Book Girl (Bungaku Shoujo) (2010) initially caught my attention because the premise I read (describing the character Touko Amano) was a little odd and I wanted to see what it was all about. After watching the two sets of OVAs (one set of 3 and one additional one) and the movie, I am so glad I decided to check it out. This anime is an adaptation of light novels written by Mizuki Nomura and illustrated by Miho Takeoka. The majority of this review is geared towards the movie, as that’s where most of the plot occurs.
What’s it about?
One day, Konoha Inoue sees an older student at his school, Touko Amano, eating paper. When she notices him, she demands that he joins the Literature Club, making him the second member after her. Why? Because Touko can’t eat food, and works of literature are her only source of nourishment. Apart from this odd occurrence, though, Konoha is a seemingly ordinary student. But the truth is he has a tragic past that he is trying to keep hidden. Can he keep up the façade when the Literature Club starts receiving strange notes?
What I really liked about this anime is that it’s a little bit different. The series is an odd mixture of drama, romance, idealism and quirkiness, which gives it an overall unique charm. Not a lot happens plot-wise until the latter half (movie), but that’s okay, because the focus is on the characters. Whilst Konoha is a little on the dull side, he’s a nice enough main. Touko is a pretty interesting character, pulling off ditzy and wise successfully in different moments. Despite being the title character, she is more of an audience to the conflict between Konoha and the ‘antagonist’ Miu Asakura. Although her ability (?) of eating literature seems a little unnecessary, I think it gives her a brand new take on emotion, something which is put to good use throughout the movie. On the other hand, Miu is a psychological mess, selfish and possessive. I think her character was put together really well, and it a great contrast to Touko. She’s also voiced by Aya Hirano, which is awesome.
The music in the series is nice and fitting, but not particularly memorable. Likewise, there are gorgeous backgrounds but character art is overly simple.
Finally, there is a lot of reference to a number of great literature works, in particular Kenji Miyazawa’s Night on the Galactic Railroad, a classic Japanese novel. These references ground the anime and add a lot of credibility to Touko’s character. There’s also pretty interesting and, based on Tokou’s description of them, I’ve since looked them up with the intention to read them.
Although I don’t think there are any major flaws in this anime, I can understand two major things that others may have an issue with. Firstly, a lot of the themes and aspect of the anime, especially Touko’s character, are more understated than what you normally see. While this means that the drama isn’t irritatingly over-the-top, it does mean that a lot of events/actions/speeches have very subtle connotations, and the viewer is left to figure it out themselves.
Secondly, although I personally liked the conclusion of the movie, believing it tied in well with Touko’s mysticism, it is very convenient… and… well… corny, to be perfectly honest. So if high-tensioned, dramatic climaxes are your cup of tea, prepare to be disappointed.
Anything else I should consider?
As I mentioned earlier, this ‘series’ is actually composed of three OVAs ‘Book Girl: Memoire’, the movie ‘Book Girl’, and a stand-alone OVA ‘Book Girl Today’s Snack: First Love’. Memoire was broadcasted before the movie, and is a prequel. I strongly recommend watching Memoire first; although you already know the secret of Konoha’s past, Miu’s character is a lot more sympathetic in the movie. If you don’t watch the OVAs first, I think you will find the movie disjointed and Touko’s character out-of-place. Be sure to also check out the stand-alone OVA as well. I thought it was a really cool look at Touko’s experience of literature. I watched it after the movie, but it would fit in well either before or after the movie.
Art: 6.5/10: Backgrounds are quite pretty and colour palette is beautiful, but character art is simple.
Story: 6.5/10: Although the plot isn’t overly complex, the overall story that it tells is quirky and interesting.
Characters: 7.5/10: The characters are the focus of the story, and the two mains, Touko and Miu really shine in different ways.
I really loved this anime’s charm, and the overall ‘bookish’ feel to it. Not a complicated story, but the characters are really well done, and the overall atmosphere is pretty unique. I found it very enjoyable, and if it seems like your thing, check it out… it’s better than expected. Overall, I give it a 7/10.