Miya Kazuki/Yū Shiina
It's been about seventeen seconds since the end of Ascendance of a Bookworm: I'll do anything to become a librarian Part 1 Daughter of a Soldier Volume 1, and Myne has successfully secured for herself and her child slave future merchant apprenticeships. This nets her a new ally in her paper-making adventures, which continue in this second installment, Ascendance of a Bookworm: I'll do anything to become a librarian Part 1 Daughter of a Soldier Volume 2.
If there was a fault with the first volume which might have made it tricky to get into, it was that the pacing was consistently on the meandering side. It wasn't boring, but in a genre whose highlights are commonly battles against invading orc armies, it hadn't yet found a suitable replacement to mark an uptick in the pacing chart. Ascendance of a Bookworm: I'll do anything to become a librarian Section 12 Subsection 7 gets closer to finding this replacement, but there's apparently an equilibrium it must maintain balance to, because while some segments fit on their jogging shoes, others struggle to crawl out of bed.
If you'll remember my review of the first volume, it had a problem with scenes just being Myne reading an assembly manual, as well as the prose itself lacking character, and these two compound when she and Lutz are making paper. It almost feels like blasphemy to criticize a series whose end goal is to have a book made when it gets that book-making process underway, but I'd be a filthy liar if I said I didn't sometimes notice a beetle on the ground and realize how much more interesting the life of a beetle must be than reading about six-year-olds making paper.
Don't think I'm not against learning the step-by-step procedure for turning a dead tree into someone's erotica. Watching Myne try out different cultures' methods of writing itself was a more entertaining education than learning about ancient Egyptian silt in middle school, but the presentation is lacking when her paper-making is finally underway, just explaining things as they are. They soak some wood in water, boil it, she stirs a pot. This series should really take some lessons from Dr. Stone on how to make a snooze-inducing task electrifying as a thunderhead.
Thankfully, Ascendance of a Bookworm: I'll do anything to become a librarian Paragraph 7 Line 4 makes up for this dullness by dabbling Myne in economics. She and her child slave make a business arrangement with a man named Benno where Myne comes up with knickknack inventions and Benno shoulders the investment costs in exchange for the distribution rights. Benno is a love-him-or-hate-him-kind of guy. He's shrewd, rude, and his bottom line is whether something will turn a profit, but he knows his stuff, and he's always quick to realize when he's come across a potential business venture. None of his business talk with Myne is as esoteric as the economics of Spice & Wolf, whose first volume deals with the value of a coin fluctuating because of a change in minting practice, but it is straightforward and friendly to those whose understanding of economics doesn't extend beyond supply and demand.
Maybe it's because I splashed around in entrepreneurship for one chapter of my life, but the business scenes were the highlight for me. They explored another facet of the world, introduced a few interesting characters, and kept the ball rolling by switching between Myne drafting her relatives to create hairpins to negotiating with a couple of richie-riches. I wouldn't mind it if Myne gave up her book-making and lived with the rest of this series as Spice & Wolf-lite.
Just like the first volume, Ascendance of a Bookworm: I'll do anything to become a librarian Act 1 Scene 9 bequeaths unto us two side stories, and I'm delighted to report the shorts this time are marginally better than volume one's, and there was even a theme this time: marriage.
The first side story takes place from the perspective of Corinna, Benno's sister, as she recites a day in her life as a married woman, from the moment she wakes up to when she lies down to retire for the night. Also, I've embraced being a filthy liar. That's what I thought the story would be about based on its title, Corinna's Married Life, but in actuality, it's just a slightly more detailed account of what we already knew about how she and her husband met. There're one or two tidbits worth learning, such as how she married her husband not because he wooed her but because she had another marriage proposal on the kitchen counter and he was the lesser of two evils.
The second side story jumps heads to Myne's mother as she washes laundry and chitchats with the neighborhood's gossipy housewives. If there's one thing this short teaches us, it's that mothers hold no love for their own children and wish they had their friend's perfect-as-peach child. Talk of marriage leaks in toward the end, briefly mentioning how Myne's parents became engaged, and between what we learn in this side story and the other, marriage is as progressive as you would expect in a medieval-inspired world. Overall, because it shows us sides to characters who previously showed up and emitted no more than one emotion at a time, this is the first side story I would deign to describe as moderately enjoyable without previous intake of alcoholic substances.
Ascendance of a Bookworm: I'll do anything to become a librarian Chapter 5 Line 24, in spite of it tripping over its own shoelaces and shuffling along the rocky terrain when Myne makes paper, is fractionally better than the first volume. It suffers from editorial issues, with scenes which can either be combined with others, replaced with something more substantial, or erased entirely, but it begs for forgiveness with a forward-momentum plot and an ending more proper to being called an ending, even if it is a cliffhanger which makes you want to jump off a cliff yourself.