When a new anime season begins, we like to skim through the list and see if the new season would offer anything new and different to viewers. However, there comes a point when you start to see the same genres over and over again: mecha, idol, shonen, and high school slice-of-life.
Sometimes, we need an injection of something different. Perhaps a bizarre twist on romance. Perhaps something seinen or josei. Or maybe a touch of fantasy to enlighten our imagination. So when something like The Ancient Magus’ Bride comes along in the picture, it is an absolute fresh breath of air that we’ve been longing for.
In our second Off the Record corner, we discuss our first impressions of THE ANCIENT MAGUS’ BRIDE based on Episode 1!
* * * * *
Meet fifteen-year-old Chise Hatori. Straight off the bat, the anime introduces Chise’s character by showing her being submissive at an underground auction. No, she was not forced into the auction. In fact, Chise offered herself to be sold at the auction. Alone and unwanted, this was apparently the only option for her. Talk about a rather unconventional yet interesting start to the story!
Amongst the crowd of curious buyers, a lone buyer decides to crash the auction. Declaring his price of 5 million pounds, he quickly won his prize in no time. In a fleeting moment between Chise and the mysterious buyer, the man also declared to Chise: “I will make you my apprentice”.
It turns out that the mysterious buyer wasn’t any normal person — he is a non-human sorcerer named Elias Ainsworth. Before we know it, we are transported to Elias’s home situated in a rural area on the outskirts of London.
From the studio behind Attack on Titan and Seraph of the End, Wit Studio has once again outdone itself by capturing a whole new fantastical world in The Ancient Magus’ Bride. Surrounded by lush scenery and lively nature, we are captivated by the sudden palette change from ominous to vibrant pastel colours.
The background visuals aren’t the only things on Wit Studio’s agenda. From the skimming clouds to mischievous magical creatures, there is great pride in making sure that every detail in this fantastical world comes alive in a dreamy yet authentic manner. In some ways, The Ancient Magus’ Bride almost feels like a Studio Ghibli film. We’re a huge sucker for such styles, so naturally, this anime won our heart in a matter of minutes.
It turns out that Elias has great interest in Chise because she is a ‘Sleigh Beggy’ aka a person with the ability to draw magic from her surroundings and within herself. As a result, it brings fortunate and misfortunate deeds upon the Sleigh Beggy in which Elias believes that she will make a great mage one day.
Despite Elias frequently labelling Chise as his ‘puppy’, we can’t help but wonder whether this story is going to end up as one of those abusive master-servant relationships.
Although we can only make judgement based on Episode one, the idea of a dominant-submissive relationship is thrown out the window when we see mutual trust and respect between Elias and Chise.
Chise might be bounded to Elias but Chise is now a free human being. And while she hasn’t stayed long at Elias’s residence — to be considered as ‘family’ means the world to Chise, and it is proof that their relationship is far from an abusive one.
We must also add that to our great surprise, we see quite a few interesting character moments between Elias and Chise. Sporting caring gestures and ‘cute’ expressions, it is these scenes that helps break up the story’s serious ambience from time to time.
First Impressions Rating: A
So far, we are immensely impressed by The Ancient Magus’ Bride. Both Elias and Chise are likeable characters. The character and setting designs are on point. The overall series is vibrant in colours. Beautifully animated. Fantastical. Mysterious. We honestly cannot wait to immerse ourselves even further in this magical world.
If you have appreciation and a thirst for classic fantasy storytelling, we highly recommend you to watch The Ancient Magus’ Bride.