It may take a while to get there, but we’ll see in this latest episode of Bibliophile princess how Elianna changes and learns to step outside her comfort zone. It’s not as loud or flashy a moment as protagonists before her have had, but it’s still powerful in its own way. Fittingly, it comes at the end of the story of Lady Sharon too; the little imp is convinced she’s figured out a way to get Eli to step aside in favor of his older sister: she offers Elianna access to a very rare book. The trade-off, of course, is that in exchange for being allowed to borrow the book, Eli must step aside and let Sharon be Chris’ date to the dance. The idea is that this would imply that Christopher was willing to dump Elianna to marry the recently widowed Lady Mireille, who has been Lady Sharon’s target from the beginning.
Even if we ignore the fact that Sharon doesn’t even offer Elianna the book on a more permanent basis (which doesn’t feel too strange to expect, given that she’s asking her to give up her position as Queen of the Land), it all really illustrates very nice how smug, confident and out of her league Lady Sharon is. Chris makes her admit that she is not doing everything at the behest of the duke who rules her home province, but out of her own misguided ambition. Sharon has wholeheartedly bought into popularized myths that mourned the fictional separation between Chris and Mireille. That such stories are revealed to be nothing more than base propaganda is not surprising to all but Sharon and Elianna.
I don’t think this is meant to put the two on the same level; Sharon’s belief in the stories can be explained by her own desperate love for her sister, while Elianna’s willingness to accept the stories as fact is evidence of her own deep-seated insecurities. That she declines Sharon’s offer of the book in favor of remaining connected to Christopher is therefore an example of her not only finding pleasure in something other than reading, but also of her faith in Christopher himself. She has decided to take him at his word and believe that she really is the one he wants to marry, no matter what the gossip tongues may say. Between this and the end of the episode where she puts the book aside to take a walk with her fiancé, we can see that Elianna has made real progress as a character.
However, it feels a bit like too little too late. That’s the biggest flaw with this adaptation: it’s hard to really feel like we know Elianna as a person. We know she loves books, we know she’s smart and insecure, but we don’t understand how she can change. Even Chris’s repeated attempts to show her how much he loves her don’t quite feel like enough to affect the kind of monumental growth that would make her realize there are things other than books for you to enjoy. Is it also because she realizes that if she wants to stay by Chris’ side, she has to learn to do the things that will allow her to survive in court? Maybe, we don’t really know. Until the end, Eli remains primarily a wide-eyed blank slate, and that’s a disservice to her as a character, to the story as a whole, and to be dramatic, to all of us bibliophiles who would rather read than interact with another human being.
Bibliophile princess‘ run does not cover all the available books. Partly it’s because the last (translated) novel ends on a cliffhanger, but it’s also because this really is a very nice ending point. If you’ve enjoyed the anime a bit, I encourage you to check out the light novels; they do a much better job than rounding out the characters and story. This hasn’t been a huge show, but if it gets people interested in the source material, then I guess it’s done its job.
Bibliophile princess currently streaming on HIDIVE.