By Erika Suarez
Ancient Magnus’ Bride is a complicated love story in the midst of drama and melancholy that centers in Chise Hitori, a young red-headed girl with a haunting past. Chise is purchased in a magic auction by a mage named Elias Ainsworth and becomes his apprentice and bride. We see an unusual but heartfelt relationship grow between the two as they fight through adversity in an enchanted lateral of London.
Let’s just say Chise can be irritating at first. She is overwhelmingly weak, emotionally and physically. She obtains a fragile and timid personality, but a couple episodes in, her character grew on me. Empathy for Chise can easily be developed when her backstory unfolds. I am a sucker for characters with a dark and tragic past with an uplifting journey. Chise is defined for her unforgettable past when her mother throttled her and later committed suicide. Her story grows grimmer when her dad leaves the picture and is left hated and jumping through various homes. Not until she meets, Elias is when her life makes a pivot.
Elias cannot sympathize, but he portrays human emotions and understands it. The confusion arises when he feels lonely and is missing for Chise when she spends a few days in the land of the dragons. There are times when Elias shifts from mentor/husband to a fatherly figure when she uses her magic in a reckless manner, turning into a vague circumstance between a father and daughter relationship. This makes it clear that the anime isn’t your ordinary love story. It's really just two confused souls eager to find a connection. In a way, they are perfect for each other in forms of missing acceptance by the world too.
As far as where their relationship goes, it starts off with them using each other. Elias uses Chise as an experiment to see how long he can keep her alive because she is a Sleigh Beggy (who can consume and release a substantial amount of magic) and live a short life. At this point, Elias’ only motive for keeping her is out of curiosity and for her magic. As for Chise, her benefit is living in a stable home where she is truly wanted for once. The beauty of their relationship is their growth as the story focuses on them as a whole and how a particular person can change your life for the better or worse.
Ancient Magus’ Bride can be grim and unfiltered when it comes to introducing background stories. Chise encounters a dead couple’s past that was haunting the Cat Kingdom. A husband was eager to find a cure for her sick wife and seeks help from a sorcerer named Cartophiles. The sorcerer recommends him to use a cat’s life, so her wife can obtain nine lives. The husband goes out and kills numerous cats to use their blood as a potion and forcefully pours the liquids down her wife’s throat. Unfortunately, his wife didn’t get those 9 nine lives and instead she bursts apart and her husband cries with blood spattered across his face, turning him bloodthirsty for more cats to murder. The most unsettling to watch was a young helpless dragon being played with its insides by the sorcerer, Cartophiles. The scene vividly portrays the terrifying agony the dragon’s friend is experiencing while being locked in a cage while watching his friend slowly dying. Not entirely sure where the sorcerer Cartophiles falls into this show, but we do know he makes all matters worse. All hell breaks loose when he is around, and in the end, he was hurting inside too just like most of the characters in the show. His background isn’t revealed until the end of the season. His past was intriguing and definitely unexpected that was a nice treat for us in the end.
The artwork and animation are enchanting as the world that it's portrayed as. Every location is nicely captured with vivid and soothing colors, it's almost looking at a picture book with oil paintings of a field of flowers. The buildings of London were breathtaking and contrasted from ominous to luminous based on the tone of the episode which I endeared.
The rest of characters in the alluring world of wonders are joyful or utterly depressing (hint, it's Cartophiles). There is a nice balance between the tone and the anime does favor dark humor. For a character that rarely speaks, Silky is a likable character that cares a lot of about Chise. Her housemaid skills are off the charts and she is silly in her own way. Chise’s familiar Ruth will make you want one of your own. He was a Church Grim before he committed his life to Chise. Now he’s a good pup with a big appetite.
Ancient Magus Bride’ succeeds with no fillers and a flowing story between two characters with gloomy backgrounds. You get a sprinkle of awkward humor every now and then, but it will get a few laughs out of you. In the end, there are a few missing pieces that I wish were resolved or answered. Chise lifespan remains uncertain and there is no follow up after Chise’s father abandoned her as a child. Assuming there will be a second take on the anime, there is still a lot to uncover such as expanding Elias’ background story and elaborating on an incident that occurred between Chise and Cartophiles at the end of the season.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride – Season 1
Creator/ Writer: Kore Yamazaki
Director: Norihiro Naganuma
Studio: Wit Studio