Magus of the Library, Vol. 1

By Mitsu Izumi, “based on Kafna of the Wind by Sophie Schwimm”. Released in Japan as “Toshokan no Daimajutsushi” by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine good! Afternoon. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics. Translated by Stephen Kohler.

This one surprised me. The premise was promising, but the artist has previously done 7th Garden, which was OK but didn’t wow me. To my surprise, this ended up being one of the most gorgeous manga I’ve read all year – the fact that Kodansha released both this and Witch Hat Atelier within a few months of each other shows we are in a golden age of pretty manga. The characters looks cute, the ‘dream sequences are fun, and best of all, there’s attention paid to the books. Which is good, as this is a manga for book lovers first and foremost. Despite the fact that the first volume serves as a prologue to the series proper (we get a “Several years later” timeskip0 at the end), this is a great introduction to the adventures of Theo, a young boy who loves to read more than anything, and can often be found hiding out in the local library. Which I’m sure a lot of this manga’s readers will find very familiar – certainly I did that as a kid.

Despite what the cover may imply, Theo has not had the best life so far. He’s poor (which means the head librarian doesn’t let him read books there), and his pointed ears mean that he’s bullied by the other kids. His older sister works four jobs to get enough money to send him to school, and he has one friend – ironically, the daughter of the librarian. His one pleasure is sneaking into the library to read books, which cam take him places he’s never even dreamed of. But his life is upended when a group of librarians come to town looking for a book. This being a manga, these are BADASS librarians, and they impress Theo with their love and knowledge of books. Unfortunately, all the books may soon be in danger, as the librarian accidentally lets loose a book with a fire spirit in it. Can the books be saved? Can Theo turn his life around?

As I noted, the librarians in this volume are very cool. There’s their leader Anzu, who is the “outwardly serene and sweet but terrifying when angry’ sort I always love. Blunt Nanako is there to tell the librarians how they’re doing their jobs wrong, and how to properly preserve books. Pipiri is a fairy who also seems to be the ‘cheerleader’ of the group, and also the oldest, though she looks young. And then there is Sedona, who just loves books, and bonds quickly with Theo. Sedona also notices that Theo has a few odd things about him – in addition to the pointed ears (which his sister does not have), he can apparently tame savage wolves. An intriguing young boy.

An intriguing series, too. We see Theo at the end of the volume, now a teenager, leaving his town behind and trying to become a librarian. Like the best series, I want to read what comes next.

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