Ascendance of a Bookworm
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 25 of
Ascendance of a Bookworm ?
The main matter at hand is – or at least should have been – dealing with the giant trombe. The first part of the episode shows how knights do battle against trombe and the kinds of magic they use to that end. Apparently normal bladed weapons are fine if you can catch the trombe when it first starts sprouting and when it doesn't have a continuous immediate mana stream, as was the case back in episode 8 and again in episode 19. Past a certain point, however, the weapons need to be blessed by the God of Destruction to be effective. This is also the first time we get a clear indicator that Ferdinand isn't just a high-ranking noble; he is one of the strongest magic-users among them as well.
The scene where the trombe sprouts under Myne also shows that Ferdinand's order about her guards not allowing a scratch on Myne wasn't just to protect her; it was also to prevent further complications. A person with mana has it present in their bodily fluids, so even blood and tears from a high-mana person in a trombe zone could initiate further outbreaks. That the knights besides Fedinand seemed shocked by the new trombe suggests that either this isn't common knowledge even among nobles or that they were woefully underestimating how mana-strong Myne is, even after she gave the blessing at the end of last episode.
Either way, that just makes the knight Schicicoza even more of an idiot. He got so wrapped up in lording his authority over others that he lost sight of the fact that he also must pay respect to even higher authorities. Ferdinand does not need to take Myne's side in this case; while I'm not sure that Schicicoza actually intended to carry out his threat, threatening bodily harm on someone he's been ordered by his overall commander to allow “nary a scratch” to is inexcusable behavior, and his knife even being in position for her to be cut is gross negligence. He may have counting on intimidating Damuel into silence, but if he had actually harmed Myne any worse, how was he going to explain that off? Also, the way he endangered the mission with his actions – even if unintentionally – would be grounds for severe punishment on its own. I will be curious to see if Schicicoza is even still a knight at all after the trouble coming his way. However that turns out, Myne definitely has a new enemy.
The way Myne played it with her wording was clever in the later interrogation scene, and it harkens back to the way she spoke with Lutz back in episode 8's pivotal confrontation. The person in the most difficult situation here, however, is Damuel. He seems like a decent guy for a noble, but he got caught in an impossible situation by conflicting social pressures. I doubt that will get him any sympathy from Ferdinand, but Myne seems to appreciate that and will doubtlessly put in a good word for him. Ferdinand also shows again at the end that he has a keen sense for how to deal with nobles: have Myne impress them by still doing her job despite all of this and she will make a positive impression on more of them, and have a back-up plan as well just in case. Unfortunately that's going to have to wait for next episode's season finale. So will Lutz's reaction to the images Myne unwittingly sent him.
The technical merits were a bit of a concern in this episode. Myne's face when taking the potion was classic, as was the chibi follow-up about that at the end of the episode, Damuel's expression in a few key scenes were also worthy of extra attention, and this is one of the rare times that we have seen Ferdinand truly angry. However, the animation felt like it was struggling at times to keep up with the atypical amount of movement in the action scenes. The musical selection during the scene with Myne and Schicicoza also felt odd, although the score was back to its normal reliable performance later on. On the plus side, this episode featured some more ambitious perspective shifts than we have seen elsewhere in the series.
While most of the heaviest drama seems to have been in this episode, it still provides a good set-up for next week's season finale.
Ascendance of a Bookworm is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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