Welcome to our 2017 Fall Anime Reviews. We’ll be tackling a few of the new shows airing this season in fairly brief reviews. The reviews will only cover the first episode of each series unless one catches our eye.
Imagine for a moment, if you will, me. It’s late. I’m sitting in my chair, some milk and pie on hand. I settle in for the first episode of The Ancient Magus Bride only to discover it’s a three-parter. Weary-eyed, I troop through the whole thing. Afterwards, mentally planning out my review, I do a little research about the series to have some background knowledge. And lo and behold, I discover I simply watched the OVAs from days past. Thanks, poorly organized Crunchyroll mobile app. Back to the drawing board.
My not-entirely-unenjoyable detour aside, this was quite the premier. I’ve heard a lot of hype for this show, but with the manga being one of the few I’ve simply passed over in the last couple years, I did not really understand why. Rest assured, I do now.
This was a captivating experience. Even had I not been aware of the OVAs, I think this first episode beautifully captures Chise’s solitude and hesitance to be accepted. She’s had a tortured past and now she’s given a chance at happiness. In her mind, it must be too good to be true, especially when it’s the result of her selling herself at an auction. Elias, her buyer, takes her on as his apprentice. A true mage, he seeks to have someone follow in his footsteps, and he’s chosen the human Chise.
Once bought, Chise is transported by Elias to his home in England, a place apparently attractive full of magical knowledge. Not a lot is revealed about Elias’ place, but his home seems attractive to ariels (fairies), and I’m convinced they aren’t the only magical creatures hanging around. Barring, of course, Elias himself, whatever he is. The bulk of this episode is just Chise learning about her new life, which is perfectly fine. The audience feels just as displaced as she, so it’s nice to get a crash course in just what the heck is going on. (Looking at you, Dies irae.) Oh and then there at the end there’s the dropped bomb that Elias intends to marry Chise, which kind of comes out of left field. I’m hoping there’s more explanation for that down the line, as right now it just feels contrived.
Moving on, it certainly does not hurt that this episode looks insanely gorgeous. The characters are bright and vivid, the settings practically pop to life, and there’s no shortage of visual details if one looks hard enough. Even in simpler designs, such as clothing and facial expressions, the animation staff seems capable of getting across their characters’ personalities and emotions through just the slightest touches, which is a great feat itself. The only real downside that I can see is that these stunning visuals are never really put to use beyond “Ooooh, that looks pretty.” The show is quite pleasing to look at it, but there’s no real creativity in the way the scenes themselves are animated and constructed. But really, when the show looks this good, it’s hard to criticize.
Suffice it to say I’m absolutely on board with this show. I came in expecting to like it, and I ended up loving it. I do hope the show will explore some darker mythical elements down the road since that’s my jam, but I’m content to just watch the quite life stuff too. I’d like to continue reviewing this show, but I’m just one person. Whether or not I can fit this into a weekly routine remains to be seen.
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