By Kore Yamazaki; Aya Takaha
Directed by Norihiro Naganume
Studio Wit Studio.
Music by Junichi Matsumoto
Another Beauty and the Beast
Chise Hatori is a 15-year-old orphan girl haunted by creatures that no one else around her can see. This ability has always been with her and it has been a problem her whole life. Since her mother died, she has been passed around by reluctant family. Ostracized and vilified for the things she sees and her reactions to it. Abandoned and emotionally abused, she willingly sells herself on the supernatural black market, to whatever end (actual words from anime).
It is a strange luck for Chise to be bought by the Thorn Mage, Elias Ainsworth. He is a unique creature, a man’s body but an animal’s skull with horns for a head. He looks as dangerous as he appears. However, his manners are impeccable. He announces to all in the auction house that Chise will be his new Apprentice.
It is an event since Elias has lived in seclusion for many years. It seems that Chise’s rare and highly prized ability has brought him out of isolation. Elias takes Chise into his home, in England. He does her the honor of telling her exactly what she is. It is called a Sleigh beggy. She attracts faery creatures to her. People like Chise are rare and don’t live long. The analogy is that she is like a Queen Bee to faery creatures; they like to be near her and they will do her bidding. It is a blessing and a curse. For Chise it has been all curse. This all changes with the help of Elias and other interesting characters. At the end of the first episode, Elias also informs Chise that he wishes to marry her. Hence the title.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride a.k.a. Maho Tsuki No Yume has a movie and an anime series. It is based on a manga of the same name. I don’t know any animes that are called different. Its creator is Kore Yamazaki. I have never read the manga, I can only talk about what I have seen in the anime. I watched it through vrv.co/crunchyroll.com, subtitled but the English version is now available on vrv.co and Funimation.com. I don’t have a dub or sub bias. I’m sure the manga has more interesting facts about all the characters. The ones introduced in the 13-episode anime besides Elias and Chise are Silver- the fae landlady, housekeeper, Ruth-Chise’s black dog familiar, Angelica Varley, her daughter Althea, Hugo – Angelica’s familiar, Lidenbaum (Lindel)- Elias’s master and dragon keeper, the priest-Simon Kalm, an alchemist-Michael Renfred and Alice his apprentice. There is also a vicious sad creature named Cartaphilius but prefers to be called Joseph and all the creatures of faery, most prominent Queen Titania, King Oberon, Spriggan and the Leanansidhe.
Each episode Chise learns something about the magical world and the something about herself. She falls in love with Elias despite his monstrous appearance. I believe Elias is also in love with her but has never had the experience so is very inept, despite his vast knowledge and age. I am not keen on this May 3000 BC/ December relationship trope, common in many manga/animes and any young adult paranormal books. Chise in the beginning of the anime is a totally defeated character. She doesn’t know what love, kindness or care is. Elias from the beginning give her kindness and care, it wins her loyalty. I admire that in this anime since many have the male lead playfully or psychotically abusing the female lead. Elias may be brutally honest, but he is also very vulnerable because of Chise. Most of it is shown in his voice since a skull has no facial expression.
The manga/anime is under the shonen demographic due to the action. It is also a romance with high stakes I believe. Chise and Elias need each other or they both won’t survive. Chise needs Elias’ help to live. He is showing her how to take back her life and giving her a much-needed home. I have a suspicion that Elias needs Chise to keep him human-like. In the words of the movie Jerry McGuire, they complete each other.
Although the stories are vastly completely different, I can’t help comparing the Ancient Magus’ Bride to Appleseed. It is the only other story I know where the male lead does not have a face, and there was a subplot not really developed that felt like beauty and the beast.
This essay began when only 12 episodes were watched. I was not sure the anime would continue, because of my fringe status I was not aware of how popular the Ancient Magus’ Bride is. It felt like the series had reached an arc, Chise decided to return to Elias despite learning some disturbing truths about his past. There were other cliffhangers that which I hoped will be resolved. Fortunately, there is more to see and at the end of the season, I may have to write a follow-up post. My overall thoughts on the anime are that it an interesting world to look at; the story is compelling, and I recommend it to anyone who wants experience unique feelings along with their action-filled anime.