We’re into the third week of Fall and The Ancient Magus’ Bride is still going strong for me and Karandi. You can read our review below, and check out more from Karandi over on 100 Word Anime. If you’ve missed a review, you can find previous episode reviews here.
This series has had a few emotional moments thus far, but this third episode is even more poignant in its small lesson about the circle of life. It’s the kind of episode that, when you’re already enjoying the series, makes you realize it’s something special. Wit Studio’s ability to craft the simple act of flight in such a beautiful and bittersweet way should instill the utmost confidence in their ability to bring the manga pages to life. Even without the sound to accompany the scene, Nevin and Chise’s feelings during his final dream came through loud and clear.
When I saw this episode during a theater screening, I nearly came to tears. Seeing it again at home, even knowing what was coming, the result was the same. Chise’s past experiences, most of which the viewer has to piece together from the small bits that are revealed, are full of trauma around the concept of death. When Nevin picks up on this, he was able to make her understand that not only is death not the end, but that life should not be filled with regret.
A few obligatory story points, like planning to return to create a wand from Nevin’s tree and Lindel’s warnings to Elias about helping Chise control her power keep the episode grounded in a slowly developing narrative. Still, this series continues to favor the ambiance over the details, and these small points are nearly forgotten amid the experience of youths frolicking together, the wisdom of a life nearing its end, and the peaceful serenity of one last flight.
I wasn’t quite so charmed this week for while I kind of loved the story with the dragon returning to nature and accepting that fate, a lot of this episode felt stretched out. Particularly during the dream of flight where the audience was left viewing a still image of the sun over the ocean and we slowly zoomed out. While these are minor complaints of a truly awesome show, I really felt the length of this episode this week.
Still, the positives from this episode are many. The visuals are still spectacular, as is the way magic is depicted. Chise dealing with her past as well as considering her future and her ongoing relationship with Elias continue to be a highlight of the show and the more I learn of these characters the more questions I have and the more I want to spend time with them.
Where I felt the story weakened was that Elias had been sent to do a job or something with the dragons but the audience stays with Chise so we never really know why they were there or what the purpose of the trip actually was. While Lindel’s ominous warnings of Chise not lasting three years if she doesn’t control her power certainly injected some tension into a show that so far has been happily floating along, his character didn’t get enough development or screen time for this warning to really have quite the impact. He kidnaps Chise with his dragon and then teases Elias before they go off to talk leaving Chise with the dragons. Part of me wants to hear what they were talking about and to see that part of the story.
Overall though, this was a beautiful episode, and even if I do have some issues with the pacing and feeling like I missed out on other moments, as Weekend said, Nevin’s final moments with Chise were pretty perfect at driving the emotion of the scene home.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Not enough development with Chise and Elias, or a memorable visit with some dragons? Let us know in the comments.