Book of Bantorra is definitely more than its fan service – though if you need some, then the costumes for Noloty and
Chesty La Rue Hamyuts Meseta will have you ‘covered’.
And even, to a far lesser extent, Matt or Enlike.
The Book of Bantorra (Tatakau Shisho: The Book of Bantorra) 2009
But beyond the window-dressing, there’s a high concept fantasy/action story split into fairly strongly connected, non-linear narratives, full of mysteries and hidden motives.
And it has a stellar opening theme song:
So, what’s the plot?
In a world where dead people turn into books and are stored in the Bantorra Library (where anyone who reads a book can learn their past), Armed Librarians who wield psychic powers defend the Library from their enemy: a religious society known as Sindeki Kyoudan. (Adapted from MAL).
In summary, it sounds a little silly, but I came to accept the premise of the world soon enough.
And there is a neat and clear reason for all of what seems so bizarre on the surface of the world too, but the series does a nice job of keeping the truth if not hidden, at least obscured for a good long while, and then explaining a lot of the mysteries too.
With the unique premise and fascinating world in place, and mysteries abound, the strength of Book of Bantorra I thought still rested with the range of characters. For the most part, they all get time to have some back story and depth in the present, with small arcs or important roles to play, and occasional quirks too.
In fact, the story of Shiron and her trials with the Shindeki Church could have been an entire season for me – and I actually thought, early on, they were going to dominate the series but as I mentioned above, there are a lot of connected plot lines from up to a dozen viewpoints, so be prepared for many threads coming together by the end.
(Having said the above, I could see that if you weren’t hooked on the characters or world-building pretty quickly, then this anime could very well feel frustrating and muddled).
In terms of aspects I personally didn’t enjoy as much, I felt that the soliloquising and/or grandstanding from some of the antagonists was pretty tedious – one of my pet peeves, perhaps.
The ultimate villain was a little underwhelming too, and while Hamyuts’ bra-size seems like obvious pandering, she did have an actual arc and voice actress Romi Park was pretty convincing re: creating the sense of Hamyuts as untrustworthy.
I’m glad Book of Bantorra was from an era where it wasn’t unusual for an anime to run for 25+ episodes, as this story needed to be that long in order to wrap things up.
In terms of a recommendation, well I think if you like action, fantasy and as I mentioned/warned early in the post, if you like multiple, interconnected narratives too, then there’s a chance you’ll enjoy this anime.
I’m glad I stumbled across it, as I’ve rarely seen it mentioned.