- Genre: Supernatural, fantasy, drama
- Episodes: 24
- Studio: Wit Studio
I really liked my synopsis for the OVAs and that’s why I’m reusing most of it here – I’m not just being lazy! Chise is a beloved child, adored by fairies and humans alike, living a life of wonder and merriment while studying magic under the ancient Magus Elias. But it wasn’t always so… Not so long ago, Chise was cursed child, abandoned, unwanted and plagued by frightening shadow creatures. Her life had been a long living nightmare until a demon creature of death and destruction brought with him the first rays of sunshine. How long will Chise’s newfound happiness last and what will she be willing to do to protect it?
I saw the OVAs as soon as they came out last summer, and I was smitten. Just enamored I tell you. When I saw the full season finally announced on Crunchyroll I did a literal dance in my living room. I should really start drawing my curtains, my neighbours are starting to avoid me.
Guys, I have an idea. Well a proposal. I’m gonna do a half season review. It’s going to be shorter than my usual fair because – half season. Also because so many of you have been doing excellent episodic reviews and don’t really need my two cents on top of it. And then we’ll get to the Magic! (you can’t see it but I’m doing magic fingers right now – it’s a lot like jazz hands. I’ve also just guessed your card!)
I haven’t seen that many shows this season but I’m guessing they’re all stick figures with audio recorded on an iPhone because clearly Magus here got all the budgets. Every last one of them. This show is crack for your eyes, no wait, fancier than that. What’s the fanciest drug? I just googled “fanciest illegal drug” at work…Anyways, Google says the most expensive is Heroin. The Ancient Magus’ Bride is Heroin for your eyes. And it’s not just pretty and insanely well animated, it’s stylish. The designs are interesting and eye-catching. The voice acting is superbly cast and although the music isn’t my personal preference, it’s obviously carefully chosen and fits well with the story.
Basically, any fault you can find on the production side is likely due to your subjective preferences rather than any actual failing of the show. It’s just sumptuous. We’ll see if that gets annoying by episode 24.
From the episode reviews, it’s clear that a lot of bloggers are seeing peaks and valleys. I’m right there with you, although it’s still a net high as far as I’m concerned. The Ancient Magus’ Bride does a few things exceptionally well. The magical, fae ridden, universe it has created is luxuriously rich and alive with detail. You can get lost in those scenery, you’ll long to explore behind to corners of background images convinced that something will be there. The depth of the world Chise lives in, is spellbinding.
As I mentioned, the OVAs had me completely enchanted. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the story of little Chise’s sad childhood, is essentially a mix of Natsume’ s Book of Friends and Harry Potter. How can that be anything less than spectacular. So far the show has been at its strongest in flashbacks. The story of Chise and Elias’ original meeting, and the mystery of Elias’ own past are two of the strongest arcs in my opinion. Where it falters, is when it wanders into monster of the week territory. The wrath of cats and the evil sorcerer where both significantly weaker narratives, that asked the audience to care way too much about characters we were never given enough time or exposition to bond with. In the grand scheme of things, these episodes may turn out to be important character building moments for our protagonists, but for now they slowed down the narrative for no real payoff.
Then there is those shadows that dance over the brilliant images. The uncomfortable intimation of a romantic relationship between very young Chise be not quite human Elias would have normally just turned me off the series entirely but the non sexual depiction coupled with the fact that I think it’s leading to something important, changes the deal.
I may be completely off track here, but I do think this will turn out to be a story of redemption. Redemption and acceptance for Elias certainly, as his caring for Chise will bring out his humanity and her simple uncomplicated devotion will … I dunno, turn him into a prince or summfin. That’s the classic fairy tale part. It doesn’t matter that much. The interesting part is Chise’s redemption.
Traditionally, Chise’s arc would be considered at it’s apex. The horrors of her past are well behind her. She’s found comfort, acceptance, possibly even something like love in her new life (not just from Elias, she’s surrounded by it). All she needs now is a nemesis to defeat and some large obstacle to overcome in order to solidify her standing as “hero” and she can go right ahead and live happily ever after. Except… There are whisperings, worried looks, concerned murmurs that surround her at every step.
Is it really ok to just numbly accept love? Is it really living to live for someone else? Is a loyalty born out of desperation and lack of options, worth all that much? Just because someone was nice to you, what does that truly indebt you to? The people around Chise are all carefully trying to make her see that gratefulness is not the same as love. That true happiness requires an effort, an acceptance of misery. That willfully closing one’s eyes makes us blind, not kind. I’ve always been annoyed by what is portrayed as romantic in much of traditional storytelling. This could be a sober look at the love conquers all trope. I hope so, I would find it refreshing and potentially, romantic. Loving someone you occasionally want to strangle is something I can respect.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the story will go a very different way. I’m still very much looking forward to seeing it unfold and mostly, to telling you what I thought at the end of it.
In the meantime thought – let’s talk Magic! I’m doing the fingers again!
So, when exactly did England become the land of all things magic? Apparently, forever ago. The British soil is so deeply soaked in folklore and fae tradition, from Arthurian legends to Shakespeare plays, that to this day, the simple idea of it instantly evokes vision of playful spirits and robed wizards. Mysticism is a huge part of most cultures but the intimate nature of British folklore, with its spirits happily mingling with common folks and its miracles just within reach, makes it fertile ground for fairy tales modern and classic. And it’s specifically in these firmly Anglo-Saxon legends that the Ancient Magus’ Bride roots its lore.
The Mandrake (or mandragora), that disagreeable and loud little plant creature features in any self-respecting magic user’s laboratory. In traditional witchcraft, when the root is dug up, it screams and kills all who hears it but you can tame it and turn it into a powerful artefact with the following technique:
Find a root of the plant called bryony. Take it out of the ground on a Monday (the day of the moon), a little time after the vernal equinox. Cut off the ends of the root and bury it at night in some country churchyard in a dead man’s grave. For 30 days, water it with cow’s milk in which three bats have been drowned. When the 31st day arrives, take out the root in the middle of the night and dry it in an oven heated with branches of verbena; then wrap it up in a piece of a dead man’s winding-sheet and carry it with you everywhere. – Jean-Baptiste Pitois‘ The History and Practice of Magic.
All this is well and good but did you know the plant actually exists. It’s a cute flower found in the Mediterranean region and is generally very quiet and well-behaved.
It is however rather toxic and the root in particular is both a hallucinogenic and a narcotic. This may explain a few of the stories associated with it.
Oberon and Titania: The King and Queen of fairies, perhaps best known for their roles in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, have been around since Merovingian legends. Being fairy creatures, they are playful and full of mirth but also capricious and can become powerful foes with little provocation. These traits seem to have been kept intact in their present personification. It should be noted that their marriage is generally considered to be rocky, their playful bickering has only been used for laughs so far and I hope it remains that way. Although I don’t really see their purpose in the story, I did like them as characters.
Church Grim : My beloved Ruth. I was waiting for this guy to show up right from episode 1. I’m sure I’ll talk much more about his introduction when I do my full review – I had lots of thoughts. Church Grims are traditional figures in English and Scandinavian folklore. Most commonly shown as large black dogs, they can in fact be any of a number of common pastoral animals such as roosters, horses, rams or ravens. However, they are always black and always male.
By legend, they are the spirits of animals sacrificed to the church. ***DO NOT READ THIS PART IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE REMINDED THAT PEOPLE ARE AWFUL***
In parts of Europe, including Britain and Scandinavia, it was believed that the first man buried in a new churchyard had to guard it against the Devil. To save a human soul from the duty, a completely black dog (or another handy animal) would be buried alive on the north side of the churchyard, creating a guardian spirit, the church grim, to protect the church.
I’m going to go hug Buddy now.
Sleigh Beggy via Fae of the Isle
Since this show is so popular, almost everything I found about Sleigh Beggys was about Chise but Fea of the Isle had this description:
“These faeries, much like Mileth’s Tuatha and the Gwragedd Annwn, are thought to be the first inhabitants of the Isle of Man. These small earthbound fae prefer to go nude, and hop about of crow’s feet, leaving very distinct footprints. Hating artificial light, they stay out of the town of Rucesion, but swarm between the town and the Castle Dubhaimid. They are known for their strange habits, and hate the taste of salt and any presence of ash. It is said that after Hy-Brasyl burned, they sought refuge on the Isle of Man, for no other reason than to avoid the ashes which rained upon the whole of Temuair. They are quite easily brought to anger, though no legend tells of what an angered “Beggy” (as the Rucesion citizens call them) will do. Also, they are partial to snow, and might even enter the city if it means a chance to frolic in some wayward snowflakes.”
That got considerably darker note than I had intended. I’m just going to go with it. See, I have a feeling, a mix of hope and foreboding, that the Ancient Magus’ Bride will end on a much darker note than anyone (that hasn’t read the manga) expects. It’s not that I’m a fan of downer endings but I find the prospect interesting. Are you still following the show?
Random thought – Am I the only one who keeps on saying the Ancient Mariner’s Bride? If I get hit by a car, I would like Buddy to instantly forget about me. Considering how he casts me aside in favour of any newcomer, I think we’re on the same page.
Favorite character: Rahab, Lindel is in second place.
Suggested drink: Blackthorn
- Every time we get a close-up of Chise’s eyes – take a sip
- Every time someone says Sleigh Beggy – take a small sip
- Every time anyone says Mage – drink some water
- Every time Chise eats – have a snack
- Every time Elias calls Chise a puppy- have a sip
- Every time anyone pats Chise – take a sip
- Every time Elias carries Chise – take a sip
- Every time there’s a blonde supporting character – raise your glass
- Every time someone teases Elias – take a sip
- Every time someon calls Chise, Robin – take a sip
- Every time Chise falls in water – stretch
Day 9 of 12