Magus of the Library Volume 5 Review

Since it caught up to the Japanese releases, Magus of the Library doesn’t come out all that often in English, but whenever it does, it proves to be an engrossing read. Now the series has hit five volumes and it’s time to check in with Theo as he continues to chase his dreams. 

As we reunite with our protagonist, we find him and his classmates going around the various offices they could choose to work under. There they do a half-day’s work, getting to know what each department does and how their skillsets help or hinder them there. Afterwards, it’s back to class and a gruelling test, which Theo still can’t seem to complete before time’s up! 

To make matters worse, Theo has somehow made an enemy of his classmate Aya Guunjoh, who believes he doesn’t belong in their class if he can’t keep up with the tests and requirements. Aya herself always clears the tests without issue, which leads Theo to boldly assume she must love books but Aya denies his claim and only becomes more disgruntled with him. 

What Theo doesn’t know is that Aya’s dream was to be a scholar who researched the stars, but because no one takes on women as apprentice scholars, there was no path forward for her there. Becoming a Kafna is the closest she can get to chasing her thirst for knowledge. This is also what frustrates her about Theo; she thinks he doesn’t take things seriously and that being a man has opened doors to him that will never be available to her. 

As cheerful and uplifting as Magus of the Library is, I appreciate that it doesn’t shy away from exploring topics like these: showing that the world we’re presented with isn’t fair and not everyone has equal opportunities to accomplish what they wish to. Author Mitsu Izumi never sugarcoats it and instead chooses to balance the gloominess of it with the bright personality of our protagonist. 

Because instalments of this series are such big books, they manage never to linger on one plot for too long. Aya’s storyline slots in neatly alongside the storyline from Volume 4 where Theo is still trying to work out how to do better in class and work out which office he wants to work under. And as mentioned earlier, we spend a significant amount of time getting to see how the different departments work, such as those that  handle restorations and cataloguing. The chapters never linger on these placements for too long, just enough for us to get a peek at the inner workings and understand which members of the class may fit in there after their training. 

This manga has always excelled, not only because of its attention to detail but also knowing when to move the story along and not get stuck on one particular plot point. Although Theo may be no closer to working out what his goal is, the series doesn’t seem like it has any intention of spinning its wheels here. By the end of the volume, the plot is beginning to move in an interesting new direction with the introduction of a late arrival to Theo’s class. I certainly can’t wait to see what Volume 6 has in store for us there! 

The only tiny issue I have with this book is that it’s very heavy on the dialogue and this does sometimes overtake the art, with so many speech bubbles on a page it becomes difficult for Izumi to fit the same level of detail we’re used to into every panel. However, there are still plenty of two-page spreads and full-page panels where Izumi can show off her talents and those more than make up for what we may have lost among all the exposition. 

Magus of the Library Volume 5 comes to the West thanks to Kodansha and continues to be translated by Stephen Kohler. The translation reads well with no issues to note. Kodansha currently has Volume 6 scheduled for an English release in December, but since there has yet to be a Volume 6 in Japan, I’d be surprised if it didn’t end up slipping into 2023. 

Overall, Magus of the Library Volume 5 offers another engrossing read that sheds light on the inequality of the world Theo lives in, but never gets itself bogged down with gloomy feelings. With a delicate touch, Mitsu Izumi’s series continues to delight with its thoughtful worldbuilding and fascinating cast of characters. 

9 / 10


When she's not watching anime, reading manga or reviewing, Demelza can generally be found exploring some kind of fantasy world and chasing her dreams of being a hero.

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