Ascendance of a Bookworm episode 30

Rating: 4.5 (of 5)

Because of the series’ nature, true action scenes have been sparse at best; outside of the trombe incident in episode 25, there haven’t been any major ones. Likewise, while magic has been a significant element since it was first introduced, only Main’s restoration of the land in episode 26 qualifies as a truly flashy display; otherwise, magic use has been of a more practical bent. Episode 30 thus offers a rare exception to the norm, while also continuing a trend towards peripherally putting her in more danger.

Ironically – but also perhaps as expected – the same force which was once killing her, and which allowed her to increase her status and value, is now endangering her in a wholly different way. In a society stratified on mana, Main’s level of mana is vastly out of proportion with her rank, which means high-level nobles are apparently willing to make a move on her even under the nose of Ferdinand and Karstadt. When a direct attempt fails because Main’s in a room of lower status than expected on her Spring Prayer circuit (or was she placed there deliberately under the concern of just such an attempt happening?), a noble goes more directly for her servants in a presumed move to coerce her into compliance. However, the perpetrators, despite having some idea of what she can do, underestimate both how dedicated her defenders are and how potent her own abilities are when applied to a combat situation. After this, no one will think Ferdinand was exaggerating in his comments about treating Main as a threat to be eliminated if she cannot get her mana under control.

Added to this scenario is new blue-robed priest Sylvester, a man who confounds even Ferdinand. His background isn’t even hinted at, but he must be of a status at least nearly as high as Ferdinand’s since the latter cannot effectively order him around. Though a show-off and general annoyance, he nonetheless shows that he is quite capable in a pinch, and despite the hard time he gives Main, he does seem on board with protecting her. Amusingly, Main also seems to be making inroads in how to manipulate such as chaotic spirit.

While the arrival of Sylvester and the action elements may be the episode’s highlights, the world-building going on here is at least as important. The series has intimated multiple times before that the role of the Church in this setting is far from just being ceremonial, and the details shown about how the Spring Prayer is administered firm up just how critical the role of the church is: presumably, the mana distributed to the various villages and towns during this process is used to invigorate the surrounding land. That only further emphasizes how the High Priest wasn’t exaggerating in the slightest about how much of a godsend Main was when she declared that she had The Devouring; they were in a dire situation on providing the necessary mana to keep the whole system working. Why Ferdinand was willing to deal with Main – and why the High Priest was forced to back off – now makes even more sense, too. (This also raises the question of what the Church will do when Main is sent off to Noble Academy, but that’s a problem for the future.)

Overall, this is a very solid episode which pushed forward strongly on many fronts.

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