Reviews

Mar 23, 2018
Stark700 (All reviews)
Opening a book and reading word by word is simple. Jumping into a story becoming part of its world while being enveloped by its ideas is a whole different experience. Mahoutsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus Bride) has a way that make us see through its world, characters, and story. If you fancy yourself for a creative fantasy experience that blends between the lines of fiction and reality, then you came to the right place.

An anime adaptation of Mahoutsukai no Yome is pretty inevitable in the eyes of many fans who are familiar with the author’s work. Ever since we got the 3-episode prologue OVAs, a full TV anime adaptation would bring in fans hunger for more. This TV anime adaptation focuses directly on the manga as it chronicles the life of Chise Hatori and guide the viewer through her experience. The life she once knew changed forever after meeting Elias Ainsworth, a supernatural being with traits of fae and humanity.

Jumping straight into this TV anime shouldn’t be a problem even if it’s the first time you’ve ever heard of this show before. The first few episodes successfully introduces the story along with a beautiful imaginative world. It shouldn’t take long for viewers to begin and understand the type of person Chise is. To describe her, Chise can sometimes be a normal teenage girl while other times feel like she’s not. She’s been through a lot in her life before meeting Elias and many events influenced her to develop a more subservient personality. She can also be a bit of socially awkward but if you look beyond that, Chise is really a person with strong heart and will to change people. Throughout the show, she changes herself too after meeting certain characters and experiencing a new life she’s never began to imagine before.

That brings in Elias, a supernatural being with mysterious origins. In the beginning of the show, he became Chise’s master after buying her at an auction event. Now you’re probably thinking…is this going to be a show about a master and a slave type of relationship? The answer is far from it as we see the depth of their relationship development. Despite being a supernatural being and not understanding humans, Elias develops genuine feelings of care for Chise while displaying human behavior. On the other hand, Chise begins to grow more confident of herself and accepting her role as an apprentice mage. Throughout the show, we can see how much she grows from an average teenage girl to a strong and dedicated woman. The loyalty she displays for Elias and her friends is admirable and throughout her experience as a mage, she learns much more about them and their world. This is what really gave me a favorable impression of the show. It’s how characters change and able to influence others while we understand them. In many ways, the story feels very human for the main characters. Teenage girls at her age tend to change a lot and whether it’s a good or bad thing can be a controversial topic. However, Chise’s change is displayed in ways that I can’t help but find inspiring. The show crafts her character from the beginning and capitalizes on her every action without wasting any time. Whether it’s meeting new people/supernatural beings, experimenting with magic, or battling her personal demons, she’s a character that you can’t turn a blind eye to.

Of course, this show isn’t just about Chise and Elias. While they are the main stars, Mahoutsukai no Yome does a lot to make the viewers get invested into its story. One of the first things people will find curious is the world setting. While there’s the modern setting of urban cities and streets, there’s also magic and a world with otherworldly creatures. Dragons, faeries, goddesses, and will-o’the-wisps are just a few to name. Possibly inspired by English, Scottish, or other European lore, it shouldn’t take long for viewers to recognize some of them. Furthermore, the show displays a wealth of magic with the many effects they can bring. It’s also interesting to note that magic in this show is considered a power that’s neither good nor evil. It’s used as a power that can have consequences or can really make a difference. At its most apex, magic can be extremely impactful that it can affect the story and change people in ways they can’t even begin to imagine.

Making a show like this takes a lot of risk too. Characters would have to at least make an impression that give viewers something to remember by. I can’t say this for all the characters but there’s definitely a list of them that people should take notice. These range from Chise’s familiar Roth to the beautiful vampire faerie, Leanan Sidhe. Chise encounters them in the story and makes her realize certain aspects about herself. However, there are also others such as Cartaphilius (Joseph) who can really bring out a side from Chise that she hopes others won’t ever have to see. The psychology and character chemistry between the cast isn’t just impactful but also characterizes their personalities. While there are probably some characters that will be more forgettable compared to others, the show still gets its priorities right to give viewers something to talk about.

As serious as this show may seem, it still balances between its light comedy at times so it isn’t just a moody story. When business picks up, you’ll realize how the author wants to make you feel. Other times, I feel like this anime really did a great job at capitalizing most of its ideas. As a manga adaptation, the show is mostly faithful at capturing the story without delaying or accelerating its plot. In fact, I think some scenes adapted from the manga looked even more impressive in the anime thanks to the modern talent of Norihiro Naganuma. Just be aware that the manga is still ongoing and with 24 episodes, it was inevitable that the anime would still leave out what’s ahead.

Adapted by Wit Studio, it feels like this show is a work of art. I don’t mean the type that you can see at some art gallery but more as a world that you can enjoy freely with an open mind. The beautiful world consists of many elements from modern fantasy such as enchanted forests, land of dragons, and to a more civilized city. Visual quality exceeded my expectations as there were no episodes that I found lazily made or sloppily animated. The character designs also takes time to accept but is creatively crafted. The most noticeable character to land eyes on is Elias. He has no human characteristics and looks like a creature you’d imagine from some dark fantasy. Other creatures in the show may look more familiar but fulfills its fantasy expectations. Adapted from the manga, they consist of characteristics that is incredibly faithful. Oddly enough, Chise is possibly the most normal looking character despite being a bit of an oddball. With her signature red hair, green coat, and necklace, she’s definitely the type of the character you can easily accept.

Matching its artistic elements, the soundtrack also brings in great value such as the OST and theme songs. The first OP song “Here” by JUUNA is masterfully crafted to showcase the potential of the show with its style. Similarly, both the ED theme songs capitalized on its fantasy setting. Unfortunately, the second OP song dropped the ball and didn’t manage to hold a candle compared to the first with reused footage. However, the OST manages to fully capture the thrilling feel of this adaptation. Some scenes adapted straight out of the manga is what I had pictured would be and with the music, it made it that much more alive. Character voice mannerism is also easy to take notice with characters such as Elias, Cartaphilius, Titania, and among others.

Every book has its meaning and intentions. For a show like Mahoutsukai no Yome, jumping into the story and world is like reading the text and realizing what the author wants us to know. Throughout watching this anime, I learned a lot about the characters and what it means for someone like Chise to experience her new life. The world setting remained committed to its premise while avoiding the mistakes of going overboard. While I can’t say this anime is for everyone, it definitely manages to elevate the heights of a fantasy tale.