Oh good, another isekai anime.
Ascendance of a Bookworm doesn’t have the weirdest, cheekiest, or even the stupidest gimmick but it does have one that still makes me ask “Why?”. I mean, an isekai anime about reading books? Really?
I’m going to go on a whim and say that isekai diehards won’t flock over to Bookworm. Thing is, this show leans very heavily towards slice of life. It has to when the protagonist’s main conflict is not having a book in her hands and her current opponent is medieval economics. If Myne (Yuka Iguchi) is overpowered in any way, it’d be the mere fact that she (eventually) can read and write in a society where most can’t. Monsters and demons are nowhere to be found and while the cold opening suggests the existence of magic, it’s seemingly unlikely to open the door for action scenes. The story really is as nonchalant as the synopsis suggests. I don’t want to say a teenager won’t be drawn to this show but speaking broadly, I can’t imagine the main isekai audience being terribly interested in this.
Slice of life fans will probably enjoy this more. As one myself, I’ll admit that Bookworm‘s premiere has its moments. A particular highlight is seeing Myne explore her house and the nearby marketplace in search of a book. Since she’s aware of her past life, you have this interesting situation where the character alternates between an older soul with a set goal and a child who’s simply brimming with curiosity about the world around her. It’s also fun seeing Myne readjust to being a kid again after being a young adult in her past life. For example, she isn’t tall enough to open doors and this results in a mildly amusing moment where she has to get creative with her blanket.
There’s still some ironing out that could be done here. Odd though this may sound, I do think Bookworm paces too much at a snail’s pace. Far too often, the show meanders to just fill in its runtime. Like, do we really need a whole scene where Myne works on her hairdo? Not really. That’s the kind of detail that generally works best in the background. Conversely, there’s some elements that I wish were better explored. The big one is all the stuff about Myne dealing with the reality that she has been born in an entirely new family which is only briefly touched upon. You don’t get that kind of prose in isekai anime and it would’ve been interesting to see Myne be in denial more or for the family to notice that she’s suddenly more disconnected from them due to her recollection of her past life.
Maybe because I am tired of the isekai template, Ascendance of a Bookworm being such an outlier has some appeal to me. That it appears to be more slice of life than adventure has some appeal to me and opinion aside, it is refreshing to see an isekai anime star a girl (a much rarer sight than it should be). Still, while it does have some charm, I struggle to say it was terribly engaging. I can just as easily see it getting dropped in favor of more interesting/entertaining/eventful shows as it staying on the watch list.
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