The Ancient Magus’ Bride – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Chise Hatori, 15 years old. Lost, without hope, and without family, she is bought for money – not by another person, but by a non-human sorcerer named Elias. Though she hesitates, she begins life anew as his apprentice and future wife. She moves on with her new and peaceful life, slowly but surely, until one day, when she finds a Japanese picture book among the many sent to her from London by Angelica. It is a fateful book that discovered her in her younger years, when she was still troubled and lonely. This piece is a prequel to Chise’s encounter with the Thorn Sorcerer. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: The Ancient Magus’ Bride received three OVAs earlier this year, but the TV series marks the true, chronological, start to the story. And that’s apparent even for someone like myself who never quite found the time to check those OVAs out. What’s here is almost entirely set up, establishing Chise’s initial meeting with the sorcerer known as Elias. In fact, even after twenty-two minutes, it feels like Magus is still establishing itself, unable to quite squeeze in everything needed to send the story on its way.
Linny: Newcomers to this series are most going to get a heavy shoujo vibe as the episode reveals its heroine, a lonely human girl who’s had a super tragic life and been ostracized because of something that makes her super unique and special. She’s ‘rescued’ or swept away from her dreary life by a super mysterious, distant yet strangely caring male character. Also, the fact that the Magus literally buys her at a slave auction could make it intriguing for some but uncomfortable for others.
Tom: While Magus moves at a brisk pace, delving into periodically uncomfortable territory, it fails to truly sell the threat that makes for the premiere’s climax. To give you an idea, Chise spends much of the episode gradually coming to understand she’s now Elias’ apprentice, and that he, a sorcerer, is host to magical powers. But when a few magical creatures try to entice her into their world, it’s not entirely clear why that’s so bad, particularly for a girl with as tough and harrowing a life as Chise’s (We’ll talk about that in a bit.) The series plays it like they’d be luring her to her death, or some other uncomfortable end, but outside of a vague feeling of unease, it remains generally unestablished what exactly is at stake.
Linny: Personally I found Ancient Magus’ need to dole out its set up made for a slow beginning. There’s literally ONE semi-comedic moment in the entire episode and the rest of it just feels extremely dramatic and bizarre, making for an atmosphere that isn’t exactly welcoming to a newcomer. If you don’t buy into the drama, you’re likely to end up feeling like the episode is rather hamfisted and even off putting.
Tom: In some ways, this episode is very character focused, primarily upon Chise as Elias himself is more mystery than ‘man.’ The series manages to give us the briefest, but informative, glimpses into Chise’s past with tragedy hinging upon how her own family couldn’t cope with her ability to see spirits. The show peppers these snippets throughout the run, giving us just enough of an idea of what’s she’s been through without wallowing in it. The Magus himself, Elias, is more uneven, and harder to get a hold on. He’s built up as sort of a savior, yet utters lines like ‘My puppy’ when referring to Chise. Depending on your social mindset, it’s not hard to see how Elias, a man of power, referring to a down-trodden woman as ‘my puppy’ might not sit well. It’s a minor quibble, but I think one worth noting.
Linny: What’s undeniable about the premiere episode of The Ancient Magus’ Bride is that it is a delight to look at with vibrant colours, designs and animation that holds up well. The colours and imagery of the episode really help to sell and establish the series’ magical premise.
Tom: As one of the most hyped anime of the season, I’m struggling to see exactly what’s so darn amazing. That said, there’s a lot here to like, from the animation to the intriguing world and character dynamics, even if they’re uneven at times. I’m excited to see where the series will end up and I think, even with some reservations, it’s well worth a look in for anyone still trying to find the shows they’ll stay with for the next 3 months.
Linny: The Ancient Magis’ Bride starts off slow and heavy on the drama. For some, that alone might be enough to put them off the rest. However, thanks to its eye catching visuals, the promise of an unusual romance and the fact that this is a well beloved series, there’s high chances that this story will improve as it goes on. So for now, I will cautiously recommend it to anyone interested in a magical and dramatic love story… and if I turn out to be wrong, I am fully prepared to eat my words come the mid-season review.