Once upon a time, three boring young girls staffed a boring library in the middle of nowhere, living boring lives, meeting boring people, and basically being boring. The end.
I was warned this was "animated Valium", "scenery anime", "worse than the What's Michael OAV your sister lent you". If it had only been that bad, I might have been able to write this review with a straight face. At least the creators of To Heart went on to redeem themselves with Comic Party. There's simply no excuse for the flavor-sucking pap that is Kokoro Library.
The series (and yes, sadly, it is a series) is set in a hyper-medicated, idealized version of Japan in which even the biker punks are exceedingly helpful, cloyingly nice, consensus-building do-gooders. I'll accept biker-punk teachers, even biker-punk interior decorators! But in this world in which everything's copacetic, even the "rowdies" are boring.
Naturally, Kokoro Library comes with the cliches that have plagued many modern shows. For example, the mantra. "Her name is Kokoro, same as the library." You will hear this phrase time upon maddening time, until you start to think that your own name is Kokoro. And then there are the dead parents (there are ALWAYS dead parents), who have bequeathed the three sisters (of course they're sisters) this well-appointed, well-stocked library in the middle of nowhere. (I like to think the parents died of boredom.) And of course, they drive retro cars (which are in style now) and wear vaguely maid-like outfits (because maids are in style now).
Granted, not every anime has to be an action-packed, humor-filled ride through the weird side of Japan. There are plenty of examples of excellent anime that aren't crazed bundles of psychoses, like Touch, Tiny Snow Fairy Sugar, and Risky/Safety. But when the most emotionally heart-wrenching part of Kokoro Library is the main character's angsting over an overdue library book, then something is rotten in the state of this anime.
Did they even bother to hire scriptwriters for this?
Worse off, this series insultingly implies that all you have to do to be a librarian is look cute and sit behind a desk. Umm, excuse me? One of our reviewers is actually a member of the ALA, and she is plenty ready to assure you that it takes a whole lot more than minimum alpha brain waves to earn a degree in library sciences. Certainly Kokoro wouldn't hack it in the ALA - she'd do good to make it to the Special Olympics.
Though the art style is very pretty (with simply gorgeous still scenes and scenery shots), the character designs are cute and appealing, and the music is adequate, the fact remains that absolutely nothing happens in this anime. It's not just a matter of being slow-paced. That phrase implies that there is any pace at all!
More insidious than MD Geist in its own way, Kokoro Library is the kind of show that your parents forced you to watch in the middle of a summer afternoon when there wasn't anything else on back when you were eight years old. It's not even educational ... it's just plain mind-numbing.
For a much more exciting and interesting tour of the world of library sciences, we recommend Read or Die. Either that, or read a book. Both are infinitely preferable to this inconsequential series.
*yaaawn* Okay, who's been smoking the opium? No, really. I watch far too many anime to let a series like this off just because it's superficially cute. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: Fine for young children and strange adults with long attention spans. Innately offensive due to lack of any worthwhile content whatsoever. (Not traditionally offensive, though, in case you're wondering.)
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Partial (2/13)
Kokoro Library © 2001 Studio Deen / JVC
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