Basket Weaving and Making Pancakes
I was fairly sure episode 3 was where Ascendance of a Bookworm and myself would part ways. The first two episodes were decidedly unimpressive and Main, our protagonist, annoyed me. Yet here we are at the end of episode 3 and while the first half seemed more of the same, Main ignoring what her mother and sister wanted to do her own thing and then whining at her sister every step of the way to help her before quitting, the second half of this episode seemed to finally find its feet.
Then I realised why I enjoyed the second half of the anime so much more. Main put aside her quest for paper and was actually just engaging in the slice of life winter behaviours with her family. While she was bringing in her knowledge from her former life she wasn’t fighting anyone or whining. It is odd that I say a story is at its best when it isn’t pushing toward something, but letting go of her immediate obsession with making paper and spending time helping her sister make a hair ornament or cooking pancakes was actually the best this anime has been and actually pretty enjoyable.
It was also kind of nice seeing her back at the gate house and practising her letters before helping out with the maths. In this case she hadn’t demanded it, but was unable to be left at home alone and so it makes sense that she is entertaining herself while waiting for her mother and Otto is a fun character as he seems to be the only one really paying attention to just how clever she is for a five (six?) year old.
Unfortunately it isn’t all sunshine and roses as this episode gives us a firm reminder that the real Main is gone. I thought at first the father was being really harsh when he said he didn’t care if Main was acting strange but he followed it up by explaining that with all her fevers he was just happy to see her up and active. It was kind of a heart-breaking moment when you realise the little girl he wanted to see up and active isn’t there anymore.
Still, this episode did enough to keep me watching and it would be nice to see Main develop into a character that doesn’t set my teeth on edge. It really was a lovely moment when we realised that she put all that effort into making Turi’s hair ornament as a thank-you for Turi helping her earlier. It made some of what happened earlier in the episode a little easier to swallow. Now if we could see Main think outside of herself a little more often then I could probably get behind her and her quest to be a librarian in a world with very few books.
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Images from: Ascendance of a Bookworm. Dir. M Hongou. Ajia-Do. 2019.