As April showers bring May flowers, this anime sheds light on mystical and fantastical world of faerie lore and Celtic mythology. Currently airing The Ancient Magus’ Bride anime already managed to cause quite a stir in the anime world. It’s breathtaking design leaves a lasting impression, even if so far, you’ve only seen the trailer. The series protagonist, Hatori Chise, finds herself in a dark place, but fate ends up having some more tricks left up its sleeve, before she’s done with this world.
The first episode
First episode ended up being a mix of amazing visual arts and some disturbing moments. My first impression of the anime was that it presented exactly the magical world I usually like to explore and dive into, but at the same time included some completely unnecessary scenes. They didn’t really bother me that much, but I’m mentioning them because to some they may appear a bit alarming. Buying a person, elements of unhealthy relationship and attitude towards main protagonist might turn away some viewers, but that’s really not the focus.
We meet Chise at a point in her life where she lost hope and gave up, agreeing to enter slavery and be sold to whoever will want her. What she doesn’t expect is that she’ll end up being bought by a magus, called Elias Ainsworth. A new chapter in her life makes her his apprentice and his future wife as well. The anime isn’t taking the easy way out – making it a romantic story with perfect characters. It shows two broken souls, coming together in a world filled with magic. Of course, neither is quite normal. Chise is what they call a »Sleigh Beggy« with great magical potential. Meanwhile Elias is actually a non-human mage, a powerful one at that and a recluse through and through. It’s up to Chise now to save the dying craft and become one of the last mages.
About that ancient magus
Elias is an interesting character they haven’t fully exposed yet. Up to episode 9 we only get to see some sides of him. He’s a mentor, a sort of care taker and in a strange way also partner. At first it’s unclear why he bought her for an insanely large sum and what he wants with her. He appears intimidating at first, but that first impression is quickly forgotten. The switch to a gentle, caring character is natural and somehow he appears as a warm, empathic person. He’s not the usual male saviour hero character. The scenes that would usually appear silly and cute here seem like cutting into the story, breaking it. The vibe of it all gets forced and unsettling, but this is exactly what makes the anime so special. I hope the future episodes will focus more on this character, I’d love to know more about him.
The central relationship
Chise and Elias might seem like unlikely match at first, but their relationship develops rather quickly. Some may see it as way too soon, especially in regards to seeing Chise trusting Elias so much. From the first obvious discomfort it quickly got into light, less forced and even playful interaction between the two. By the second episode she’s already warming up to him and up till eight, they are already very close. It may seem way too fast, but considering Chise’s abandonment issues, it’s kinda natural to want to stay close to the one and only person who offered you home. Elias on the other hand is usually quite forward, but not so much with her. He gives her more space and time to get to know him.
Abandonment and love
There’s one recurring topic I feel I need to address somehow. It goes hand in hand really, abandonment issues and feelings of love. Chise is presented as someone who was never loved, abandoned by her own mother and scarred for life. Elias was the first one who actually wanted her, offered her a home, even though he actually bought her. Episode 9 finally gives some more insight into their dynamics. From interactions with others Chise is finally able to come to terms with some of her own emotions. Realising that she loves Elias, that she got dependant on him way too fast. She is reminded that she shouldn’t live of handouts from others. As much as it hurts her, she has to admit the truth in these words. She’s aware that the truth he tells her is glossed over and includes only partial truths, but she still trusts him.
I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to the visual imaginarium. It’s simply breathtaking and truly takes the meaning of magic to a whole new level. The colourful and powerful symbolic presentations as well as great animation make this anime one of a kind. A lot of it is borrowed and inspired by old folk tales, fantasy writers and such. Somehow it makes me think of Neil Gaiman books, but I really like that sort of thing, so it’s a big plus. Captivating character designs truly deliver with many occult details, making them stand out even more. The visuals get more cartoon like when needed. For instance, Elias’s skull jaw gets rounded and softer, taking the edge from the situation and making it appear more comical.
Usually I don’t even write much about sound design, unless I like some songs in particular. With The Ancient Magus’ Bride I feel like it adds that whole pagan vibe. Both, voice acting and sound effects really complement the story and aura of the anime. The soundtrack itself fits the moments and accentuates the mood. True, there’s a lot of piano and it might not be to everyone’s liking. But with these visuals and story it goes rather perfectly. In regards to soundtrack I can honestly say it makes me think of Hisaishi’s work and I love that more than anything.
The all over vibes
The Ancient Magus’ Bride delivers from drama to comical reliefs in such a fashion it always feels like you watching two soul mates dance. It truly feels like watching someone who wears his heart out on his sleeve all the time, but it’s so well done at the same time it truly transcends into a magical story. From dramatic moments to endearing ones, the wholeness of the anime got me engrossed in it and I never want to leave. It’s sad, depressing, painful but at the same time gorgeous, light and full of promises. Impossible to describe unless you watch it with an open heart.
The magic of Ancient Magus’ Bride
Sure, even this anime has some minor hiccups. Like certain animation moments and pacing, but these are really not that bothersome. The Ancient Magus’ Bride offers the right balance between artistic detail, depth and story. It switches lightly from serious scenes to humours ones, but keeps the overall red string and the vibe. In a way it’s a love story, but not just between two characters. It’s more a love towards life itself, the world we are surrounded with and of course the people who make us feel at home. The world drenched in magic is exactly what got me enraptured, but Chise’s story is what makes my heart bleed whenever I watch it. A true gem among the anime of 2017, possibly the best one I have watched!
Thanks for reading!