So I'm a Spider, So What? LN: Volumes 4-5


Ach ja, our bursty greedy spider keeps weaving her spider way into the world. The fourth and fifth volumes cover the events of the second part of the anime, meaning I have finally caught up with it.

Also, I always tried to include the title of the OP/ED in these post somewhere (Please ignore the fact I didn’t bother looking up the actual title of the first opening and simply going with “Spider Pride”), but what even is “Genjitsu Totsugeki Hierarchy”? Genjitsu? Sure. Totsugeki? This was some variant of “to attack”, right? And Hierarchy is already in english. But what in god’s name does Genjitsu Totsugeki Hierarchy mean? And more importantly, how can I shoehorn it into a sentence and pretend to be witty for a second?

Overall Impressions

I fucking love the demon politics. The “The Demon Lord’s Aide Sighs”-Interludes, despite there only being two of them, are such an interesting look into how this whole demon lord thing (doesn’t) work. I have seen so many anime about eventually defeating the demon lord, but close to none actually get to the demon lord/its equivalent or bother exploring this angle in any more depth than necessary.

So, as it turns out, the initial attack on the humans from volume 2 went exactly like planned, collateral on the demon’s side included. Some of the demon generals secretly conspire against the demon lord and seem to be in cahoots with the elves, so Ariel simply set up some traps to deal with it and not subtle traps either. Oh, you mean a Queen Taratect, one of my own kin, randomly popped up on the battlefield and killed half of our own army. How unfortunate… Aaanyway. Like, slay queen demon lord (literally).

Despite this very obvious sign, some of the generals still decide to continue to conspire against her, though this seems to come from a genuine sense of convictions and not underestimating the demon lord. Combine this with the fact that Ariel doesn’t decide to win the war herself, something she is most likely very much capable of, and the somehow ominous words at the end of volume 5, there is a lot more going on than a simple humans vs. demons. In the middle of all this is Balto. This guy deserves his sighs, trying his best to keep the demon generals from literally killing each other and somehow keeping Ariel in check. The demons are far from a united front, so I am very eager to learn how it all came to be.

Anyway, Kumoko continues to not catch a break. After Mother’s first attempt in the previous volume, she now takes matters into her own legs and chases Kumoko outside the labyrinth. This all eventually escalates into one giant cat and mouse game turned guerilla warfare with the demon lord, who turns out to be the progenitor of all the spider monsters. Inbetween all this, Kumoko gets approached by Administrator D again, telling her about the other reincarnations and part of the deal about this whole world. Honestly, beyond some very interesting information titbits, like how Kumoko’s specific evolution line is one giant trap, there isn’t a lot going on for Kumoko in the fourth novel, though it is still very enjoyable to read. The constant back-and-forth between Kumoko, Ariel and Mother leads to some very engaging fights and the more tactical approach makes it again distinct from the previous confrontations.

With her successful matricide, things get a bit more interesting in the following volume, though Kumoko’s perspective still stays mostly separate from most events in the opposing arc. While Kumoko obviously doesn’t directly interfere with Shun, etc. (yet), the first three volumes still feel like parallel narratives, as there are… well, many parallels with common elements explored at the same time. However, these two volumes feel like two separate narratives completely delimited by time and only having superficial overlap. Though while these two stories could have been told in two different volumes, I still think there is something to gain from telling them at the same time, especially as the mystery still continues to go strong.

Kumoko rescues a family from some bandits, accidentally meeting her first reincarnation, Sophia. After some more shenanigans, Kumoko is viewed by the local populace as the Divine Beast, a title mostly likely formerly hold by Ariel, and now has to deal with humans. While this was one of her initial goals, as she is still a spider monster and suffers from crippling social anxiety, it essential results into her accepting the fruits, healing the humans when approached, but otherwise hiding in the forest most of the time. She does however learn the language. It also makes her realize she is the reason a war has started, something that never gets old, no matter how many times I see it. Besides this, I appreciate how serious this series handles Kumoko’s inability to communicate with other people. Not only did this already cause some troubles in her former life, it continues to do so, as everyone basically has to second-guess what she actually means (they always misinterpret it in some way).

The other thing going on has to do with her Parallel Minds. After the defeat of Mother and Body Brain going for Ariel, Kumoko notices some inconsistencies in her thoughts. Until now, the parallel minds were just another her, but after their confrontation with mother, Magic Brain #1 and #2 seem to have slightly diverged from Kumoko’s original Information Brain, being a bit more aggressive, as seen as when Kumoko killed the bandits attacking Sophia’s wagon, despite having no intention to deal with them. This also escalated into her killing all the bandits in the area, as she was afraid of what would happen, if she were to go against her two parallel brains. Meanwhile, Ariel has to deal with a similar problem, as former Body Brain attacks her spirit with no way to stop this attack. D mentioned that this attack is “outside the System”, meaning there is no skill support for it, bringing back the idea of one’s divinity field, though there is still no explanation of what it specifically is besides one’s “soul”.

While Kumoko plays bodyguard for little miss bloodsucker, Ariel mourns the death of one of her kin. The anime severely undercuts the character of Mother as an actual character and her connection towards Ariel. I mean, sure, we get that there has to be a connection from Ariel’s species name also being Taratect, but even such simple details as mentioning she understood the type of attack of Kumoko against her and requesting help from Ariel, give her more depth as an individual living being in this world. Plus, reading through her three pages of skills, you get a glimpse into her life, like how she has max-leveled the Taboo skill or how her high level of Light Magic Resistance probably indicates some successful encounters against the local heroes. Mother was a beast.

Anyway, while Ariel searches for the corpse of Mother, she meets the leader of the earth dragons. Gakia basically talks about how there is an upcoming “wind of change” and that the old should give way for the young. Given how Ariel is not in the greatest of moods, quite daring to say the least. What actually puts her over the line is the following: The earth dragons know about Kumoko and through their dogma about strength and pride are also on her side and didn’t interfere as she attacked Mother. This leads to Ariel not only killing Gakia, but seemingly all the earth dragons in the Bottom Stratum. Remember her little comment about earth dragons after Kumoko defeated Araba? Yeah.

Following this, Ariel herself begins to notice changes in her psyche and Güliedistodiez (definitely didn’t have to look up the spelling of the name) basically confirms that, instead of fighting to gain dominance, the mind of Body Brain and Ariel merged together and form a new being (I like the name “Magical Girl★Ariel-chan, but I will continue to simply call her Ariel”). It is also revealed that Gülie was the former leader of the earth dragons and instructed by D to not mess with Kumoko’s affairs, something he goes against, as he was friends with Sariel and thusly does Ariel the favor of teleporting her to Kumoko. Sariel is a name I definitely heard a few times. The region where Kumoko currently resides in is named Sariella and if Sariel is indeed the “Goddess” revered by the Goddess religion (and by proxy the Word of God religion), it would mean that Sariel is also most likely the one seen in Shun’s dream and the girl crucified in Kumoko’s premonition after maxing out Taboo in the anime, beyond also directly being linked to Ariel through the Divine Beast. Whether my prediction turns out to be wrong or not, it is really cool how one is able to try to figure out what is happening by such long chains of incomplete information.

Going along with the plot, Kumoko enjoys the free EXP gained while participating in the war she caused, until Ariel shows up. Shota Julius shows up too, resulting a weird stalemate as Kumoko can’t fight against Ariel, Ariel can’t fight Julius and Julis can’t approach Kumoko. Suddenly, there is a huge fire ball above them and Ariel uses this distraction to finally kill Kumoko for good… well, she ends up surviving, but Ariel tried her best and this is all that matters! Putting her consciousness into one of the nearly hatched eggs she layed using Mother’s egg-laying skill, she now stands in front of a funny problem. As she is not as large as Mother, her eggs are only a fraction of the size, resulting in her being a normal-sized spider akin to a tarantula with all-around stats of 3. She is able to evolve, though it is most likely she would starve mid-way evolving. And then Gülie shows up. Honestly, I wish the anime would have portrayed this scene accurately, as it would have most likely added to the already weird conversation with a smol Kumoko in front of a fully armored person.

Gulie explains that he sent Ariel to Kumoko, but is not actually hostile towards her, instead asking her two simple questions – Whether Kumoko would stop her meddling of Ariel and if she would no longer interact with the humans. Kumoko’s social anxiety shows itself from its best side again, as she simply responds with “I can’t.” and “Sorry, but no.”, two statements that are arguably very true to the core of what she actually thinks about the questions, but also give a lot of room for interpretation. Looking back, Ariel first attacked Kumoko at the beach, as she mistook her flailing arms and head tilting, on whether she would stop attacking Mother, as “No and why would you ask such a dumb question?”. Bless her non-existent communication skills.

Anyway, after receiving the meat of the slain earth dragons, Kumoko is finally able to evolve into an Arachne and now stands before the decision of what to do with her 999 children. She even thought about eating them, though she really wanted to be a better mother than Mother. She eventually figures that they will probably be able to handle life on their and leaves them behind to their own devices, though she does transfer her parallel minds into some of them. After she noticed the parallel minds weird behaviors, she wanted to get rid of the them, though as simply deactivating the Parallel Mind skill would be like killing them, she compromises to essential give them their own body. This is a decision she later came to regret and considering how the Nightmare’s Vestiges turned out… yeah, I can see why.

Leaving the Great Elroe Labyrinth, she later finds herself in the house of Lil' Drac' fighting Potimas, chief of the elves. This is where it starts getting wild. Firstly, Potimas sets up a field, which apparently disconnects the space in it from the System, rendering most skills and abilities useless. Though out of magic, he ain’t out of options and pulls out the Glock. Yes, of course these nature-loving freaks figured out how to put an AR into one’s arm. It doesn’t end there with him being a full-fledged cyborg and able to put his consciousness into different bodies. Honestly, this is the kind of twist I came to fully appreciate. Break your tropes in the wildest ways!

Together with Ariel, Kumoko defeats Potimas and now has to figure out what to do with the demon lord in front of her. Luckily, Ariel has a truly 300 IQ idea: To become genocide buddies. Ariel lost all desire to kill Kumoko and is now under the assumption that it is actually impossible to even kill her, as she came back alive twice now. Meanwhile, Kumoko is delighted to not fight the demon lord anymore, though she is still entertains the idea of at least having the means to potentially backstab her, though we already know that it didn’t come to this. In the company of Sophia and her turned caretaker Merazophis, the four of them start their journey towards the Demon Realm and form the Genjitsu Totsugeki Hierarchy… what does that even mean?… there is also nothing Genjitsu about Kumoko and Ariel.

I didn’t intend for Kumoko’s part to basically turn into an exhaustive summary, but unlike her first arc, I had the feeling it is more important what happens, instead of how or why, as there are way less parallels to the other side of the story. I mean, there are still some connections like the remnants of the fight between Mother and Kumoko in the labyrinth, the Nightmare’s Vestiges and when the elves and the empire army forces finally met each other on the battlefield. Going volume by volume also doesn’t make a lot of sense in this case, as volume 4 and 5 clearly build one unit. Huh… just talking about the novel can be rather complicated. Nai wa~.

Now to the human side of it all. After successfully escaping Sophia, or rather being allowed to escape, the gang decides to travel to the elf village, as the elves are the next target of Hugo’s advance. To get there, they have to traverse the Great Elroe Labyrinth with the help of labyrinth guide and best boy Basgath. It is very appreciated how this series respects characters that are not core to its narrative and do not amount to more than basic NPC’s. Basgath is a fully fleshed-out character with his own history and distinct personality. He even gets to have some agency, clearly states his opinion to the group and being the only real adult, is able to give rather solid advice, specifically to Shun. It is clear as day that Shun suffers from his own flavor of hero complex and seeing another character besides Katia acknowledge this is such a breath of fresh air. Also, him beating Shun for completely disregarding his advice is good, actually!

For the most part, there isn’t a lot happening inside the labyrinth. The group encounters a dragon and learn about the Nightmare’s Vestiges. The vestiges clearly recognize Shun as the hero and the others as reincarnations, which again begs the question what their deal seems to be. Beyond this, Shun has two dreams, one about a girl repeating the level up notification over and over again and one about Shouko Negishi in their former life. They eventually escape the labyrinth and enter the elf village before Hugo’s army arrives.

Before all this though, their former teacher Oka decides to spill some beans, as even Shun came to a point as to not fully trust her anymore. According to the elves, there are beings called administrators, who seem to be in some way hostile to the elves and potentially a problem for everyone else. They gain the power and skills when an inhabitant of this world dies, thus become stronger themselves. While Oka doesn’t know for sure, whether this is correct or not, the elves absolutely believe this, which explains why she told Shun, etc. to not level their skills. If the elves are correct, the Goddess Religion would also become a huge problem, as they believe in sacrificing their own skill to the goddess. How much of this turns out to be correct is up to the future volumes, but there is clearly something more going on with the reincarnations than simply being reincarnated by the good will of D.

Entering the elf village, they immediately sense something is just off. They are held at spear-point, before being welcomed by a now alive Potimas, though he clearly has no desire to actually be friendly. They are then brought to their accommodation, which appears to be prepared in advance, meaning the elves knew Shun’s group would be coming. They are also constantly monitored and guarded by a few elves. The next day, they meet up with the other reincarnations and find them to be basically imprisoned in this place with not the most admiration for their former teacher Oka, as most of them were kidnapped in young age by the elves.

So, what is the deal with the elves? Well… I don’t want to claim that Potimas is literally Hitler, as this would be a plain wrong comparison. He is also part Hirohito. The elves are a supremacist people with a singular ruling instance in the form of Potimas, that clearly want to take over the world, plus there is still the deal with the administrators. They are also able to create elves artificially with a distinction between “mass-produced” and “custom-made” elves. Kumoko noted in her fight against Potimas that the technology of the elves would lead to the destruction of this world. TL;DR: The elves are evil.

The elves, specifically Potimas, also only cooperate with Oka’s search for her former students, as it benefits them keeping all the reincarnations in a controlled environment. By the way, I appreciate how Oka, an adult and a teacher, genuinely seems to try to do good and take responsibility for her students. If there is one good thing about Arifureta, it is that the teacher trying to keep her students under control, so that dumb powerful teenagers don’t go wild in a foreign fantasy world and with this world being just more dangerous in general, I can respect her trying, though her means of doing so are highly questionable. She also tends to regret her decisions and is aware of how suspicious she looks, as she literally can’t disclose the information her specific skill provides. I really hope this series expands on her character, as there is clearly more going on in the background as she lets on.

After meeting the other reincarnations, Shun has to grapple with the possibility of the missing reincarnations being on the side of the demon army. This is the logical conclusion to an idea already brought up in the previous volumes. Every reincarnation has to this point lived as long as their previous life and most of the characters we know about have changed from their former personality, even if some have difficulties accepting this *cough* Shun *cough*, meaning it is perfectly understandable that this sense of unity is not a given. We know Kumoko and Fei have already rejected their humanity and considering how weird Yuri became or how utterly unhinged Sophia presents herself now, it wouldn’t be out of the window if some of the reincarnations are on the demon side, not because they are manipulated, but because they believe the demons are the good ones. This is actually what seems to happen with Shun and Katia’s former friend Kyouya, who was confused why they are fighting alongside the elves, as they are clearly the evil ones.

Though before the battle starts, there is a chapter dedicated to Fei. Noticing Anna getting bullied by some of the elves keeping watch on the group, Fei uses her own experience in bullying others to defuse the situation by countering their bullshit rhetoric with her own. Now this in an unironic 300 IQ move. She then goes deeper into her own bullying. We already know since volume 1 that she bullied Hiiro Wakaba because the senpai she was in love with confessed to Wakaba and while she rejected him, Fei was under the impression that she still took him away from herself and started to bully her. I find it funny how, on several occasions, it is mentioned if it even counts as bullying, as Fei and her friends never went that far, but I am here reading like You actively decided to bully her. It doesn’t matter if it is light bullying or not, you still bullied her. Though eventually the reason for Fei bullying Wakaba changed, as she was now mostly confused by her lack of reactions and Fei simply let out all of her frustration on Wakaba. This all adds a bit more weight to her not being able to apologize to Wakaba anymore, as Oka mentioned she died *wink*, and her own regret of only figuring herself out after spending years inside an egg.

Anyway, the war between the elves and Hugo’s forces starts and it is kinda boring. Kumoko had some really varied and interesting fights, but the fights on the human side are mostly window-dressing for conversation between opposing sides. So, Hugo got his ass handed to him… twice… and Sophia finishes the hat-trick with telling him he was used. The rest essentially comes down to Sophia being to strong to beat, but Shun trying anyway after maxing out Taboo. At the end, “White” enters the scene and everyone is surprised to see Hiiro Wakaba, who destroyed the elf’s barrier, very much not dead.

So yeah, Hiiro Wakaba is confirmed to have reincarnated as Kumoko and I am a bit confused. I mean, you are telling me the girl mentioned from volume 1 forward and being severely foreshadowed to be Kumoko, is, in fact, actually Kumoko? You can’t be serious! I was so convinced for it to be a red herring by just how much attention this detail was given, that Wakaba can’t possible turn out to be Kumoko. Administrator D? Maybe, but not Kumoko! Well, maybe I should give up playing 4D Chess with this series, as I clearly loose every match.

Lastly, volume 4 ended with a timeline. A simple table with years and their corresponding events, like you would find on a wiki. This confused me, as the narratives does go to some length do obfuscate what and when something actually happens. While we get some context, like how much time Kumoko roughly spend inside the labyrinth, there are also mentions of events that might greatly re-contextualize what is happening, like the Hero before Julius defeating the demon lord, but vanishing afterwards, only to be assumed dead 40 years later when Julius received the Hero title, which would also end up being the year everyone is assumed to have reincarnated. Then there is a mention of Ronandt being the one to break up the stalemate between Kumoko, Ariel and Julius, as well as a “Sword Demon” appearing in the empire, but being driven away by Ronandt. Apparently Ronandt was supposed to have a major role in these volumes, but these turned out to be around 90% new content compared to the web-version. I guess we get to see his heroics in a future volume. Also, assuming by his own Unlimited Blade Works, the Sword Demon is Kyouya/Wrath, right?

Comparison to the Anime

Without wanting to sound like a broken record, I will start by mentioning again, that the anime works and I don’t think the adaptation necessarily did a bad job adapting the novels. It is just weird looking back how the anime is different, but the same. In hindsight, I would say they should have only adapted volumes 1-4, but I understand that volume 5 is a better jumping-off point, though I guess with some changes, the reunion of the reincarnation could have worked as a climax too.

So, what changed? Well, mostly the order of what happens. The start of Kumoko’s fight against Mother was pushed towards the second half of the anime and then intertwined halfway with her setting up camp near Sophia. The human side was restructured too to allow better flow and clarity of the whole narrative. This time, no entire fight was cut out and out of all the three current posts, this is the one with the most “accurate” adaptation. The anime even added some content, like the mechs also appearing in front of Shun or Potimas visiting Sophia before the war. Also, the visualization of Kumoko having a mental breakdown from the perspective of Sophia’s mother and Merazophis lives rent-free in my mind.

Though as always, there is also a decent amount of cut content. As already mentioned, the ordeal with Mother was severely underplayed in the adaptation. Not only is Novel Mother a lot more threatening, actually finishing off mother or even simply surviving long enough to do so was a way bigger struggle for Kumoko. Considering how she appears way less a character and sans her explicit connection to Ariel, she comes of way less the big deal she actually is. Also the missing mention of the ten other spider puppet monsters Kumoko fought might cause continuity errors, as far as I have accidentally spoiled myself is concerned.

Secondly, the whole deal with her parallel minds. The anime glanced over it completely, which is fine, as it doesn’t really matter just yet, the scene with her testing out her new evil eyes on the bandits was cut either way and her hatching from the egg was also done differently due to the shuffling of events. I’m just saying, if there will maybe potentially possibly be another season *hooks thyself up to a tank of hopium*, this should probably be explained, as I thought Kumoko is still in possession of her three brain cells.

Thirdly, the anime flies over the elves being this kinda fascist people with most of Oka’s input missing. I mean, not that it did matter for me, as I was rightfully against the elves from the start, but most people are still affected by elf propaganda and might not believe that the elves are the villains of this story. Guys, I know you want to have sex with the hot elf girl, but you have to stay strong for the motherland! I deeply respect Okina Baba for having the courage to disclose the vile acts of these tree huggers. Richtig und wichtig.

Fourthly, all the interludes about Sophia are missing. Sophia is, even in the novels, not the most engaging antagonist(?), but at least the interludes give her a personality beyond simply being antagonistic towards Shun. She basically messes around most of the time, as she never actually fought them seriously and her little talks with Felmina reveal a rather childish and immature personality, coupled with some sprinkles of pettiness on top. Also, I guess she was raised by a weird spider lady and the demon lord pretending to be a magical girl. She does display a different behavior towards Merazophis though. These interludes also partially introduce Felmina and Wald, which the anime basically omitted in the fight against Shun, though they are properly included in the hero shot at the end of the last episode.

And last but not least, Kumoko thinking about eating Sophia. Like, the house in on fire, Merazophis is out of commission and she picks up Sophia wondering how baby humans taste like and being indecisive about going for the arm or the leg. Seriously, this is exactly the kind of behavior we want to see from Kumoko! Also, did you ever notice the lush and green forest around the elf village disappear into an empty sandy dessert as soon as the war began? Like, what happened there? I have seen the anime twice, but I never questioned it. Desertification do be scary.

Final Thoughts

I never thought I would have so much fun reading the volumes covering the anime adaptation and while I could have started from volume 6, I am rather glad I didn’t. Not just because the anime did cut a lot of scenes, but also because I simply love So I’m a Spider. Even having only recently re-watched the anime, it was still fun to rediscover the events again.

From here on out and ignoring all the bits on which I already spoiled myself, it will be all blind for me, so I naturally can’t gauge how I will proceed with these posts. I do however hope they don’t continue to grow in length! I summarized a lot, so let’s hope I finally learn to be concise and not retell half the story. Nai wa~.

So I’m a Spider, So What? (ePub) is available on BookWalker.

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