as it goes over the top with the emotions and adrenaline. But still was the things at the end necessarily tasteless? Really you’ll have to lay down your terms as to what cheesy so as to start pounding on this point. Even then I’d argue that such “cheese”, whatever it may be, would only be more pronounced or rather present with the finale arc so its not as if it defined the series. The the overworking for small details certainly is present in all the arcs, some more seemless the others more apparent.

    Still the show was excellent as it was quite a breath of fresh air from all the other fantasy series. It strove to surprise (well not like we couldn’t guess big plot points) and succeeded (given that even if you could guess chances are its something much bigger than you had anticipated). Another thing I’d like to praise is the designs which are well rather well endowedg giving of a vibe at first glance of fanservice (1st OP and ED animation being especially guilty). Never de-generated to wasting frames for fanservice. Considering that the show isn’t particularly well known and has a more cult following I do commend the fact that the production company never felt the need to use fanservice to sell. Overall, I’m happy with this series and its great to be over with it, I just wish it would consider OVAs.

  9. Avatar MsteaK says:

    What a rollercoast ride. Bantorra is one of my favorite shows from last year (and technically speaking this year too), and the end was just bittersweet, seeing Hamy die made me sad since she was such a quirky and entertaining character to follow. And even in the end, she showcased noble virtue.

    Great watch, that’s all I can and will say.

  10. Avatar TJ says:

    The ending certainly wasn’t the best part of the series, but it was decent given the circumstances. Storytelling is definitely the strongest part of Bantorra. Excellent series overall and definitely one of the surprises from fall 2009. Probably the best series I’ve been watching for the past 27 weeks (although FMA:B is getting there).

  11. Avatar c160 says:

    Really late,just watched episode 25-27 today,but I’m glad I stuck through till the end.Gotta admit though,the CG in the first few episodes did bother me(reminds me of older gen games) but the story telling was really good and I found the characters to be very compelling,especially Hammy.Her background story is one of the best in recent years and she stays the most interesting character till the end.I hope there will be more series with as great as a story as this one cause for once,seeing the main characters fight for the world didn’t make me cringe so much.

  12. Avatar MsteaK says:

    http://www.multiupload.com/OYSZTDQ430

    For those that are interested. First light-novel has been translated.

  13. Avatar chounokoe says:

    If anyone wants to comment on the translation, visit my blog. I know it’s awkward English at times, but revisions will be made after I get some notice from people who read it.
    So anyway, enjoy the light-novel. ^^
    I think the anime was great, but there’s still so much to tell about the Bantora world. It was a real shame they had to cut it short in the end.

  14. Avatar Reltair says:

    Huh, maybe I need to watch more/finish this series to understand and appreciate it. The plot just seemed like loosely connected threads at most, but I haven’t watched enough I guess.

    • Avatar cras says:

      Hey, I had the same issue with you. The beginning was so erratic, moving to one character then another, so quickly. That was until they finished the backgrounds of the main characters, and laid in some heavy conflict, which now tested their morals, and ideals.

      The bottom line, you’ll how far the characters will go to accomplish their goals, and move towards what they think is “right”. Also, the way they tell this story is original compared to other shows I’ve watched. Hope you finish the series!

  15. Avatar PL says:

    There are a few, very few actually, red herrings…but pretty much all the loosely connected stuff isn’t loosely connected at all…It’s masterful the way they pulled it together.

  16. Avatar billish says:

    Agreed almost all around.

    I loved this series.

  17. Avatar MsteaK says:

    @chounokoe

    I’m not a native speaker, but maybe you can get someone to proofread it in the future. You still did a terrific job though.

  18. Avatar Kari says:

    I thought this show was okay and it got better as it went on. For me, after the eighth episode I started to like it more. In the end, I thought it didn’t tie together at all and it was sometimes hard to follow.

  19. Avatar Dragne says:

    Good series but not without its faults. The arc style of story telling works but makes the show feel episodic. The first few arc’s are slow too.
    The characterization is terrible at times and its nearly impossible to get attached to any character at all because of ambiguous protagonists.

    That being said it offers a lot of fresh ideas and tries very hard to be creative. It reminds me of Cowboy Bebop due to it’s seemingly filler episodes at the start that weave into one story by the end. The differences being CBB had much better character development while sacrificing for filler.

    Recommended over lots of the other stuff out there though. I thought episode 13 might have been the best in the series.

  20. Avatar Solaris says:

    Finally ended this after dropping it and resuming countless times. I agree the story is brilliant and has many good cooncept, thus making this one of the best stories in the last couple of years, but i admit it was a real chore to end it. This serie is so heavy to watch and the chars are so bad (expecially when first introduced), you really can’t side with them. I especially hated the main char Hamy. For as long as 25 episodes you see her as a bloodlusted bitch, whose only super weapon is… a slingshot :/. Dull, dull, DULL!! I wondered if she wouldn’t be the main villain of the serie at some point. I soon associated her to the main heroine of Black Lagoon, another anime i couldn’t stomach for the excessive and gratuitous violence she like so much to indulge in. Luckily Hamy’s background story is made clear in the forelast arc, and she also gained new powers for the grand finale, making her one of the most powerful warriors for a reason and not for sport. So i’m not complaining too much. Excessive and gratuitous violence i said. This is true also for Bantorra. I can undesrtand the main theme of the anime was that life comes out from struggle and happiness can bloom from death and destruction too, but each arc is a massacre and as long as all the sinners got redemption and lived the few virtuous characters are killed off like dogs. I’m expecially referring to Volken and Noloty, sacrificed only to appear as summon in the last arc. This last arc is the worst part of the show, being not only rushed, but a kind of plot device to tie all the story together. When the last battle is about the salvation of the planet by the usual generic apocaliptic scenario, the most unoriginal plot device to set up the stage of a show’s final arc, there is something gone wrong somewhere. Pity cause the plot was pretty good till episode 24-25. I’ve got something to say about the last arc’s main char too, Ruruta. He spins a couple of time between the role of saviour of humanity and the opposite, which was a bit confusing. Anyway they managed somehow to make a decent finale so, again i can’t complain more, but summing it all 92 for this is again a bit too much.

  21. Avatar Frost says:

    I finally got around to watching this… Had to be in the right mood

    But Ill be damned… Its a masterpiece, and totally deserved 50 episodes… I want to see more of the that world

    The whole concept of people becoming memory books is awesome on its own, theres so much you can do with it

    Oh well, the ending did leave me like “What the hell did I just watch and why was it so awesome?”, but what the hell, screw realism when fantasy is so much better

  22. I have to say I didn’t like this series much. I think its mostly my taste, I got bored of the lame overdone non ending and non sensical dialogue that sometimes pops out of nowhere, all of a sudden people go on about protecting the world and their feelings and thats why they are now so strong and will save the world with purple objects, thats expected but I found it annoying in this series. I guess its not the content itself but just how it was jigsawed in, I didn’t like the uneven flow of things it wasn’t seamless enough for me, its annoying how everyone has their “power” and super strength if they want I liked the concept of a single power because I wanted to see them creatively used, even though I figured the crux of the plot quite early the concepts along the way were quite good, I just don’t like the flow and random injections of emo. Maybe it was my expectations, think I might rewatch it to give it another shot :P .

  23. Avatar moochi says:

    i don’t think 92.5 is over the board. the ending has lots of flaws and was just not giving the anime its justice. i’m obviously a big fan here but i totally agree with what everyone else is saying. sometimes i think there should be two different ratings: how much i enjoyed it vs. how much it is actually worth. i’d give it a 90% for enjoyment and an 80% for how much it is worth. there really were too many characters and for heaven to be such a big theme, it really should have taken more episodes or more time to develop. i might be the only person here though that thinks mirepoc is a bit useless. i mean i understand why she was kept alive, but her personality was just “blah”. volken on the other hand received my praise for saving hamy.

    i really think this anime is underrated. but i would also agree that it’s not for everyone, perhaps the light novels would be better =p

  24. Avatar Shana says:

    This anime was definitely worth an A if you managed to watch to the end. Like, I feel the main problem with this anime was that like he said, the characters felt like part of the plot. But in the end, the finale was the best part of this anime, everything tied in, all of that nonsense~ Great idea with the book idea, quite the idea. Hamy was my favorite character, too bad she had to die.

  25. Avatar starwatcher162536 says:

    The series as a whole was good, yes. However the first arc was simply overwhelmingly good. How everything wove the past and present together was just stunning. One of the very few instances where I immediately watched it over and liked it even more the second time.

  26. Avatar dm00 says:

    I put this series on hiatus when it was streaming on Crunchyroll, then it disappeared. It got licensed, and I purchased the DVDs. So here I come to comment, over two years later.

    I don’t really understand your enthusiasm for this series. Or rather, I wonder what a good director and studio could do with this material — there are certainly a lot of interesting ideas and interesting characters but the animation struck me as weak and occasionally crude (for example, watch Noloty float above the landscape when she is fighting Enlike), the actions of the characters poorly motivated (particularly Hamyuts), at least until the final few episodes.

    I suspect the show would be well-served by a second viewing: the world is alien enough that it may be very hard to make the characters motives and actions seem sensible. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it interested me enough to give it that second viewing (though individual arcs were quite good — the ant-man-librarian and his oil-puddle foil, for example, or Noloty and Enlike, and Milepoc’s visit to the city of the film-star), and the ending was, as you say, both cheesy and effective. Bringing the dead back like that to fight in a sort of afterlife, with the logic of the way the books work (and having them blow away in the wind, even though victorious, also dictated by that logic) was quite a nice way to do things.

    But it was nice to follow along your reviews as I watched the series, even though our assessment of things differs.

  27. Avatar zuco says:

    Really enjoyable anime and near flawless writing. Slightly disappointment by the deus ex machina ending however when the whole worlds collective will is channeled into a pen knife. Side characterization could also have been better as some of them just come across as 1D character tropes: the cowgirl, annoying kid, thick tank ect. Overall however I was overjoyed to find such a solid anime that I hadn’t really heard of before, really a hidden jem.

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