Books and the Isekai Anime
*Important Notice: SPOILERS for Ascendance of a Bookworm
Books play a vital role in any respected universe, especially for Anime in the real world. Manga and other Japanese publications for a series usually are the primeral state before Anime. These publications make their influence on the Anime by setting the stage for other adaptations similar to the source material. Today, I am discussing a specific graphic novel by the name of Ascendance of a Bookworm and its refreshing twist in Isekai genre.
Ascendance of a Bookworm is a series written by Miya Kazuki and illustrated by Yō Shiina. The series is about a female protagonist whose love of books makes her standout a lot. Urano is transported to another world, which is the definition of Isekai, other than her own. In a devastating twist of fate, she is crushed by the books she loves so much by an earthquake, before she was able to become a librarian. Instead, she has to wish for another life to achieve her status of a book overseer. She is transported to a family with little money and has a frail body who goes by the new name of Myne. She has to learn her new world without the use of books and with a mysterious illness.
This Isekai Anime, challenges this other worldly genre by having a very strong determination, by having a very vexing external struggle, and by having a really good support network.
In Ascendance of a Bookworm, we see Myne with the will to learn and have access to books during medieval times. Myne is seen wandering around and trying to see her new circumstances first hand. She experiences a world where books are rare and are in the hands of the wealthy. Despite these problems, Myne wants to look for books and make her dream of watching over books a reality. Books are too expensive and she has the goal to make them with alternative means of paper production. Myne tries to make books no matter what through trial and error. It briefly mentions ways that paper and books were made through history like the traditional animal skin method already used or clay tablets used during Aztec times. She finds the method where it is best to make books and continues on the road to bookmaking. As she tries to make books, she also has a conflict that it makes that much more difficult to overcome.
Myne has an external struggle with man versus nature with a chronic illness. The suspected illness causes her to often feel weak and experience fevers quite regularly. She has to overcome the illness to make any progress for books and overall life. The disease is a phenomenon where mana is in a body that can not handle the immense mana in one vessel. This results in the body experiencing a high fever which can make the person die if they do not the will to fight it and is known as the devouring. The devouring has no cure and is similar to AIDS as treatment is limited and only slows the condition. Just as drugs are used for AIDS, magical items are used for the devouring.
When it comes to both conditions, having the means to pay for it is the main shortcoming for anyone that are affected by these diseases. Myne can easily succumb to the devouring and let it eat away at her body if she did not have the motivation of books and those around her.
Throughout the Bookworm series, Myne is surrounded by family and an inner circle for support. Myne’s journey for help is years of her family safeguarding and trying to do their best whenever a fever would occur and from occurring. This is constantly shown when she is in bed and the mom (Effa) would cook meals and place a towel on her head. Gunther, who is the father, cares so much that he gets a bit irritated when he does not have all of Myne’s attention especially Otto. Otto is Gunther’s friend at the guard post at the gate and teaches Myne how to write. She is soon taught and acts as a teacher to the other students under Otto’s guidance. He also works as the messenger of people to go in and out the gate entrance. Under Otto’s guidance, Usano becomes an unofficial apprentice and the cover story is she is in school and learning how to write. She is getting so much support that Lutz becomes the second hand for Myne and her endeavors. Gunther tells Lutz to watch over her and make sure she does not overwhelm herself. This happens to the point where Myne is the innovator while he is the craftsmen for Myne’s innovations. A beneficial relationship is born and they both help one another in ideas and aspirations being invented.
In closing, Ascendance of a Bookworm is an exception to the Isekai Anime genre. Typically, this genre consists of average person from the original world, the character immediately has an advantage of their past experience, and a helpful character guiding the hero before transition to a new universe. Myne is no where near average. She had lots of mana and still has so much to end up with a frail body. The past life for her is books and books but in the beginning she is severely limited without such things until later in the story where past info is a plus. When she transitioned to medieval times, there was no one to assist with a divine background or anything like that. She had to adapt to a new body and suffer the same fate as the old Myne did before she passed away.
Basically, Ascendance of a Bookworm consists of books and finding an identity that it has earned its ranks in Isekai Anime.