Ancient Magus Bride (Anime)

Title: Ancient Magus Bride

Episodes: 1-12

Chise Hatori has had enough of a life of being tossed from relative to relative, unwanted. But rather than commit suicide, she sells herself into slavery. Her buyer is an inhuman mage named Elias. And gradually, he introduces her to a world of magic and mystery, where creatures from the oldest folktales live. A world she was seeing all her life without knowing how to deal with any of it. But what are Elias’s true motives? And could this strange place be a true home?

This show wasn’t really on my radar until I started reading all the immensely positive reviews of the first few episodes. I’m not much of a romance fan, or slice-of-life, and those elements are present. But the story isn’t ever as simple as that. Chise’s possibly-romantic relationship with Elias is challenged a number of times, by people who point out this really isn’t a good place for her. And Chise herself is dealing with a lot of emotional issues and therefore finds it very hard to stand up for herself.

Chise and Elias’s relationship can’t really be boiled down to something as simple as a romance. Does she see him simply as a protector and provider, more of a father figure, or are there threads of love? And his point of view is even murkier—it’s impossible to tell if he’s growing into a friendship, a romance, or if he’s just too inhuman to have the same ability to bond.

Beyond that, though, the show’s main appeal is its magical world. I’ve read a fair number of myths and legends over the years, but this show digs so deeply into English folklore it was constantly finding something new to bring up. Every episode seems to introduce some new facet of magic or some new kind of creature.

Ruth is the best, though. I ended up reading the manga because the week delay between his two episodes was too long to figure out what happened next. I do wish the story had spelled out a little more that it’s aware Ruth is a girl’s name, and therefore the “mistake” is deliberate and a result of Chise’s imperfect English. But Ruth himself is just too much fun. His very simple way of seeing the world is a nice contrast to some of the murkier depths, and of course helps provide a lot of humor.

I previewed the dub, although I watched most of it in sub due to the delay in getting dubbed episodes out. Both versions were strong performances, although I could wish for more accents on the English speakers, since it’s kind of funny to have a show set in England and all the characters are speaking American-flavored English (perhaps this changes later; I mostly saw the beginning eps).

Overall, if you’re a fan of fairy tales and folklore, or just want something a lot different from the usual fantasies, this is a good watch. I rate this show Recommended.

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