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Unaired episode bundled with the 22nd limited edition volume of the Ascendance of a Bookworm light novel.
The neat thing about original video animation (OVA) is the ability to explore story concepts that normally won’t fit into the planned season of … say 12 episodes. The two episodes of this Ascendance of a Bookworm set does a laudable job in developing the key characters in directions one would not expect. The two OVA would play nicely as a brief arc between the two seasons. The first episode deals with the head-priest Ferdinand and his misgivings about the overly mature and savvy Myne. So much so that he sets two spies on her trail. The snoop choices are dubious, two nobles, Eustachius and Eckhard, who are to roam the downtown area for a girl they have never seen before. They do not blend into the commoner scene in their high-class duds, so Eustachius suggests they dress down. Eckhard’s descent into the world of the ordinary citizen is stressful for him. Retching his guts out is part of the good clean fun of the misadventure. But the commoners suspect the two to be up to no good, and everyone is mum about her identity and whereabouts. The irony of this story comes at the end, when Eustachius and Eckhard, beaten and unable to discovery any juicy tidbit about Myne, walk right (unbeknownst to them, of course) by Myne and her mother as they return to the head-priest with no news (which is good news … for Myne). The second OVA deals with Myne introducing her mother and sister Turi to Corinna, the merchant guild’s master seamstress and designer. Corinna is interested in the hair-pieces Myne and Turi have developed and is interested in selling them at her boutique. Myne goes into super-negotiator with Corinna’s brother Benno and wears him down for a fair price for the production rights. This was the common denominator in the two OVA’s, Myne’s key mentors in the areas of the business world and the life of the Cathedral are depicted as hard-driven men whom Myne has to learn how to handle. I was deep into the second season of Ascendance when I checked out the A of B original video animations. I noted the progress in animation technique right away, as the OVA used the themes and procedures of season one. The coloration of the OVA is not as sharp as that used by Season Two: Episode Nine. The suspicions of Ferdinand in OVA episode one did not mesh with the character as seen in Season Two. The head priest is the protector-guide of a usually clerically-clueless Myne, and Myne’s attitudes about books and reading still baffles him. Which means both characters still have to grow. But that’s the charm of OVA. New glimpses into characters you thought you knew.
Compared to the LNs, the anime is lacking, but so does any film or TV adaptation of a book series. The art is gorgeous, the characters are interesting, the plot is unique compared to many other isekai right now, and the world building is AMAZING. The story is about a girl named Myne who dies from a supernatural fever called the Devouring. Our protagonist is actually a Japanese bookworm who dies in the most predictable way possible and enters Myne's body. Myne is from a very poor family in a medieval fantasy world where most peasants aren't literate more than necessary for their jobs, which for her family is VERY little. As a bookworm, this will not stand, so she goes about remedying this situation as best she can. The main thing getting in her way is that not only is shw 5 and poor, she is also incredibly sickly where just walking a block causes her to get winded. The first season (which is what this review is one) follows her from age 5 to 7, when she goes about trying to make her own books with the help of her family and friends. The second season continues the world building and focuses more on the fantasy aspects of the world. Watching the first season, it'd be easy to forget she's in a fantasy world. It removes the weird screaming vegetables, the oddly colored and named fruit, and other smaller things. It keeps the strange colors for hair and eyes, but most anime have odd details like that even when they're supposed to be realistic. This season made me fall for the series and now I'm addicted to the books. It sky-rocketed to one of my favorites instantly. It might not be your thing, but if you love world building, political drama, and less actiony anime, you should give this one a try.
The mini-arcs between seasons one and two are a perfect way to take a break from Myne's perpetual bed rest. It shows the characters in a more relaxed state and shows more of who they are and what they do outside of the main plot. This was a step up from what was offered in season one and made it really enjoyable
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