Anime Review: The Ancient Magus' Bride Part 1

By Drew Hurley 06.01.2019

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The Ancient Magus' Bride Part 1 (UK Rating: 15)

This one has been anxiously awaited for some time. The manga originally launched in 2013 and the anime adaptation launched in Japan back in 2017. Both earned an audience, and with good reason. Word of mouth alone garnered its Crunchyroll weekly releases huge numbers and fans have been clamouring for the official home release, and now it's finally arriving. The dark fantasy tale set in rural England sees a young girl become the apprentice to a powerful Magus, not to mention beholden to become his bride, too. Coming courtesy of Manga Entertainment, the series finally arrives 1st April.

Chise Hatori feels she's cursed. The reason for this is slowly hinted at and revealed over the course of the show. She's been handed off from one family member to another and was ostracised by her fellow schoolmates. She's always seen things others couldn't see and they have often terrified her - to the point that she debated throwing herself from the roof of her school. Thankfully, she stopped herself, and instead offered herself up for sale like a slave, convinced it's the only chance she has of finding herself a home; a home where she's wanted. She has no idea just how valuable she is and just how many would want her, deeply. One such being makes a grand entrance at the auction - a towering, 7-foot tall man, with a horse-like skull, and huge flowing robes. This being is Elias, the Ancient Magus from the title, and Chise will be his bride.

Elias drops £5,000,000 and whisks Chise away to his country home, explaining to her the truth of the things she has seen all her life. It turns out Chise is a Sleigh Beggy - a very special type of creature. While Magus are able to borrow a fragment of the power of the magical creatures that share the world, Sleigh Beggy are able to take in an ungodly amount of magical energy. Their human bodies can't handle this insane amount of power, though, and they end up dying young as it ravages them from the inside out. This is exactly why Elias took her in, to try and save her.

Series like this often rely on one of two methods of telling their story. Either one long, drawn-out narrative that is played out over the course of the show, or consisting of mostly standalone tales to introduce each of the characters, the supporting cast, and the mythology of the world. The very best series manage to combine these two storytelling methods; shows like Fullmetal Alchemist. The Ancient Magus Bride manages it with aplomb. Weaving heart-warming tales of Chise going through her new day-to-day life, interacting with myths and legends of British history, along with building up the core story of Chise's history, the truth between what Elias is, and then introducing an intimidating antagonist lurking in the shadows.

This adaptation comes from Wit Studio, which exploded into popularity after it produced the first season of Attack on Titan. Cubed3 recently covered another of its adaptations, the impressive Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. There's hardly any of the explosive action seen in the aforementioned shows in The Ancient Magus Bride, so the strength of the studio is focused instead on the rich beauty of the English countryside and the magical creatures of the Fae. The result is a picture-perfect adaptation of the original manga style.

This may only be the first half of the show, but it also contains a wonderful little bonus. There are some of the usual Funimation extras, such as a video featurette of the staff answering questions from a Twitter Q&A, and an episode commentary, both of which include the English voice actors of Chise (Dani Chambers) and Elias (Bryan Mathis), with the ADR director (Kyle Phillips). There's also the obligatory clean opening/closing… but, most importantly, there is the three-part OVA series that was produced before the original show. These three episodes were originally released alongside volume 6, 7, and 8 in Japan, and are an anime-exclusive story produced not by the studio as filler but by the series creator Kore Yamazaki. Exemplifying the quality found in the main series, it's a wonderful addition and a must-see. It fits perfectly at the end of this collection after episode 12, and really should be on the second disc instead of the first as it contains major spoilers for any foolish enough to watch it before the main series or after finishing the episodes on the first disc.

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10
The Ancient Magus' Bride is one of the absolute best in recent years. This is one of those series to show everyone, regardless of their anime preferences or if they even watch anime at all. An original tale that is absolutely beautiful, heartfelt, and magical. It's a shame the season got split in half, but, despite being only the first half of the first season, instead of ending on a cliffhanger or a stinger, it wraps up everything with an utterly satisfying conclusion. Not to mention the collection has bundled in the great OVA for those who want more and can't wait for that second part to drop!

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