Ascendance of a Bookworm: A great last page in the 2019 anime season

It’s rare to see an anime about books and learning instead of swords and sorcery, but the magic is in the story.


Thomas French

Ascendance of a Bookworm has a female character who loves books more than swords.

With a female hero, a story about family and friends, and a conflict revolving around books, Ascendance of a Bookworm seems like an English teachers dream. Jokes aside, Ascendance of a Bookworm is a stellar anime that everyone can enjoy

Ascendance of a Bookworm is an isekai anime about a college student named Urano Motosu, whose goal in life is to become a librarian. She absolutely loves books, and she actually achieves her dream at the start of the story. Unfortunately, her story is cut short after an earthquake causes a bookshelf to fall on her and end her life. She then wakes up in the body of a 5-year-old peasant girl named Myne, in the middle of a medieval Europe-like world. Worst of all, her cherished books are too expensive for her to buy. She then vows that if she can’t have books, she will make them.

Isekai stories are about characters being flung into another world, usually a fantasy world. The main characters tend to be everyday people put into a situation where they can change this new world for the better, making for fun fish-out-of-water stories.

Where Ascendance of a Bookworm differs from most isekai is its lack of action. Ascendance is a very relaxed show, with conflicts that are much more grounded than most fantasy stories. The first major arc of the show is Myne’s attempts to make paper! With such a simple and, in some regard, boring problem, the show needs a stellar cast of characters to keep viewers engaged in the story. Luckily for us, each character is not only fun, but memorable.

Ascendance is a very unique isekai. Not only does it have a female character as its lead, which is a rarity in isekai, but it also keeps the viewer entertain despite a lack of fights and flashy visuals. ”

Myne is a bubbly, positive and very bright bookworm who just wants to indulge in her favorite hobby, reading. What separates Myne from the rest of the peasants of this new city is her incredible intelligence, at least compared to the rest of the inhabitants, similar to Belle in Beauty and the Beast, but on a much larger scale. Thanks to her love of any kind of literature, whether it be a history textbook or a cookbook, she has an encyclopedia’s worth of modern knowledge to bring to the people in her new life. However, the girl she took her new body from, the original Myne, is exceedingly frail, falling ill almost weekly, so she has to pace herself.

The next most important character is Lutz. He is a young boy, around 5 years old, who helps Myne in her goal to make a book. While initially confused by the girl’s strange new hobby, he is curious and helps her in her quest. In addition, he wants to become a merchant and travel the world, and Myne makes a promise to help him achieve his goal if he helps her make books.

There are many side characters who help make the world feel more vibrant. Myne’s new family members are all happy people despite their poor upbringing. Myne’s older sister, Tuuli, a calm and loving girl who wants to help out her family. Although not as smart as Myne, she adds more heart to the show with her compassion and love for her family. 

Another important character is Otto, a guard who works with Myne’s father. Being one of the few peasants who can read, he has the job of writing transcripts for nobles. After Myne impresses him by fixing some of his mathematical mistakes on a ledger (without using an abacus!) he agrees to teach her the language of this world, as long as she becomes his assistant. His shock over Myne’s intelligence makes him a fun mentor.

Because of her intelligence, she is able to make her family’s lives much better in just a few days. She starts with making a basic shampoo out of avocado oil and warm water. They also don’t question when she starts making strange objects, like trying to weave reeds into papyrus, as they are just glad to have their “daughter” feeling full of energy.

Myne’s quest to make a book is filled with trials and tribulation, which helps keep the plot interesting. This journey starts with clay tablets, which end up exploding in her house’s fireplace when she tries to harden them. Besides the problem of making the book, she also has a mysterious fever that springs up out of nowhere. This fever isn’t just Myne having a lower constitution than the rest of her friends and family. The fever may have more dire implications, ones that could cut her journey short if she does not find a way to cure it.

The only true issue with Ascendance is its slow pacing. Not much is done in the story, and that may bore those who are more familiar with action packed anime. However, the story itself is never boring, and keeps us interested with its cast and intriguing narrative. The fever as well adds a dash of tension to the show, making Myne feel like shes on a time limit. With that said, if you dislike slice-of-life stories, this may not be your first pick.

What Ascendance of a Bookworm lacks in heart pounding action it more than makes up for in character and heart. It’s a fun story that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Ascendance of a Bookworm gets a 4.5/5.