(Anime Review) The Book of Bantorra

Surprise. An anime that a lot of you haven’t watched or heard of before. Maybe. I wouldn’t have heard of it either if I didn’t get the dvd set of this anime from Crunchyroll’s mystery box thing. I got a few different shows from this box set at well, but this show sounded the most interesting.  I watched this one first. I got this in mid-November and this show is 27 episodes long, so now you know how long it takes me to watch non-seasonal anime stuff. Maybe the lack of knowledge and hype about the show is what made watching it the most interesting experience. My opinions were not affected by an outside force and I liked that fact. That way I can tell you authentically that this show is above average, but is a huge mess as well.  It’s not your average light novel adaption, but it’s full of rushed plots and developments. While Book of Bantorra has some smart developments, it must explain a lot of material upfront so that the viewer has an idea of what is going on.

So what is Book of Bantorra about? Will, the main concept of the plot is easy to explain. The anime is about this group called “Armed Librarians” in a war against “The Church of Drowning”. In this world, when people die they leave stone books behind that tell you the person’s life story just by touching it. This doesn’t work in an instant, one touch will get you through one chapter or so. These books are protected by the Armed Librarians. The Church of Drowning seeks the destruction of the Armed Librarians, but more the destruction of its assistant director Hamyuts Meseta. She is the strongest person in the entire world, so The Church of Drowning is dedicated to killing her in any way that they can. None of their strategies have worked so far. She spends most of her life trying to die and being a dedicated fan service person by the way she wears her shirt. Never follow a leader who is stronger than you, but is seeking death. Just don’t. It’s trap.

Hamyuts is one out of many well-defined characters. The Armed Librarians are very interesting group of unique individuals. There is Mattalas, the former play boy who fell in love with Hamuyts, is a master of the pistol, and can see three second glimpses. Next there is the old maid Ireia who can stop time and works hard to keep everybody in line. Mirepoc, the most structured one of the group who wears a military uniform, has the best psychic abilities of them all, and she is one of the most sentimental people in the group. Especially toward Volken.  Now Volken is obsessed with justice and is as lawful good as a character can be in this show. He also had some spinning knife and duplication abilities. Noloty is the former princess of island people and is a master of hand to hand combat. She has the biggest heart of the group and refuses to kill anybody.  Guys, this is only a small list of the armed librarians, but the people I named have at least one arc that fleshes them out more than the others. There are some interesting characters for the Church of Drowning as well, but they are not as huge of focus in the anime.

From a technical stand point, Book of Bantorra is nothing special. The animation can have some fantastic moments, but there are also a lot of cut away moments, still frames, and recycled bits of animation as well. The character designs are interesting though. From merely a profile perspective, you tell who is who. The setting is interesting because It is very reminiscent of early 1900’s style. The buildings, the technology, and clothing are very inspired by that sort of style. The setting by itself different brings some uniqueness to the series and the person behind the source material put a lot of hard work behind it to make it different from a lot of other series with magic characters fighting other magic characters. The world building is great because of that.

The main problem with Book of Bantorra is it’s pacing. This anime is made out of three or four episode arcs that explore a character or a concept, then skip to something else. The flow is completely unnatural because one arc may connect to another arc nine episodes after the previous one. The three arcs in between the two mentioned will have almost nothing to do with the previous situation. I had a hard time remembering what happened between the two arcs a lot of the time, so Book of Bantorra threw me through a couple loops each time it happened. Also, some of the episodes spend more time on the backstory of that certain arc, so the flow isn’t consistent or natural there either. It’s all a big mess, but a fun big mess. There is also the matter of the fanservice of the acting director Hamyuts and Noloty, but it all makes sense from a story perspective in some ways. It’s still fanservice though, because the camera likes focusing on different their chests or rear ends. The first shot of Hamyuts is very memorable because of this aspect.

Would I recommend this anime? Yeah. It feels like a bit of a slog from time to time, but Book of Bantorra is a unique light novel anime adaptation compared to almost all others. It isn’t a power fantasy, fantasy series or takes place in a magical high school where the students. Book of Bantorra has a lot of cool, interesting, and mature themes going around in it. The characters are mature as well and feel like well fleshed out people. As long as you can get through its messy pacing, everything else will drive you through the show and leave you with a good impression.

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