Anime worth checking out -

Kokoro Library

 

"In a small library located on an unpopulated mountain,
There is a quiet and kind girl,
A strong-minded girl,
And a girl who has the same name as the library..."

 

So begins the story of the three sisters who accepted the daunting task of nurturing a legacy, a library built by their late parents. With a two-hour round trip from the nearest town, there are few who partake in the services that this small library provides. But it is said that miracles can happen at Kokoro Library.

 

The quiet and kind girl is Iina, the oldest of the three. Even though she is only 17, she has taken it upon herself to nurture and protect her younger sisters. This is the role that she inherited when their mother passed away. This deep emotional attachment to her sisters has left her completely oblivious to the feelings of Uezawa, the local delivery man, and his many unsuccessful attempts to win her heart. Iina is very good with computers and keeps the library stocked with the latest in technology. She also has a passion for taking pictures, especially of her little sister.

 

Aruto is the strong-minded girl. With a talent for cooking and the uncanny ability to sleep anywhere, this 15-year old is the most level headed and rational of the family. Her straight forward approach balances out the more emotional and naive nature of her two sisters. Aruto may appear to have everything under control, but she also has a secret that she keeps hidden from her sisters.

 

We meet the girl with the same name as the library as she prepares for her first official day of work. Though she is only 10, Kokoro is realizing her dream of becoming a librarian. Kokoro only knows her parents through stories and pictures - her mother having died after giving birth and her father passing away soon after as well. Living with her two sisters in a remote mountain library, she has grown up surrounded by great literature and very few friends. But that is about to change.

 

With no rampaging monsters, giant robots, vengeful aliens, angsty bishonen, annoying talking animal sidekicks, or gratuitous fanservice, this show has what most fans truly desire in good anime - a well written story with subtle surprises and characters that instantly find a place in your heart. The episodes begin at a rather relaxed pace, with the first episode introducing the three sisters and the life that they enjoy at the remote library. Kokoro's first "reference" as an official librarian seems to be a success, but the anticipated return of her first "user" soon becomes a journey into the city and a lesson in trust. Realizing what it means to be a librarian sets the stage for Kokoro's many new and exciting adventures.

 

Along the way Kokoro encounters a wide variety of people, from a young girl battling the disease that claimed the life of her mother, to a robot librarian just learning the joy of helping others. A chance drawing leads to a meeting with her favorite author, Himemiya Kirin; a young woman who seems somewhat familiar - except to Kokoro.

 

The story begins to take a subtle turn at episode 5, when a card is left at the front door of the library. It reads: "Today at Kokoro Library, I will come to get the book with the lock". A notorious thief and master of disguise, who goes by the unusual name of "Funny Tortoise", has set his sights on the library's most mysterious book. No one knows what secrets lie within its locked pages or why this thief wishes to steal it. Help arrives in the form of Inspector Kajihara and ANGEL, an all female detective squad, from Interpol. With not-so-subtle jabs at shows such as Lupin the 3rd, and Saint Tail, this seemingly out of place episode sets in motion the slow revelation of the truth behind the mysterious book and the story that it holds inside it's locked pages.

 

Episode 11 finally reveals the key to the story of Kokoro Library. A step back into the past sheds new light upon the relationship between the seemingly random events in the previous episodes and the people that Kokoro has met along the way. The true joy of this series is the discovery of this heartwarming story for yourself, so I will divulge no further details as to what happens. Though some viewers may find the ending somewhat predictable, I found it to be very emotionally satisfying. The quality of the writing is even more apparent when the series is viewed for the second time, now that all of the clues and underlying connections between the characters are known. I even found new and interesting bits that I had not realized before when I watched the episodes again for this article.

 

Kokoro Library (Kokoro Toshokan) ran for 12 episodes and aired from Oct. 11, 2001 to Dec 27, 2001. With its cute characters, emotionally engaging story, and high quality artwork all wrapped in a beautiful piano-based musical score, I found it to be one of the best anime series of 2001. Unfortunately, series of this particular type have received little interest from companies here in the US, and no license has been announced.

... But it is said that miracles can happen at Kokoro Library.