Kokoro Toshokan

March 4, 2006 on 11:22 pm | In Kokoro Toshokan | 7 Comments

There are certain anime that there is simply no way to divine the purpose of. 2001’s Kokoro Toshokan, from Kuroda Yosuke and frequent partner Masunari Koji, is one such anime. What appears to be the tale of three sisters who work in a mountain library rapidly and inexplicably introduces robots, an international master of disguise and the coup de grace: a tragic war from decades past.

Miracles indeed; nice but weird, Kokoro Toshokan is thoroughly unmarketable. This goes some way to explaining its failure to garner a licence in the five years since its creation.

Kokoro works with her sisters Iina and Aruto at Kokoro Library, a facility in the mountains that very rarely gets any borrowers (or “users”, as they call them) and where, legend tells, miracles happen. Kokoro’s adventures generally involve her being visited by a friend who lives in an equally remote area of the mountains, or going into town to track down rogue borrowers, or her desperate attempts to create a larger user base for the library.
The episodes not revolving around slow business feature Kokoro and her sisters going to the beach, Kokoro going for her librarian licence, training with a “comparoid” and, inevitably, the sisters fighting the closure of the library.

Iina and Aruto receive their own sub-plots: Iina has a rather disturbing obsession with her youngest sister and Aruto is secretly a romance novelist who produces books at the rate of one a month.
If you think that having a sexually charged crush on your younger sister doesn’t sound funny at all, well; you’d be right. Kuroda’s attempts at levity smack instead of severe creepiness and obsession on Iina’s part. The later episodes attempt to temper Iina’s “problem” into something more approaching sisterly concern, but this quickly reverts back to type and all is wrong with the world again.
Aruto is the distinctly saner sister of Kokoro’s elders, and so her story is much easier to stomach. One can wonder all they want why Aruto needs to wear a wig to write in the comfort of her own room until the small hours of the morning, but they will get no answers.

Kokoro Toshokan is an easy watch with little to worry about beyond the previously mentioned issue of the leanings towards lesbian incest (and, before you say “loving your sister isn’t incest”, you haven’t seen this series). It’s a “slice of life” program with no real structure; these are generally happy stories, if you can really call them that.
This is not to say there aren’t other scenes that irk: when Kokoro and another girl burst into tears about their mothers in the forest, one can’t help but feel weirded out by it all. It leads to unnecessary questions as to Kokoro’s age, and why she isn’t in school.
In addition to this there is an episode that details the time when Kokoro was away from the library on her training course. Iina goes insane from missing her sister and it’s nearly impossible to watch.

Despite the general wash-over of the series that makes it feel like something nice if inconsequential, the last two or three episodes tie all of the seemingly random plot points into an epic tale of greatness. A fabricated war that justifies the existence of Kokoro Library is something close to genius that can almost give purpose to the series.
Unfortunately this wraps up the story, as it is, in twelve episodes. Kokoro Toshokan resorts to a … Christmas episode. With the Christmas story concluded before the eye catch, that leaves the rest of episode thirteen to a story in which Kokoro Library gets snowed in! Words can not describe just how banal and unnecessary episode thirteen was. It was not even a nice last hurrah for the characters. Considering how perfect the conclusion was, and how episode 13 seems set at an indeterminate time beforehand, I can not think of any reason that this stuff needs to be ingested.

I’m not certain if it’s because it comes from the early days of digisubbing, but Kokoro Toshokan looks severely washed out. The characters have bigger eyes than is the style nowadays, and they are not particularly expressive eyes. The librarians each have their own distinct uniforms, which tend to indicate that they’re not actually uniforms at all. The music production is a key aspect of the series, as the OP “Beagle” is an effortless float in the country side featuring slow motion dancing from the sisters. The ED, “Tsuki wa Miteru”, is reminiscent of “Sugar Snow”, but with more of a bounce to it, albeit a very slow one..
That slow motion carries on into the very static direction, which indicates just how lethargic every thing is by having still shots of the sisters’ cat lying in the grass. The action, as it is, could be happening in the library, and director Masunari Koji will simply cut to a shot of Kit in the fields. It’s distinctive, all right; to what end, I’m not quite sure.

Kokoro Toshokan is nice anime that leaves a fluffy aftertaste; you wouldn’t even be able to tell that you’d watched it were it not for the marvellous ending. Stop at episode twelve, and you’ve got a great conclusion to thoroughly unchallenging anime; stop at episode thirteen, however, and you will be forced to reflect on how little direction Kokoro Toshokan had overall.

Please note: In series of uniform niceness, it’s hard to pick out good moments; if this summary draws attention to the lesser parts of the series, it’s because the rest of the series was indistinct in its routine.


  1. Wow you’re one of those people who appreciate Kokosho. Unfortunately I’m not… I found it boring. I think the reason I watched the whole thing was because it was one of the first fansubs I ever got. But the people I know who like it, really like it a lot (despite normally going for the violent genres). It is a mystery~

    Comment by Annie — March 5, 2006 #

  2. Kokoro Toshokan was a Studio Deen production.

    Episode 13 was a DVD only “bonus.” It’s not meant to conclude the series, despite it’s number. Still, your complaint is valid. I wish they would have named it 7.5 or wherever it’s supposed to take place. Heck, even calling it just “Extra” like Elfen Lied did would have been better.

    Comment by Anonymous M — March 5, 2006 #

  3. I’m afraid my impression of the whole thing matches the above to the tee: lolicon+lesbians+incest in one convenient package, lame excuse for a grand unifying story. I hoped to see some contrarian perspective with which to disagree violently, like in the Kamichu section, but I guess mediocrity just cannot be disliked strongly enough…

    Comment by Pete Zaitcev — April 3, 2006 #

  4. Wow, such harsh critiques! As a fan of many
    Even though I’ve been lucky enough to catch only the first three episodes…I think it’s a great series that I wish was a bit more popular so that it has more than thirteen episodes and I could easily find the rest of the series. So what if it has lesbian , lolicon, and such undertones in it? From what I’ve seen it’s a very light treatement and in no way is the “glue” of the series or a “lame excuse” for a “grand unifying story”. I really don’t get why one would put it down and admit it has a “grand unifying story” in the same commentary. I watch alot of different Anime but my favorites are romantic comedies, especially yuri.
    To me Kokoro Library is a cute lighthearted and at times a bit heartbreaking due to the parents not being around….unless I’m mistaken, the parents are dead, right? So it does have its serious moments. To hate it just because it’s a “fluffy” anime and look down upon it just because it’s no Paranoia Agent , Spirited Away , or some other famous anime…Not every Anime has to be some super serious mystery….drama…or whatever.
    Yes, Lina or whatever her name is seems to have a strange crush on her younger sister but from what I’ve seen so far it’s not like hardcore loli lust or anything. And so what if it was? Even then it may not be horrible. (really guro is the only thing I can think of that’s horrible in terms of loli/shota stuff *shudder* But for “regular” stuff it just depends on the story…) I do find it funny, but then again, like I said, I watch alot of yuri anime.

    Comment by k24601 — July 29, 2007 #

  5. As a fan of many Anime, even.

    Comment by k24601 — July 29, 2007 #

  6. Sorry for the strange start…I just now realized how badly I messed that part up…I was too impatient to get what I wanted to “say” out so I didn’t look over the post enough before sending. *blush* Sorry for these last two posts too.

    Comment by k24601 — July 29, 2007 #

  7. As someone who watched the entire series and cited specific instances of the younger sister crush going way too far, I’m going to stick with my guns on this.

    The idea of the “grand unifying story” is one that can easily be applied by a director as if they were trying to cynically legitimise their work. A lot of the time I like it, as I did here, but that doesn’t mean that it always works or that everyone always likes it.

    A reason that one person has for liking something may be precisely the same reason that someone else has for hating it. As long as we’re able to reason our opinions in civil ways, we can’t hurt each other and everybody wins.

    Comment by Alex — July 29, 2007 #

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