Ascendance of a Bookworm Season 2 - Reviews

Alt title: Honzuki no Gekokujou: Shisho ni Naru Tame ni wa Shudan wo Erandeiraremasen 2nd Season

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ThatAnimeSnob's avatar
Jun 23, 2021

Ascendance of a Bookworm was hailed as one of the best isekai ever made. Something which the fanboys say for every isekai there is, therefore this statement means nothing. What matters is the execution, which for this show was supposed to be how it’s not a power fantasy about a male loser getting reincarnated into a videogame where he is overpowered and forms a harem while fighting the demon lord with his broken superpowers. This show is better because the protagonist is a girl, there are no videogames, no harem, no demon lord, and no superpowers. It’s a simple coming of age, about a simple girl, in a simple medieval setting. Or so it was at first, because that is no longer true by the end of the second season.

But first things first. Every story needs to give the viewer reasons for keeping up with it, and this one offered a down to earth isekai. It had a heroine who was struggling to achieve small victories in an almost mundane setting with not much to struggle towards. On top of that she is not exceptionally powerful just because she got isekaied, since she has a very frail body that can kill her if she works hard or if an incurable disease kicks in. Plus she can’t even openly say she is from a different world, because the church is going to execute her as a witch. Plus, because the setting is medieval it lacks even the most basic luxuries and services we take for granted in our contemporary society. They still have slavery and public executions and women wish to be sex toys for men. Everything she does is harder in that world compared to ours and thus every little victory she achieves comes off as rewarding despite being mundane as hell for the rest of us. Or so it was at first, because that is no longer true by the end of the second season.

Anyways, since we need a plot so that the show won’t be a slice of nothing happens, the heroine sets forth to read books. Something a bookworm like her finds to be super important, although it isn’t, but we need her to have an otaku-level obsession over something, so we can also have an objective. Otherwise there will be no plot. It’s why everyone is obsessed with one particular thing in most anime. In Yugioh everyone has nothing better to do than obsess over a children’s card game, in Bookworm Isekai the heroine has nothing better to do than obsess over reading books.

Thus we spend the first few episodes in her trying to find books to read only to find out books are very expensive and very rare and there are no public libraries because the setting is medieval. Thus she sets forth to… print her own books (wut?). Because the most logical thing you can do when you can’t read books, is to print your own books, so you can read… your own books (wut?). If this sounds like a really stupid leap in logic, get used to it because it’s going to keep happening every few episodes. By the end of the second season the objective will have moved and changed so many times to a point where the initial premise will not matter in the least. In fact it won’t even make any sense. Why did the heroine spend all those episodes in trying to print books when she could simply join the church? They have mountains of books in their temples. Oh, that’s right, it’s because we wouldn’t have a show if she did that.

It’s also a plot hole that renders most of the first season completely pointless. It wouldn’t be an issue if the objective wasn’t constantly changing every few episodes, but that was not the case. Each time it happened it wasn’t only moving the goalpost; it was also changing the world and its limitations. Basically, the internal consistency of the story was changing for the sake of plot, thus becoming more and more distant from what it was in the beginning. I mean, it is expected to have changes happening in a coming of age story, but it becomes bad writing when the changes betray the premise and gradually change the show into a more mundane fantasy adventure. The sickly typical girl that makes you so happy to see her achieve small victories becomes a super awesome teacher and a super awesome inventor and a super awesome merchant and a super awesome cleric, while everyone around her are constantly amazed with all the stuff she can do. And boy does she enjoy the attention by constantly smiling smugly. How is this not an empowerment fantasy, and just another isekai, like the ones it was supposed to be different from?

And it doesn’t stop there. Her sickly body that could kill her with simple daily activities ends up having a dark superpower hiding inside her, which makes her far stronger than most people. There goes that appeal; she’s another shonen protagonist with a demonic power inside her. Oh, and that part about not being able to reveal she is from another world because she will be executed? It got revealed eventually, a priest tried to punish her, she used her awesome superpowers for force-chocking the guy ala Darth Vader and then she got forgiven because her super important knowledge of our world will make her kingdom very powerful. What happened to the whole fear of dark magic they all had all this time and how is this not yet another empowerment fantasy isekai, just like the ones it was supposed to be different from?

You think it stops there? In the first episodes the setting was almost magic-free. There weren’t many things you could do with spells to make life easier. By the end of the second season there are huge magical trees and flying lions and knights that use magic to protect the world from evil entities. Which means there is a demon lord out there and they want to use the heroine to help them in defeating him. The show became another isekai, just like the ones it was supposed to be different from.

All that aside, the show is not realistic even in depicting plain people. Many of the kids the protagonist interacts with are super smart with no explanation. There are no scammers who try to exploit her powers by lying about the worth of her skills or, even more extreme, kidnap her to force her into working for them. Everyone is good and polite in the show. Even thieves act like Robin Hood. It’s not a realistic world; it’s wholesome to the point it becomes as fake as your average high school romcom.

Therefore Ascendance of a Bookworm is another generic empowerment fantasy that took its time before revealing its true colors as another light novel isekai and betraying any good thoughts you initially had about it.

4/10 story
7/10 animation
6/10 sound
4/10 characters
4/10 overall
pinkarray's avatar
May 17, 2020

Like somebody else said, this isn't like part 1 so some of the things in it are going to throw you off. I was very intrigued by the concept of a girl who tries to become a best selling author in a world where books are a rarity so to see that get taken away was very disappointing. They replaced that with a plot about how she begins working at a church while dealing with traumatized orphans and an abusive leader. This makes for a mean-spirited tone and a bunch more depressing themes. The first one was dark in the sense that it was about a girl fighting a deadly disease but this one makes part 1 seem like a Disney movie in comparison. Part 2 was just drama after drama after drama. You got bullying, you got slaves, you got child abuse, you got orphans, you got corrupt leadership and it was all too forgettable and bland to watch.

By episode 3, the kids who work for Myne end up growing out of their brattiness but it doesn't make up for the fact that this orphan story was completely unnecessary since it's based on the fact that they solely recruit orphans to work as grey-robed. Why do they need orphans specificall-? You know what, I don't care. This whole story is just so forgettable and I really can't say any more since I dropped this after episode 3.

People keep complaining to me that "Oh, it's because it's a different world like that tv show". JUST BECAUSE IT'S A DIFFERENT WORLD doesn't mean that you need to have every single thing that could ever exist in ideas or real life IN that world. Because I know for a fact that stories can be good without trying to shoehorn in a bunch of melodrama shit and things that the story could've done without.

I really have nothing good to say about this other than the technical elements like the animation and the voices. This story was just all-around awful, the worst story I've seen in a long time. I wish I could give this a huge flat ass 0 if I could. And there's almost no new characters to care about besides a few of the old ones (and there weren't too many characters to care about in part 1 to begin with) and Fran. The first one, while not great wasn't too bad. So far, 2020 has been a very weird yet disappointing year in terms of movies and shows.

0.1/10 story
10/10 animation
6/10 sound
4.2/10 characters
4/10 overall
iforinsignificant's avatar
May 15, 2021

After I pointed out some issues in my review of the first season, I am gla- no, scratch that, I am extremely disappointed to report that none of those issues were fixed. They got worse, in fact. The tone is beyond help at this point with a plethora of heavy, depressing themes being treated so casually, it makes me sick sometimes. We have casual slavery, child abuse, sexual assault, abject poverty, starvation, concubines and that super casual rampant classism. All this makes for an extremely pleasant experience, or at least that's what the music and character responses would have you believe. But I was not having fun. I don't understand why they keep bringing up these issues with no conceivable way to deal with them any time soon and why the characters don't feel like they're a part of this f*cked up world.

The story felt meandering this time around and all that good will set up by the finale of the first season was completely ignored. They still managed to make me want to know what happens next after the final episode but the rest of it was too slow and I was becoming increasingly disconnected from the protagonist as we moved along. I knew it was too much to expect what I wanted to see but what I got was something in the other direction to be honest. Also, there is supposed to a rebellion or something going around but looking at the nobles it doesn't seem to bother them much so what was the point of even mentioning it? Come to think of it I don't think they mentioned it even once this season. It's just a convenient excuse for the protagonist's special treatment with no consequences being seen anywhere.

I want to know where things go from here but I'd rather not watch another 12 episodes of disconnected tonal mess. I suppose I could pick up the light novel and be done with it but getting hold of it in my country is going to be a pain so I might as well not bother. I'm not sure if I'll continue watching this franchise because, as bleak as the situation already is, the future only looks bleaker and I don't much care for the protagonist anymore. All things considered, it is quite overrated in my opinion but I hope I get to eat my words going forward and they turn everything around to make this a great story because it still has some potential.

4/10 story
6/10 animation
5/10 sound
4/10 characters
4.5/10 overall
StellaeSamos's avatar
Jun 20, 2020

Now, I'll admit that I was drawn to this anime because, as a fellow book-lover, I was intrigued by the concept of a bookworm being reincarnated and trying to make books in a world that didn't really have them. However, I stayed because this anime is about so much more than that.

Sure, the first season focuses pretty explicitly on Maine's attempts to create books, but I realize that I would have been bored if that was all the second season had done as well. The way I see it, it is still very much about the book-making process, but it takes a more realistic aproach. Instead of this outsider just showing up, inventing brand new technology on a whim and generally upsetting the whole social, political, and economic order with absolutely no resistance unless a big, powerful, magical baddie shows up. Ascendance of a Bookworm shows how something like this would realistically be taken in a world like hers. 

Realistically, the nobles who hold onto power by being smarter and more powerful than the commoners wouldn't take well to a mysteriously intelligent commoner who knows things no one else does and has an insane amount of mana that chokes out anyone who pisses her off. That just wouldn't happen. The way Maine is going, she'll completely change everything about her world. Not because she's trying to, but because in order to make her books she has to invent new technologies and carve out a niche where she can live and read peacefully, which is not something a commoner can do without changing the way a few things work. Her books are her motivation for everything she does, but Ascendance of a bookworm gives us a deep-dive into her world in order to show us, the viewer, that these things aren't as simple as they seem.

Sure, this anime isn't action-packed with great battles, flashy magic, and grand adventures. Instead, it offers a look at the everyday life of its world. The world-building is exceptional, every detail is meticulous, and there are complex layers of interactions. This anime really makes it feel realistic, like you really are looking through a window into another world. It's a different kind of escape than the one offered by dragons and robots and quests, but satisfying on a whole different level to the audience who cares to listen.

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
Crua9's avatar
May 10, 2020

Update, the last episode just came out and I'm going to say this gets better after the halfway mark. As time goes on, it gets more and more better. However, what I mentioned below still holds up true. The only reason I changed my score from a 7.5 to this is the story itself has gotten better. Also, it ended with me wanting more now. 

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So real quick, for those of you who seen season/part 1. This isn't like part 1. Part 1 they focused heavily on how books/paper is made. In this one, they simply aren't. They are getting more in the church interworkings.  I wouldn't watch this without seeing part 1, but if you loved how she was brining tech to this new world. Well... ya... don't watch this one I guess.

It hasn't clearly shown how or anything like that. But you can tell this is lining up for her most likely taking over the church or maybe removing their power. And because this hasn't moved forward by all that much, while it seems like she has if I was to describe everything that has happen. I have to say this isn't as good as part 1 in my opinion.

Like she has joined the church and in the same place as nobles. But none of the nobles have any respect for her, and only deal with her because she could kill them. She has gained an orphanage as the director, but almost everything has to be approved and she gets blame if anything goes wrong. She has gotten "slaves", but until the story forced them to they didn't have any respect for her. So a 1 step forward and then 1 step back. It appears she is moving forward, but she isn't if you really think about it. At least to a worth while degree. And what I'm thinking is maybe all these things might add up into something at the end. Kinda like a ton of dimes is a million dollars. But outside of my speculation that I mention above I can't be sure. And even if we used that speculation, her age kinda gets in the way.

IDK maybe my rating is a bit low since compared to most others this season and past seasons this is still good. But to me it seems just not as good, and a complete change. It would've been nice if they kept up with the theme of the 2 starting a book store. But maybe they can do that later. However, joining the church seems like a lifetime thing. So IDK if it is possible now. Again, the only reason why anyone puts up with her is she can kill them. And since the church and nobles hate her but need her magic. How long until you think they will find a way to deal with her with getting what they want? She already has several spies that follow her every day

7/10 story
8.5/10 animation
8.5/10 sound
7.5/10 characters
9.9/10 overall