Genre(s): Magic, Drama, Romance, Fantasy
Age-Appropriateness: 14+ (Frightening imagery, blood, mild language)
Platforms: Crunchyroll, Funimation
Episodes: 27 (Including 3-episode epilogue/prequel)
TheAwersome Rating: 8.9 / 10 (Beautiful and touching)
Premise: Chise Hatori, a 15-year-old Japanese girl, was sold for five million pounds at an auction to a tall masked gentleman. Abandoned at a young age and ridiculed by her peers, she was ready to give herself to any buyer if it meant having a place to go home to. In chains and on her way to an unknown fate, she hears whispers from robed men along her path, gossiping and complaining that such a buyer got his hands on a rare “Sleigh Beggy,” one who sees and attracts spirits and fey.
Ignoring the murmurs, the mysterious man leads the girl to a study, where he reveals himself to be Elias Ainsworth—a magus. After a brief confrontation and a bit of teleportation magic, the two open their eyes to Elias’ picturesque cottage in rural England. Greeted by fairies and surrounded by weird and wonderful beings upon her arrival, these events mark the beginning of Chise’s story as the apprentice and supposed bride of the ancient magus.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: If you’re looking to get emotionally touched almost every episode, but not quite to the cathartic crying extent of Violet Evergarden, then this is the show for you. It also happens to be everything I’ve ever wanted from the fantasy genre set in the real world. Everything supernatural in this show is based heavily in European folklore, especially with the amount of danger associated with dealing in magic, fey, and spirits.
But more than the beautiful and “accurate” depictions, The Ancient Magus’ Bride evokes strong emotions through beautiful and poignant stories and performances, exploring the intricacies of emotional growth from different perspectives.
TLDR: Traditional Fantasy meets Jane Eyre in a beautiful and touching way.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride manages time and time again to achieve truly “Magical Moments.” This doesn’t have anything to do with the literal magic at play in the story, but rather the elation and the emotion that it evokes. Those unattainable picturesque experiences that form your core memories. I found myself getting enchanted time and time again. While it does have my particular favorite flavor of traditional fantasy’s darker, unpredictable, and dangerous side, in the end that’s all really just icing on the cake for me. Bear in mind, of course, that having that alone makes it worth watching.
What the Ancient Magus’ Bride offers that makes it truly stand out in my mind is its many commentaries and explorations of difficult topics. Like A Silent Voice, it doesn’t shy away from them or make them out to be overly foreboding. Topics such as self-loathing, child abuse, suicide, grieving the death of a loved one, among others are portrayed in a real way for these real topics. Intertwined with those is the ever-present human struggle of opening and being honest with yourself and others. Learning to love and take care of yourself.
This was greatly needed during a terribly painful time for us after the sudden loss of our beloved snake, Aditi, despite doing everything we could. I thought I would be writing a big piece about that but I’m still not emotionally quite ready, so that may or may not come at some point. Just know that there were some episodes that were particularly comforting and cathartic for me in that regard. Despite all the dark and terrible things that do exist in this world, there is good and beauty that’s worth taking the time to find.
The three episode Epilogue/Prequel is titled “Those Awaiting a Star,” and should be watched after the main series.