Ascendance of a Bookworm episode 31

Rating: 4 (of 5)

One of the many things that I adore about this series is the very studious way that it examines the potential wide-ranging consequences of its titular character’s actions; that’s something that far too few isekai tales do. Yet that is a major point in this episode, and hardly the only important thing going on in yet another packed episode.

The examination comes about as a result of Ferdinand and Sylvester finally taking a look at what, exactly, Main has been doing with her studio. (Presumably this is part of security precautions.) Even given what Main has already showed him for finished products and what he know about her isekai nature, he is still utterly underestimating what she is capable of and how much he’s going to have to rein her in. Claiming that Main could disrupt the fabric of society in her new world if left to her own device is not an overstatement, and she’s even more dangerous because she has no idea (or at least has not set down and thought out) the full ramifications of what she’s doing.

Thankfully, the much more worldly Ferdinand is thinking about it. Putting the whole book-copying network out of business with her printing press development is not a trivial matter, as people tend to get nasty when their livelihood is interfered with. Such is always the case throughout history when new technologies change workload burdens, and Main in her book-making glee is utterly unprepared to deal with that fallout. Main also isn’t wrong in her answer to Ferdinand’s questions about the impact of the printing press in her world, though she may even understate the impact. Printing did allow the more ready dissemination of both news and scientific (and especially mathematical) knowledge, but it also fueled radicals. For instance, witch hunts were not entirely dependent on printed materials for their propagation, but the explosion of them in Europe in the late 1400s heavily depended on printed books. They can also be credited with enabling the Protestant Reformation and spreading the philosophical though which eventually developed into the American and French Revolutions. So yes, in the long term Main absolutely is not exaggerating in what she tells Ferdinand.

Her point back about how “that’s not necessarily how it will happen in this world” is a fine bit of world-building, though. That the health of social structure and even land is dependent on the mana supplied by nobles introduces bedrock elements which could interfere with anything too radical happening; some system to replace the mana provided by priests would have to be developed before anything too major could happen. (This raises the interesting question of whether the current system developed out of necessity – and thus is the reason why nobles are nobles – or whether nobles constructed the system to make commoners dependent on them, but I don’t expect the series to get into that anytime soon.) Even so, stability depends on people carefully considering the consequences of any major development.

The episode also throws out a ton of other little details. “Devouring soldiers” is tossed out as a thing but, frustratingly, not followed up on; it seems out of character for Main to not pursue that one further. Of course, Ferdinand is stonewalling her on how he knows/is related to Sylvester, who is clearly someone pretty important among nobles, but at least Sylvester seems to be on Main’s side. The exact nature of the offer Sylvester gave Benno which has left him so flustered also makes for a good added mystery. And by the end of the episode Main’s a big sister, too! The details at the end, where chibi-Main is talking to her father in the after-credits scene, also are interesting; her parents in this world had three other failures with children both before and after Main and Tuuli, so their overall success rate so far is only 50%. Sadly, that’s about the norm for the medieval era, where half of children typically didn’t survive past age 5.

The episode covers all of this and still throws out an additional plot hook as well: a noble is coming to the church who is going to have a big interest in Main. Will be interesting to see how quickly that plays out, since the next episode’s title suggests a different focus. Still, it’s all good for how the series is currently progressing, with even little details like Wilma being nervous around Sylvester being attended to and suggestions that the High Priest’s servant Jenni might be a potential source of eventual conflict as well. Keep it coming, Bookworm!

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