At the core of the series, one of the questions that's regularly asked of the girls Keima helps is, can you change who you are? Can you break free of that which holds you back?
What They Say:
Keima proclaims that books are no longer necessary in this day and age and the soft-spoken Shiori finally loses her cool!? As a result, Keima is able to hear how Shiori truly feels, but now there's an uproar in the library...? The "fortress of paper" that's protected Shiori from the real world is about to change...
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Shiori's a character that was introduced in the last episode that certainly keys in to a particular demographic, being the quiet and shy book loving girl and having Keima trying to help her with the loose soul part was only going to cause her trouble. Keima's the type that can really cause trouble though since he's also a bit of a futurist, which often comes from those that are up on technology and playing the latest games. In his efforts to shake Shiori up some so he can get to her and deal with the loose soul, he hits her with some of the biggest digs. Telling her that everything would be better if all the books were digitized and then tossed.
Getting through her barriers in this way may be cruel, but as he points out to Elsie, he now has managed to get some kind of dialogue going with her and has some access to what she thinks about at least something. Shiori's very adamant about the world of print books and defends it at least briefly before things overtake her and she just has to leave. Her views certainly aren't unique, and while I find myself coming across more in Keima's mindset, I'm not dismissive of those who want print or physical media. There is something special about turning the pages and seeing the way Shiori has used that to build up the walls around her makes sense based on what we see of her past here.
Much of the episode focuses on the difficulties she has in interacting with other people, not being able to say all that much and lacking in the social graces. A rough childhood pushed her further down this direction and spending more and more time within the world of books has only added to that. Her nature has made her an ideal home for a loose soul but Keima is amusing about it since she represents such as standard librarian girl that's not differentiated much from the games. That's a hard one to take since it's an attack on the writers themselves in a way, but it also allows them to try and show that there's more to Shiori than that. The focus on her belief about the importance of books themselves compared to digital versions certainly gives her a bit more of a unique voice as it's something almost never tackled in anime or manga that I've seen.
Watching how Keima manages to tweak and twist things in order to draw out Shiori is a lot of fun. Keima's a lot like her in a number of ways so he's able to understand her fairly easily overall I think. This kind of episode in addition to the previous one is really quite welcome after the hustle and bustle of the Kanon arc since it's rather quiet and restrained. Shiori herself shows her passions well when egged on and even Keima ends up becoming more humanized here in the end than I think was even possible. His own disconnect with the world is paralleled with hers in some ways so seeing how he helps her may in the end play out in similar fashion for him, since there's quite the chance he has a loose soul within himself as well if the show wants to play it that way.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.