Rating: 4.5 (of 5)
Though its attention to detail can sometimes make the storyline of Ascendance of a Bookworm progress slowly, the series also occasionally has spurts of an almost dizzying level of activity. This is one such episode. So much is going on here that the storytelling jumps around a lot and keeps most scenes short as it covers a period of an entire season. However, the episode never exactly feels like it is short-changing anything, as the points it is making get conveyed in these brief scenes. The storytelling also makes it increasingly clear how everything is contributing to the bigger picture.
The significant regular addition here is Damuel, who is now actively serving as her bodyguard, so several scenes involve him feeling out the role he is playing. That includes his tentativeness at offering suggestions (he’s not used to an environment where suggestions might be readily accepted), meeting everyone in Main’s sphere, and getting used to the smell of the commoners’ side of Ehrenfest. For the most part he’s fitting in well, and now taking more seriously how much Main is worthy of such protection, but in perhaps my favorite scene of the episode, Ferdinand doesn’t cut him any slack. He is firm about how Damuel, despite being outranked by Shichicoza, still had options and is at fault for not using said options when Shichicoza started going too far. The fairness of Ferdinand’s explanation is another story, but it does show the high standards that knights are held to in this setting and that there are at least some mechanisms in place for cases where a noble is abusing his authority.
On Main’s front, she has reason to be both ecstatic and forlorn, and this episode allows her to display her full emotional range. On the plus side, the movable type that she had commissioned from Johann is complete, which clears a big hurdle to her book-printing ambitions. Probably nobody but her (despite losing herself to Gutenberg-worship) yet appreciates just how revolutionary this will eventually be. On the minus side, danger still lurks. Ironically, the reported death of the man investigating her may put her in even more danger, since it indicates that whatever noble was behind him is making moves. That and a level of mana which makes her either invaluable to Ehrenfest (if she can learn to control her mana) or a threat to it (if she can’t) puts her at so much risk that even her parents cannot deny Ferdinand’s directive this time; couching it in terms that they can appreciate, rather than just forcing the issue, makes a big difference. The parts about the Dedication Ceremony are also interesting, since they hint at how precarious a position Ehrenfest is actually in. The High Priest offering thanks to the gods when Main first revealed that she had The Devouring was not an exaggeration at all, since the city might be in dire straits for mana supply without her.
That’s not the only event happening here, either. The end of the episode sees the introduction of the other blue-robed priest featured prominently in advertising copy. We don’t know exactly who he is yet, but Ferdinand’s reaction to making the declaration that he will be joining Main on her spring tour and his behavior towards Main already indicate that he will be a handful. That should make next episode very interesting indeed, and it’s not like this episode was at all lacking in that category.
Overall, the series is hitting in top form right now. More, please!