“Hey, wanna do some level grinding on this game after school?”
“Rats! I forgot my pencil case.”
“I know this great parfait store down the street!”
Looks like it’s going to be another boring day…
You must dozed off a bit.
It looks like Oka-chan is reciting something…
“Alright, everyone! That quote from Essays in Idleness (徒然草, Tsurezuregusa) is about transience. This’ll be on your upcoming test on literary classics, so please keep a note of this!”
Yep, boring as usual…
Is it just you or is the ceiling above you splitting in half?!
Suddenly, you feel overwhelming agony all over your body!
It feels like your head is splitting in half and your body is being torn apart!
And it looks like you’re not the only one…
Your classmates’ faces are all wrenched in agony and they seem to be fading before your very eyes.
Mercifully, you faint before oblivion overcomes you…
Well, at least the pain has stopped…
Your eyes are open, but you see only darkness.
You can’t move either!
You can hear a slight rustling…
What is this? Are you inside a sack or something?!
Did someone kidnap you?
Moving around a bit, you make a crack that lets in some light.
A crack? Seriously, where are you?!
Gotta keep pushing…
YUCK!!! A spider swarm?!?
And they’re as big as people!!
Could it be…?
Alright, take a deep breath…
It looks like some of them are eating something.
Come to think of it, you’re starting to feel hungry yourself…
You decide to take a look…
You’ve gotta get out of here!
Is that your…mother? Why is she so huge?!?
You scuttle quickly across the floor, over your new siblings and manage to reach a niche in the cavern wall.
Your “mother” tries to reach for you so you retreat further inside.
Sometime later, you stop to take a breath.
Why did you die?
Was that the moment you were reborn as a spider?
Is your body still alive back in Japan?
No use dwelling on this. The first thing you have to do is survive…whatever this horrid place is.
So I’m a Spider, So What? (蜘蛛ですが、なにか?, Kumo desu ga, Nani ka?) is a light novel series and manga written by Okina Baba (馬場翁, Baba Okina). An anime adaptation will premiere on January 2021.
In Japan, twenty-five high school students and their homeroom teacher are suddenly and painfully killed when a mysterious energy appears in their classroom and tears them apart. Their souls somehow travel across dimensional boundaries and are reborn on another world where humans and demons fight a centuries-long war for dominance.
One such unfortunate is an unnamed girl whose first experience in her new life is emerging from an egg as a monstrous spider and watching the other spider hatchlings fight and eat each other. After narrowly escaping her “mother”, a gigantic queen spider, she takes stock of her situation and accidentally discovers the world’s System which grants her Skills, Titles and Evolutions based on the monsters she kills, much like how a character evolves in an RPG video game. The spider also eventually learns that she is now in the Great Elroe Labyrinth, a labyrinthine series of underground caverns where monsters of all stripes fight for dominance and survival.
Fighting fear, hunger and loneliness, the former schoolgirl gradually overcomes a hierarchy of progressively powerful monsters including giant frogs, basilisks, giant wasps, giant monkeys, fire drakes and even dragons. She occasionally encounters humans in the Labyrinth’s upper levels, but is unable to speak to them. The spider evolves through a sequence of stronger forms and eventually becomes an Arachne, a spider monster with the upper torso of a beautiful female human. With this, she begins to communicate with humans for the first time in years. Through her Taboo Skill, she also learns that the world is somehow on the verge of collapse…
Meanwhile, the other students, and their teacher, live their new lives. Most were reborn as humans while others were also reborn as various fantastical creatures. Like the spider, they all retain full memories of their previous lives. Elsewhere, a mysterious entity watches over the lives of the former Japanese youths with amusement and anticipation…
“I” (私, Watashi), a nameless spider monster and former Japanese high school student nicknamed Kumoko by the story’s fans and eventually named in-story as Shiro (白, Shiro) for her pale appearance. A friendless loner who barely knows her own parents, Shiro is a carefree, ditzy and optimistic otaku. Originally reincarnated as a small monstrous spider known as a Small Lesser Taratect, she grew in power as she defeated monsters in the Great Elroe Labyrinth over time and eventually gained the final form of an Arachne. Determined to survive and retaining her human ingenuity, Shiro usually fights by making calculated decisions and using cunning tactics to overcome more powerful foes, making canny use of her growing array of monster abilities. As a result, she can get overconfident at times.
A powerful monster, Shiro has a plethora of Skills including HP (Hit Points) Ultra-Fast Recovery, SP (Stamina Points) Rapid Recovery, Deadly Poison Attack, Enhanced Paralysis Attack, Poison Synthesis, Medicine Synthesis, Thread Genius (greater control over her own spider silk threads), Parallel Thinking (ability to divide her mental focus as though she were several different people) and various types of Resistance. She later gains access to Magic Skills such as Heretic Magic, Shadow Magic, Poison Magic, Spatial Magic (teleportation) and several types of Evil Eyes. As an Arachne, she carries a scythe whose blade is made from one of her own front spider limbs. This weapon carries a piece of Shiro’s own soul and can even cut through protections against magic.
Schlain “Shun” Zagan Analeit, the renowned fourth prince of the Kingdom of Analeit and the reincarnation of Shunsuke Yamada (山田 俊輔, Yamada Shunsuke), one of Shiro’s former classmates. Courageous, hard-working, honest and kind, Shun is the personification of a classic isekai hero. Although he means well, he tends to take his ideals too far, such as charging head-long into battle without a plan or sparing the lives of villains for the sake of holding the higher moral ground.
Filimøs Harrifenas, the young daughter of the Elf Village leader and the reincarnation of Kanami Okazaki (岡崎 香奈美, Okazaki Kanami), the former homeroom teacher of Shiro’s class. Eccentric, pragmatic and responsible, Oka-chan (as she was known to her students) tried to be more like a friend to her students by adopting a quirky persona in class and understanding their interests. Reborn with the Student List skill which gives basic information about her students’ current lives, Filimøs is now determined to find as many of her former students as possible and has already brought many of them to the Elf Village.
“D”, a mysterious, powerful deity and one of the world’s Administrators. Whimsical, playful and somewhat sadistic, she desires only amusement, regardless of whether or not anyone suffers. While “D” claims to be the evil goddess of the netherworld, her drive to be such is murky at best. After watching Shiro fight and survive for several years, the deity reveals herself to the spider and confesses that she had posed as one of Shiro’s classmates, Wakaba Hiiro (若葉 姫色, Hiiro Wakaba), on a lark. Apparently, a Hero and a Demon King had sacrificed themselves to cast a powerful spell that traversed dimensions with the goal of eliminating “D”! When the entire class died, “D” collected their souls for reincarnation on the world from which the magic that killed them originated. Ever keeping her motives hidden, “D” likely knows better than anyone else about the ills plaguing the world.
This story begins with the protagonist’s struggle to survive in a very hostile environment where one misstep could cost her new life. It’s a combination of the basic “survival of the fittest” philosophy and the level-building of a character in an RPG through continuous monster fighting. Shiro’s combination of her abilities as a spider and human ingenuity allowed her to gradually build her power with the help of the world’s System. By keeping her vulnerabilities in mind, using appropriate Skills and utilizing various traps and tactics, she grew into an experienced, decisive fighter. Eventually, Shiro gained enough power to fight the Labyrinth’s most powerful monster such as the Earth Dragon Araba and her “mother”, the Queen Taratect.
After reaching the surface, Shiro eventually makes contact with her former classmates and learns that the world they are on is on the verge of collapse. The problem is largely because a goddess is absolutely determined to save as many lives as possible, regardless of the cost to herself and the planet itself! The reason why the demons have fought the humans for a long time was because they wanted to save the world regardless of the goddess’ desires. Having fought tooth and nail for her own survival, Shiro feels that idealism and morality have become obstacles for what’s really important – saving the world. Unfortunately, this belief makes her look like an evil villain in the eyes of the world’s more upstanding people, including her former classmate Shun.
This is an example of how ideal solutions don’t always work in reality, which is often rather cruel. In terms of human belief, Shiro represents practicality (doing what’s necessary for long-term reasons, doing unsavory acts for survival) while Shun represents idealism (doing selfless acts to avoid giving in to base, violent instinct and for the sake of a higher ideal of happiness). Both philosophies have their points and their flaws and we’d all love to live life where no one gets hurt, but reality often gives us a cruel choice: survive or die.
There are times when we don’t have the luxury of idealism, because life often gives us a simple choice: survive or die.