Mania Grade: B-
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- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B-
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: All
- Region: 2 - Japan
- Released By: Victor Entertainment
- MSRP: �2500
- Running time: 30
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Kokoro Library
Kokoro Library Vol. #1
By Paul Grisham
April 14, 2002
Release Date: April 14, 2002
Kokoro Library Vol. #1
What They SayThe Review!
© Victor Entertainment
This show about librarians in frilly French maid outfits has been popular among fansubbers. I just had to see for myself what the fuss was all about.Audio:
The disc only includes the original Japanese language production. The audio is crisp and clear. Every sound is warm and inviting without even the slightest hint of distortion. I think the best I can say about the sound quality is that you never really notice how good it sounds while you're watching it.Video:
For years, I'd heard about how good R2 video quality, and all I can say is that the proof is in the pudding. This is a great-looking production. There is very little of the infamous edge enhancement many Japanese DVDs use. Colors are rich and warm and convey the fairy tale setting of the Kokoro Library and the nearby town effectively.Packaging:
The disc comes in a white keepcase, and overall, it looks nice, if a bit cluttered. All the important technical specs are included on the back. A trifold booklet lists production information and provides a disc menu map (a nice touch I think should be included in more titles!) The first press of the disc includes a trading card with the cover illustration on the front and a puzzle piece on the back.Menus:
Menus are attractive, but a bit confusing. Some of the menu options seem to go to the same place, or allow the viewer to reach the same place through different means. For instance, under the data menu, the different options merely take you to different places in the navigatable slide show. Also, the extra previews and the "Welcome to Kokoro Library" short are accessible immediately after the first episode. Finally, the "Sub Title" menu has nothing to do with subtitles. That had me confused for several minutes.Extras:
The disc includes alternate episode previews from Iina and Aruto. (Kokoro does the primary episode previews in the show.) I don't know if these previews originally aired with the show on TV. The "Welcome to Kokoro Library" is a nice introduction to the characters and settings in the show that serves also as an advertisement for the second DVD volume. There is also an image gallery with character designs.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kokoro Toshokan (Library) is about a young girl named Kokoro, who is being raised by her two sisters. Committed to carrying out the dreams of their father who built the Kokoro Library, the girls work as librarians, though mostly their job consists of groundskeeping and maintenance. The library is in a very rural area, and patrons to the library are few and far between, so there is little "real" librarian work for the girls to do.
This disc contains the first episode, in which Kokoro begins working as a librarian. Kokoro's sisters, Iina and Aruto, have raised Kokoro well in the absence of parents, but Kokoro still suffers from feelings of incompetancy compared to her older, wiser sisters. To help her build some confidence, Iina and Aruto arrange to let Kokoro take responsibility for the library. The first day passes slowly, and Kokoro laments the lack of patrons. Late in the day, she helps the day's only visitor, a young woman looking for a book that she read as a girl. Kokoro rises to the challenge of helping the woman and eventually finds the book they were searching for.
The story takes a darker turn when the woman fails to return the book by the due date. Kokoro takes it to be some sort of failure on her part and sinks into a deep depression. Only one patron and she has already lost a book. Kokoro takes matters into her own hands and becomes determined to make sure that she doesn't lose the book forever. Her quest takes her on a tour of the area as she searches for the woman and the book. Kokoro's basic optimism and kindess form the soul of the show, and the familial affection the three girls share for each other is heartwarming and uplifting. I won't tell you how it all ends, but Kokoro will learn to trust her own heart, cope with disappointment, and become a more confident librarian and a more confident person in general.
The location of the library is ambiguous, but appears to be a quaint Western European town. The library and the surrounding areas are painted in warm colors and pastels and has almost a watercolor feel. In addition to the beautiful artwork, the mood is conveyed by the excellent music in the series. Most of the music is full of soft piano and violins and acoustic guitar. This is one soundtrack I already feel the urge to purchase. Though everything seems touched by a kind of fairy tale timelessness, there are some touches of modernity, biker gangs and laptop computers that keep the whole show from feeling old fashioned.
This cute and quiet show won't appeal to everyone, but in this one episode alone, there was enough gentle beauty and human warmth to bring me back for another visit to the Kokoro Library. I am hoping that the story and characters grow more involving as the series progresses. Future episodes will almost certainly deal with the problems caused by the library's lack of patrons. Still, for only �2500, the one episode on this disc is self-contained enough that even if I didn't decide to stick with the show further, it's still a decent purchase.
Japanese Language,Image Gallery,Next Episode Previews,Welcome to Kokoro Library
Panasonic Panablack TV, Codefree Panasonic RP56 DVD player, Sony ProLogic receiver, Yamaha and Pioneer speakers, Monster cable. (Secondary equipment, Pioneer 105s DVD-ROM, ATi Rage Fury Pro, ViewSonic A90f, PowerDVD 3.0)