Hey all, Dani here.
What do you do when it’s National Library Week and it’s also Manga Monday? You review a volume of manga about a library. Yes! It just so happened to work out that I needed to review the third volume of this series, so I shifted around my schedule a tiny bit so I could make it happen this week.
Anyway, sorry this post is up a little bit late. I thought that I had it scheduled to publish but it turns out that I left it in the draft folder…and by the time I realized that I wasn’t getting notifications for my post it was technically Tuesday. Oops. I hope you all don’t mind this review coming at you a little bit later than normal.
Story & Art by: Mitsu Izumi
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
ISBN: 1632368463 (ISBN13: 9781632368461)
Theo has completed the first part of the grueling exam to become a kafna, but he’s not in the clear yet–there are two more trials he must face. Even if he makes it through the second test, an intense face-to-face oral examination, the last challenge is a practical demonstration of his abilities as a librarian. Theo has been studying his whole life for this moment, but there’s one kind of test that no amount of studying could have prepared him for: a group project.
Rating: 5 stars
I will completely admit it…I am absolutely obsessed with this manga series. It is phenomenal in every way. The art style is so wonderfully detailed and it is just exquisite to look at. Seriously, it takes me longer to read this series than any other because I spend so much time staring at the panels.
This third volume picks up where the second one ends, after the written part of the exam to become a kafna, and Theo thinks he did okay with that, but then it’s time to go into the second test, which is basically an interview/oral exam. It was amusing to flip through this particular scene because we skip over a lot of Theo’s answers, almost like there’s some sort of magic going on that makes him think less and simply answer the questions. But we’ve gotten to know Theo pretty well in the first two volumes, so I’m certain his answers are eager and excited and shows off just how much he cares about books and libraries. His passion for this is clear.
This volume is also a bit different than the previous ones. Before Theo dealt with quite a bit of prejudice and discrimination and mistreatment because of his being a half-breed/half-blood, but in this one there are some other Kafna hopefuls who look down on him because he is from a tiny village in the middle of nowhere. It’s just so off-putting to see someone who grew up with wealth and privilege thinking so poorly of those who grew up with so much less and who fought so much harder to be here. Yes, I realize that it is true to life, because in reality there are so many who look down on someone for not having the same luxuries and privileges they are accustomed to within their own lives.
But Theo is ever hopeful and generally always the optimist, so he finds a way to keep going, using his unique skills and knowledge to show that he is capable.
Oh, and we learn a bit more about mana and maguses in this volume…even getting to meet a magus of the library. It felt like a nice steady build up to that point.
And once the test was all over and everything, we get to watch Theo return home, thinking that he must have failed his test and that he’ll have to figure out a new path and goal for his life. It was crushing to see him struggle to figure out what he is supposed to do now, but then it was oh so very heartwarming to see how those in the village respond to it. I honestly didn’t expect that, but it does show how much they have changed over the years, from when Theo was a little boy in the first volume.
I am really excited to see what will happen in Volume 4, even though I do have to wait until October to find out.
This series is definitely one I’d recommend for people who love libraries, librarians, books, and magic.
Where to Get a Copy
You can grab your own copy of this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local independent bookstore through IndieBound.
You can also check with your local library.