There are no tales as old as fairy tales, and anime lends itself perfectly to telling these type of stories. The more fantastic the story, the better the medium of anime can bring these tales to life. While browsing through some anime selections, I came across one called The Ancient Magus’ Bride. The picture I saw was of a strange being with what looked like a cows skull and a young girl. I wondered if I had stumbled into a horror anime. What I found instead was a magical and charming tale about decisions and a hidden world right in front of our eyes.
April showers bring May flowers
In a undefined time, Hatori Chise feels that she has nothing more to live for. She decides that she will sell herself into slavery. She is being bid on by quite a few powerful magical folks when Elias Ainsworth outbids everyone for her. At his home, he announces that she will learn from him and also that she is a Sleigh Beggy, a mage who magical creatures fall in love with. As she gets to know about the magical world, she learns the danger of magic and also that Elias hopes one day for her to marry him.
The premise of this show made me think of Beauty and the Beast and Harry Potter. Elias, however, is not under some strange curse. He makes his intentions known to Hatori early on, but the choice is still hers. The magical world is just as imaginative as inviting as the one J.K Rowling wrote about. Hatori’s “gift” can sometimes cause trouble, as some magical creatures might try to kidnap her for themselves. The price of magic, as Hatori comes to learn, is that by using to much of it, she is losing her lifespan. Magic is impressive, but it can not be used as much as one pleases.
Talk of the devil, and he is sure to appear
While this a Japanese anime, the main inspiration seems to be English and Celtic mythology. There is much talk of the faerie folk and a Will of the Wisps appears in one episode. Oberon and Titania, the rulers of the fairies and main characters in William Shakespeare’s A Mid Summernight’s Dream, have interactions with Hatori and Chise. Through these and other talks, we find that Elias is seen as something of a monster among the magical folk. He does not seem to mind, and when he is angry, he becomes a truly monstrous sight. The English and Celtic mythology are a rich tapestry that is seldom used and this anime talks full advantage.
The anime is only in it’s first season, but there is already a side character that I want to see more of. During a search for Elias, Hatori comes upon a female faerie named Leannán Sídhe. This beautiful women acts more like a vampire, and we find out that she takes men as lovers and they become successful. It comes as a price, as their life is also taken from them. Leannan is a fascinating character, as she has actually fallen in love with one of her many lovers, yet refuses to admit it. I would love to see more of her story and her parting words to Hatori make me hope that she will appear again.
Better to ask the way than go astray
The animation style for this series is gorgeous. I do not think that anyone from Studio Ghibli works on the series, but it looks as crisp as one of their movies. I have a feeling that this show could become huge in the Untied States, with it’s mixture of magic and romance. The series is streaming on Crunchroll and I suggest you give it a look. With two characters you will invest in and mythology that does not get nearly enough play, The Ancient Magus’ Bride might become your new obsession.