A Good Librarian Like A Good Shepherd (2014; DVD 2016)

A Good Librarian Like A Good Shepherd is a twelve episode animated series from Japan. It is is released on DVD and BluRay in Australia by Madman Entertainment.

This DVD did not give much away with its basic cover design, other than that I might expect some really cute characters. I was not let down there – but slowly and surely I was lead into a bigger story and a mystery surrounding an enigmatic figure known only as the “the Shepherd.”

When Kakei – a loner whose only interest is reading endless amounts of books – receives a cryptic message from the Shepherd, his peaceful life is flung into disruptions he saves a shy girl, Shirasaki, from a potentially fatal accident. This leads to a misunderstanding and the first of many innuendoes (which really confused my sense of the “cute” story) which sets Kakei onto a more social and caring life. His best friend, Takamine, and Shirasaki’s best friend, Sakuraba, join the pair in pushing forward with Shirasaki’s “Happy Project” – a group she devised in order to become more social and have a happy high school experience.

Through the “Happy Project” they help the lives of others and expand their club while simultaneously looking into the mystery of the Shepherd – the truth of which starts to hit closer to home than any of them realise.

This is a fun story and a very easy watch. They cute characters have their foibles and interact well with each other and the situations they find themselves in. There is just enough background created for each character to give them depth and make them interesting without bogging down the short episode run. Each has a complete story, with histories starting before the first episode and resolved by the end of the series; but with plenty of fun in the present as they seem to help each other compete for the attentions of Kakei!

As with a lot of anime, there are some familiar character tropes which are played with to good effect and brought to life by the cast. There are even moments where the series will make take a tongue-in-cheek reference to character traits or plot elements that it is forced to use, like having to leave one character out of a particular plot point and having said character actually mention it.

I found myself loving each of the cast and hoping for a perfect resolution to their stories. The playfulness of the series makes it extra enjoyable and the “unburdened’ plot and setting allow you to immerse yourself in the simple pleasure of the world presented to the audience.

This is not an over-the-top science fiction or fantasy tale, so no large-budget animation or effects are employed to distract us from the simple beauty of the art and the cuteness in character details and the building and shaping of the characters. I think this also helps to keep the audience grounded, fitting us into the everyday school life that the characters are living in but only keeping us fixated on the important stuff, which is primarily their club activity.

As a basic DVD set, there are only the textless opening and closing credit sequences and trailers. This series is also presented in only the Japanese language but with optional English subtitles. I couldn’t imagine hearing the voice of Gizaemon the cat in any other way!

Rating: 4 cats.

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