Ascendance of a Bookworm episode 33

NOTE: Due to me being away at Anime Central this past weekend, I am behind on everything else that has aired since Thursday. Hence I am skipping covering episode 7 of Spy x Family separately and will instead include it with episode 8’s review next week.

Rating: 4 (of 5)

Due to a combination of her difficult personality, opportunistic nature, and continued spying on Main for the High Priest, Delia has always been one of the least easily likable of the series’ recurring characters. However, the production team has always been careful to show that she does not act out of malice; she is guided much more by survival instinct, or perhaps more accurately, her interpretation of it given the circumstances of her world’s realities. As a result, watching so firmly latch onto Dirk over the course of this episode is less a case of character redemption and more a case of her merits finally showing. As last episode and this episode have demonstrated, she’s clearly a natural at handling the infant (especially compared to Main!), and she’s seriously starting to care about him as well. This is the kind of experienced that can transform a person in the long run. But how long will that experience last when Dirk needs to be adopted?

That sets up the main not-really-surprising plot twist of the episode: Dirk also has The Devouring, and while maybe not as strongly as Main, he still has it pretty strongly. (That certainly raises the question of whether that might be connected to him being abandoned.) His situation is more precarious, both since he does not have the advantages that Main does and because he’s a boy, so the concubine option is off the table. He still needs to be adopted by a noble to survive, and it looks like his two options are essentially to become either a kind of mana battery or perhaps eventually one of those Devouring Soldiers. Main eventually contracting with him when she becomes a noble is also an option, though more of a long-term than immediate solution. Seeing how that all plays out, and how much secrecy has to be maintained about Dirk’s condition, provides another nice bit of world-building for the setting.

So do the ongoing efforts with the colored ink. The business about how paint-mixing formulas are closely-guarded secrets is a quite interesting one, and one that I have not seen previously brought up in anime or in my own historical studies, but I have no doubt about its veracity. Certainly the results of experimenting with different combinations shown here and in last episode show how complicated a process this actually is. I especially liked how her mother contributed with the suggestion about fixing agents, as it reinforces one of the show’s underlying themes: that solutions to seemingly-complicated problems can sometimes be simple, practical ones.

Lastly, the epilogue once again cannot be ignored. The first two seasons used those primarily for comedy relief, but this season has used them more to inserting extra background/world-building tidbits. This time comes the explanation for why Main’s mana is so high and how mana can be “compacted” to make it more controllable if one has a lot. Really, I wonder if the production team isn’t just using these bits to work in relevant details that are in the novels but do not fit well into the flow of the animation.

2 thoughts on “Ascendance of a Bookworm episode 33

  1. Thanks for pointing out the post-credit stuff as I wasn’t sure it was intended to be cannon. About the paint/ink formulary, it seems there was some “IP protection” being done in the 15-16th century at least as some master painters made their own paint to achieve certain results that only later became widely known, such as as with mische technique. Naming the second “drying ink” base mische was a clue from the writer! The other names seem to be bogus but there were 5 well known such oil bases, same in the show.


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