Ascendance of a Bookworm Episode 21

Ascendance of a Bookworm Episode 21

New Retainers

Ascendance of a Bookworm episode 21 has a lot of new information I want to discuss this week. And the first thing I need to mention is that Myne is going to have a younger sibling (probably). I’m not going to cast aside the possibility of a miscarriage yet, but if all goes well, Myne will have a younger brother or sister.

This is important for two reasons: It sets up Myne gaining Wilma as a retainer and it gives the High Priest more leverage with which to control Myne. I’ll get to Wilma in a moment, but first, it’s important to understand what a new child in Myne’s family could mean for the High Priest’s goals.

Three things could go wrong for Myne’s family. The baby could also have the devouring like Myne, and therefore potentially be tied to the church like Myne is. The baby could be denied a baptism by the High Priest, which would diminish Myne’s family’s status. Or the baby could be deemed “abandoned” by the High Priest and taken from the family.

Obviously all three of these outcomes would benefit the High Priest while also hurting Myne. However, I think the baby having the devouring is the best of these bad options. At least Myne knows of ways to combat it, so she could help take care of the baby rather than it too being tied to the church.

In this episode Myne also gains two new retainers: Wilma and Rosina. Wilma’s acquisition is directly related to the baby because Myne needs her artistic skills to create a picture book for it. Last week I questioned what Wilma’s role would be, and now we know.

Marrying Myne

I’ll discuss Rosina more in the next section, but she was forced onto Myne as a condition for making Wilma her retainer. Myne needed an artist, and Wilma fills that need. But Rosina is a musician, something Myne doesn’t see the need for.

The Head Priest sees things differently, though. He’s clearly interested in music which is part of the reason he’s forcing Rosina onto Myne. But the other reason he gives for doing this is that Myne needs to learn more about noble culture, of which music is a major part.

And the reason she needs to learn about noble culture is that one day she’ll be married to a noble. I always figured she would end up with Lutz if anyone, but it’s explained why this probably won’t be the case. If Myne is to have a child, the father must have a similar level of mana to her — Lutz is a commoner with no mana.

Myne receiving marriage offers from nobles from the anime series Ascendance of a Bookworm season 2
Myne receiving marriage offers from nobles

Of course, it’s possible that Lutz could awaken mana at some point in the future. Or perhaps he and Myne could decide that they don’t want children anyway. But what if Myne really does marry a noble. Who would she marry? We haven’t really met any eligible bachelors, have we?

In fact, we have: The Head Priest himself.

Yes, the Head Priest is significantly older than Myne; she’s like 10 and he’s in his 20s. But when you consider the time period this world is based on, that’s not actually that outrageous of an age gap. Also, there were a few hints at their possible romance in this episode.

The Head Priest is grooming Myne for life as a noblewoman by making her learn his favorite pastime: Music. He also gave her a gift which he says is common for a lover to give. And even Myne mentions that his musical ability would make girls fall for him.

Rosina Has a Mental Illness

Rosina is an interesting character. I don’t like her as a person, but she brings something new to Myne’s group which is interesting. All of Myne’s retainers are damaged goods when she receives them, and Rosina (and Wilma whom I’ll discuss next) is no different.

From what we initially see, Rosina views herself as above all the other grey-robes — including Fran who’s Myne’s head retainer. She doesn’t do any work other than play the harspiel, which in her defense is the only reason she was made Myne’s retainer in the first place.

Originally I assumed that Rosina may have actually once been a noble herself. This would have explained how she was so skilled at music and why she viewed herself as above doing servant’s work.

Rosina playing the harspiel from the anime series Ascendance of a Bookworm season 2
Rosina playing the harspiel

We later discover that this isn’t the case, but it would have been interesting to learn about how a woman who was once a noble fell to the level of a servant within the church. Instead, the truth is simply that Rosina suffers from a mental illness that causes her to dissociate from reality.

Her previous master treated her as if she was special because she’s gifted at music. This special treatment then made Rosina believe she truly was special. And now that her former master is gone, she’s unable to cope with the fact that she was never special to begin with.

Rosina developed a dissociative disorder as a defense mechanism. It’s now up to Myne to help Rosina break free from the shackles church society placed on her just as she did with Fran, Gil, and Delia previously.

Wilma Hates Men

While I don’t like Rosina, I do like Myne’s other new retainer, Wilma. I don’t really think Wilma’s role as an artist is that important for the story, but she still fulfills other roles such as taking care of the orphans. And although it seems like Wilma is the first undamaged retainer Myne has acquired, that’s not the case.

I guess I should explain what I mean by “damaged” within this context since I’ve been saying it about all Myne’s retainers. When I refer to them as damaged, I mean that they’ve developed some sort of negative, defensive behavior as a result of how the church systematically forces its ideology onto them.

For Wilma, this damage manifests itself in her being afraid of men. She clearly has no issue with younger boys, but we do see that she appears uncomfortable around Fran. At the end of the episode, Rosina explains that this is due to Wilma being raped by a blue robed noble in the past.

Wilma caring for the orphans from the anime series Ascendance of a Bookworm season 2
Wilma caring for the orphans

I don’t have too much to say on that topic right now, as I’m sure next week’s episode will be focusing on Wilma and her past trauma. But I would like to point out that this is a fairly significant and dark turn from what we’ve seen in the series before. This second season was already darker than season 1 due to the orphans, but now rape is being thrown into the mix as well.

And it’s actually the inclusion of this darker backstory for Wilma which makes me consider the possibility that Myne’s mother could have a miscarriage. That no longer seems like a topic too taboo for the series to touch on.

I’m also really interested in learning more about the circumstances around this attack on Wilma. Was she the retainer of that noble at some point? Or did this happen while she was Lady Christine’s retainer? Also, what became of that man? Is he still within the church? And if so, is he someone we’ve already seen?

Conclusion

I think I mentioned this earlier on in the season, but Ascendance of a Bookworm season 2 is a lot better than season 1 was. Season 1 was fairly dry and ordinary, but we’re now getting to the point at which all the groundwork laid by season 1 is beginning to have a real impact on the story.

What did you think about episode 21? Do you think the High Priest will go after Myne’s younger sibling? Do you think Myne could end up marrying the Head Priest? And what are your thoughts on both Rosina and Wilma? Let me know in the comments.

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My review of the next episode is available here.

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