A Good Librarian Is Like A Good Shepherd
Kyotaro Kakei is handsome and polite, but not very social, an avid reader who prefers the company of books to people. He dreams of finding a book with all life's answers in it. He also has some precognitive ability, and his vision of danger to another ultimately leads to a situation where he must choose to either stay with new- mostly FEMALE- friends, or instead abandon human friendships in the service of the Shepherds, who have a library of their own- a library whose books are the histories, past and future, of the lives of every individual. The Shepherds dedicate their lives to interventions to save, or improve, the lives of the people whose books they are assigned to (or choose), and they acquire great power in this service of helping others, but they pay a price- the memory, even the knowledge, of their OWN existence disappears from the world of non-Shepherds. How will Kyotaro choose?
This show has a gem of an idea in the concept of the Shepherds, but the whole thing is laid low by terrible execution- mainly poor character development, including weak or non-existent backstories for some of the principal players, as well as a slavish devotion to the clichés of harem shows. (There's plenty of fanservice, but I guess quite a bit of actual sexuality got excised in the move from game to anime, since the original was an eroge. See under Audience, below.) As a result, other than in the basic issue of Kyotaro's "choice", the show can't conjure much genuine drama AT ALL, pretty inexcusable for a series where we have, in the Shepherds, individuals who can do such spectacular stuff as stop time and teleport huge objects.
To illustrate, let's meet our (mostly female of course) cast. The person Kyotaro saves is one Tsugumi Shirasaki. I can't remember us ever getting much of her background story- we do get to meet her hospitalized younger sister later, but that's about as much as we'll get about her family. She says she's introverted, and wants to get over that by forming something that may have been called the Happy Smile Club, or some such thing- to be honest, I didn't even really feel like taking the trouble to go back and verify the name- but the gist of the thing is the Service Club idea (a la My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU et al), i.e., an odd-jobs club. Tsugumi is energetic, sweet, and easily embarrassed, but otherwise seems to be pretty insubstantial, yet the show seems to pick her as the "principal" girl for our male hero. ( I guess you could have picked one of the others in the original game, but the anime has gone with Tsugumi. Sometimes you can tell which one of the girls in a harem is the "principal" one by the effort our leading man makes on her behalf; the FIRST girl he meets also seems to get points for, well, being the first; BONUS points for "childhood friends" but that, at least, doesn't apply in Tsugumi's case.)
Kyotaro's initial rescue of Tsugumi involves one of the two usual fanservice-friendly "misunderstandings" (no, it's not the "seeing panties" one, it's the OTHER one), which will naturally arouse the ire of any tsunderes nearby, and sure enough there's one within striking distance (so to speak), in the form of one Tamamo Sakuraba. I didn't really remember any backstory for HER either. She's such a stickler for propriety that she eats hamburgers with a knife and fork, which at least gives her the best gag in the show. And that's about all of note for her.
Kana Suzuki is a blonde waitress with a class-clown personality (though she says she's easily discouraged) and ambitions to be a playwright. She HAS a backstory, which is presented briefly as a diagram. (Yes, as a diagram.) She'll get her desire to produce (and star in) one of her original plays, which seems to be a mishmash of a fairytale romance, The Emperor's New Clothes, and a fanservice obsession with breast size, all in one ungainly package. Kana, I'm afraid, shouldn't give up her day job, no matter HOW bad the tips get.
Senri Misono is called the "Song Princess", and I had to admit she did have a terrific voice. (Kudos to her VA.) HER backstory is also brief, but at least it DOES have "pictures and conversations", as Alice (of Wonderland) used to say. Senri's backstory is actually her continuing story; the person she wronged for the right reason- or perhaps righted for a wrong reason, the ethics are a little muddy here, when you think about it- is still in her life. Her affiliation with Kyotaro's club (yes, it was originally Tsugumi's idea, but you know how GUYS are, especially with harems) sets up a conflict with her singing career, but I was a little confused about what boundaries her final decision set about that, or if she really made a final decision at all.
There are some female nonmembers of the club who show up to complicate things as well. While Kyotaro's still working with Tsugumi to form the club, we meet Maho Mochizuki, the Student Council President, who we gather has for some time been trying to recruit him for the Council because of his "talent" (yeah, RIIIIIIGHT). I thought her likely to want to wreak some sort of revenge on him for spurning her in favor of Tsugumi. There's also Maho's right-hand woman, Aoi Takagawa.
And then there's Nagi Kodachi. She's a number of things, among them Kyotaro's next-door neighbor, AND his rival throughout the show. (No, not for one (or more) of the girls; it's the OTHER thing.) The show also burdens her with a completely gratuitous connection to Kyotaro through another classic anime cliché, abetted by yet ANOTHER, the old hero's-memory-lapse-about-his-own-past. Nagi's a twin-tailed redhead, which pretty much guarantees that she'll be an aggressive and/or sarcastic character (the anime genre has this thing about red hair.) The show seems to imply that she'll remain in his life even after the end of the events depicted, though given all the information we HAVE received I just don't see how that's possible in any meaningful way. Yet Nagi is still the only girl who gets to demonstrate much personality in the show at all, if a not only disagreeable one but also a contradictory one. (When all the pieces of the Nagi puzzle are assembled, I STILL didn't understand why she did much of what she did, or for that matter how she still stayed qualified for the position she aspired to.)
Oh, I forgot, there IS another male character. His name is Ikkei Takamine, he's Kyotaro's buddy, he joins the Club, and he's pretty much ignored by the girls; at one point, they go on a kind of group date with Kyotaro and conspicuously (and unapologetically) don't invite Ikkei. There's only room for one Alpha Male in a harem after all, so if he doesn't want to remain effectively a eunuch, I guess Ikkei should resign and join a different club- he's not quite as perverted as male heroes' sidekicks usually are, so he might actually be appreciated elsewhere. His treatment by the girls is not quite as rude as the one Takeya received in White Album 2, but everyone (or at least everyone even halfway decent) deserves a little attention and respect, after all.
Yes, Kyotaro does finally make one decision, in case you were wondering. Unfortunately, the decisions of the rest of the cast (OK, with ONE exception) remain murky, even when they had a decision to make at all. I NEVER really understood how one character was sufficiently motivated to attempt murder- much less why they got a "mulligan" for that attempt. We don't even see THAT much of the Shepherd's magic, and at least one of Kyotaro's assignments was completely silly. I couldn't figure Nagi out, but at least with her there was something TO figure out. The Recommendation is a show that also has supernatural events and multiple girls, but at least has decent backstories and drama surrounding some of them. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Fanservice, including some nudity (bathhouse w/breast comparison, etc.) The elimination of actual sex here probably removed the major draw of the original game. The Blu-Ray/DVD is rated for 14+. I'd actually go with 16 to be on the safe side.
Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on Crunchyroll.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
A Good Librarian Is Like A Good Shepherd © 2014 Hoods Entertainment
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