So I haven’t had the chance to read the source novels for Ascendance of a Bookworm for myself yet, but I’m given to understand that the anime has been, perhaps necessarily, glossing over some elements. It’s understandable that there would be scores of textually-communicated world-building and underlinings of characterization that an anime just can’t fit into its full time slot. This evidently accounts for things like Main actually having a deeper understanding of the potential societal upheavals the debut of her printing press could cause than her reactions in last week’s episode might lead one to believe. The Bookworm anime has been perfectly entertaining in spite of these sorts of adaptation-induced quirks, mind, but it is just one more element worth keeping in mind any time it feels like there’s something missing in the progression of events depicted here.
Not that it’s an exceptionally prevalent issue in this week’s episode, which opts for a couple of remarkably focused side-by-side segments. The overarching plot about the plan to kidnap Main is still around, evidenced in the introduction to this one which thoroughly confirms that the High Priest, Bezewanst is on-board with the scheme by a veritable Legion of Doom of villainous nobles. But this subject is relegated to bookend segments, as the bad guys discuss the technicalities of making Main theirs, how grudges against Ferdinand play into their desires, and we see Bezewanst plotting through interactions with Delia and potential exploitation of the other events that occur this episode .
Anyway, appropriately enough as the story of Bookworm has moved into the Spring, a major component of the plot for this episode is babies! Main’s new baby brother Kamil (Isn’t that a girl’s name?) is being doted on adorably. Otto and Corinna have had their baby, Renate, whom we find out is in fact positioned to be Benno’s heiress. And then Main and her attendants wind up taking in a baby surrendered at the cathedral, providing the group the opportunity to further bond through the joys of child-raising. Main apparently sees the arrival of the baby boy – who comes to be known as Dirk – as a way to encourage more growth in her posse, particularly Delia, whom she’s still trying to steer away from that whole ‘concubine’ goal. And she may be even more foresighted than her amusing manipulations would indicate, since Delia was the one who immediately caught on to the kid needing his diaper changed. Main may have knowledge that babies can be given goats’ milk in the absence of an actual breastfeeding human mother, but she’s still out of her depth with infants like this in a lot of other ways, as indicated by the likes of both Dirk and Kamil crying when she gets herself too close to them.
Main’s efforts to connect with Kamil bridge the baby side of this story with the other half, which sees the blue-robed bookworm working to develop color ink for the next step of her picture-book program. It’s a fair direction that works as a compromise between Main not moving ahead with the letter-printing part of the bookmaking process yet, while also seeking to leave as much for baby Kamil as she can in the run-up to the adoption part of the overarching plot. This step also lets us catch up on that Ink Guild subplot I previously accused the story of just kind of forgetting about, so that’s my bad for getting hasty. I’ll acclimate to the rhythm of this series eventually, I promise.
It turns out that the old head of the Guild, Wolf, getting whacked wasn’t done to shuffle that story off-stage, but to facilitate Main meeting with the replacement head, the foreman of the ink workshop. He’s more working-class than Wolf was, which creates new advantages and disadvantages to Main dealing in ink production with him, but more importantly, he also lets her meet his daughter, Heidi. I already like Heidi a lot; she’s adorably enthusiastic in her desire to help out, brought on by the fact that she’s already been working with her husband on making the regular ink, and she plays the ever-important role of someone fun for Main to bounce off of. The likes of Benno indicate that Heidi is simply ‘another Main’, but she’s actually more of a contrast: her curiosity is fueled by a desire to understand the hows and whys of her world, compared to Main who’s more interested in simply attaining the results she desires.
That makes sense, given that Heidi’s a native of this world and doesn’t have a lot of the baseline textbook knowledge Main built up prior to the reincarnation thing, while Main has had a focus on a specific goal pretty much from Day One, and is operating on an awareness of a time limit in attaining it at this stage. It makes it interesting to see the two girls not necessarily butt heads over the difference in approach, but instead cooperating since their methodologies are working towards the same thing anyway. And it works out for us in the audience, since we get to be curious both about why the mixing of minerals and oil doesn’t yield the exact colors Main expectations, and how they’re going to go about actually resolving the issue. It’s an effective injection of character-based storytelling to communicate ideas inherent to the plot, which drives up the entertainment value of what could easily be seen as a rather dry process-detailing scenario.
It’s also something that might need to be put on hold for the immediate future, what with the baby-raising part of the story resurfacing by the end in an even more urgent manner. Little Dirk coming down with something perhaps rings even darker than it should, given last week’s episode-ending spiel on infant mortality rates. However, the chibified cast are all gleefully playing with the kid after the credits on this one, so I’m thinking things will be dramatic, but likely turn out mostly okay.
Ascendance of a Bookworm Season 3 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.