Watch or Drop? Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka?

Watch or Drop Spider
Spider - "Nope! No Idea! Time to put it aside!
If at first you don’t succeed – give up. Positive messages from a kid reincarnated as a spider.

Watch or Drop? Rules

Rules modified for the Autumn 2021 season.

  1. The anime must be new (not a sequel or spin-off).
  2. I’ll watch as much as it takes to make a decisionas to whether the anime will be added to the watch/review list or dropped and forgotten. For good.
Spider - "It worked! It actually worked!"
Gotta remember to celebrate the little things.

First Impressions:

If you read my first impressions of the light novel series you will know that while I enjoyed the story of So I’m A Spider, So What? (or Kumo Desu ga, Nani Ka?) I did find some of the writing quite clunky and at times the game mechanics and stat displays really interfered with the enjoyment and immersion of the story. Basically reading whole pages of stat displays isn’t interesting. That said, there were enough other points that I did enjoy that I read on from book 1 and found myself really quite enjoying the series of light novels having currently read through 6 volumes with volume 7 sitting in my to be read pile (that pile is a slowly getting worked through). When all is said and done, this is one story I wanted an anime adaptation for because I think inherently the story will work better visually then having to read through some of the more awkward bits.

So how did episodes 1 – 3 go?

My first impressions were very positive. This series is so far delivering on all the fun and energy that were in the books, as well as the nastier parts with some hints even in these three episodes that not everything is going to be dancing spiders and kids playing with water. The game mechanic elements, including stat displays, are working significantly better on screen than they did in text and really I have very few complaints. The story is still a little manic as we kind of chop and change between the human reincarnations at the school and the spider in the dungeon and if I was going in cold without prior knowledge I’d be more put off by this, however this is a case where I’m pretty happy to wait for it to bring itself together. Would I say the same if I hadn’t read the light novels? Hard to say. There’s a lot of charm here but unless the audience is hooked on the spider antics, the bigger picture stuff is really not coming through in these early episodes so I could understand people deciding this anime wasn’t for them.


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Series Positives:

I don’t give it a shout out often enough but I am going to make a clear mention of it here, they’ve nailed the voice acting for our reincarnated spider. I was really surprised when I looked up Aoi Yuuki’s role list to find out she was the bully in San-Gatsu, played the cute younger sister in ACCA, and has had a whole range of main and supporting roles in lots of anime I’ve watched and when looking at the characters she’s played, she’s always delivered a quality performance. She’s seriously impressive here as she goes through depressed and defeatist, to grim determination, to cocky and celebratory and everywhere in between as she learns about her spider skills and about her environment. So far Hugo’s voice actor, Kaito Ishikawa (who also voices Iida in My Hero Academia) has also delivered an A+ performance. While some of the other characters haven’t been quite so nuanced, no one has delivered a poor performance and this one is just a pleasure to listen to as the characters are really working to draw you into this world.

Hugo - "This is what they mean by chosen by god!"
Hugo is confident, I’ll give him that. He is however a character who is set up to be despised and he does a great job of being despicable.

Outside of the impressive voice work, the visuals are actually pretty appropriate here. Sure, you’ll find cleaner and more fluid animation elsewhere, but they’ve got a style here and it suits the story well and doesn’t intrude on things too much. Besides, animating all those spider legs is pretty impressive. I do appreciate that even in the dark cavern they are careful to ensure the characters and action are actually light enough to see. While this may not be super realistic (what do you want from an anime about a girl being reincarnated as a spider) it at least means I’m not squinting through murk to try and figure out what is actually going on (perhaps Arifureta could take notes for their first few episodes).


Series Negatives:

With a whole classroom of kids getting vaporised and reincarnated, while these first three episodes focus primarily on the spider and the growing rivalry between goody-two-shoes Schlain and the obnoxious Hugo, there’s a lot of other characters who aren’t getting much of a look in. Karnatia who was a boy reincarnated as a girl and Fei who reincarnated as a dragon are both present here but barely get much of a look-in outside of being allied with Schlain and the audience remains pretty in the dark about everything else (again this kind of carries over from how the books were written, but I still feel it is a small failing given it makes it harder for the audience to really get into things).

Spider in trouble.
Have you ever just had one of those days?

Outside of the same basic narrative issues the source had though, I have very few complaints about this anime. It is fun to watch and while some of the events seem a little predictable, and the spider seems to just run headlong from one situation into another, there’s enough personality about it to keep it feeling fresh rather than just another isekai with the gimmick of being a spider.


Karandi Excited Transparent

I was pretty sure that this was absolutely going to end up on my watch list even if it wasn’t very good just because of my curiosity about how much of the story would end up being covered and how some of the descriptions in the book would actually appear in action. That said, these first three episodes were better than I had dared to hope and so far I’m loving this adaptation. Very much looking forward to watching more but as this one is 24 episodes it is going to be awhile before I can do a binge watch. I may, when it gets to episode 12 just binge the first cour and do a mid-season impressions post, largely because I’m not sure I can wait that long.

Other Impressions:

Images from: Wonder Egg Priority. Dir. S. Wakabayashi. Cloverworks. 2021.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

So I’m A Spider, So What? Volume 4


And now the timeline makes sense.

So I’m A Spider, So What has jumped back and forth between the events in the Great Elroe Labyrinth and the events surrounding Shun, the newly titled hero, through the previous volumes. While I always had a sense that the events from the spider’s point of view were not in quite the same time as the events Shun was describing, it wasn’t until volume 4 where the reader is given a clear answer to exactly when both sequences are occurring and the relationship between them. It is a credit to this story that it has managed to come out of the reveal relatively neatly and with the story clicking nicely into place rather than becoming unravelled.

And just for those who are still utterly confused as to what happened first or the actual sequence of events that we’ve been told about but never saw first hand, this volume handily contains at the end a timeline of the events so that you can see the full sequence very quickly and help reconcile any further confusion. It isn’t intrusive and doesn’t add anything that couldn’t have been picked up through a return read but it just helps straighten out the whole affair.

Now if this time disparity was just another gimmick, like the protagonist being a spider, then I’d have to wonder if it was worth the effort, but realistically it has really helped to set up the different characters and their relative experiences before things start coming together.

That is where volume 4 of So I’m A Spider, So What? really starts to shine. While the spider story-line an the human story-line still haven’t actually collided, they are clearly on a collision course. With so many other reincarnated characters already assembled, the war in full swing, and everything about to come to a head, it is just a matter of time now. Where previous volumes I’ve found the spider grinding amusing but not overly purposeful at times and I’ve enjoyed the story of the goings on in the human world but we’ve only seen glimpses, volume 4 gives us some fairly specific purposes to the spider’s activities and the human story gets, if not equal space, at least equal weight in this volume.

My previous criticisms though of the intrusive nature of the game mechanics do still stand. As much as this volume actually starts revealing the reason why the world they reincarnated into seems so much like a game, there’s only so many times you can come across a page that is nothing but stats and skills after a monster has been appraised before you just stop looking at them and flick to the next page to get on with the story. It isn’t as though the spider doesn’t then point out the most significant stats in her next bit of narration anyway so reading the page is utterly pointless.

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So I'm a Spider, So What?, Vol. 4 (light novel)

That said, while the execution of stats and skill lists may be intrusive, the basic function within the story is fairly purposeful. Not to mention, the spider is really using those skills and stats to their advantage and being quite innovative. On more than one occasion turning a one-sided battle into quite a thrilling nail-biter because of how they’ve used the level system to their advantage.

Which is why I can’t stop reading this series of books. As much as they rely on gimmicks to try to distinguish themselves from an overcrowded field, and as much as the game mechanics right from the beginning have been heavily weighing down the story, there’s a real cleverness at times to the way these standard elements are employed. While once or twice it really looks like they are over-reaching in order to extract the spider from an incredibly dire situation, they usually manage to make the events fit within the established rules and patterns of the world, even if that world is incredibly unfair and a lot of those skills and stats are clearly over-powered and close to cheating (Immortality? Really?).

While the spider gets the fun battle and exhilarating saves and victories, the humans are on the run after the events of book 3 and end up the elven village where the other reincarnated kids have been kept. This plot line is subdued, even dull in terms of events, by comparison, and yet we learn a lot through the course of the book and honestly I’m really looking forward to finding out what the next steps are for these characters with the new information they’ve acquired.

Needless to say, I am going to read the next volume in this series. It will very much depend on the individual as to whether or not they’ll enjoy this series though. I think most people who enjoy isekai stories and don’t object to game mechanics being used as the basis of a narrative will find a lot to like here but for other readers while there are some brilliant moments they probably won’t offset the parts of So I’m A Spider, So What they don’t like.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

So I’m A Spider So What Volume 3 Light Novel Review


More levelling up and beating monsters than ever before!

This volume is definitely dividing its time between the spider in the labyrinth and the prince in peril. Honestly, it is hard to know who has it tougher in this book. While the spider has been levelling themselves up, they still face threat after threat and every day is a fight to live, fortunately they’ve got enough tricks and skills now to make a good showing of it. You wouldn’t think the prince’s life would be that hard except for the part where his older brother died and he suddenly found himself lumped with the ‘hero’ title that only one person can get. Not only dealing with the death of someone but also given a position that will probably get you kills isn’t exactly easy.

So the plot continues to bubble along in So I’m a Spider So What? and I’m getting more and more suspicions that they are deliberately blurring the timeline in this story. It will be interesting to see if I’m right or not when I finally get on to the next book


That aside, it is the characters who are driving this story. Mostly because events in the novel mostly consist of characters getting attacked by monsters or political conspiracies and escape attempts so while it works it honestly gets a little repetitive. However, some fairly solid first person narration with different characters narrating appropriate parts keeps this whole thing rolling along and largely keeps it pretty amusing and entertaining. There’s also enough twists and weird moments thrown in to keep the plot from ever becoming stale.

What has gotten stale, and I mentioned this in my review of volume 2, are the pages of stats. This book isn’t as bad as the second volume but it doesn’t take much page flicking to find an entire page covered in stat listings and levels. Why on earth would anyone want to read that? Just tell us the levels we need to know to understand why the character is freaking out because they are about to die and leave it at that. This is just padding and incredibly dull padding that gets a little bit more dull every time we see it.


However, I’ve had far too much fun with the dungeon roaming spider at this point to give up the story, and the new hero is actually kind of interesting and I’d love to see how his character progresses (assuming someone doesn’t kill him). Also, the fight scene at the end of this book was pretty impressive to read (I’d love to see it animated actually) so I’m on board for another volume of this series. It isn’t the best, but it has enough quirky ideas and personality to keep me going.

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If you’re interested in reading So I’m A Spider, So What? Volume 3 it is available on the Book Depository.

Friday’s Feature: The Reincarnation Dilemma


I’ve been wondering for awhile why so many trapped in another world stories have been using reincarnation as a vehicle for travelling between our world and another. The far easier option is just to throw the protagonist through a portal, summon them, cross over or whatever else is needed to get them there and then close the door behind them. Reincarnation creates a myriad of plot issues that a lot of the time just don’t need to be in the story at all and are seldom addressed in any kind of satisfying manner. So what are some of the problems I have with reincarnation as a story and are there any anime that get it right?

In Another World With my Smartphone - Touya

It Just Isn’t Necessary

Ernesti from Knight’s and Magicis a great example of a character who did not need to be reincarnated. He literally could have just been a born genius from the world he was on given the only bearing his past life had on the one we watched was that he was good at programming, and apparently designing robots. Both of these skills could easily have been acquired by a genius in the world he grew up in, and in point of fact given they offer an antagonist later on who isn’t quite at Ernesti’s level of over-powered brilliance but is still pretty good at developing mechs you have to wonder why they bothered.

Knight's & Magic - Ernesti

Now I mentioned this in my review of the anime, but adding the reincarnation aspect does nothing for this story. All it does is eat up precious minutes of air time showing us a former life that will have no importance on the overall plot and isn’t necessary.

Ernesti brings no external knowledge of the world he is entering into the world. As he has been reborn in a new body none of his physical abilities have gone with him. He has no contact with anyone or anything from his former world where knowing who he was previously might aid the story. There is literally not reason for him to be a reincarnation and it is pretty easy to forget that this is the premise of the story.

And while I’m kind of bashing Knight’s And Magic, it isn’t the only story guilty of this.

Now if we look at something like Sailor Moon or Kyou Kara Maou, while the reincarnation is from their former life/world and into the modern one, the fact that the characters are reincarnated has an impact on every part of the plot. Neither one of these stories would be able to exist except for the fact that the main characters were reborn. Their former lives are completely intertwined with the events they are facing in their present life and the power they use is tied in with it as well.

Kyou Kara Maou.jpg

Even In Another World With My Smartphone at least made use of his learned ability to use the phone and the fact that he chose to carry the phone with him into his next life. Then again, In Another World With My Smartphone created a whole other issue.

Have They Actually Been Reborn?

By its very nature, reincarnation requires you to be born again with the same soul in a different body. And that creates some interesting juxtapositions if you choose to reincarnate particular souls in bodies that just don’t match them, though this aspect of reincarnation is seldom explored. Nor is the influence of the body on the soul, though a light novel I’m reading at the moment, So I’m a Spider, So What seems to be getting into this issue by exploring the impact of having a male soul reborn inside a female and human souls being reborn inside of monsters so I’m kind of enjoying that aspect of it.

In Another World With My Smartphone

In Another World With My Smartphone just skips the whole rebirth thing. God just sends Touya to the other world, fully clothed and still fifteen years old, with all memories and learned knowledge in tact but with all his abilities boosted. I’m actually fine with this concept given it means we don’t have to watch the tedious growing up process or see his confusion with his soul memories and body memories colliding (assuming they bother to address that issue) but it kind of shoots the premise of being reborn or reincarnated in the foot. They might as well have just said he would be sent to or transported to the other world given there really wasn’t a reincarnation process here.

Does Entering a Game Count as Rebirth?

Now this one gets tricky because we’ve had a lot of characters transported into worlds based on game mechanics with levelling up and the like. The question is, have they really been reborn or is their soul simply trapped inside the game character. And if they can’t leave and the world operates as a world does it matter that it uses game mechanics at all?

How Not To Summon A Demon Lord  - Diablo

So what?

 I think starting That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime made me really think about how reincarnation works in stories. The first episode spends a lot of time in our world (comparatively) setting up a character that the episode then promptly kills and has him reborn. What I wanted to know was would any of the story later on be changed if we simply start with him waking up in his new body, realising he’s no longer human and moving on. Is seeing his self-intro as an ordinary guy going to make this any more engaging to watch?

And it isn’t just reincarnation. There are a lot of premises out there that get used to lead us into stories and then seem to serve no purpose. While I get that archetypes and cliches allow us to cut over a lot of fluffing about, I really do feel that narratives need to put more effort in sometimes and really use their premise. Otherwise, they just have me wondering, what’s the point?

Sailor Moon
This remains my favourite example of reincarnation in anime.

However, I’d love to know what you think of reincarnation in anime. What are some of the best examples? What are some of the worst?

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James


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So I’m a Spider, So What Volume 2 Light Novel Review: Being Reincarnated is Hard


While the game mechanics are still very much going wild, this second volume follows several of the classes reincarnated students through their latest trials and tribulations.


This is going to be really hard to review because mostly telling you anything about the plot would drop us face first into spoiler territory. While many things can be suspected early on in this volume, it isn’t until the end of it that critical reveals are made and that kind of changes a lot of how you feel about the story.

So I’ll start with my general impression of the book, which is it isn’t all that great to read. Don’t get me wrong, the story and setting are actually quite interesting, but the heavy reliance on levelling and game mechanics really get in the way of the narrative. There are literally entire pages given to reading the main character’s current levels and statuses. I don’t even like reading those when I am playing an RPG and prefer to just guess where abouts I’ve currently levelled to. The last thing I want is the pace of a novel to come to a screeching halt to find out that Recovery Speed is now at LV4 and Cutting Enhancement is at LV2. When you couple those gripping pages with pages of ‘narrator’ dialogue telling the spider that various points are going up, you could probably shed about half the pages in the book without actually denting the story content.

Despite that, the story we get is really interesting and that just annoys me because it means I will read the next book when I can even though the writing itself is really not great.

I don’t ever want to reincarnate as a spider.

Still, the spider’s exploits in the labyrinth are kind of fun. The setting varies sufficiently and there is enough detail put into encounters to make it worth the while. More importantly, the human characters on the surface get a lot more time in this book than in book one. Shun in particular is a far more interesting character this time around and… okay, we’re getting back into spoiler territory, but he’s a lot more noteworthy and I enjoyed his story immensely.

Still, this volume is hard to recommend as a read. There are plenty of isekai stories out there about humans in other worlds, being reincarnated as either human or not, and this one isn’t particularly great to read. I’d love to see this story shed of the gimmicky game elements and told with quite a bit more fluency, though perhaps there’s a reason those elements are needed further down the line. For now they just seem to be there because the writer couldn’t think of a better way to show character progress and that by itself is probably a big red flag.

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If you’re interested in reading So I’m a Spider So What Volume 2 it is available on the Book Depository.

So I’m a Spider, So What Volume 1 Light Novel Review: Game Mechanics Go Wild



A classroom explodes in Japan and next thing our protagonist knows they are hatching as a spider in another world. Good thing for levelling up.


I’ll admit that wasn’t much of an overview, but to be honest, it probably didn’t need to be. The story presented in volume 1 of this series is that straight forward and more importantly it is a concept rather than a story. From beginning to end, this book is establishing its world and our character reacts accordingly to the various events that get thrown at them. But there is no grand quest or target here other than survival for another day. And while glimpses of other characters, also reincarnated classmates, suggest a much grander tale to unfold in future volumes, the plot in this one, judged on its own merit and without thinking about what might come later, is pretty lame.

It doesn’t help that we are once again trapped in a fantasy world that for some reason uses game based mechanics including menus, skills, levelling up, stamina bars and whatever else they chose to throw in. If we actually went through the book and removed all instances of discussing these things, observing them, or having announcements about achieving levels or targets, the book would be about half the size pretty much instantly. And while I’m not opposed to something being based on game mechanics, when it comes at the expense of story, or worse is used as the sole gimmick other than the protagonist being an arachnid, I really do have to throw a rock at it.

Yet, before you cast this one aside from any potential reading list I do have to note, that despite the plot, character, and gimmicky nature of the premise, this was actually fun to read. Okay, it didn’t do enough of anything and I finished the book feeling like maybe the introduction of a story was finished, and I really disliked the main character which is a shame because they narrate most of it, and yet the word fun still seems appropriate as a description of my reading experience.

So what did it do right?

From you normal point of view, very little. The narrative structure is barely present and really other than the character reeling from crisis to crisis with small moments of self-congratulations or loathing in between, there isn’t a lot going on. And yet, individually most of these moments are kind of fun. The spider learning to build a home, developing strategies for taking down prey, running from humans, fighting a snake, and even the final monkey fight (not that they are actually monkeys) were all pretty fun experiences.

There are also enough hints from the secondary story line with the Prince and the other reincarnated students that a larger story will eventually appear. However, this is one thing I don’t like about ongoing series when they don’t give you a narrative in itself that links to a larger story but simply give you a story fragment and expect that you’ll read on in order to be satisfied. While this certainly made me curious enough to read on, overall it makes it hard to recommend this first book because if you want to read a story, this doesn’t have one contained within.

That said, I do have to congratulated the writer on their pacing. We didn’t linger in any one part of the story for too long. Even the moments of self-loathing or healing that the spider underwent were moved through with sufficient pace that you caught the mood that was intended but didn’t feel like you were being dragged along by the writing. While a little more depth of character and tone may have been appreciated, I’m just glad at no point did I feel like nothing was going on and that I’d be better off closing the book and going elsewhere.

However, while pacing is nicely kept up, descriptions from start to finish are vague and perfunctory. Part of this is a byproduct of the gaming influence whereby the descriptions we get are the result of the spider’s appraisal skill and come out as a series of one word descriptors about species and status. The other issue is the narrator’s style and tone because a disengaged teenager does not make for the most observant or articulate of narrators and so vague comparisons are used and terrible names that the spider feels very smug about coining are used instead of decent descriptions of the monsters or settings. As a result, visualising anything that is going on becomes a bit of a chore outside of generic and vague because you are more getting a sketched outline of what is going on.

Right, I know it really sounds like this should be read and if you are after something that you might argue is a quality book, I’m guessing this isn’t going to be for you. But denying that this was entertaining and that, on reading the last pages with the inevitable cliff-hanger conclusion, I wanted to read the next book would be silly. I genuinely am interested in what this story does next and whether or not we will ever be told how the story of the previous hero’s death links to the classroom exploding in Japan and why these reincarnations have happened and why not all of the have ended up human. Basically, a mixed review all round and this is one that might entertain you or you might end up thinking is just a bit stupid. I guess you should judge by your reaction to the title. I kind of thought it sounded interesting and snarky and that was more or less what I got so I really can’t complain.

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If you’re interested in reading So I’m A Spider So What Volume 1 it is available on the Book Depository.