Ascendance of a Bookworm
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Ascendance of a Bookworm ?
I'm not sure if this series has it in itself to ever turn truly dark and serious, but it has started to show signs of having some weightier elements. Those come more strongly to the forefront in episode 7 than ever before, creating an episode which isn't exactly heavy but still raises some important issues with potentially long-lasting consequences.
One of the two biggest matters is more details on the condition that Benno called The Devouring. I still think the writers were aiming for harkening to the disease consumption with the name, but its nature is entirely different both in symptoms and source. Benno's discussion with Otto about it firms up for the first time since the beginning of the first episode that magic does, indeed, exist in this setting, but since only nobles normally have the mana necessary to use it, most commoners will never encounter it. Hence it's not at all unusual that Myne hasn't run across it before the magical contract. Random commoners can still be borne with mana, but, in an interesting twist, the side effects are inevitably fatal unless a magic-siphoning item is gained and used, as unregulated mana burns a person out within their first few years; since the commoner kids who have it don't survive to their baptism, it makes sense that Otto wasn't aware of it, either. This still leaves a lot to yet be elaborated on, such as why nobles don't also suffer from this problem; I have to wonder if economics aren't a factor there. So far the series has been meticulous about covering its bases, so I assume that more details will come on this in due time.
The most immediately important part of this is that it perfectly explains everything that's been happening with Myne. The glowing body and eyes can now easily be interpreted as uncontrolled mana releases, and the regular fevers and sense of being eaten away from the inside also fit. The tidbit about the magic item also provides the “out” that Myne needs to survive her condition, but we'll have to wait and see how that's going to come into play.
The other big matter involves Lutz. Though nowhere near on Myne's level mentally, he's not an idiot, and he has picked up on how Myne has changed since Urano took over her body. (Really, that more people who have long known her have not picked up on this is a little surprising.) He may not understand what's going on, but he intuits it enough to question whether she's the real Myne or not. Though he still seems willing to still work with her for now, this is a major potential game-changer, and both her comment at the end about Lutz no longer calling her Myne and the next episode's title – “Lutz's Main” – suggests that it is going to be a big factor sooner rather than later. Urano is worried enough about the matter herself that she's taking an increasingly fatalistic attitude concerning her illness. I see that situation only getting worse before it gets better. The use of shadows in the scene where Lutz questions Myne about this was also a nice touch.
At least the situation isn't all doom and gloom. Myne has cut a deal with Benno and now has access to equipment and a workshop, so her paper production is much closer to being a reality. Hang in there, Myne!
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