In a world full of magic, creatures, and curses, there was a young and frail girl named Chisa who had given up on ever finding a place to call home. So much so that she sold herself in slavery only to be bought by the Ancient Magus, Elias. The question is, what is Elias looking for in Chisa; a slave, an apprentice or a bride?
This was the big anime of the Fall 2017 season. That’s the only reason I even gave it a second glance at first. Then by the time Winter rolled around and we entered the second half of this 24 episode series people pretty much stopped talking about it. I don’t think it was What everyone was hoping it would be.
Normally I wouldn’t have even given this type of series a try. I’m not all that big into magic unless its cutesy or comedic. I barely finished the Harry Potter books over a three year period and I am really not interested in watching the movies. The only reason I gave the Ancient Magus Bride a try was because of YouTube.
There are a lot of things that people upload onto YouTube, even though the content technically shouldn’t be there because of copy right. Since I don’t think worrying about the morality of watching copyrighted YouTube content is worth it, at least on a small scale, I watch pretty much whatever I can find on there that is interesting.
In my feed there were three prequel episodes to the Ancient Magus Bride. I didn’t even know they were from the upcoming show I had briefly read about, because the uploader had only used the episode titles and not that of the series. I was blown away with what I saw. It was interesting, beautiful, compelling and mysterious. The characters were fascinating and the setting was creepy and dangerous, but also at times it could be welcoming.
I still really like those episodes, which take place at the midway point of the series and in a flash back. I think they are still my favorite part of The Ancient Magus Bride, and if you haven’t seen them in addition to the rest of the series I highly recommend viewing them.
The series was a hit and a miss for me. I really liked the setting, the characters and the animation, but some things, especially later on in the series made me uncomfortable. I kind of knew things would get pretty dark and creepy from the moment of mass murdered cats, (and probably even before that) but I pushed on.
I continued to watch the series, because of the setting in which the magic was occurring. I’m a huge sucker for anything that falls under the category of mythology. While not as interesting as Norse or Greek Mythology I also really like the myths and origins behind fairies and other magical creatures. Seeing that the magic was accompanied by these dragons and fairies and various other creatures was what I found to be the most attractive part of the series.
I also really like the trickier and more malicious side of these fairies. My favorite fairy tale book is called Pepper and Salt and deals with these types of fantastic fairy encounters, things like club footed devils and fairies that will take away your eye sight if you can see them. No fairy godmothers there. Of course it doesn’t get scary or demonic either, just a little more fun.
I also really liked that the series took place just outside of London. For me, just the idea that we are dealing with people in the English countryside is a huge bonus for me. I’ve always wanted to visit England and so there’s a just a little bit of magic in the setting too. It also allowed for some great relaxing moments. A little cottage surrounded by forests and field, a handful of neighbors to meet and of course the church that comes with a built in graveyard.
Naturally the forest is where the majority of the magical creatures live, inside their own realm which you can reach from there, and they are ruled by the Queen and King Oberon. The rulers were an interesting choice, because they aren’t exactly of mythological origins, but instead simply have a very strong and long fictional background.
I think that’s where the beginning of The Magus Brides strength as a series begins, is that I never once felt like this was something that someone created. The creatures and world didn’t just appear out of a creators head, they already were and this is just a new and fresh take on them. That’s why I think this world feels more real to me then that of other fantasy settings, I feel like I’m delving into a world with a complex and long history, rather then one that just appeared. It’s the Lord of The Rings and not Harry Potter. (I apologize profusely to die hard Harry Potter fans. And I wish to put forth that I think it’s world is amazing and well created, but that it unfortunately felt created and not real).
Once you realize that this world and the creatures in were not created, but seemingly already there, then the pace of the series makes a little more sense. The series doesn’t have to have a set concrete goal that is explored, instead it’s the world itself that we are exploring and learning about, unfortunately that’s where series seemed to lose people. Going back week after week, without having a concrete idea about what one was going to see didn’t really work for some people. It gave the series a bit more of an episodic feel rather then having an overall arc, which felt a little odd to me outside of a children’s show or a slice of life anime.
Personally I really enjoyed the pace of the series for the most part, the problems I had were more with the characters and some of the content. As I mentioned above there were things in the series that really pulled me out of my comfort zone and made me uncomfortable, but luckily it wasn’t anything that I wasn’t willing to deal with. As for the characters, I didn’t really care for the direction in which the characterization of Elias went.
There those that had a hard time dealing with the idea of a romanticized relationship between Elias and Chisa and I didn’t, because despite the choice of words that Elias would use in regards to there relationship, like bride and honeymoon and engagement ring, I never felt that there relationship was like that. The reason was because Elias was just way to immature and inexperienced regarding his emotions and feelings and the basic understanding that one needs to be in a romantic relationship with someone. I did however, enjoy the idea of seeing him mature in those areas and unfortunetly, instead I got to see him basically devolve. He went from being a basically stable ‘alien’ adult that didn’t understand emotions and humans, to being a child with immense power that could throw massive tantrums. This forced Chisa, who did thankfully grow stronger and go through some incredible growth in the series, to become a glorified baby sitter.
Chisa’s growth was a huge part of watching the series for me. When you first meet her you can see that she is incredibly drained and tired of life in general, which makes sense when you take into account that she can see horrifying creatures that no one else can and her body is also incredibly frail because of her ability as a Sleigh Beggy to harness magic which takes a huge toll on her. We see her not only become a happier and more energetic person, but we also see her overcome some of her inner demons.
The other characters in the series were honestly incredible and getting to see there stories unfold, or remain wrapped in mystery was definitely interesting to watch These characters were equally a part of the already long established and deeply rooted world and learning more about them, especially Joseph/Cartaphilus who had an epic reveal that made me slack jawed, was what kept me coming back to the series in the second half. Some people weren’t completely pleased with the lack of screen time that characters like Silky and Ruth got, Elias’ house fairy and Chisa’s familiar respectively, but I was really amazed by the amount of depth each character received considering how many their were.
This series really good, if you ignore the inconsistent pacing of the episodes and the odd character development that Elias goes through, because of the impressive world it is founded on. I cannot stress it enough that if you are in any way a fan of fantasy and mythical creatures, that you are likely going to really like this series and the amount of work that the author put into it.
I have heard that the manga is even better at going into depth in some of these areas and so I’m really hoping I can look into it soon. I would have tried it out already, but I heard somewhere that it had etchii connotations to it that they were cutting out of the anime? That doesn’t really make sense, but it’s what I remember hearing and with a name like Ancient Magus ‘Bride’… who knows.
I wish that I could delve a little bit more into some of these mythical creatures, but because I’d rather read about them then write about them I’m going to suggest that if your interested in learning more about the creatures in this series, go over and read Hinodearekkusu’s posts about the various fairies in this world. She has some really awesome ones on the series.