Send Boo...ks Plz
Ascendance of a Bookworm exists in an interesting niche: it most definitely qualifies as isekai, which, among contemporary anime, ticks off the fantasy checkbox by itself (assuming its otherworldly quasi-medieval/Victorian premise hadn't already done that).
Set in a parallel universe (I mean, where else) that seems to be in a far regressed period of time in most aspects, our lead role Motosu Urano realizes that she was, in the cruelest of fates, killed by a pile of books while pursuing her most beloved job of being a librarian in her original world.
Now inhabiting a frail child, five year old Myne to be precise, she is engulfed in indignation at the fact that any sort of written text here is only available to aristocracy and nobility. While extremely passionate to extend the beauty of learning across the land, Myne will have to battle the accompanying regressive mindsets, and, more importantly, her own personal demons (the 'DEVOURING') to achieve her dreams. Will she succeed, will she fail? It's got two seasons and a third one is well underway, so you tell me!
Ascendance of a Bookworm is a stylistic chameleon, I'll give it that: throughout its individual episodes, the show has managed to evoke some extremely varied feelings from within me. The rustic elements of the anime are so far removed from the more esoteric ones (such as the very existence of Ferdinando the high priest) that they feel like two completely different sister shows to me.
But the show itself, the content in it? It's a lot like mainstream pop: I'm sure it's pretty fun to watch once and it is not at all bad to look at, but that's all that it has going for it. It is uninteresting and is nothing novel. Besides, it is doused in far too much 'cute kid' saccharin to let its plot occupy sole focus, like it should have deserved. Myne was more than enough, we didn't need Lutz that much, thank you.
One part of me is very confident that isekai connoisseurs would have a field day with what is a very whole hearted, earnest contribution to the genre: it is as "Person Dies And Is Transported To Parallel Universe" as PDAITTPU gets (don't mock the acronym, it's a work in progress). On the other hand, it is hard to deny that AoaB isn't an extremely self-indulgent proponent of isekai, and relishes in trudging down the same beaten down path that other bygone shows have taken.
But that is less a problem for Ascendance of a Bookworm than it is for the attitudes encouraged by the genre itself. To me, every new show coming out is the equivalent of another round of a dead horse floggin: unless you have top-of-the-line animation and acting and whatnot to pad all of the dead weight, your show will sink in the eyes of the weary fandom. Isekai needs a revolution, and fast.
Well Known Devil's Advocate, Bruce Wayne Battsu: Speaking of, if Isekai really is desperate for a makeover, why isn't there a sequel to the Digimon anim—
Looks at the show list
W-well, you can be pretty sure that there isn't going to be a ninth installment to your 'original' series! Ha!
Light Eight. The premise, as a whole, is nothing original apart from a few unique variations. Again, that doesn't mean the basic foundation isn't any good, just that it is far too tried-and-tested to merit a higher score.
(Japanese): Strong Eight. Some brilliant execution, all of the characters were very emotive. It was beyond professionalism. Obviously Yuka Iguchi steals it as the gosh darn endearing voice of Myne.
Light Seven. Let's be fair, the story is very, very Myne-centric which means the rest of the cast should naturally take a backseat. In the show however, they just feel completely non-existent, like they're at 10% opacity compared to her. And that's a shame, considering they were a fantastic bunch that I would have loved seeing in a more 3-dimensional manner.
Decent Seven. It looks nice enough, but as with so, so many Isekai shows in recent times, it is COOKIE CUTTER AS ALL HELL.
Eight. Standard. I love the fluidity of motion, whenever that rears its head, but we the keyframes are pretty meh.
Light Eight. Some pretty decent musical choices. The deliberate lack of modernity in the production is a nice touch, lends some decent amount of authenticity.
Overall Weighted Score: 7.85
The Ascendance of a Bookworm is a solid, if not groundbreaking addition to all both medieval, and fantasy genres. While not being the pick of the lot, it has an appealing premise and a very likeable protagonist that will definitely make it an easy watch.
Binge-worthy? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm- oh well, it's only twenty six episodes, you could probably chug it down over the course of three days or so.