Wednesday, March 4, 2015

ANTIQUARIAN BOOKSHOP BIBLIA'S CASE FILES: But call it 'Biblia Files' because that is a hella cute title.

Once again we're on the J-drama side of things. I was presented with a catalog show called (hang in there) Antiquarian Bookshop Biblia's Case Files. The FTP server listed it as 'Biblia Files,' which would be a darling localised name and to be honest I'm still a bit cranky that that's not the name. But hey! Antiquarian Bookshop Biblia's Case Files it is!

Let me tell you about this here show because it's one of those shows that's so good it makes me vaguely angry. In a good way. If that makes sense.

The main character is Shioriko, a seemingly quiet girl who suddenly becomes a lot more talkative if you bring up anything about books. Like anything. Not just the stories in them. Like she can tell you anything you want to know about ribbon bookmarks. Or alternate endings for international editions. And she runs a bookshop that buys, sells, and appraises antique books.

Working for her as of the first episode is Daisuke, a guy who can't read. Not because he doesn't know how, but because the act of reading triggers flashbacks to a crappy event from his childhood. Shioriko can't pay him much, but in addition to what little he gets, she tells him stories from any of the books they encounter that he's interested in.

Together, they fight crime.

Uh. Kind of. Okay, technically there's not a lot of crime fighting going on, but a lot of mysteries get solved. And they're solved because of details found in books. Again, not just the stories. Forged autographs, missing bookmarks, inconsistent cover art, what have you. According to Shioriko, the condition of a book tells the story of its owner.

Now, here's the thing about this show. I work on a lot of shows. I love some. I tolerate others. Some I just want to be done with. Biblia Files (henceforth because dammit we missed a trick) is a show I literally had to stop working on for a few minutes once in a while just so I could sit and think about what had just happened. It is, as you'd expect, primarily focused on Japanese literature, but there are a couple episodes dealing with Western books -- in particular I'm thinking of the one focused on A Clockwork Orange. It's thoughtful, intelligent, accessible, and emotional. And, you know, then you get an episode where the secondary story is literally just a one-off of The Hangover. Which, don't get me wrong, is still great.

I get intimidated by shows like this sometimes, where the plot and writing are excellent to begin with, simply because it's passing through a few pairs of hands on its way to ending up on y'all's screens and I want to make sure it's done justice. Weirdly, it's also a show I wouldn't mind seeing a US or UK remake of, I'm very picky about shows being completely remade for localisation purposes, but I think any culture could benefit from a show like Biblia Files that celebrates both its own literature and world literature through its own lens.

Heck, I went all William & Mary there for a second. Sorry. Bottom line, please watch it. All eleven episodes are available to watch free on Crunchyroll. It's a middling-paced show, but it will make you very emotional about books. Even if you aren't usually.