Posted 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

Posted on with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra



How awesome. The thing I was waiting for with this series was to end with a bang, and what a bang it is! You can see that it was cheesy, that’s no surprise at this point. However, I’m much more interested in how well this series concluded, and how much the creators managed to insert in this episode without self-destructing. Fast paced endings and flow paced endings take some completely different skill to work out well. With slow-paced ones, it’s really the point to allow the characters to develop into new heights. If not, then it’ll just turn out boring. With fast-paced endings, and a lot left open, it’s less of a concern to let everything happen naturally, and instead create an as big spectacle as possible, using the plot threads that you built up in the entire series, rather than just writing a boring action-scene and revealing the last number of plot twists like it was some kind of checklist.

I loved this ending, exactly because of that. It was just incredibly entertaining, and at the same time it really made use of its weird premise to actually give dead people a chance to shine, providing an ACTUAL REASON FOR IT. In fact, the story would not have made any sense if Hamyuts able to bring books into Ruruta: the entire circle comes together so wonderfully with that revelation. All along, it was the master plan to have Hamyuts and Chacoly both as individual attempts to penetrate into Ruruta and destroy him from the inside. This is why he tortured Hamyuts so that she became a masochist. Who knows what kind of horrible things he must have done to her in order to give her that power, but that part is left to our imagination.

The only big mystery here is why Hamyuts and Mirepoc were able to wield two powers. But hey, we’ve seen that it’s possible to transfer powers. With that in mind, Hamyuts probably brought Chacoly’s soul back, and tried to keep Mirepoc alive at all costs: her power to communicate to everyone, combined with Chacoly’s soul transference was an actual plausible way of saving the world in an over the top and cheesy manner. No longer is it just a godmode beam, but for once it’s well explained.

And then there was seeing everyone making a final appearance. In a show with such a high body count, this was beyond awesome to see everyone able to shine one more time, with actual reasons behind it, and actually having them end up dead at the end of the series: nobody who died got revived. Only asleep people got woken up. Ireia especially was just awesome.

then there’s Ruruta’s change of heart. Again, perhaps a bit too much. But you know what? This is a guy who has been doing everything for the person he loved, and he went as far as he did because he had the power to do so. Now that he’s lost his raison d’etre, having heard that all of his efforts were pretty much pointless, he actually tries to fix the mess he made. Not because he suddenly leaned the meanings of love and peace. Something tells me that he knew those all along. It’s more like, he just didn’t have any reason left not to save the world. He’s not like the lazy person who’d just give up and do nothing, given his 2000-year long quest to find the perfect book for his lover.

You know, you can really consider me a fan of David Production at this point. Despite how unknown the novels were, they gave it a chance and it worked out wonderfully. I’m really looking forward to whatever they have in sore next. Even if it’s just another trainwreck like Dogs Bullets and Carnage.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 27 March 2010 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra



yeah, so there is no doubt that this show is getting cheesy. The thing is, however, that I’m much more interested in how this finale uses the build-up that has been provided by the rest of this series. In a way, I can understand the criticisms to this series: standalone the characters indeed aren’t the reason to watch this show.

I haven’t really been watching this show for its characters, though. The reason I became a huge fan of this series was because of its storytelling: the way it managed to weave so many storylines together. The boldness of the script and the way that it was able to write these gripping action scenes, simply with this plot that had so many interesting ideas stuffed into it, combined with its powerful and over the top soundtrack.

I really love it when anime decide to show off what they’re good at. The reason why I’m also such a big fan of Noloty and Volken was not because what they were, but what they represented. I really believe that every anime should focus what it’s good at, and this finale has been truly action-packed, throwing tons of plot twists and ideas into the mix and exactly what I’ve been looking for! While other series this season have more realistic characters, none of them really excell in the same magnitude that Bantorra’s plot has been impressing me with, week after week after week. THAT’s exactly why I already consider this to be a huge contender for my favourite show of 2010, even though we’ve still got three seasons to go before I can say for sure. it’s SO going to be a shame to see this series end next week, because I’ve been enjoying every single minute of it.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 20 March 2010 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra



Ah, what an episode. At this point the creators of the anime were standing for a major dilemma that hits just about every series out there: the fact that the story doesn’t fit exactly into 26 episodes. I’ve raged enough about this problem with other series, but with this series, they’re actually pulling it off to put the essence of the final novels into these final episodes without derailing. This series is everything that fantasy and steam-punk should be, and it seriously set the bar much higher for future generations. Even until this episode, it kept an excellent balance between plot, setting, characters, background and action. Each speaking to the imagination.

One of the major pitfalls of mystery series is the point at which questions have to be answered. Asking a lot of intriguing questions is one thing, but it takes skill to make all of eventual answers live up to the hype that these questions created. And this show even proved that these answers kick ass. We finally get a glimpse into heaven, and what it’s like. And we finally get to see the background story that resulted into everything: Ruruta Coozancoona’s. We already could have guessed that the Armed Librarians and the Church were created in order to create exciting books. This episode didn’t just show why this was all done, it also showed the story behind it. That it was all in an attempt to destroy the gods who kept destroying the worlds they created because they were unhappy with the continuous wars.

When you think a bit further, this had some interesting results: these Gods surely were short-sighted bastards. Thanks to Ruruta the world wasn’t destroyed and instead it continued to thrive. The result? A stable world full of actual democracies, in which most of the drama is caused by the guy who took god’s place: Ruruta, and his wishes to provide interesting books in an attempt to bring back his loved one.

The big question still remains however: what the heck is heaven? The people we saw gathered in the theatre: what exactly was their connection? Since the previous governor of paradise was among them, it may be a place where the true men gather: the ones who came closest to Ruruta’s ideals for the perfect book (which would also explain why Hamy ended up entering it even though her hook didn’t appear yet).
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 13 March 2010 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra



Since it looks like there isn’t going to be a continuation, this episode pretty much would be a big test for the creators: can they stuff the remaining novels into such a short-timeframe, while capturing their essence? It’s a thing that many series have failed at, but what do you know? This episode was in no way less awesome than the previous ones.

While a bad ending can still mess this up, at this point however I’m confident to say the following: Bantorra has the best plot of any other series I’ve seen in the past few years. While other series may beat it in terms of characters, animation or dialogue, the storyline of the past 24 episodes has been utterly sublime, and I can only think of very few storylines that impressed me more than this one. I absolutely love how bold, creative, unpredictable and layered it turned out to be. Even though the novels don’t seem that popular at all, it’s awesome that the people from David Production saw their potential and decided to animate it to a wider audience.

This episode answered a lot of the main questions, including the identity of “heaven”, and Hamy’s background. Seriously, I never expected Chacoly to have turned out like the way we saw her in this episode. Broken by Hamy after her heart was broken… and somehow living on without any purpose. As it turns out, both Hamy and Chacoly were attempts to kill Ruruta Coozancoona, a.k.a. heaven, in two different ways. Chacoly tried to make him fall in love, while Hamy was meant to be a tool to kill Ruruta. How her desire to die comes into this…. I’m not sure yet.

The other big mystery for the next to episodes to explain is what Ruruta is after. At first I thought that he was simply looking for entertainment as some sort of bored deity, but then this episode threw that girl into the picture. My guess is that she’s dead now, and he’s pretty much been sulking about her for 2000 years. Him achieving “true happiness” may just have been impossible from the start. But what could he be after? I mean, it’s not like the dead are going to come back if the world gets destroyed, right?
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 6 March 2010 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra



So here I thought that I was beginning to understand the story of this series. And then this episode comes and gives a completely different dimension to just about everything. Seriously, is there no end to the Armed Librarians’ awesomeness?

I remember noting a few episodes ago, that the Violet Sinner might be this series’ protagonist. Okay, so that was obviously wrong and incredibly misguided, as this episode showed that she too could be quite the bastard to Hamyuts, and probably turned her into what she is today. I’m very surprised that the creators have decided to show much deeper into the past, to show where everything begun: with the wishes of one of the acting directors to destroy heaven. AKA: that damned tree!

This episode revealed A LOT: as it turns out, the Armed Librarians exist in order to protect heaven, while the Church is there to maintain it: to provide it with good books in its attempt to achieve true happiness. The reason they’re at war is mostly because most members don’t even know about this, and Kachua getting strange ideas and taking these ideals much further than necessary.

Now, about Hamy: the majority of her past hasn’t been revealed yet, but based on what this episode my theory is the following: both she and the Violet Sinner were developed as a way to destroy heaven. Heaven told Makia that it wanted to die, however I believe that this was mostly another one of its attempts to create the ultimate book: Hamy. I have no bloody clue what his wishes are, but I think that the church believed that Hamy’s book was the one that Heaven was looking for, and therefore tried to kill her with all their might. In contrast, the Violent Sinner was meant to destroy heaven: when her love would come true, heaven would be destroyed.

My guess is that whatever Heaven is trying to do, Hamy wants it as well. By ‘wanting to ascend heaven’, she meant that she wanted to have her book absorbed by that tree. She’s basically been living her entire life, trying to make her book as exciting as possible! That’s why she wanted to die: in an as exciting way as possible, so that’s why a simple suicide wouldn’t work: everything about her needed to be glorious in order for her to be the book that grants Heaven’s wishes.

I’m not sure how that ties in with the Violent sinner, though. There are just too many open questions about her at this point. Who did she love? What is her connection to Hamy, and what did she want Hamy to create?

Overall, Armed Librarians has been without a doubt my favourite show during the past Winter Season. The next question is simple: SECOND SEASON WHERE!?
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 27 February 2010 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra



What an amazing conclusion to this arc. This series has really been delivering from start to finish, and I can only hope that the entire story can get animated within the next four episodes.

At this point, all of the characters on the outer side of the moral spectrum are dead now: on one side we have Volken’s immense belief in justice, and Noloty’s endless kindness, and on the other we have the power-hungry leader of an evil organization who wants to change the world. The way this series has portrayed them is nowhere near overused, though. Kachua has been a great villain throughout the series: he always had this air of mystery around him, and it’s not like he started out as someone who wanted to destroy the world: it was only his final trump as the Church neared extinction. But I especially applaud Noloty: she really showed that naivety and innocence in an action-series aren’t overrated.

Sure, there are tons of series with lead characters who refuse to kill and all, but it’s Noloty who takes this a step further. Her kind of love for everyone goes far beyond “thou shalt not kill”, but rather tries to look behind it, in her attempts to infect the world with her kindness; kindof the opposite that Kachua has been doing in the past arc. And I guess that that shallowness of his approach was also symbolized in how easy the infected people turned back to normal: in order to truly change something, you need to change its core, like what Noloty has been doing. Brainwashing is just a temporarily solution.

In any case: now what? The main focus of this series is now going to be this “heaven”. People seem obsessed with entering it. Hamyuts in this episode revealed that she indeed wants to die, but do so gloriously. My guess is that that would be her attempt to become a true man and enter this heaven. That mysterious killer guy who killed Vizac and Noloty has his own ways of doing it, by simply betraying the armed librarians. My guess is that Mokkania also tried it at some point, but locked himself away when he realized what he was doing (since this episode did show that he killed quite a number of innocent people as well).

Speaking of which: what happened to Kachua’s book? Will that one still play a role, since he died as a seemingly true man, after all?
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 20 February 2010 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra



So, the slaughter has begun. I must say that I really like all of the background behind this apocalyptic arc. Finally we don’t have some sort of evil demon who is about to destroy the world: the background behind this one is much more complex and interesting.

This episode passed, and it’s still a bloody mystery as to what happened to Noloty in the previous episode. We do get some hints, though: that boy she was with has the power to unleash his emotions to others. Whatever happened between him, Noloty and the Governor of Paradise, it killed off Noloty, made Arkit believe that the Armed Librarians killed her off, and somehow turned him into a lizard. While the latter is probably an aftereffect of Arkit’s powers, the big mystery is why the Governor of Paradise actually revealed himself in order to get the job done. Is the church this close to extinction?

I do have one point of criticism, though. Ireia’s death was probably the first cliched one I’ve seen in this series. It was by far the least impressive one, because of how over the top it was. All deaths in Bantorra thus far had something special, with the most impressive being Volken and Noloty, but with Ireaia… the creators hinted a bit to much to the fact that she was about to die.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 13 February 2010 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra



Oh god, no. They couldn’t… they didn’t. This show just… is unbelievable at times. What a plot twist, and what a powerful way to execute it!

This episode really showed me. I’ve noticed that one of the most often voiced criticisms is that some of the characters are too naive, especially regarding Volken, but Noloty has this naivety as well. And this episode showed that the creators intended naivety to be main themes of this series. It’s not like Volken and Noloty are just characters whose archetypes appear in a ton of other series. Just look at their context in the series: they aren’t both naive, they’re naive in their own way with a religious adherance to one particular virtue.

For Volken, it’s that he wanted to spread justice. Noloty wanted to spread kindness. And these two actually had the beliefs and conviction in order to do it: they were so convinced of their own ideals that they were able to make decisions that any sane and mature person, as Mattoalast and Hamy, could never have taken. And THAT’s what sets them apart from most other leads. The first two arcs were exactly for that: to build up their beliefs. Then, right before their deaths, their beliefs get completely shattered and proven wrong, and yet in Volken’s case he remained pure, and I expect that to be the case for Noloty as well.

Because holy crap. I did not expect Noloty to get killed off so soon? I mean, we were all like “yay! another Noloty episode”, and instead we end up reading her book! It’s not confirmed, but I highly suspect that it’s Noloty’s kindness that eventually got her.

This only leaves us with one of the three main naive characters alive: Mirepoc. Unlike Noloty and Volken, she doesn’t have strong beliefs, and is very much in doubts, and she lacks the conviction to really go with her own ideals because she’s constantly surrounded by Hamy and Mattoalast, and in the past also Volken, because her ability is just so damn handy. She’s different to them, because it feels like she’s in the middle of everything: her power is supposed to be dependable, rather than aggressive, which might help her escape the fate of Volken and Noloty.

Also, the major climax has begun. And holy crap is it epic. it’s very common for these kinds of series to involve the entire world in it. The lazy way out is of course to threaten to make the main bad guy so powerful that he’s going to end up destroying the world if not stopped. It’s a lot more layered here, though. Every country, even democracies (whoa, democracies in a fantasy-series: that’s rare!), suddenly decides to declare war on the Library of Bantorra. Just what did Kachua (The Governor of Paradise) do in order to accomplish that?

Also: something tells me that Hamy only told a part of the truth in the last episode. I mean, she obviously has much more secrets, but one particular thing that she failed to mention is that it seems that the war between the Armed Librarians and the Church, while it started out as a simple mock war, has turned into a full blown war. In fact, I’m betting my hat that this had to be done because Hamy became the Acting Director.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 6 February 2010 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra



Holy crap, you people weren’t kidding about this episode! This series just continues to get better and better. What an incredibly creative script, this series really takes no conventions for granted.

Oh, remmember the first few episodes of this series, in which Volken was nothing but an average lead character with a strong sense of justice. Seriously, I never expected that someone as Olivia Litlet would get more screen-time than he did. The way that this series plays around with our expectations and turns them into something unpredictable is just unbelievable.

So yeah: Volken died. The creators actually had the GUTS to kill him off. And yet Olivia still lives at the end of this episode. This episode did such a great job of developing the two of them. Volken on one hand seeing his beliefs destroyed when he found out that his mentor was not the upholder of justice he believed him to be, while Olivia as a strong woman searched for the passion that she once lost. It’s that passion and perseverance of her that really allowed her to live as a meat. Colio had already shown that it was possible, and she just took it a small step further. The whole ritual? She was trying the entire time to get her memories of Vend Ruga back. As someone who took care of her when she was a child and before the church got her.

Also, we’ve been expecting this for quite a while now, but Hamyuts finally confirmed it: the Church and the Armed Librarians aren’t at war at all. They just pretend to be. Heck, the Church was even created by the Armed Librarians. My guess is that they were intended to take care of all of the dirty work, probably for that damn tree or something. My guess is that it feeds on exciting books. That would be quite the irony: that the Armed Librarians and the Church just exist in order to provide nice books.

It’s also interesting: all this time it turned out that Hamyuts Meseta followed after a red herring, and basically sank a ship for nothing, just because Olivia wanted to scrabble her feelings on the wall. However, for her to go through such lengths. I really believe that we’ve found our major villain of this series. Or rather: the major good guy, since we’ve now pretty much confirmed that the Armed Librarians are the bad guys.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

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  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:45 AM)
    I will ask my brother about this also who is into drawing.
  • Friend
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:45 AM)
    @K-Off I’ve discussed this ad nauseum with my friends and professors during art school, so It’d be great to get opinions from the other side of the world.
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:43 AM)
    @Friend Let me discuss that with some of the artists I know IRL, I want to get their opinions of that. Maybe in a few days.
  • Friend
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:40 AM)
    I’m not saying art HAS to give a solution, I just think that a solution is something art needs to give in this particular art period.
  • Friend
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:39 AM)
    @K-Off But see, that was my opinion as well until I began to realize that it wasn’t working. Art has entered a casual stage in the 21st century, where the fast, modern life has met art.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:36 AM)
    That really is something to think about friend and something for me to consider when I write.
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:35 AM)
    @Friend I see we disagree on the role of art. See, my opinion of art was that art is a trail Blazer. It doesn’t have to light the way, it just has to point in the direction the artist wants his viewers to go.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:34 AM)
    Not far off…
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:33 AM)
  • Friend
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:32 AM)
    While I’m not saying every piece of art has to bring solutions to a problem, this is something I’ve yet to see in any, including my own, work regardless of medium. Just a personal criticism I’ve had of art as a whole since I was a teenage girl.

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