「The Faerie Queene」

Today was a very impressive day for anime in general, and more specifically a testament to the gap that usually exists between the premier studios and the mere mortals of the industry. All three tentpole series on my calendar – Hoozuki no Reitetsu, Kekkai Sensen and Mahoutsukai no Yome – delivered superb and beautiful episodes. Kekkai and Mahoutsukai were especially stunning visually, as befits the likes of Bones and Wit (nee Production I.G.). These are studios that generally have reasonable budgets and sane production schedules even for their domestically-funded series, and it really shows – while a series like Made in Abyss will pop up (Kinema Citrus is closely linked to Bones, of course) occasionally, the gap between the top tier and the rest seems to be getting wider and wider.

Earlier I called Kekkai Sensen’s Episode 6 the most visually striking anime ep of the season, but Mahoutsukai certainly re-stated its case in very strong terms with its own sixth outing. Visually these two shows are as different as chalk and cheese but each showed off what makes them special today. The production values for this series have been impressive and consistent, but this ep was especially gorgeous – The Ancient Magus’ Bride is that rare series that impresses both when it’s standing still and when it’s in motion.

I’ve noted that for me at least, there are some elements of this series which hold it back from being an all-out masterpiece, but I will say this – so far at least, whatever issues are present are inherent to the source material. In my view the anime is capturing everything that’s great and good about the manga (which is a lot) – but it’s flat-out better. The experience of Mahoutsukai is more magical in anime form, and the experience is a big part of what makes this series special. It’s a mood piece to be certain, and as strong as the characters and plots are it’s the world-building that allows you to be caught up in them.

The hints about what underpins the story and especially Elias’ character are flying thicker than crane flies at Libra HQ here, but it’s worth remembering that Elias isn’t a stationary colossus, but a river at flow – he changes and develops just like a normal human would. He’s not a normal human, that’s clear enough – half-baked, a shell creature, “not human, spirit or fairy” – Elias Ainsworth elicits many descriptions (not least from himself). But one must ask – is what Chise sees in his eyes something that’s genuinely there, or something she’s projecting from inside herself? A girl with no family who’s never been loved or cared for – surely her desire to be loved and cared for by someone is strong. Is Elias really capable of either of those things – or both?

In the aftermath of her expenditure of magical energy in the Kingdom of Cats, Chise has once again lost consciousness – this time for two weeks. Elias doesn’t seem especially worried as she rests in the cradle of a giant dead tree surrounded by the creatures of the forest, though whether he’s capable of that isn’t yet clear. But Chise’s presence has brought out two very important visitors – the Queen of the Faeries, Titania (Ohara Sayaka) and the King, Oberon (Yamaguchi Kappei, irrepressible as ever). Their procession also includes the dour Spriggan (Yasumoto Hiroki – it’s a Hoozuki kind of day), who seems especially hostile towards Elias (he notes “all of the people and spirits that were lost because of him”).

Oberon proceeds to wake Chise, seemingly with a healthy infusion of magical power, and she immediately runs into Elias’ arms as soon as she wakes. Neither Titania or Oberon reveal much about what’s beneath the larger-than-life personas they show to Elias and Chise, though their interest in both of them is clear. The real show here, though, is the girl and the mage. Something is happening here, clearly. In Chise’s case it’s obvious enough – she’s allowing herself to feel connected to this strange being who purchased her like a commodity. She even allows that she hopes his plan to prevent her from dying in three years is successful – a watershed moment because it shows that Chise is embracing life, certainly, but all the more in that she seems to be embracing life with Elias.

As ever, Elias and his situation are much more opaque. If we study him as a human being, it seems obvious that he too is developing strong attachments to Chise – though whether they’re paternal or romantic (or both) is harder to discern. But of course Elias is not a human being, as he and those who know him are never shy about reminding us. It’s always an interesting question of what we see when we look at Elias – the being himself, or what we (and Chise) project on him? At the very least it can be said with surety that he has aspirations – aspirations to learn about the bonds that govern the lives of humans, and whether he’s capable of not just understanding them intellectually but feeling them viscerally. For all her great magical power, teaching him this is seemingly the most important role Elias envisions for Chise in his life.




  1. It seems like Chise is really beginning to show her feelings towards Elias from the 5th episode. And Elias is starting to feel “emotions” and the strongest of them: love. I think this episode was very relaxing to watch.

  2. First off Titania = thicc =)

    Now to the main bit, this episode was so great – like Made in Abyss last season it so perfectly combines its striking visuals with the perfect use of music. I feel like the music in anime’s goes unnoticed too often and people get hung up on the visuals but it makes such a huge impact, specifically the musical score when Titania first appeared. Beautiful is the word I would use.

  3. I think Titania’s entrance was amazing. It’s the most impressive depiction I’ve seen of a faerie queen in decades. Of course, a lot of people are going to pay special attention to the pan up that intricately displays the jiggle of her barely supported breasts and flag it as fanservice.

    I’ll admit, it left me a bit uncomfortable – perhaps something that spoiled what was otherwise an amazing entrance. But then I looked back at the general presentation of the anime itself and I started to doubt it. If this was fanservice, it was the first bit this series presented.

    It struck me, given how these were not the typical ‘anime balloons’ but rather realistically rendered breasts (they rest on something but have otherwise minimal support while thier owner sits on a moving equine mount) that the message that was transmitted was more uninhibitedly matronly/motherly.

    Today’s media conditions us to see exposure like that in a negative light; but many religions have through the centuries depicted elements on idols/statues meant to symbolize fertility. And honestly, when I look at this Titania, I kind of see the same message. The majesty she’s depicted in isn’t shy about giving her this glorious sense of fertility. She’s a being of another world, another age, where there’s no shame in baring what you are.

    This is definitely controversial, but I beleive we’re meant to be taken aback. Some will kneejerk and disdain this thinking fanservice. I look at the presentation so far, and choose to see it as “something meant to make me think”.

    1. I think it can be both, LOL.

      I do believe the queene was depicted this way, in part, to emphasize her status as a fertility Goddess. And if it’s fanservice, too, well – from the series’ perspective it’s killing two melons with one stone.

  4. This episode told us a lot about Chise and Elias and at the same time added more questions. Especially about Elias. Elias may claim to have no human emotions but it seems he protests to much. His reaction to Chise’s about having children shows there’s something in there even if he denies it to himself. Like Chise he just hasn’t had the experiences to bring them out it seems.

    1. Why is that? She doesn’t even have a flesh body so highly doubt boobs made from concentrated spiritual energy coulfld be a problem, heck even if they were real flesh,boobs are made of fat not rocks, unless she plays a really intense sport big boobs like hers are no problem at all (they are probably double Ds which aren’t really even that big).

      1. also “Thorn”‘s connection to her.. has some “Wandering Castle” Vibes inside me..

        But excuse me, i compare things and anime emotions with things i know. and with time i have an grad base of Ghibli Films, mixed with Western kind ones..

    1. Mahoutsukai no Yome is an sleeping Dark Horse, that is about to awaken… This Anime surprised me in the good way

      Recommended by me. If you like Nature Magic (mostly Irish), Landscapes scenes and Musashi’s World

  5. Surprised you didn’t mention the fact that the evil sorcerer from the flashback appear in this ep and also seem to haven’t aged a day since the events in the flashback which seem to be from years ago, i was like WTH!? And they even seem to have a connection with the other sorcerer duo, the only relief is that they can still get their comeuppance, which is a positive thing at least.


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