Ascendance of a Bookworm
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 24 of
Ascendance of a Bookworm ?
Magic has long been known in this setting, but aside from Myne taking her wrath out on the High Priest in episode 14, the application of it has largely been a background element, limited to things like mana transfers for artifacts (or to activate trombe!), the ill-defined magic seals on contracts, or the magic rings Ferdinand has used to talk to Myne in confidence. Episode 24 is the first place since episode 14 where it gets used more demonstrably – or as Myne puts herself, the first place where common fantasy tropes about magic start showing. This will open up Myne to a whole new world of possibilities, and it should be interesting to see how she adapts to them.
First, though, the predictably troublesome matter of setting up Myne to live at the cathedral over the winter has to be dealt with. One big sticking point is, of course, her family, and I am pleased to see that the scene where she has to convince her father was not glossed over. As protective as he can be, he does understand obligations, and that the idea that this is payback for the Church literally keeping her alive seems to make the biggest impression on him. Seeing Myne come into that debate well-prepared with arguments was also satisfying. The rest of the preparations – such as getting food laid in for the winter and candles made – does get glossed over, but if the story was looking to cut corners, that seems like the best place to do it.
Myne's introduction into the bigger world of magic comes from being required to do a blessing for a mission of the knight's order – and surprisingly, the reason why she has to do it instead of Ferdinand is because Ferdinand is the leader of the knights! I did not see that twist coming, even though him having “noble obligations” has been hinted at before. (In retrospect, I should have guessed it from that wording, as performing knightly duties is traditionally one of the most common obligations of a noble in a medieval setting.) Seeing him in the plate armor is strange, though Myne's custom-made ceremonial outfit and hairpiece looks quite sharp on her. The first-ever peek into the Noble's Area was interesting on its own, and I wish that could have been dwelt on a bit more, but even more so was the extent of magic use involved: magically-generated flying beasts and sending message via magical birds are all big steps up from what we have seen before. Further, the ability to do so is common enough among nobles that at least a couple dozen flying mounted knights can assemble.
Lutz did mention back in episode 8 that trombe which are not caught when they first sprout eventually must be taken down by knights, so that being the mission of the knights in this case comes as no surprise. What little we see of it in this episode quite clearly shows why this task is such a big and urgent deal, and both it and the apparently ineffectually-timed blessing convey that Myne is more out of her element than ever. (Really, I blame Ferdinand for this, as he apparently did not prepare her all that well for what she would be dealing with and still seems to forget at times that she's not noble-born, so he can't take her knowing proper behaviors for granted.) Looks like the action will be next episode, though.
One thing which seemed a little off was how hard the episode seems promoting a discomfort factor with the knights. The knight commander did stare at her a little long, but she's a kid being asked to perform an important duty – and one he doesn't know at that – so nothing is unnatural about his reaction. It definitely overplays the knight's comment at the end of the episode about Myne's blessing being worthless; there wasn't anything threatening vibe to it. Maybe something more will come of it next episode.
As a final thought, the end illustrations throughout the series have varied in quality, but the one for this episode, by manga illustrator Ryo Namino, is one of my favorites so far. At the end of the series, we should do a poll about which ones were the best...
Ascendance of a Bookworm is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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