「Forgive and Forget」
Cliffhangers. Still has some way to go to catch Hikaru no Go, though.
It’s a pretty good bet that any given episode of The Ancient Magus’ Bride is going to quite tonally consistent for most of its length, but just as likely will turn sharply in the final act. It’s just the way this series seems to be structured, but it’s much more noticeable in anime form. It’s not so much that Naganuma-sensei and Wit are changing a lot from the manga, because they’re not – I think it’s more a matter of the form in question. Theme is very important to Mahoutsukai – it establishes an idea and pursues it to its logical (though temporary) stopping point, then moves on to another. Plot acts as much as a bridge between themes as anything.
Things started out innocently enough this week, as Stella stopped by the house again. It seemed to be under much pleasanter circumstances this time, and it was for a while. One could see how uncomfortable Chise was in this role, playing the role of teenaged girl hosting her friend almost as if trying to follow a script she’d read once. This whole friend thing is new to her, and it’s all the more awkward when she discovers that Stella is a mere ten years old (maybe a little commentary on Europeans vs. Japanese growth rates here) – for the record, Chise confirms that she’s 15 (“almost 16”).
It’s immediately obvious that this doesn’t sit right with Elias, though – even if Elias himself isn’t sure why. When he takes on one of his mythical beast forms and flees the house at speed, Chise follows – and when she’s unable to keep up, uses her skin to turn into a wolf. Elias waits up for her and takes her with him into the shadows, but while he seems like himself – mostly – Elias has gone to a dark place. One can muse on why this is based on what we know of him – part of it may be jealousy, as Chise speculates. But more than anything I think seeing Chise bond with a friend is a cruel reminder to Elias that he has no true friends, and never will – he’s a singular creature, neither human nor fairy, and he can never truly be with one of his own kind because there are none.
This sequence is fascinating for a number of reasons. It’s certainly a reminder that for all his GAR-moe cuddliness, Elias remains a dangerous being who’s not fully control of the darkness which seems to be his very essence. What he feels for Chise is clearly genuine, but especially for one so lonely as he, that can quickly turn possessive and petulant. And Elias is a creature of enormous power, capable of doing even Chise great (perhaps fatal) harm is he slips into anger or jealousy. It’s only the intervention of the daughter of the Horned God and Winter Goiddess that Ruth is able to find them, and only through Chise’s willingness to threaten harm to herself that she brings Elias back to a semblance of his senses.
This is an interesting role reversal for these two, as Ruth points out. Chise slips into the mother role here (drawing on positive memories of her own mother, before things all went terribly wrong), reminding us that Elias is very much a child when it comes to the ways of human emotions. Unfortunately part of Chise’s parenting is to sing Elias her mother’s lullaby, which when backed up by the power of her magic sends Elias into a slumber from which he shows no signs of waking.
Things have already been happening in London, meanwhile. Joseph has turned up like a bad penny, passing Stella and her family on the street and giving her a little prick on the neck for some reason (as Ashen Eye looks on). Soon enough Chise in in town as well, desperate to enlist Angelica’s aid in helping wake Elias. There Chise meets Angelica’s husband David – a normal human, all too aware of the gap this creates between he and his wife and daughter. David encourages Chise to do what he can’t – live the long life of a mage and spare Angelica the pain of another too-soon goodbye to someone she loves. He is, perhaps, unaware of the irony of his statement given who he’s speaking to – or perhaps he knows more than he’s letting on.
But this being Mahoutsukai, you know the curveball is coming – it’s just a matter of waiting for it. Once again we’re jerked all the way to Iceland, where two of the dragon children are off exploring father from home than they’re supposed to. Dragons are not immune to poachers, it seems – and Lindel arrives just in the nick of time to prevent disaster. Or so it appears until Joseph turns up yet again, his interest as unwelcome as ever, and absconds with the two dragon kids in a blinding flash of light.