So I'm a Spider, So What? LN: Volumes 9-10


Ach ja, I have no idea anymore what I am supposed to write into this introductory paragraph anymore so… this series keeps on giving and demon politics™ are good.

Volume 9

Volume 9 is a weird mixture of several threads eventually becoming one giant web or something… there are only so many spider related phrases I can come up with, so please forgive me. On one hand, it simply is the missing half of volume 8, continuing and further expanding upon the perspective of Wrath. On the other hand, it is our first real insight into the demon folks and their politics. On yet another hand, it is Sophia’s time to shine (read become further unhinged) and get her place in the spotlight. Also, it is a Slice of Life with some RomCom sprinkled on it for flavor, there is a horror-esque interlude and it all ends with the biggest reveal yet. At how many hands are we now? 6? As long as one of the puppet spiders is present, there are no problems.

So, Wrath survived, no surprises here, and causes further problems for everyone, specifically Gülie. Unbeknownst to even Ariel, Gülie rules over a small area of land cut of by the Mystic Mountains for run down souls to rest. Turns out the elves are halfway correct in their suspicion of the administrators. Stats, titles and skills are indeed taken from the dead, once a person dies, but it is not for the gain of the administrators. On the other hand, as all souls eventually reincarnate into the world over and over, this process puts a lot of strain on a persons’s soul, eventually deteriorating it until the soul is gone. For that reason, Gülie created a little paradise for the “normal” reincarnations to live a life without any skills. Needless to say, a rogue monster going wild would go against Gülie’s plans and he decides to intervene… except that he can not intervene, as D still prohibits him to directly confront the reincarnations, so it is time for a rematch.

Before this all plays out though, White’s group finally enters the Demon Territory. Surprisingly, demons are actually not that different from the humans and Ariel even hid this fact solely for her own amusement. Secondly, despite Ariel being the demon lord, she is a far from being popular and all, which brings up a lot of questions about her relations to the demons and how and why everything will eventually escalate into what little we have already seen in volume 4 and 5. After all, she is not a demon, but the progenitor of the spider monsters and her end goal seems to be wiping out all the demons alongside the humans. So yeah, what is up with that?

After settling down near the demon lord’s castle, a sort of normalcy sets in for our unlikely group. Sophia gets sent to school do hopefully deescalate her progression into a crazy yandere, Merazophis and one of the puppet spiders get drafted into the army and White is deemed to basically do nothing and live the shut-in live as long as she produces her threads. This all starts the, what I would call, Slice of Life arc with the core characters being removed from the progression of the story. This period also includes the interlude of the in-house butler having to slowly figure out who these new guests are and how to possibly deal with them. Funnily enough, this is all framed akin to a horror story from his perspective, despite the reader knowing all to well what is actually going on, though Sael jump-scaring the butler and performing a bit of body horror in front of him doesn’t hurt either. Seriously, this girl is weird and I am not sure if it is simply her character, or if there is something more going on behind the back.

However, the funniest of these little stories must have been Blow/Bloe (Volume 9 calls him Blow, but all the succeeding novels change his name to Bloe) interacting with the reincarnations. Firstly, out of anger, he burns down the webs White covered her room in, only to immediately fall in love with her on first sight, which is just… Burning down someone’s room is seldom a great first impression, but burning down White’s room specifically, considering her still not overcome trauma, is just a death wish waiting to happen. Every time he visits the mansion, Sophia makes it her life mission to become the most smug little gremlin imaginable in front of him and continuously annoys him to no end. Also, his instant 180 upon hearing Wraths story in the next volume is exactly the kind of behavior I want in my big softies.

Bloe has definitely potential to develope into an interesting character, especially with the situation he put himself into at the end of volume 10. Just, please do not make me like him to much, as it was already established in volume 4, that he is going to die and I am not sure I want this to happen now. Also, he is the brother of one of my other favorite characters, Balto. You know, the guy that earns his sighs. Beyond basically ruling a country and forced to help the demon lord exterminate his own race, he now also has to deal with his brother’s love struggles. This guy cannot catch a break.

Anyway, not a lot happens… and then White gets drunk again. I already said my piece about the handling of alcohol in my post about volume six, which is exactly why I will allow this series to finally have fun with it. Since White is no longer a spider monster in body, she didn’t have the most opportunities to just do dumb stuff again, alas seeing her tie up everyone in the room and hang them upside down because White was slightly annoyed was rather refreshing to witness again. Let. White. Do. Dumb. Stuff. Also, Okina Baba and especially Tsukasa Kiryuu… do we wanna talk about the panty shot of Sophia? No? Good, better be.

This incident also has its advantages: White remembers/learns how to use her former skills again. She might not be as proficient as she used to be, but it is enough to accept Gülie on his request, though Sophia was more than happy to help fight Wrath. She secretly thought about and improved upon her skills on her own, beyond just already getting min-maxed by White. Also, like any child, she didn’t listen to her parents and acquired the Envy skill, despite being told over and over again not to. When White and Sophia fought against Wrath, White had to take the battle equivalent of a spit take once she noticed what Sophia was doing, teleporting Wrath into the sky, so she would have some time to question her on why she did so. Wrath consequently dying from fall damage also hits different. Poor dude. While in a coma, Wrath’s story gets expanded upon a bit, further building on the tragedy he had to endure as a goblin. With the Wrath skill sealed by Sophia, Arial took a personal interest in him above also having some sympathy. After explaining the circumstances, Wrath becomes, for the time being, a part of the group, given he is unable to leave the house and has to spend his time with Sophia and White.

Let’s talk about the big reveal at the end of the volume. To say I was afraid of this moment may sound weird, but there was some anxiety in me due to the fact that this scene could have made or break this series for me, considering I figured what the reveal would be about relatively early. While I mostly made an educated guess on the nature of the reveal on the basis of narrative convention and the fact I even pulled the very same twist myself (even though I handled it with less seriousness and grace), I also have to give credit to the hints being continuously dropped throughout the series, even with the biggest one, the dichotomy between White’s and Hiiro’s personality, potentially being perceived as a flaw from a technical writing perspective. So yeah, Administrator D, the reason this whole story was set into motion, turns out to be Hiiro Wakaba.

Dun dun duuuuun. Despite the over the top nature and meta-narrative potential this reveal brings to the table, I am normally not all that fond of the “The secret character was me all along” trope, mostly because the majority of stories I have seen barely deliver on this twist and tend to either play it as a personification of a hidden side of the character á la “their deepest desires they do not want to accept about themselves” or are going on a pointless trip down the metaphysics of what it means to be a self and possessing their own identity. Not that I think these are necessarily bad points on their own to explore, but when a series builds up a mystery over the course of nine volumes, I want to be swept of my feet, not kicked in the teeth about something that doesn’t even really mean anything concrete.

And in the case of So I’m a Spider, this is actually the point. I am not the real Hiiro Wakaba, So What? This volume dodges every point I initially braced myself for. Sure, White may have inherited all the memories of Hiiro Wakaba, but starting the very second she hatched from her egg, she was on the road to become her own person. All the memories she gained from this point on are hers and hers alone, giving this whole identity question a pretty satisfying answer from a philosophical angle. This is also doubled down on a more technical level with Hiiro Wakaba not being an actual person to begin with. Sure, she has a family registry and so on, but behind the face of her is actually just D skipping work and wanting to enjoy a fun highschool life, which brings as to the final part. What a dumb reason for all this to happen. Nai wa. Nai waaa. NAI WAAAAA!

The reason behind White being reincarnated is equally dumb as convoluted, but the point is that there isn’t really a point behind D’s actions. Sure, she absolutely gets her kicks out of observing our favorite spider, but beyond this self-serving enjoyment, there is nothing of substance. D gives White completely free reins of herself, only intervening if absolutely necessary, essentially resulting in White’s connection to D not really mattering in the grand scheme. The planet on which all the students got reincarnated is doomed? D doesn’t care. White simply ditching this planet and leaving for another life? She is allowed to. This is such a refreshing take on this kind of twist that gives the reader the satisfaction of one hell of a mystery pay-off, without writing oneself into a corner on how to deal with the implications of the twist going forward, instead now being able to continue the story in a regular fashion.

Truly, So I’m a Spider, So What?

Volume 10

It’s rebellion time! I never really gave much thought to it, as the elves immediately occupied this part of my brain, but Ariel, holding the title of demon lord, is still one of the baddies, right? I mean, this has nothing to do with the demon-kind and their leader in isolation, as I am not prejudiced enough to assume any kind of alignment to fantasy people, but specifically Ariel being in a position of power. Before her recent arrival, the demons lived in peace and are still recovering from the previous war against the humans, however with a certain warmonger back in town, all this came to an end and individual resistance arises.

To be fair, you kind of have to give it to the demons. From their point of view, Ariel is, beyond any notion of good or evil, an internal threat. If she is allowed to continue, the demon race will be extinguished. Beyond this, most of the demons don’t accept or at least do not understand Ariel as their demon lord, as the demons value the social aspects of meritocracy, so seeing this random girl walk into their land and act like she already owns the place does raise some questions. Unbeknownst to most, even this is part of Ariel’s plan, only having shown her true power to a select couple of individuals like Balto that reps her street cred and inviting everyone to underestimate and thusly challenge her.

This all leads to a conflict which feels pretty grounded and justified in the realms of the world. Sure, you will probably support Ariel’s side, as she is part of the main character’s group (and maybe even because you still remember what is actually at stake), but her actions are also able to be questioned and potentially leave a bad taste in the mouth, as from the perspective of the rebellion, she is quite clearly acting against the best interest of the demons and ruling with an iron fist.

The rebellion itself is also not as clear cut as it might seem, being the amalgamation of different fronts and intentions in the background and basically the results of their own internal struggles. Add the elves to the mix and your political playground is all set, even without any fighting actually happening. Now add the fighting and it all comes together beautifully. We mostly follow the perspective of Wrath in the actual fight with White and Sophia being there just in case. I like the little interaction Wrath was allowed to have with the soldiers, like them helping him learn the language and specific military terms, only for them to die shortly after and making him confront death again.

Plotwise, two things of importance happen: Oka makes her first successful interaction with our group of reincarnations and White punches Potimas in the face (She dies, but it was worth it). The revelation of Oka being an elf hits especially hard, as they are not only on opposing sides, but also that convincing her won’t be as simple as telling her the truth. We even get a scene quite similar to the end of volume 5 with Wrath questioning why she is fighting alongside the elves. Wrath is also able to point out her hypocrisy in her not only fighting for her students, but also judging Wrath for fighting for what he considers right… while surrounded by dead demon soldiers. While I still think at least attempting to talk out the differences between the reincarnations would be a step forward, this little confrontation shows why simply talking might not be enough at times when different assumptions and ideologies are already at play.

Concerning White, she starts experimenting with her old newfound abilities again. Being able to create small clones of herself for the purpose of intelligence work, she is, in fact, the reason why the whole rebellion was uncovered in the first place. In general, her role in this volume is more often a lot less direct than we are used to. Sure, she literally drops a meteor on Potimas and his morally questionable creations, but otherwise, she acts in the shadows or literally lets her presence speak for herself. After being informed about Oka, White also files a complaint towards D by the way of punching her head off. Turns out White wants to repay the debt she ows Oka back, as she was once saved by her when she was a spider in her old life.

While White only had rather vaguely defined goals up to this point, she finally is able to state what she actually wants to do going forward with her new life. Sure, she wants to repay Oka, but she also stops messing around and starts supporting Ariel in earnest and all her might. For as prideful as White is, she also deeply respects other people with deep conviction and power, making her look up to Ariel and so forth. From now on, her involvement is not just a result of circumstances, but a direct choice made by White herself, which leads her to act outside her known behavior of turning a fight on its head by her simply being unconceivable. This can be seen twofolds: Her plan to safely get Oka and the other elves back to their village and her little stunt against first army commander Agner.

White can be quite ruthless. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone, as her fighting style is most often than not portrayed as anything but heroic. However, this never really bothered me (and not just because I fully support our spider girl in her committing manslaughter), since all the fights she does engage in concern her in some way or another, mostly fighting for her life. This changed with her protecting Oka’s squad. White orders Merazophis to slaughter an entire tribe of people, leaving, with the exception of two children, no one alive as to ease Oka’s travels. Incidentally, the two children turn out to be fellow reincarnations and the destruction of the tribe had the secondary purpose of them not making contact with Oka. In general, this whole incident was pretty sad. Merazophis had to take the mantle of a villain, while two children lost their only safety net in their new life. These two are also a bit different compared to the other reincarnations, as Kunihiko and Asaka decided to hold unto their old names, which gives this incident a bit more gravitas for their own new start. There was this one scene in particular with the two arriving in a village and Kunihiko noticing someone with a katana. Believing him to be a reincarnation, he approaches the adventurer, only to get disappointed and Asaka completely breaking down, before being picked up by the church. Yeah, White just never keeps missing with indirectly making the world a worse place for at least someone.

White can also be pretty terrifying if she wants to be, as seen with Agner. Using her small copies as spies, White has basically figured out the rebellion and knows about the actual ringleader of the whole operation. Knowing the best way to handle the situation is to never let it escalate in the first place, White subdues him through sheer screen presence and a show of power. If Sael being Sael is worthy of a horror movie, then White’s plan of filling Agner’s room slowly with spiders before appearing herself and not muttering a single word to fill him with fear is straight up nightmare fuel. Seriously, while I pray for another anime season, I would already be satisfied with seeing individual scenes like these animated.

The last scene I want to talk about is the fallout of the whole rebellion aftermath. Somehow, this series tends to be at its best with several parties openly scheming against each other directly, like we have already seen in volume 7. It is a constant display of ideals and hidden motives, that just works, despite how many moving gears are actually involved. And most importantly, these simple talks always escalate into their own gratifying conclusion, this time using the interpersonal relationships of several different demons as the narrative stakes, while also giving way for further potential conflict down the line. It is like seeing a perfectly placed house of cards falling into itself, revealing another house of cards behind it. Talking is hype, actually.

Edit (more like a last minute addendum): I was right. Mwahahaha, I was right. Not only is Ariel connected to Sariel, I also more or less predicted her role in the world. To be fair, this is the most minuscule win I could have possibly acquired and I doubt this series is above putting me back into my place by making me technically wrong somehow :D. But for now, I can happily enjoy the feeling of using my fifth grade reading comprehension.

Final Thoughts

As far as I can tell, this is it for demon politics™ for now and the next volume covers Julius' perspective as the hero. As we currently stand, almost all the players for the finale have already assembled. I guess there are still some missing, like the one ninja reincarnation or the two assistants of Sophia, but beyond those, we are almost set to get back to the present. To be honest, I mostly didn’t care that much about the final clash at the elf village beyond the fact the reincarnations are involved on several different sides. Though, I guess this angle was also just barely touched upon, instead giving us some fights that mean nothing.

Something I didn’t know how to include in the actual post: White starts talking more and more. Sure, she never had any qualms in front of D, but she is slowly forming longer and more elaborate sentences and even starts giving casual remarks to other characters, like Ariel. It is also rather funny how both Ariel and Merazophis assume she is drunk, as she gets more talkative and less stiff after consuming alcohol. So yeah, character development on more than just a single front.

Not sure if dividing the two novels into their own header, like in the last post, makes sense, but it is too late to change it now. Nai wa~.

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

local_offer So I'm a Spider
calendar_today 2022