「Live and Let Live」
In a time of new beginnings, endings seem to hit even harder.
The first series finale of the season (for me) is certainly from one of the best shows airing, Mahoutsukai no Yome. This is one one of those series review posts where my impulse is to talk more about the series as a whole than the ending – whether that’s an implicit criticism of that ending or not, I can’t say. I do know that on balance I don’t consider the series’ final arc to be its best, or the second cour to be overall as strong as the first. But when you’re starting from as high a baseline as The Ancient Magus’ Bride, that still leaves a lot of room above the Mendoza line.
On some level, a showdown between Cartaphilus and Chise was always going to be a bit of an anti-climax as a series-ender, no matter how well it was brought off. And I don’t think Yamazaki-sensei ever intended it to be one – it’s just a matter of timing, really. This is where the manga is, so the anime either had to focus on this storyline or come up with an altogether original ending (just how original this ending was won’t be known until the next manga chapter releases, which should prove interesting indeed). There isn’t the same level of emotional buy-in as there is with the central characters, no matter how important a villain Joseph is.
To be honest, I’m not absolutely sure I understand exactly what did happen here. It’s obvious that Chise cooked up a plan in advance with Elias (a temporary truce was in effect on that front). Chise more or less goaded Cartaphilus into attacking and seemingly killing her – with the endgame being Elias fusing she and Cartaphilus into one being. Cartaphilus gets some help from Ashen Eye, but he seems more interested in relieving his boredom than actually being an ally. This is the problem with beings that ancient – be it eternal rot or immense boredom, the odds are thin that anyone can be sentient that long and remain sane.
That’s where it gets confusing. Cartaphilus makes mention of being inside Chise with the dragon and coming to an agreement – he’ll keep her alive for a while, and the dragon will someday kill her. But we later find out that the dragon is back with Lindel – and we see Joseph in a hole in the ground seemingly asleep, visited by Chise. There may be an implication here that in fusing Cartaphilus with herself, Chise freed Joseph – and the one in the bed is he alone, freed of Cartaphilus (though that wouldn’t account for the dragon thing). Honestly I think it’s a bit of a jumble, executed (by necessity, albeit) quite a bit too quickly.
At the very least, this whole situation has again revealed what a compassionate creature Chise is. As someone who’s suffered a great deal herself, Chise is more likely than most to empathize with what Cartaphilus has gone through, no matter how many nasty things he’s done. But compassionate or not, I felt that she forgave Elias and Ruth quite a bit too quickly – that was another loose end that I think was tied up too neatly out of expediency. Ruth I can see – he’s just a dog in the end, and his very existence is defined by his loyalty to Chise. But what Elias did was a transgression against everything Chise believes in, and she was far too quick to move past it.
Of course, Chise doesn’t just move past it – she effectively initiates marriage proceedings with Elias. Stella has thrown her a surprise party, and – for some reason – given her a wedding dress. So, adorned as a bride, Chise waits for Elias in the woods and exchanges rings with him. I know it’s a broken record, but this all happens way too quickly for my tastes – even setting aside the two of them just having had their most serious fight, I never got a sense that Chise was ready to make this step. But it’s the final episode and the name of the series is “The Young Magus’ Bride“, after all . It will be very interesting to see if that scene is repeated in the manga.
That all came out sounding more negative than I expected when I started writing this post – I actually thought this episode and this arc were very good, for what they were. Would I have wanted something a little more sanely-paced and elegiac to conclude such a profoundly beautiful series? Sure – but on balance, this way does a good job of giving the anime a sense of finality while still leaving the door open for something more in the future, once the manga has surged ahead by a few dozen chapters (if indeed it lasts that long).
Taken as a whole, I think The Ancient Magus’ Bride firmly stamps Wit as one of the bright lights in anime. They can be relied on for outstanding production values of course, but they also have a sense of how to adapt material faithfully but not slavishly. Anime are not manga, and Wit seems to understand that in a way not every studio does. The best moments of this series were right up there with some of the most beautifully drawn TV anime of the past decade – not just fluidly animated and detailed, but full of soul and creativity.
While there are a few awkward elements to Yamazaki Kore’s writing, on balance I think Mahoutsukai no Yome is a series of considerable power and substance. It explores damaged souls in a way few manga or anime have been able to do, and offers perhaps the most compelling and authentic Japanese take on European mythology in recent years. As a love story, it works – in spite or perhaps even because of the strangeness of it. That two people as lost as Chise and Elias could find each other is a small miracle, but the difficulty for two so broken to forge a healthy bond is never glossed over (apart perhaps from a bit in the finale) or sugarcoated. It’s a great anime, nearly but not quite a masterpiece just like the manga, and I would certainly love to see it someday get a finale fully worthy of that.
I think it refers to both curses. So you have the Cartaphilus curse keeping Chise alive and the dragon curse waiting to end her life.
Yeah, basically dragon is back with Linden but his curse caused by corruption is within Chise, and Cartaphilus is basically doing “you die when I’m tired of this thing we have going, for now i sleep”
Well I’d say the last third of the anime was definitely the best of the series. I still think the OVA series was some of the best of Magus Bride we’ve seen, but the last third was able to at least come close to what I was hoping this series would be after I saw the OVAs. It ended on a strong note and had finally made me interested in most of the characters whereas the first half felt like it was missing something.
The show was full of beauty and its world among the most fascinating ever, but the insistent woe-is-me mentality (especially with Chise, but not only) almost made me drop it initially (the dragon land episode turned that around) and kept bothering me until the very end. I recognize such a tone can be therapeutic for those with misfortune in their life and self-worth issues arising from that, and I don’t fault the author for writing with that in mind, but in my personal case this proved somewhat excessive. I hate to say this, but what Joseph said to Chise in this episode about her artifice in comparing the scale of her suffering to that of Cartaphilus was pretty much on the money (to be clear, this does not mean I approve of him torturing others to compensate). A Mary Sue of glorified suffering is still a Mary Sue (I may be exaggerating with the label, but the elements are definitely there). Still, I’m glad I stuck it out as there was an awful lot to enjoy despite these shortcomings (which may or may not be such for other viewers), and I’d definitely recommend this to anyone interested in fantastical mythologies.
“Cartaphilus makes mention of being inside Chise with the dragon and coming to an agreement – he’ll keep her alive for a while, and the dragon will someday kill her. But we later find out that the dragon is back with Lindel – and we see Joseph in a hole in the ground seemingly asleep, visited by Chise.”
You’re taking “Cartaphilus” and the “dragon” too literally. The Shadow Cartaphilus that Chise has been talking to isn’t Cartaphilus or Joseph, but rather a personification of the curse that afflicted the two of them and was transferred into Chise with the eyeball. In the same line the “dragon” is the dragon’s curse. So you have the two curses, one constantly trying to kill her and one constantly trying to keep her alive, balancing each other out.
As for HOW exactly the Cartaphilus problem was solved… I don’t get that either. It doesn’t seem like there was any more fusing between the two of them than there already was. And if Cartaphilus’s curse was cured then it would be odd for them to have him essentially contained still under this sleep magic in a well at their house. It seems more like all they did was get Chise close enough to use the sleep spell and neutralize him so instead of being a dick he’s sedated while they try to help him out eventually.
LOL, let the scolding commence!
I actually didn’t notice until I saw these screen grabs that Chise’s bear has a ton of crystal flowers growing on it.
So that’s where the flowers she gave to Stella came from…
When I saw that I just wondered “ how long was she asleep for a bouque to grow on the bear’s head??” 0_o (Granted, she did impaled again, so it would’ve taken a while to fix that wound)
Silky is so friggen cute…
I agree with everything. I liked the anime a lot, but the second part have been weaker.
The wedding was done mostly to keep everybody happy, since almost surely there won’t be a second season and they had run out of episodes.
I have a few questions, can anybody clarify:
1-Why did Chise get surprised and mad at Ashen eyes at the beginning when he talked about a human child?Was he referring to Stella or what?
2-Why isn’t Chise suffering from Cartaphillius curse? Joseph hurts so much from the very same day he got it.
The agreement between the curses should be about the life and death, the dragon curse shouldn’t be able to nullify the agonizing effect of Cartaphillus curse, it’s a death curse not a happy bling bling magic afterall…
3-Who is the black guy inside Chise? Is it Cartaphillius or it’s the manifestation of the immortal curse?
Think I can help with these.
1) Yeah, Ashen Eyes was talking about Stella, in a way that kinda suggested he was the one that pointed Joseph at her.
2)Joseph and Cartaphilus merged bodies, while Chise just took part of Cartaphilus’ curse. Joseph’s pain was from being stuck with a body that had been rotting for two millennia but was unable to die, not because of the actual curse itself, which just forces Cartaphilus to live forever.
3)Right, the black guy is the piece of the curse inside Chise now. It probably isn’t the full curse, though, because the dragon’s curse is still going to kill her eventually.
1) I didn’t quite remember that part of the episode, but I think Ashen Eyes has a habit of calling everyone a child, because he’s so ancient all of the other characters (even Joseph/Cartaphilus) is a child in his eyes.
2) and 3) Chise got a small portion of Cartaphilus’ curse through his eye. It’s not enough to make her body decay, but enough to give her a measure of Cartaphilus’ immortality and extend her life span (I think of his curse as analogous to a superglue that attaches the soul to the body, such that even if the body decays the soul can’t be freed. In Chise’s case it’s helping her soul and body stick together better, even if she hurts herself badly, like she did in the finale). How much immortality is up for debat, but to answer your third question, the black figure we see talking to Chise is likely Chise’s mental manifestation of Joseph. The curse afflicting Joseph/Cartaphilus is passed to Chise to some degree through their eye ball, while the dragon’s rage that is also inside Chise wants to kill her. The two curses are antithesis to one another but they’ve reached an equilibrium, whereby Joseph/Cartaphilus’ curse gets to keep Chise alive on the condition that the dragon curse gets to fulfill its wish someday of killing her. This means Chise is neither immortal, nor is she facing eminent death. She will die someday, but she doesn’t know when that day will be. Given that she’s also a mage, she could live for a very long time if the balance between the curses stay as they are, but ultimately one day the dragon curse will prevail.
Thanks to both!
I liked this anime, but I feel like a lot of people decided it was going to be the best thing ever before it even started. It was mostly good, and a couple episodes were great (mostly the third episode), but it had a lot of ass-pulls and poorly written characters.
I was really hoping for more of an acknowledgement from Chise regarding the problems that her attitude has caused. In the last conflict between her and Elias, she was outraged (rightfully so) at his usage of Stella and not consulting with her first. However, she was responsible for this problem in the first place, both from the direct reasoning of jumping to save the dragon without waiting for advice, and also from failing as Elias’ human teacher when she knows that he was emotionally immature.
When Joseph brought up the fact that her self serving self sacrificing was no different than his terrible actions, I was pleased that someone mentioned it but the most we got out of her was “yea i know”. And then immediately afterwards, she’s back to berating Elias and Ruth. The show framed her too much as the “correct” viewpoint, and I really wish they spent more time on developing her realization that she was a big part of the problem.
One of the things I love about MnY is the world building, and I think that lagged a bit in the second half of the series due to time constraints. Other than that, and a few other nit-picks (cough*lack of original OP animation*cough) I think the anime has done a very good job at realizing the story of the original manga. My one qualm going forward, especially as a manga reader, is that as it stands, Chise seems to have reached her character resolution after coming to terms with her memories of her mother. Out of all her curses, that one had burdened her the most, and IMO contributed a lot to her self-loathing and inability to live for her own sake. With it out of the way I’m not sure what there is to develop for her character besides gaining greater experience as a mage and advancing her relationship with Elias.
As for the ending, part of me is glad they didn’t pull a deus ex machina and somehow have Chise lift Joseph/Cartaphilus’ 2000 year old curse. The solution Chise found isn’t perfect, as her sleeping spell will wear off someday, but if the expiration date on her life has now been erased, it’s possible that she’ll live a very long life like Lindel or Elias, provided that the balance between the dragon curse and the immortality curse inside of her remains unchanged. There’s also the fact that Cartaphilus/Joseph seem content with this arrangement, and is in no hurry to wake fully and suffer the agony of eternal life again. Though, on that note, I wonder if Cartaphilus’ body also stops decaying while he is under Chise’s sleeping spell. Because if not, Chise and Elias is gonna have a sentient compost pile in their garden terrace in a few years… >_>
i didnt watch last ep yet….but i ENJOYED this series…Thank you ENZO for your efforts!
Hopefully in a few years we’ll get a second season once the manga gets further ahead.
Thanks for covering this show!