Original Run: April 5, 2020 - June 21, 2020 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Fantasy, Isekai, Slice of Life Based on the Series Created By: Miya Kazuki and You Shiina
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Ascendance of a Bookworm Part 2. Reader discretion is advised.***
Since her rebirth in a parallel world, young Myne (voiced by Yuka Iguchi) has been making quite the name for herself. Thanks to her intelligence, business acuity, and high levels of mana, Myne has managed to become a priestess for the Holy Church, a role usually reserved only for nobility.
Although this position has granted Myne to the land’s most magnificent library, it has also brought a new set of challenges.
Being of common birth, Myne is belittled and resented by the noble families that have no interest in the plight of the poor. Nevertheless, Myne realizes that she can bring about real change for a society firmly set in its traditions. However, the harder she pushes forward, the harder her opponents try to push back.
I was glad to learn Ascendance of a Bookworm would be getting a follow-up, and so soon after season one ended at that. I do consider the first season to be one of the best shows of 2019, as well as a testament to giving every series a fair shot. The previous installment didn’t have the most stellar start in my eyes. Nevertheless, it managed to tell a story that was both fascinating and down to earth.
Please know that Ascendance of a Bookworm’s pace is on the slower side. It takes its time to get to where it wants to go and it doesn’t rely on loud, flashy action to instill investment. Instead, this series has chosen to build a living, breathing world populated with a complex society founded on long-standing traditions and customs.
Although Ascendance of a Bookworm may be an isekai anime with fantasy-elements, more than anything, it has remained a well-crafted slice-of-life story. The most fantastical thing about this show has had nothing to do with magic and mystical creatures, but rather how a young girl was, singlehandedly, upending and advancing an entire civilization.
Main character Myne isn’t necessarily the smartest person in the room at any given time. What she is, though, is someone who had access to more information than anyone in her new world could ever have imagine. Her “ideas” and inventions aren’t her own, but that’s never been the point. Myne’s strength has been her ability to spread, implement, and teach the things she knows.
Or, at least, that was the focus of season one. Season two moved beyond that to reach the next stage of this story. In this installment, Myne didn’t, or couldn’t, give her attention to improving people’s quality of life with gadgets. This time, she faced an institution that had no interest in changing its ways, and one that would do everything it could to keep Myne in line.
The prejudice, disdain, and outright hatred the people in power had towards a commoner like Myne was the backbone of season two. Before, Myne could express and act on her whims with little risk of retaliation since she was with people who were her equals. To her parents, friends, and acquaintances, Myne was just an overly ambitious girl. However, the kicker was, this ambition led Myne to a position where she could break through a ceiling that everyone thought was impenetrable.
Ascendance of a Bookworm Part 2 was an excellent continuation due to its portrayal of this crack in normality. In season one, Myne and her friends faced the dangers associated with a lack of resources and income. In season two, the threat level was much more frightening because Myne had to surround herself with people who would have preferred her dead than their companion. Since some people were disgusted by Myne’s mere presence, an unfortunate “accident” never felt that far away.
It was great that this show knew that being nice could only go so far. Myne’s bright personality and willingness to help did bring others to her side, but that was because she showed kindness to people who, in the eyes of society, were lower than her. Her success rate when aiming up, on the other hand, was much less favorable since a sweet smile didn’t mean much to a noble who had been born with a silver spoon in their mouth. For Myne to survive in this environment, she had to learn to play the ruling class’s game, even if the rules were stacked against her.
As such, the same sort of confrontations seen in season one, like when Myne made the high priest piss himself (which was pretty great), was non-existent in this installment. Again, this series has consistently taken its time. It wouldn’t have made sense for the story to thrust Myne into outright competition with the nobility at this stage. She was nowhere near in a position to do such a thing. First, she needed to gain allies, which is precisely what happened in season two.
Therefore, as things stand, Ascendance of a Bookworm is now ready to push the narrative full-steam ahead. Given that this series has now produced two incredible seasons, there is no reason to think a third couldn’t accomplish the same.
The biggest issue I had with Ascendance of a Bookworm Part 2 is the same one I had with Part 1: Myne.
Like before: Overall, I can only describe Myne as a good character. You want to root for her, and you feel sorry she suffers the cruelty of the nobility. She went out of her way to help people. Plus, she was bettering society by making daily life more comfortable, as well as representing the lower class in a place that was off-limits to them. Myne was the driving force behind this story, and without her, there couldn’t be an Ascendance of a Bookworm.
Nevertheless, just as she was in season one, Myne could be a huge brat. Granted, she was less of one in this season; so, that was nice. However, her stubbornness was still a bit of a problem.
Thinking back to the first season, when Myne and her family went to see the high priest, things went south fast. If it weren’t for Myne’s overwhelming magical power, she would have been carted off as a prisoner, and her parents probably would have been executed. Therefore, I don’t understand why it was so tricky for Myne to realize that she could not go around saying what she wanted when surrounded by nobles.
These people didn’t merely want to see Myne fail. If they had it their way, they would have simply taken what they needed from Myne and disposed of her, a fact of life that never went away. Had she angered the wrong person, Myne wouldn’t have been the only one to suffer the consequences. There were so many people whose lives would have been ruined – if not ended – had anyone in power chosen to do so.
That was why it was always surprising when Myne couldn’t appreciate how much danger she was in despite being told directly so many times.
Another thing with Ascendance of a Bookworm was its cast; they weren’t the most exciting group of people. Again, like Myne, these characters weren’t awful. Everyone played their respective roles well enough. Still, not one of them stood out in any way. If you were to ask me who my favorite person in this series is, I wouldn’t be able to answer you. I wasn’t particularly wowed by any of them.
Ascendance of a Bookworm’s most defining trait is its story. That alone is what has made this show so much fun to watch. And it has been this that has kept an otherwise slightly higher-than-average cast above water.
What I expected out of this continuation was a strong follow up to a surprisingly well-made series, and that is what I got.
If there is one thing this show has going for it, it would have to be its story. This is what keeps me interested in this franchise and hopeful that it will eventually continue.
To tell you the truth, I would go so far as to say that this installment was an improvement on the first. And thanks to this season, whatever might come next could not ask for a more solid foundation.
Ascendance of a Bookworm Part 2 has earned a recommendation.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Ascendance of a Bookworm Part 2? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.