- Genre : Fantasy, Adventure,
- Episodes: 2
- Studio: Wit Studio
Chise is a beloved child, living a life of wonder and merriment while studying magic under the ancient Magus Elias, but it wasn’t always so… After receiving an old book as a gift, Chise begins to recount the story of how she had first came into possession of the book, back when she was cursed child, abandoned, unwanted and plagued by frightening shadow creatures called wicked ones.
The OVA is actually the two first episodes of this show which are currently out (charmingly titled – waiting for a star pt. 1 and 2) and as such this will be more of a first impression. I decided to watch this show based entirely on the “box” art above (is it still called that?). I often start animes just cause I like their promotional art, it’s also how I choose wines and friends but strangely not books…
I really hadn’t done any research on this title and went in completely blind. Maybe that’s part of why I was blown away, but I’m thinking it’s more because this is a truly fantastic animation. The first thing that hit me was this general “Ghibli” feel that radiated from the screen. Indeed, the two first episodes are very reminiscent of a darker Ghibli title. Now for me personally, that can be either hit or miss as I am not a diehard fan of the studio but there is an undeniable artistry to their work. You can see this same type of flair in every part of the Ancient Magus’ Bride. The world is lush and full of life, with every scene inhabited by whimsical creatures flitting in and out of frame adding a true sense of marvel to the set pieces.
Speaking of set pieces, these are also lovingly crafted with such attention to detail and realism that I honestly caught myself wanting to explore them. I was wondering what was in the kitchen cupboards, I wanted to rummage through the books and take a seat in the park. The environments felt complete and inviting, rather than simple copies of the world. The animation is beyond reproach and has a certain theatrical feel. I really thought I was watching a movie split into chapters rather than a TV series (if this makes any sense). The art style is a bit traditional – once again has a Miyazaki vibe. This is not usually my preference but it fit so perfectly with the story that I really wouldn’t have it any other way.
The characters are also fantastic. Again, this is just the first two episodes so obviously we are just getting to know them, but even as we are introduced to people present for just a scene or two, we get the impression that they are complete and complex individuals, with personalities and motivations and lives of their own. For those more familiar with western animation, this of it a bit like the best Pixar characters but much calmer… I was able to relate entirely to pretty much everybody and no one got on my nerves. In fact – I want to get to know each and every one of them better!
Again, with only two episodes available, obviously, this is just an introduction but the story so far is sensational. It gets surprisingly dark – or at least it was surprising for me – and quite emotional but not depressing at all. Be warned that some scenes with the wicked ones were downright frightening and I would not recommend it for very small children.
The action was paced superbly, and bookended with scenes from present day Chise telling her story which served to really emphasises the horrors of her past. Ultimately, these first two episodes seem to hint at an adventurous coming of age story, with some exploration of the themes of loneliness and isolation and the distress they can cause people, especially children. I remind you I have done zero research on this title as I refuse to spoil myself, so I might be completely off track here…The relationships between Chise and Elias, as well as the other inhabitants of the house, seem warm, respectful and full of actual love. How a deeply traumatized young girl who could hardly form a connection with her own family got to this point is fascinating and likely to be incredibly heartwarming. (I am a little worried about the “bride” part….)
My only reservations at this point are exactly how can the show maintain its momentum throughout an entire season? The opening episodes really made some big promises that will not be easy to deliver on. If however it does manage to keep up this level of quality for its entire run, I think this will easily become a classic. Or at least it should. I went into the Ancient Magus’ Bride expecting nothing at all, after two episodes I’m expecting the world. I’m holding my breath until the rest comes out.
Favorite character: Ruth
What this anime taught me about myself: I understand isolation
“When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.”
Suggested drink: A Magus (too on the nose?)
- Every time magic is performed – take a sip
- Every time Ruth changes form – play with your pet
- Every time Silver – take a gulp
- Elias asks “what’s wrong” – say “nothing”
- If Chise answers “nothing” – say “Jinx”
- Every time we see a wicked one – take some liquid courage
- If it’s a rat – take some more
- Every time a stranger tries to help Chise – take a drink
- Every time we se a book – take a breath