Rash Decisions and Consequences
For every step Ascendance of a Bookworm takes forward it feels like it has to trip over its feet in the process. While the story, world-building, and support cast continue to work well, Main as the central character backslides as she finally gets to go through her baptism, finds a library and then recklessly asks to be made a priestess. It leads to a major conflict for the final episode of the cour but it felt incredibly unnecessary and almost as though Main had reverted to the girl we met back at the start who cared for nothing except books.
Fortunately, they do at least temper Main’s idiocy with some strong emotional moments with Lutz, some great moments with her family, and even Benno gets to shine as he gives her advice on negotiations (which largely end up being pointless given the church isn’t wanting to negotiate at first and then after things happen largely just cave in and give Main what she wants). As usual though, it is the support cast carrying the day and they are doing an excellent job of it. I really want Lutz to live a happy life though I feel Main is going to keep dragging him into messes.
These three episodes do tie up quite a few loose ends with Lutz confronting his mother and being determined to pursue the path of a merchant with or without Main and Main finally having a path to surviving the Devouring even if it does seem a bit thorny. However, as she’s just met the head priest and there’s a lot more to learn, that second cour which is apparently coming sometime next year is kind of essential. The story is really just getting going and we’ve come to a halt.
The other problem with the episodes is the high priest who is clearly there to exhibit the worst attitudes of the nobles and the corruption of the church but he’s so blatant about the whole thing that it just feels fairly ineptly written. It does do what it needs to do in terms of character motivation and world building and yet there’s absolutely no subtlety to the situation or anything beyond the surface layer of class discrimination. It really feels like a lost opportunity to actually add some depth to the story (admittedly, they did a reasonably good job earlier in the season with Lutz).
It feels like this season of Ascendance of a Bookworm has been such an up and down ride. There are parts of this anime I’ve found really charming and touching, but overall I still dislike the central character and find myself rolling my eyes at her more often than not. These final three episodes were no exception as we went from sweet and touching moments to melodrama in the space of a few minutes and then back again. I’ll get to a full season review soon so I’ll have to get my thoughts in order.
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Images from: Ascendance of a Bookworm. Dir. M Hongou. Ajia-Do. 2019.