All she wants is a good book to read.
I thought going in to an isekai story about a bookworm finding herself bereft of books that I would finally find a protagonist I could really connect with. That’s on me for having expectations before something starts but the usual standard is a high school male character getting transported to other worlds and gathering a harem and while I do enjoy a lot of their stories I’m not connecting with the protagonist. So once I realised Ascendance of a Bookworm was delivering a character I didn’t connect with, despite their love of books, I started wondering what else this anime had to offer and I came up a little low on the positives from this first episode.
Admittedly, it is a first episode and still establishing that the main character did in fact come from another world and does love books. My do they love to remind the audience that she loves books. It is her one and only personality trait so far outside of a disdain for pre-industrial revolution hygiene.
I know I mentioned this in another first episode review for another isekai (though I can’t remember which one) but the lack of subtlety in establishing the character trait or gimmick in these shows is becoming more and more detrimental. They are so desperate to declare that their character is going to be different that the only thing they do is show us that one aspect, over and over again and the end result is a character that is just kind of dull.
It also didn’t help that the episode was framed as a flashback. We start with a priest using some magic headband to see our protagonists’ past in order to figure out why she loves books and a bunch of other odd things about her. That alone kind of established the premise but let’s go through it all step by step.
The reality is this episode is slow moving and pretty dull. Throw in visuals that aren’t exactly compelling (and there’s little animation to comment on) and while this isn’t broken it has nothing to really hook you into watching. The one question I’d like an answer to is what happened to the girl who our protagonist is now inside of and when they shared memories did they share aspects of their personality or can the other girl take control? I don’t think that is the case but I’d probably be more interested in the story if she could.
I went in wanting to like this but mostly found myself bored by episode 1. I’ve definitely said it on my blog before but I would rather watch something that is terrible but in some ways entertaining than something that is functional but boring. I’ll give this another episode or two but if I’m still getting lulled off to sleep by it I’ll let it go and maybe use the time to catch up on reading a good book.
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Images from: Ascendance of a Bookworm. Dir. M Hongou. Ajia-Do. 2019.