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Beautifully tragic. Essentially that is what The Ancient Magus’ Bride is. A story dealing with neglect, ostracism, outright abandonment, and trying to figure out a way to more than just deal with it but find stable sources of joy.
Chise, a girl in her late teens, has lived quite a traumatic life. On top of her father abandoning her when she was young, her mother is noted to have struggled with mental illness and also killed herself. Since then, she got passed around by family members who didn’t want her and to make matters worse, she can see and interact with otherworldly beings. Some of which are friendly, but many seemingly want to either disturb her if not eat her.
Luckily, sometime during her 16th or 17th year of life, after having long given up on the possibility of happiness, she sells herself in an auction and finds herself in the care of a half-fae being named Elias. Someone who, because of his past, is a bit ostracized from those like him and also the humans who he often takes a similar form to. And though there are many trials and tribulations, such as violence from Elias, there is a growing sense of family over time. Especially due to the community Elias is part of. One which includes his father figure Lindel, sort of friend Angelica, and people Chise meets because she is what is known as a Sleigh Beggy. Which is a human which can not only interact with otherworldly being but also comes off very attractive to them.
Which, of course, leads to much danger for on top of disturbing beings being attracted to Sleigh Beggys, they also, naturally, have short lifespans. Something that, as Elias and Chise begin settling into a routine, becomes the next issue they have to face. A problem not easily solved due to the rarity of Sleigh Beggys and no real medical or magical research.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Why does everyone hate Elias?
- Where are Chise’s father and brother?
The Complexity Of Each Characters Relationship With Their Parental Figure And How It Sometimes Flips
Whether talking about the father/ daughter dynamics of Chise and Elias or Alice and Renfred, you see a peculiar relationship in both where, despite how the relationships are established, they change over time. There are points where, despite the age of Renfred, much less Elias, these humans, either in their teens or barely an adult, are taking care of these grown men. Heck, in Chise’s case, sometimes teaching Elias right from wrong and sometimes seeming like the mother of a bad puppy.
But, as you realize what each relationship offers the other person, you begin to understand why the roles are so fluid. For Alice, Renfred is like a father figure turned crush or maybe like a big brother. Someone she has to worry about because, while Renfred has friends, they aren’t going to get confrontational with someone like Elias or Joseph on his behalf. They are researchers who don’t dabble in such things.
Then, in terms of Chise and Elias, because, nearly universally, everyone Elias knows talks crap about him, Chise is given the unfortunate task of having to defend him. Then, on top of that, try to help Elias understand human behavior and tap into that part of him which is human. Something that is easy when it is him recognizing beauty or love, but then when it becomes fear or jealousy, it sometimes creates situations which almost end up deadly.
And throughout the series we see both pairs dance around who is in the teacher or protector and who is the student who is vulnerable and needs help. Creating touching, but sometimes lopsided, relationships that help fill in the 24 episode count.
How It Addresses the Psychological Damage of Each Character’s Past
Something else that fills up the 24 episode count is exploring the psychological damage of each character’s past. As noted, many characters found a system of community or family outside of their blood relations to cope and eventually thrive. Chise’s family is gone and she probably couldn’t track them down if she tried. Alice’s family were addicts and left her on her own most of the time to deal with her own cravings and issues. Elias has been a lost soul all his life with the concepts of love and belonging foreign to him.
In that, we see in one episode Alice being unable to trust Renfred as she deals with withdrawal symptoms. Chise, for most of the season, seems to just be waiting to be tossed out or treated as an inconvenience and Elias? Oh, the constant barrage of insults, some a bit more friendly than others, makes Chise like the one girl who took note of the guy people thought would be perpetually single.
Heck, even the villain Joseph is dealing with some psychological damage. Something not as deeply dug into as the others, but still noteworthy.
The Psychology Behind “My” and “Our”
Diving a bit deeper, but focusing on Chise and Elias, there is just something about their interactions, especially since Elias defies expectations. He looks like this demonic being you can just imagine continuing the cycle of abuse and neglect Chise has experienced. However, he seems like the first person in a long time to show Chise kindness. And you have to admire how he and his “puppy,” as he calls her early on, interact. Especially how in a short amount of time, she slowly grows comfortable around him. Perhaps believes his words of affection and belonging are true.
But what really hit me was how we got to see how the words “My” and “Our” really mean something. In most of the anime reviewed thus far, there unsurprisingly are meaningful relationships which provide a foundation for our leads. However, in most of those relationships, we have come in after the bonding has happened and don’t get to see the groundwork. Or, if we do, usually one half is boring and the other either has had a downtrodden life or they blow the few struggles they had out of proportion.
With The Ancient Magus’ Bride, however, we get to see things from the very beginning and arguably are presented with a mutually beneficial relationship. For Chise, we see her be accepted and wanted by someone. A person, or being, which uses terms like “Our home,” “my apprentice” and words which may not say “I love you” but do encompass what those sometimes three difficult words mean. Thus giving validation to Chise’s existence and even though she just met Elias, he shows through his actions the meaning of his words. Thus not erasing the fact that he bought her, but definitely making it seem that perhaps the best way to put it is: He saved her.
Leaving perhaps the question of what exactly does Elias get out of this? A companion is the obvious choice, apprentice another, but I’d say a friend, perhaps a one day wife too. Which, again, has this weird foundation of him buying her for a lot of money, but I see a sort of Beauty and The Beast angle here. One where, despite the beginning, the ending is all you truly think of.
Beautiful Moments – Tear Jerker Moments and The Art
When it comes to anime, either things go to fast or painfully slow, and while The Ancient Magus’ Bride never finds a perfect place, it still knows how to craft perfect moments. Mostly in the form of building to moments which will get you to cry. Whether it is Nevin’s passing, building to the full story of Chise’s childhood, or things you weren’t expecting like how Silky found the home Elias and Chise live in, you will find yourself crying at least once.
But, it isn’t just the tear-jerker moments but the art. I can’t recall another series where I’m hitting F12 to make a screenshot so much. While not the highest level of art with an insane amount of details, the ambiance fits the tone of the show and enhances it in ways that my education can’t explain. So all I can say it is something which pushes feelings which you would need to be well versed in the arts to verbalize.
It Gets You So Interested Into The Magic and The Different Cultures Which Use It But Only Gives You A Taste
Probably the sole issue that I found with this show is that it doesn’t dive much into the culture of magic, the fae, and etc. Something that only bothers me since, being 100% honest, I’m lazy and prefer the source to provide answers than having to do research on my own. So with the mention of different beings, witches, and things of that nature, I was peeved the show either expects you to know these beings or rather not waste time talking about them beyond the basics.
On The Fence
It’s a Slow Burn With No Frills Kind of Story
Despite the tear-jerking moments, and scenes when the pace picks up, the show mostly operates on a slice of life vibe. Yes, there are moments where chibi animation is used and things like that, but it doesn’t often operate on a sense of immediacy. Chise’s tone, which is calm and relaxing pretty much is how the show works. Something that, over the course of 24 episodes, some may find boring. It didn’t for me, but that is because the character development kept me going. However, if you don’t get into these characters, I could fully understand someone not getting the hype.
Especially since some episodes, why they don’t inspire you to use the term “filler” they do feel like they could have been condensed and combined.
For most of the show, the villain for everyone is their past looming and pushing their insecurities to the forefront of their mind. However, for a time, Joseph presents himself as a physical villain. The issue with that is, Joseph is very in and out and treated like an idea the show can’t fully commit to. As if, at one time, the idea of a villain sounded appealing and like it would boost the show, but after his introduction and how that was handled, it was decided focusing on the characters psychological issues was better. Making it where, towards the end, Joseph is just brought back because he could be used to solve a Chise problem more than, perhaps, long-term planning was really involved.
Overall: Positive (Watch This)
Fantasy, drama, meaningful relationships, and somehow being 24 episodes without having clear-cut filler. It’s so rare that it is hard to say if you want more or want this to remain rare for attempts to repeat will likely be terrible for ages until it is done right. Either way, though it doesn’t seem a second season will be anytime soon, I do at least hope an OVA will be planned. After all, the series began with a 3 episode OVA so why not continue with one to hold fans until the next season?
Has Another Season Been Confirmed?: No, and the show has caught up to the manga per Inquisitr.
|The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting a Star doesn’t provide much details, per se, but does deliver a touching and tear-inducing story.|
|The Ancient Magus’ Bride I got the feeling is going to be the one show I’m definitely going to recommend from this season.|
|An acquaintance of Elias meets Chise and later on they go onto their honeymoon – which leads to us understanding why Elias is so watchful.|
|We learn what happened after Chise was kidnapped, in the last episode, and quite a bit about the dragons which live in Iceland.|
|As Chise and Elias continue their honeymoon tour, they are introduced to the evil beings which are sorcerers.|
|Additional details of what a Sleigh Buggy is, & why Elias may have an interest in Chise, gets revealed alongside more about Matthew and Mina.|
|Elias’ true nature, not this benevolent oddity we’ve come to love, continues to be prodded as we meet Faery Royalty.|
|Ruth finally joins the fold but believe me when I say that his introduction isn’t the biggest thing to happen this episode.|
|The silver-haired being gets fully exposed to us and yet, once more, we are left with more questions than answers.|
|It has been two weeks since the last episode and something seems to be wrong with Elias. As if he can’t return to the person Chise knows.|
|Lindel begins to reveal Elias’ past to us, alongside a bit of his own, and it seems we’re at the good before the horror.|
|Lindel continues to try to peel away Chise’s rose-colored glasses, but perhaps to no avail.|
|It’s a bit of an emotional episode as we hit the halfway point of the season. One in which Chise begins moving on from her past.|
|Chise and Elias finally get to have a real conversation about their respective pasts, and of course that moment gets ruined by the episode’s ending|
|As Chise makes her first demand of Elias, it seemingly might be her last.|
|Despite you thinking the episode would be about Chise’s recovery, it ends up being about Silky’s backstory – which causes some tears.|
|It’s Christmas time and in the spirit of giving, Chise receives a certified friend and maybe a blast from her past.|
|The Ashen Eye returns to wreak havoc while reminding us how useful Chise’s powers can be.|
|Elias’ insecurities get the best of him and lead him to be a bit abusive. Meanwhile, Joseph is back and up to something.|
|As Joseph haunts his acquaintances, Renfred gathers allies to stop an auction of a dragon.|
|As usual, as Chise commits an act of sacrifice to protect or help someone, she ends up making things terribly worse for herself. Something Elias is growing tired of.|
|After showing a nearly obscene amount of forgiveness, Elias finally does something Chise can’t excuse and it pushes her to turn to an unexpected being.|
|We dive into Chise’s past and through her getting to understand her mom, it seems that may lead to the path of her reconciling with Elias. Maybe even understanding Joseph.|
|Joseph and Cartaphilus, they are two different people, have their shared past explored as a rescue effort begins for Chise.|
|And so The Ancient Magus’ Bride ends with a bit of compromise. Most of which lead you to believe there could be a season 2.|