WARNING: The following contains spoilers for So I’m a Spider, So What? Episode 2, “My House, On Fire?” streaming now on Crunchyroll.
Episode 2 of So I'm a Spider, So What?, “My House, On Fire?” focuses primarily on the development of the now-named spider, Wakaba. Specifically, her persona and adaptation to her new form, with overcoming adversity in the name of redemption being the pressing theme of the episode. And there's no better way to overcome weakness and make a name for yourself in a fantasy RPG setting than through some old fashion level-grinding.
In Episode 2, during Wakaba’s callback to her own weaknesses as a human in her past life, we learn that her shortcomings didn't just revolve around the constant bullying she received in school -- she was also anti-social and not very engaged with her environment. She was the typical background character that didn’t really catch anyone’s eye, in other words. It’s good to see that this reincarnation has rekindled her desire to really live life this time around -- even if it's as a spider.
Her demeanor is similar to typical anime characters that are tired of always being weak and strive to be stronger, but even though she's the protagonist of an isekai series, she still hasn’t inherited any special abilities or characteristics that would give her an edge... or so it seems thus far.
Wakaba’s struggle to level-up and grind through multiple creatures is reflective of her internal development in the story. Her struggle and determination are about making herself strong enough so that she doesn’t have to lose what matters to her. It’s all for her own self-growth rather than for some ulterior motive, as opposed to the other reincarnated characters in the world of So I'm a Spider who are trying to expand their rule and become higher-ranking royalty to service their outward development.
Wakaba isn’t the only one trying to reestablish herself though. Baby dragon Fei’s depressed demeanor seems to reflect her theory that her past actions dictated the creature she reincarnated into, and it almost seems like she is trying to reconcile with her past.
Fei claims to not care about redemption for her past actions, but the truth of the matter is that she definitely feels guilty, evidenced by her asking tutor Oka if they’ve found Wabaka’s reincarnation yet. Fei is the complete opposite of Wakaba in terms of attitude towards her new form. Prince Yamada, her 'owner,' tries to lighten Fei’s spirits by showing her the possible transformations she can become after leveling-up, but that is the least of her worries.
The actual process for transformation through level-grinding seems to mean more than simply changing one’s appearance. Fei’s transformation is tied to her guilt over her past life's actions, and it will take Wakaba accepting her apology, while she forgives herself, to truly “level-up” into a mightier form.
In So I'm a Spider, leveling-up and evolving seem to have more meaning to its characters than getting physically stronger -- it's more about creating a new, idealized iteration of your past self. For Wakaba, leveling-up will be the affirmation of her hard work to establish a new life, while for Fei, when she transforms, it will probably be from her accepting her past, and deciding to lead a more fulfilling new life. It’s still early to say how each character will react to their transformations in the anime, but the message is clear: level-up to better yourself, inside and out.