Elias and Chise continue their adventure in the kingdom of cats with more of the lovely visuals The Ancient Magus’ Bride is becoming known for. Read onward to see what Karandi and I had to say about this week’s episode.
This was another strong episode, though not for the reasons I predicted last week. Chise escapes trouble pretty early on, with the antagonists (who had been built up quite a bit) were dealt with off screen. Likewise, the concern that arose over the virtue of Elias’ motives diminishes as well. These might have been missteps in any other series, but this episode remained captivating because it still had everything I’ve grown to love about this show.
Chise’s statement about what Elias means to her sums it up rather nicely. Regardless of his intentions, and who is telling the truth, he gave her a place to belong. It’s such a simple sentiment that echoes the main theme of the series and reveals the drive behind her actions. Furthermore, focusing on her experience with the cleansing and not Elias’ battle with the sorcerers keeps the perspective of the series consistent. Like her time with the dragons, it’s about discovering this world of magic through Chise’s eyes.
Plot-wise the references to The Cats of Ulthuar remain loose, but the changes made to the couple deliver the theme of the episode. With Mina the unwitting victim of the deceit played upon Matthew, we better understand her request to have Chise erase them and memory of what happened. Chise’s solution, in keeping with the heavy use of flowers as a theme, instead transports them to a field of wild nemophila (is she a “flower” mage to Elias’ “thorn” mage?). I’ve only found one resource that confirms my thinking, but where the recurring poppies represent sleep and death, nemophilla are said to convey forgiveness. It’s a fitting end for the tragic couple whose love doomed them but ultimately inspired Chise to preserve their memory.
I was honestly a little surprised at how dark this episode became with the cat murders, the betrayal and deceit, and of course Mina’s unfortunate end. Actually, we kind of knew that the events were horrific but I hadn’t expected them to show us the full play through of how it went. I expected that we’d get a few more details about the past but would see more of what happened between Elias and the sorcerers but this show kind of did exactly the opposite.
From an emotional point of view, this was a great choice. Right from the beginning this show has been about hitting the audience hard with the feelings Chise is either experiencing or observing rather than progressing the plot in any kind of hurry, and the choice to reflect on these past misdeeds and deal with the fallout really fits well with that tone. On the other hand, I’m kind of disappointed that the sorcerers turned out to be so ineffectual at injecting any kind of lasting tension into the show as they essentially backed off once Chise had her moment of revelation and Elias came to her side and then any further developments either didn’t happen or happened off screen.
Overall though, this episode brings us more of what makes The Ancient Magus’ Bride such a great watch. More beautiful visuals, stunning magic, thoughtful emotional exploration, and just enough intrigue and wonder to keep you hooked on the sometimes elusive plot.
That’s all we had for this week. How is the story working out for you? Are you eager to see more of Elias or was Chise’s first foray into magic just what you were looking for? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.