Reviewing comics great and small since 2006
Beyond this point we give away key plot details!
I said during the review that bibliomania while short posed many interesting questions, twists and turns, analogies and thought provoking moments. So let’s dive into it. Beware of spoilers, if you’ve not read Bibliomania I suggest you go read it.
The Fermi paradox is hard at work in this world, where the desire of one human to be able to experience the world without barriers (she being disabled through illness) causes her to develop a McGuffin that consumes her and destroys the world. I doubt in all sincerity that this was her true intentions, but this can be said of the creators of many a world changing paradigm. This McGuffin was the book of truth, a “book to end all books”, basically a magic book that transcribes human souls into words. It’s a lesson in many ways about foolishly dealing with forces beyond your control, and how the best of intentions can go awry.
The book absorbed/consumed/assimilated the Princess Alice and she instantly became an OP youkai which decompiled everything in sight to satisfy it's lust for knowledge; thirst for data. Alice became this worlds most extreme form of data collection, to make another Star Trek reference she is literally V'ger!
This manga is literally about the last remnants of a civilization, literally the last 666 (666 being the number of the the beast and that) people of billions who are unfortunate (or fortunate) enough to be trapped in the Serpents book, the book of truth having wiped out every other living being on the planet having decompiled them all to code and putting them into the book of truth.
Don't feel too sorry for Serpent, because he scoffs anyone's soul left inside his book eliminating the last 666 humans. He's also relishing the chance to have his wicked way with humanity himself, not yet realising that Alice already dabbed up the last of humanity with the last piece of crusty bread.
Serpent thinks he’s the big dog, when in-fact he’s a cut down copy of the book of truth with limited abilities having been made as a weapon by the nation with access to Alice’s malware codebase. The purpose of the book is to gain souls to feed and power up the Serpent when it’s time to deploy him into the real world as a weapon.
Of course he couldn’t fathom Alice, and couldn’t fathom further why Alice kept coming back to life after each time the book killed her. The book was designed in a way as to cause escapees to decompile if their process ventured to far from their virtual sandbox, for guests in rooms below 100 this process of decompilation was accelerated to the point that you’d die if you just walked next door. Though not explicitly mentioned it seemed that the further back in the book you went the more insane deranged and warped things became, almost like the souls inside had decayed beyond recognition. So staying put didn’t seem like too smart and idea either if you ask me.
For Alice having come from room 431 this would mean, she died likely hundreds of times to get back to page 000, simply burning the souls she’d absorbed in the outside world to escape. Serpent could never have won, the books system never strong enough to contain Alice. Alice was basically malware, her process re-spawning every time it was terminated.
Alice had billions of souls to burn having absorbed likely most of the worlds population, she was after all a monster more on the level of Cthulhu or the Guardian. Serpent with his mere 666 souls is a typical generic villain, more like a lower tier boss from the average Japanese RPG.
After waiting all that time to attain life and be free of the Serpents Manor, he in literally the first 5 minutes of his life in the real world is decompiled by Alice who is left alone in a dead world that she created. Well that is there's nothing left alive any further up the evolutionary chain than insects.
Alice is obviously super smart and being a royal has no shortage of resources but as implied in the imagery she had a whole staff of people involved to make the book, engineers, researchers, other magic users, she didn’t make it entirely herself, someone should have notice the obvious ‘bug’, in that I don’t think she intended to have it consume souls (or did she?).
You’re not telling me that with every expert in the kingdom working on this they’d not spot any problems. Plus she’s just a princess, a child or at least a younger teen, doesn’t the King or Queen have any say over their daughter creating daemonic tomes in the basement and spending their ill gotten imperial treasury in the process?
Perhaps her parents are dead and she is truly in charge?
These things just aren't explored in the manga unfortunately.
This would have lead to a much longer manga but it would have tied up the loose ends better and been even more awesome.
You'll notice the protagonist civilization has a thing for eyes, you'll see them on banners and flags everywhere and on their ships. At first I thought the eyes on the ships were decorative like those found on the various galleys like the Greek trireme's and such in antiquity, it seems more like their national symbol like an illuminati eye of providence.
I enjoyed some of the other little details, though you don’t realise it at the time the playing card style characters that make up the title page are actually characters or references to the story.
The last image in the story was the broken doll with the butterfly sat on it's head...
Alice was sealed away by the biblioclastic rounds but escaped, it’s not clear exactly how she escaped, either a lightening strike or sabotage. How come it never happened before? Plus Alice is like godly powerful, yet can be sealed away by something that could be so easily broken?
Serpents book is also sealed and bound when Alice finds it. So how did the other souls get trapped?
It seems odd it’d be sealed when Alice finds it. Especially given the back story where the lab they're made in explodes and they all somehow get flushed down a sewer. There are more books out there too, none of which got explored any.
The victims of the book wouldn’t have been able to open it up and certainly wouldn’t have been able to seal it afterwards for obvious reasons. Some flashbacks depict trapped souls finding the book out in the open unsealed and getting trapped that way after opening it. Plus it’s hardly likely that the book can move around by itself and people who open the book don’t get far. Don’t even think about the obvious disaster that would happen if someone got sucked into it in public, anyone with any sense would throw the damn thing down the the first deep dark pit they saw.
Does the book attract the kind of people it needs somehow?
The book is magic after all, but none of these ideas are explored in any depth and it's merely implied that it could work that way.
You’ll note more often than not the books victims are generally loosers, down and outers, the weak, the frail, failures, the disillusioned, and other people looking for escapism?
There are literally no happy, driven, successful people in the book, almost none save Alice who has any desire for the real world. Escapee's are rare, literally only one other person who tried and failed.
Is there perhaps some penalty for the Serpent if people escape or decompile, other than having to wait longer for the 'party', e.g less power for the after party and less power for the Serpent? He seems intent on stopping people, even desperate to stop people from trying to escape. It seems a lot of effort if it's no skin of his nose. Indeed it's mentioned more than once that Serpent is sick and tired of dealing with the humans, he's just waiting for lunch time is all.
There are many things such as these that remain unexplained in Bibliomania, I can only hope the author perhaps visits this again at some time or other.
Article by ukmangaxl.com