The Ancient Magus’ Bride is a 2017 modern fantasy anime based on a manga created by Kore Yamazaki. The show was produced by Wit Studio with Funimation handling the dub for North America. It was directed by Norihiro Naganuma with music by Junichi Matsumoto.
Chise Hatori (Dani Chambers) is an orphaned Japanese teenager who, after a suicide attempt, decides to sell herself into slavery simply to get a home. To her shock, a man called Elias Ainsworth (Brian Mathis) pays a high price for her. Only he is not a man. He is a tall, imposing figure in a black cloak with a deer skull for a head and he is a mage. He reveals that she is a “Sleih beggey” or a human with magical and fairy qualities. He brings her to his home, telling her she will be his apprentice and his wife eventually. From there, she meets his acquaintances including his landlady Silver Lady. She also meets his former mentor and dragon guardian Lindel (Todd Haberkorn) the local priest Simon Kalm (Tyler Carson), another mage Angelica Varley (Janelle Lutz), and the dog Ruth (Austin Tindle). At first, Chise sees only Elias as a way to have a roof over her head, but as she explores the magical world with him, she sees her strange mentor as so much more. However, an evil alchemist called Cartaphilius (Josh Grelle) waits in the wings.
I often find it interesting when a Japanese author adapts European mythology into their stories and to the creators of this feature, they did a good job. Oh sure, they took many liberties, but they kept the ideas of the British folklore in particular and even Christian legends inside of the plot.
The story was interesting, confusing, enlightening, frustrating, but overall, it was entertaining. I loved watching how Chise evolves from a character who has nothing to live for to someone who has everything to die for. The anime was slowly paced at times, but this was so we could see her world open up in a new way as she grows in power and with the friends she has. It was a remarkable journey.
I will say the same for Elias. Though we get glimpses into his past, it is often hinted that he is neither a magical creature nor a human or perhaps a combination of both. He seems to know the villain personally but never offers any insight. We get frustrated with him as he seems to commit selfish acts, but we learn it is because no one has really taught him how to be human. In this regard, Chise helps him grow as a person.
With its themes, the anime dives into some dark territory. Loss, depression, grief, abandonment, and pain are all explored. Yet, the stories always offer hope, joy, happiness, family, and healing when it comes to how they are rounded out.
This anime definitely left a lot of unanswered questions, but you still got to see the journey of a girl who is a nobody turn into a somebody and a monster growing into a man. I found the tale enduring, charming, and altogether a well-written story.
Check out the trailer below:
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Minor Foul language, Inappropriate humor, Disturbing images
This review is based on the dub.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my reviews of Stratos 4 and Steins;Gate. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.
Connect with me on social media.