Ascendance of a Bookworm Episode 18

Ascendance of a Bookworm Episode 18

Orphanage Reforms

I think I’ve been swapping back and forth between Myne and Main for the spelling of the protagonist’s name, but I’m going to be sticking with Myne from here on out. Or at least until I forget which spelling I decided on and swap to the other. I’ve seen them both, so I don’t think it really matters.

With that out of the way, in Ascendance of a Bookworm season 2 episode 4, Myne finally leveled up her business by acquiring a sweatshop. I can’t wait to see how certain members of the anime community who have me blocked on Twitter react to the fact that the protagonist of this series is now a slave owner.

Now, look, I’m on Myne’s side here, but let me play Devil’s advocate for a moment and explain how what Myne is doing is potentially problematic.

The orphanage from the anime series Ascendance of a Bookworm season 2
The orphanage

Myne may think that she’s giving these orphans a better life, but all she’s really doing is exploiting them. Sure, she’s giving them food and clothing, but in exchange, they have to work for her out in the forest doing manual labor which will enrich her and her company.

This wouldn’t really be an issue, except the fact that these orphans are supposedly solely being paid in food, clothes, and potentially shelter. This means that they’re basically Myne’s property because they don’t have any economic freedom. They don’t have money to do with what they please, and they have nowhere else to go.

If they choose to leave Myne’s employment, they’ll be back in the orphanage starving to death — that’s not much of an option. So, is Myne really doing the right thing here? I’ve already given my opinion, but you can decide for yourself.

Orphans Aren’t Individuals

Before Myne realizes that she can turn the orphanage into a self-sufficient sweatshop, she first tries to convince the Head Priest to do something about the orphans’ living conditions. And, just as Fran said would happen, the Head Priest denies her request to have their living conditions improved.

The important part of this conversation comes when the Head Priest asserts that according to the church, anyone who is unbaptized isn’t an individual. This basically means that anyone who can’t afford to be baptized by the church — such as an orphan — doesn’t have any rights as far as they’re concerned.

Now, obviously this is bad for the orphans, but you might initially think that this is good for Myne’s sweatshop aspirations. However, I don’t think that’s going to be the case in the end; and if you recall, Myne never actually brought up the idea of having the orphans work for her to the Head Priest.

The head priest from the anime series Ascendance of a Bookworm season 2
The head priest

So, why is the fact that the church designates the unbaptized as not individuals a problem for Myne? First, we have the fact that this means the orphans aren’t individuals, and can, therefore, be considered property. That seems like it would be in Myne’s favor until we remember whose property the orphans currently are — the church’s.

The church might not see the orphans as people, but it does see them as a lucrative source of income. Orphans are raised by the church with the understanding that some, or many, of them will eventually be sold off to nobles as servants. This selling off of orphans is how the church funds the orphanage — and its own coffers.

If Myne turns the orphanage into her own workshop, she’ll be effectively using the property of the church for her own financial gain. And this is certain to attract unwanted attention from the High Priest.

The Head Priest’s Past

Later in the episode, we learn a little bit about the Head Priest’s past both from Fran and himself. First, after Myne’s proposal to increase the standard of living of the orphans is rejected, Fran claims that the Head Priest does share her sentiment, but can’t do anything about it due to the structure of the church.

Everything the Head Priest does is monitored carefully by the High Priest, and he has dedicated his life to gaining the High Priest’s trust by playing his role. So from this, we get the understanding that the Head Priest is working towards a larger goal, and he can’t simply help the orphans right now because that would endanger it.

If I had to guess, the Head Priest plans to one day take over the role of High Priest so that he can change the church from the inside.

The head priest's secret room from the anime series Ascendance of a Bookworm season 2
The head priest’s secret room

When Myne asks the Head Priest about why he agreed to help her in the end, he elaborates a little on what we learned from Fran. He doesn’t outright tell us why he’s at odds with the other Blue Robes within the church, but he mentions that unlike them, he was raised outside of the church and only joined it later in life.

This basically just tells me that he wasn’t brainwashed by the church from a young age, and so he’s able to have an outside perspective on their dealings. And, that outside perspective tells him that there’s something wrong with the church and how it currently operates.

But it would be strange for him to decide to join the church simply because he wants to change it. There must have been some catalyst which made him decide this — we just don’t know what it was yet.

Conclusion

What did you think about Ascendance of a Bookworm episode 18? Do you think Myne’s involvement with the orphanage is a positive or a negative? Do you think the church will see her new business venture as a threat? And why do you think the Head Priest joined the church? Let me know in the comments.

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My review of the next episode is available here.

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