Ascendance of a Bookworm: Delia’s Reform Happened Way TOO Fast

Season 2 of Ascendance of a Bookworm is in full swing and continuing on with Main's experiences at the church. In the first two episodes, Main is shown struggling to adjust to the church's expectations and mishandled most of her social interactions. Through the conflict, however, we get to see Main grow as a character and her progress feels earned as she learns along the way.

By the end of the third episode, Main has made peace with her three retainers -- Fran, Gil and Delia -- and things are peachy between them. However, compared to Fran and Gil, Delia's reform was way too quick for satisfying development. Delia announced herself as a spy from the beginning and was one of the most problematic retainers. She deserved a separate episode for her redemption arc but instead, only received five minutes of screen time devoted to it.

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If we look at Fran and Gil, all parties had to communicate with and understand each other to form a solid foundation. Because we see the struggles the characters go through and how they grow, their relationships feel earned and realistic. Beginning with Fran, he was the oldest and calmest of the three yet he was cold to Main at the beginning.

Fran didn't take her physical frailties into account and instead of being attentive, he walked ahead of her without checking on her. However, on the other side, Main was dismissive of Fran, didn't try to understand the social rules regarding retainers and masters and hurt his feelings by not making use of his services. Fran and Main had to compromise with each other to build a solid relationship based on trust. Main promised to become a more conscious master and empathized with Fran's misgivings while Fran promised to be more attentive and less cold towards Main's needs.

Gil was problematic from the beginning by challenging Main's authority and speaking in an insolent manner. But Main was unable to discipline him properly and didn't even attempt to communicate with him. She was actually rather cruel, even if it was unintentionally, by not feeding Gil and the orphan had to go hungry for a night. It's a great setup for their conflict as the two children have grievances against each other that must be resolved -- which they do: Main apologizes for letting him go hungry and makes a bargain to let Gil work for food. However, Main also displays one of her strengths from the first season, her natural kindness, and realizes all Gil wanted was emotional fulfillment. Main pats his head and affirms his hard work, allowing the two to connect positively for the first time.

Compared to the two boys, Delia doesn't receive a satisfying conclusion to her character arc and her relationship with Main feels forced. From the start, Delia boldly declared that she was the Head Priest's spy yet made no effort to cozy up to our blue-haired protagonist. It's is a strange choice on Delia's part when she could have said nothing and got into Main's good graces. The setup is already strange and we can't blame Main for pushing her away as this a matter of trust. However, there is no progression as the two girls becoming closer, nor any resolution to their conflict as it's more of a political matter. In the end, Delia simply cries that she has nowhere to go and that she'll do anything to stay with Main. Main trusts this too easily, which stands in contrast to Fran and Gil havin to prove their loyalty.

Delia also didn't receive the same character development Fran and Gil did. It's possible Delia will turn on Main later on in the story but as of now, Main appears rather naive for forgiving Delia for her crocodile tears. A great resolution to their relationship would be Main addressing Delia's overreliance on her appearance to entertain male guests. It's pretty disturbing that a seven-year-old is dreaming of becoming a mistress to an elderly man, limiting Delia's ability to think independently.

Main is a prodigy who is able to use her brains to bring in income for her family so it would have been amazing for her to encourage Delia to value herself beyond her beauty. The Head Priest throwing Delia out feels like an ex machina as it forces Main to accept Delia out of pity rather than forming a connection to the red-headed girl. It would have been a far more satisfying conclusion for Main to expand Delia's horizons by helping Delia realize her future isn't limited to becoming a mistress.

Ascendance of a Bookworm is known for its likable characters and fulfilling relationships. However, the anime has dropped the ball on Delia and her relationship with Main is shallow in comparison to the other retainers. Delia is a great foil to Main for she is someone who only sees worth in her body. But as the season goes on, there will be more chances for Delia to redeem herself and interact with Main.

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