「There is No Place Like Home」
Mahoutsukai no Yome has been making it look so easy that it’s no surprise when they do it again and again. So far this adaptation has been pretty much flawless, and the stuff that was actually in this episode was no exception. I won’t be surprised if we see some rare disappointment from manga readers this week though – not for what was in the ep but for what wasn’t.
You may have picked up on this by now, but most of the episode cliffhangers (and this is an anime decision, since they can choose to end an episode wherever they want) have been feints. And for the most part last week’s was no exception, as Oberon’s presence at Elias’ doorstep really didn’t have anything sinister to it – he was there to confiscate and to scold a bit, but not to punish. Turns out Chise’s binding ring gave out under its own power – or rather, under the strain of the massive magical power that making the fairy ointment caused to flow through Chise’s body. And when Oberon orders Elias to bring Chise to the Land of Shadows to heal, Elias is too desperate to put up much of a fight.
Did the mischievous faerie king have an ulterior motive here? That’s certainly the opinion of Shannon, the doctor who Oberon places in charge of Chise’s recuperation. Shannon has an interesting story – she was part of a “spirited away” scenario, having been swapped with a stolen human child. The kicker here is that child was Shanahan, who – after growing up and spending 50 years in the land of faerie, has become a fae creature of sorts himself. Not only that, he and Shannon are now married – she having returned after feeling too much an outsider in the human world for never aging (I suspect there were a lot of hats and bandanas in her wardrobe).
Shannon’s bedside manner is certainly different, in whatever world she practices medicine. After removing the bandages from Chise’s eyes she takes her to a pond where the waters have healing powers, and proceeds to seemingly attempt to drown her. Perhaps this is nothing more complicated than what she says – trying to force Chise to fight to live – but faerie are inscrutable creatures at the best of times. If that was her play it worked, and it must be noted that it was Elias’ face and Elias’ words that Chise saw and was inspired to fight by.
Coming here to this place can’t have been easy for Elias, given the obvious disdain in which he’s held by the Fae. Despite the “poison” in the human world which Titania warns him of, Elias resists her call to come live in the Land of Shadows with Chise, for as much as humans fear him, it’s among humans where Elias has had his rare moments of connection. And as Chise has started to teach him about the emotional world of humans Elias has become ever more curious about them.
Meanwhile, poor Silky is left to mind the store on her own, and for a being such as she being alone is a deeply unnatural and existentially traumatic state. Since time passes more slowly on the other side, a few days for Chise and Elias stretch into months for Silky – months alone, where she cleans what’s already clean and dreams of a past, where she was a lonely banshee bereft of the humans she haunted (and thus, of her voice). She’s such a pitiful creature, waiting at the wreck of their house, that even the passing Leanan Sídhe (including Redcurrant) see her as an object of pity. Fortunately, Spriggan comes along, and he takes her to a new house where he says the family “observes the old ways” – a house that should look very familiar.
This sequence is quite beautifully done, especially the moment of transformation from Banshee to Silky, the “redecorating“, and the return of Chise and Elias at long last to the house. But it must be noted that this passage was a good deal longer in the manga, certainly enough to cover an entire episode rather than just the B-part here. If you’re interested you might want to give it a read, since there’s some wonderful stuff from Silky’s past that didn’t make it into the episode and there’s no reason to think it will be included later there’s not really a risk of spoiling. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a complaint for me, but it is a disappointment since I really loved those pages – and mild as it is, it’s notable as disappointments have been few and far-between with this adaptation.