After last week’s heightened intrigue and bursts of action, it’s fair that things settle back to business-as-usual for Bookworm in this episode. It’s a homecoming for Main in more ways than she might initially expect, and of course yet another opportunity to take stock of her various side-hustles. What we get is a mostly informational episode, but it is an interestingly informational episode, compelled by several other characters like Ferdinand and Sylvester coming along for the ride. They do kind of gloss over that “A noble is actively using violent magical attacks to try and kidnap Main” plotline that was the source of last week’s big flare-up, mostly recapping it at the beginning here before moving on the other storylines. But tonally, I think the element is still present, since a key point of this episode continues to focus on that idea of Main’s efforts influencing and evolving this world more than she expected or intended.
The kick-off for this consideration is Ferdinand accompanying Main (with Sylvester) to the orphanage and workshop, getting to see first-hand just how far her book production has come, especially with the introduction of rudimentary printing presses. There’s the sense that Ferdinand might have previously underestimated Main’s moxy on the bookmaking front, and he immediately senses the broader issues with her escalation. The details of that consideration come later, in another of Main and Ferdinand’s private little backroom conversations, while for this part of the episode his surprise played and exasperation is for laughs. Though it’s also funny to see his questioning of Main’s motivation for prioritizing paper and picture book production answered with her earnest admission that it’s simply because she personally wants them. Never change, Main (actually though she might have to change and we’re going to get to that). Similarly, it also provides an opportunity to show how Main can snark back at Sylvester even more effectively now.
Sylvester is overall slightly better-behaved and more tolerable this episode. His “actually a nice guy under all his teasing” personality gimmick gets more opportunity to come through, even if it is in the hilariously obvious classic cliche of showing him getting along with kids, as he shows some adorable orphans how to hunt and donates his haul to them. Actually, given the odd reaction Benno has to see him there and a passing remark Ferdinand makes about his relationship with him, my biggest question regarding Sylvester now is: how many of these guys is he exes with? Seriously though, the payoff for this little arc of Main getting to know Sylvester is in him providing her with Chekhov’s Gun in the form of his protective charm. Bookworm is a series that’s always embraced its storytelling roots down to these kinds of standard devices, so I’m fine with this, and it makes it easier to keep track of as a plot point among all the other elements swirling at this point of the story . Though Sylvester’s remarks to Main in giving the gift could stand to be less weird. “Have you never received an accessory from a man before?” My dude, she is like eight.
But right, the primary point to this whole exercise is Ferdinand having to (once again) impress upon Main the broader ramifications of her, intentionally or not, revolutionizing this world. ‘Revolution’ is especially operative in this case, since when pressed, Main comes to understand how the proliferation of books and the knowledge back in her own pre-isekai world was a catalyst for the kinds of social upheavals that brought down ruling classes. On the one hand, it seems odd that someone as deep into literature and the history therein as Main would need this explained to her by Ferdinand. But it does get the idea out to the audience as a plot point, putting us in prime thought-experiment territory regarding the broadening of fantasy book production. I do like that: It’s a long road Ascendance of a Bookworm has taken to arrive at bringing this kind of technology into its world on this level, and by stressing the major implications of them on society, the series continues to demonstrate that it is a far cry from the simpler isekai stories that don’t think about this sort of thing, having their protagonists just drop stuff like games and guns into their settings with little regard for how that would shift the world. Bookworm can often feel like it’s taking too much of its time, but I do understand that’s because it’s considering so much of what it’s deploying in its plot.
The printing problem also presents an opportunity to revisit another major through-line of this season: the prospect of Main being adopted by Karstedt. The idea that she wouldn’t have to suspend production of her books if she moved up the timetable of being adopted is meant to provide another angle of conflict to Main. Though in practice, it does kind of make the adoption plot-line feel like a repetitious element that hasn’t actually gone anywhere, mostly brought up to instill some dramatism in Main in-between other plot beats. In this case that question of her continued devotion to her family comes up again, as Ferdinand does deign to let her go home at last, in a surprisingly sweet development. Just in time for her new baby brother to be born too! That opens up an opportunity for a little more cultural world-building for the show in regards to births and naming ceremonies (plus some pitch-black humor in the episode preview regarding infant mortality rates expected from this kind of era), and reaffirms Main’s appreciation for her family, alongside a desire to print as many books for her baby brother as she can, as a way to leave some impression on him in the two years she has left before being adopted. It’s an emotional layer I can get behind as Bookworm continues on its way, with portents at the end of this one looking to set up even more additional dramatic elements for next week.
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.