The Spring 2020 Anime Preview Guide
Ascendance of a Bookworm Season 2
How would you rate episode 1 of
Ascendance of a Bookworm (TV 2) ?
What is this?
In the wake of the agreement for her to enter the church as a blue-robed priestess, Myne takes care of some other bits of business while waiting for arrangements to be made at the church. During that time suspicious individuals seem to be poking around about her, but at least Lutz seems to be settling in well in his merchant apprenticeship. When the day of her indoctrination comes, Myne discovers that she is going to be assigned three retainers, and at least two of them are going to be a handful. Seems a certain High Priest hasn't forgotten or forgiven a certain incident. . .
How was the first episode?
Only a handful of series in recent years have won me over so quickly and thoroughly as Ascendance of a Bookworm did during the Fall 2019 season. It was my #1 title for that season and my #2 title for all of 2019, so it was only natural that its continuation would be one of my most-anticipated titles for this season. The first episode (which Crunchyroll is numbering as episode 15) does not disappoint. While it doesn't do anything too special, it delivers perfectly on everything that a fan of the series would reasonably expect, hence making this easily the most enjoyable episode of the new season so far.
Before getting into that, two half-episode OVAs were released in March with a limited edition of the most recent novel, and Crunchyroll has both of those as well. Numbered Episode 14.5 Parts 1 and 2 on Crunchyroll, they take place during the events of episode 15 and go into much greater detail about some things that are going on during that episode, including replicating certain scenes from different angles. One focuses on two men sent out from the Church to investigate Myne and the problems they run into gathering information about her and the other focuses on Myne, Tuli, and their mother visiting Corrina and selling rights for production of Myne's hair ornament, which allows the latter two to see Myne's negotiating skills for the first time. While these are not strictly absolutely necessary viewing for understanding episode 15, you will have a fuller understanding of some things being referred to there if you see the OVAs first. (The first one also brings up the point that medieval cities – especially the parts where commoners live – would have been horribly smelly places by modern standards.)
The TV episode itself marks the transition between Myne's secular and religious lives, and as she learns by the end of the episode, it may be an even bigger transition than she imagined. It fills in one gap from episode 14 by flashing back to how the negotiations with the head priest went and raises one concern that I don't recall being brought up in the first season: the possibility that nobles might try to kidnap Myne once they are aware of what she can do. (Given certain scenes in the new opener, this seems like foreshadowing.) It also reveals the transitions that other are going to, including how Lutz is settling into his already-started apprenticeship and how daddy-to-be Olaf is retiring from the City Guard to help out at his brother-in-law Benno's shop (due to high demand for Myne's products). It also reveals, for I think the first time, that Frederica's baker for the pound cakes is Ilse, Lutz's mother, and naturally that leads to Benno and Myne both getting bigger aspirations.
While all of those details are significant, the two most important scenes come late in the episode. One is the religious ceremony Myne goes through as part of her indoctrination as a priestess, which provides further elaboration on the religion of the setting. The other is the assignment to Myne of a trio of retainers. All blue-robed (normally noble) priests get them from among the gray robes, and she's getting a potentially troublesome bunch: a rude older boy who won't acknowledge her at all, a girl similar in age who openly admits she's a spy and already angling to become a concubine (because it's what all the girls want!), and an adult who's loyal to the head priest and seems disappointed that Myne doesn't know how to be a proper noble. Some of the trouble assigned to her was deliberate, the high priest's way of getting back at her a bit. He clearly understands that they badly need her mana and want her money but he also clearly hasn't forgotten that she came pretty close to killing him. I'm actually glad so see that here, as someone like him letting bygones be bygones would not have been credible.
With the good-but-not-great technical merits remaining constant with the first season, I'm not sure what else could even be hoped for here. This is a strong start to a promising new season of barely-recognizable-as-isekai fun.
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