5. “Only a corpse will remain after I’m gone.”

where did my fun bookworm anime go

This line legitimately upset me. Not in a “this is bad” kind of way, or else I wouldn’t still be watching Ascendance of a Bookworm. Rather, it was more like a “oh god, i didnt want to think about this” moment. It’s an actual concern in an otherwise light-hearted story about making books.

Urano (before becoming Main) is a reincarnator, adding to the many isekai protagonists and the slightly fewer amount of those focused on reincarnation such as “That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime” or “Saga of Tanya the Evil”. While those I mentioned are more of a power fantasy with both protagonists of their respective anime being significantly more powerful than their peers, Urano has no special powers. While the other protagonists are given a setting allowing them to flourish and demonstrate their newfound power, Urano is placed with a poor family that lives from paycheck to paycheck. There’s nothing ideal about Urano’s situation.

The only thing really driving her in this case, besides surviving in her new world, is the desire to read books. But since reading books is reserved for the upper upper class, she has no choice but to figure out how to make her own. While she has neither tools nor resources handy to make one right away, she does have memories of how to do it. Those memories of a past life are in the body of a little girl, but that’s not going to stop her from achieving her dream.

Except, it is stopping her from achieving her dream.

The reincarnations in the other anime mentioned are clean-cut. Rimuru in the slime anime literally rebirths as a slime. Tanya is reborn as a newborn baby after being shoved into an oncoming subway train by a literal god.

Urano is reincarnated in Main’s body. She’s grown up enough to think, and has her own personality and perceptions. The implication is that there was a living, breathing child before Urano gained consciousness within it. Since there’s no indication that Urano is sharing the body, it means that she’s Main now. She pretty much possesses the child’s body. Couple that with the body’s abnormally weak constitution, and the fact that the reincarnation occurred at the same time as the body was having a fatal fever, the implications worsen: Urano is possessing Main’s dead body.

It’s just so sad. Given that Urano (who is basically Main now) is given this life after her death in the previous one, it’s unlikely that she’ll ever get a second chance. She’s in a world where everything she wants to do is difficult to achieve. Reading books is for rich people, and she’s poor. Making books is for people with time, money, and resources. Main has no time, no money, and no resources because, again, she’s poor. If all that’s not bad enough, she gained a body so sickly that anything past going down the stairs on her own leaves her bedridden.

It would have been fine thinking about everything else, having a light-hearted tale of a poor girl whose knowledge moves her up high enough in society that she can finally make and read books. But this is a reincarnation story, and a botched one at that. This was meant to be a second chance for Main to live a dream she always wanted. But having all this ambition thrust onto the most fragile girl imaginable makes it so devastating to think about.

The knowledge that Urano leaving Main’s body would end up with a child’s corpse is just heartbreaking.

Addendum

  • I felt compelled to write about a show that aired this year, and there are certainly many to choose from. However, I don’t think anything as hit me as hard as this moment in Ascendance of a Bookworm.
  • Well, feeling so sad about an anime isn’t quite a bad thing if that’s the intended effect.

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