What They Say:
A Good Librarian is Like a Good Shepherd, and at a prestigious academy known for its massive library, Kyotaro Kakei is the sole member of the school’s Library Club. A bit of an introvert, Kyotaro has always been better with books than girls – until a mysterious email from the Shepherd hints that his fate is destined to change.
After receiving the Shepherd’s message, Kyotaro is suddenly struck by a premonition that allows him to save a beautiful girl named Tsugumi. Shortly after their first meeting, Tsugumi announces her intentions to join the Library Club, and with Kyotaro’s help, make the school a happier, more interesting place for the students. It doesn’t take long for a host of pretty girls to follow Tsugumi’s lead and join the club in the hopes of spicing up their boring academy lives. Behind everything they do, the Shepherd is there, ready to pull the strings. But who is this Shepherd really? Just another urban legend, or something much more magical? Find out in the complete series of A Good Librarian Like a Good Shepherd!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in its original stereo form encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is one that is largely dialogue driven with a decent selection of wacky elements along the way so it works a fairly good forward soundstage design. Though the show may not really extend itself in a lot of big ways or anything, it’s the kind of show that handles itself well with some good placement and directionality at times in order to keep it fun and moving well. The opening and closing sequences take things up a notch as you’d expect so we get some solid warmth and richness there while overall we have no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes for this series are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by Hoods Entertainment, the show has some really nice design elements that come through very well with some bright and vivid colors that pop without being oversaturated. There’s a good bit of detail in some of the designs and backgrounds and this is well maintained with no breakup or noise in them while the solid level of the colors is just as appealing. It’s a good looking transfer that brings the show to life and shows off the quality of the animation in a very good way.
The packaging design for this release brings us a slightly thicker than normal blue that holds the four discs inside on a hinge. The set comes with an o-card that mirrors the packaging, though with just a bit more pop of color and vibrancy to it. The design for the release is one that feels very simple and minimal, which lets it stand out in its own way but still weaker than one would hope for. The front cover gives us a look at Tsugumi in a window box framed with a lot of blank blue space. The color style used works well as it goes for a softer touch and the minor bit of ornate framing helps to give it a bit more life, but you still can’t help but feeling that it’s a little on the cheap side. The back cover gives us an all-blue background with a small selection of full-color shots from the show along the right. The summary of the premise is framed itself like the front cover with a yellow font on the blue, which is a touch hard to read as it conveys things simply and clearly. The bottom braks out the extras for the set and a look at the technical specs for both formats. The reverse side artwork is identical in all ways to the front cover but with a brown background that I think works about just as well as the blue does.
The menu design for this release essentially replicates the front cover, though at least here the blues are a bit more vivid and engaging when you get down to it. The bulk of it is the blue faux leather design that has the log along the left, which takes up a good chunk of real estate on its own. The right side has the character artwork that changes between the two volumes which uses the same design as the front cover with the white framed by yellow. The navigation along the bottom uses an extended box with the same kind of border but since there’s little to do beyond playing the show with no language setup and no extras on the first disc, it comes across as pretty minimal. Everything works smoothly and easily so there’s plenty to like here with it.
The only extras included here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Based on the visual novel Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai, which spawned half a dozen different manga properties and two light novels, A Good Librarian Like a Good Shepherd is a twelve episode series that originally aired in the fall of 2014. Animated by Hoods Entertainment, the show is one that plays to fairly traditional ideas of the high school setting with some nice little twists and turns that aren’t explored anywhere near as fully as they could be. Adult visual novel games coming to anime form are nothing new as a lot of them translate pretty well once you take the sex side out of it, depending on how adult they actually get. This series is pretty tame overall with what it does as even the fanservice element feels underplayed for the most part, making it more about the characters.
The show focuses on Kyotaro Kakei, a fairly decent character who doesn’t have much personality to him because he’s spent most of his life in books thanks to various traumas in the past that are touched up later in the show. He’s a voracious reader that digs into anything and everything he can get his hands on and has little friends because of it. It’s a typical kind of character where he has no connection to people and even though he reads tons of stories with a range of emotions and characters he has nothing to express himself, as he’s trying to learn and understand these feelings through it to some degree. His past has a curious bit to it though as he once knew a man that gave him a bookmark that would be important in the future should he choose so, which is what kind of helps get things rolling here.
While Kyotaro is fairly normal in most regards he also has the ability to catch glimpses of the near future from time to time. That come in handy at the start here as he sees one of the trams about to come off the rails and crush fellow student Tsugumi Shirasaki. He ends up saving her and the two find themselves in a new orbit together as she’s trying to put together the Happy Project group, which is essentially an odd jobs club designed to bring happiness to the campus. With a sprawling campus of 50,000 students – where we never see an adult, mind you – there’s plenty of opportunity there. Kyotaro’s not exactly interested but he gets drawn in thanks to his own sorta friend Takamine, the one person that keeps him with a small connection to humanity from time to time. I really wish Takamine had a better role as he’s often seemingly forgotten for large chunks of most episodes which makes his position as Kyotaro’s friend fairly forgettable.
The series works a fairly familiar formula through the first half as we get to know Tsugumi and have the introduction of other girls such as Tamamo, the independently wealthy girl, Senri, the musical prodigy, and Kana, who is basically the cute one. We also get introduced to Nagi Kodachi who has a curious eye on Kyotaro for a lot of this early on where she’s prodding him in a lot of ways and we discover that she actually lives next door, though her place is conspicuously empty when he finally confronts her about it. Mostly, we get the usual group of friends that come together as part of a new Library Club to work Tsugumi’s Happy Project together and there are the usual touches of learning about each other and silly incidents along the way, as well as a healthy dose of overall festival preparation in the background for what becomes the main event in the season finale. These are all standard fare things but I’ll admit that the show executes it all nicely because the characters are enjoyable in their simplicity but also feel like you could find some meaty material to work with when it comes to each of them if they had the time to dig into it all.
Where the show takes its interesting turn but fails to really exploit it is in how they’re all getting emails from a mysterious Shepherd that brings them together as a group and provides some nods and teases along the way. This goes back to a mysterious man that Kyotaro met briefly as a younger man and it turns out that Kyotaro is actually quite the special person (surprise, surprise) who is an ideal candidate to be a Shepherd himself. What this sprawling group of people does is operate outside of humanity, as they have no friends or loved ones, and work through the books and stories of individual people to help them with their lives in finding better ways, or avoiding tragedies. With Kyotaro’s difficulty with emotions, it actually makes a fair bit of sense. But you can see how this will all unfold as he begins to develop friendships and possibly a bit more and then has to deal with the choice of what could be his ideal life of helping others or attempting to forge real and difficult relationships.
What the show presents is pretty interesting in terms of what the Shepherds do and we get the reveal of one of the girls also being a candidate alongside Kyotaro as that introduces its own curiosities. There are some minor but interesting background reveals along the way but the felt underplayed overall and not as strongly executed, resulting in them feeling tacked on in the end. Kyotaro is a hard character to make as the lead because he’s bland for so much of it with his lack of emotions, but watching him grow into it slowly definitely has its moments. I do like that we don’t have all the girls literally throwing themselves at him constantly and we really find that it’s only one or two that are actually seriously interested to varying degrees, which gives it a different tone overall than the standard rom/com kind of material. This design, combined with some solid pacing that isn’t rushed and doesn’t force itself with some of the usual cliches, results in it being more enjoyable than I expected.
Considering the material and overall reception of the show originally, I’m not surprised Funimation didn’t dub this release. I had heard very little about the show going into it and with the packaging design and the menu design, well, it’s something that gives the appearance of minimal effort. Thankfully, the show itself has a very good transfer and encoding, the story itself is pretty interesting even if it could be more, and the animation is solid and enjoyable. There’s a lot to like here overall and it has me curious as to just how much more the game and the various other media adaptations add and explore various ideas and concepts. It’s a series with some unrealized and untapped potential.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: C
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: July 12th, 2016
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.