The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Beginning Part is the first in the a series of three anime episodes based on the popular manga of the same name. The story follows a young girl purchased at an auction to be the apprentice and bride to an inhuman, ancient magus.
With an actual runtime under thirty minutes (not counting an additional thirty-minute “making of” special featuring interviews with the original author and director on the adaptation of the episode), The Ancient Magus’ Bride does little more than set the stage for the story to come. So with little time to tell a full story, the anime instead works hard to build a world full of magical wonders. In the first scene in the episode (which can be seen in full below), we are introduced to the witch and magical technician Angelica.
In it, she does the simple task of preparing an order of books and supplies for delivery–though that’s not to say anything about the scene is ordinary. Magical creatures litter her shop, some flying freely and others inhabiting the various items therein. Her water-sprite familiar makes quips as they compress the items to the size of golf balls and then bring a mechanical crow to life to carry them.
It’s a scene that turns something mundane into something beautiful–a running theme for the rest of the episode as we move to the house of the Magus and his apprentice.
Chise, the titular bride, lives a simple life, despite the magic all around her. Each day, she wakes with her dog beside her and eats breakfast provided by the house maid with her teacher–with said dog able to talk and transform into a human, the house maid being a fairy, and her teacher having the skinless skull of a horned beast for a head. And while that adds to the wonder of the world, it is the normalcy that is important: It is a direct contrast to her life before the magus entered into it.
The rest of the episode shows what it is like to be not just an unwanted orphan, but also an unwanted orphan able to see monsters that no one else can. To the adults around her, young Chise seems to be a difficult child, acting out because of the death of her mother. But none of them have the time or patience to give the girl the attention she needs.
Chise wants to interact with other children, but her adoptive brothers first make fun of her and then simply ignore her. Trying to make other new friends is always impeded by the creatures she sees around her, leaving her constantly terrified or embarrassed (or both). While only a few minutes is spent showing her young life, it’s easy to sympathize with the young girl and her plight.
But that leaves the intriguing question: How did such a damaged girl grow into the Chise we see at the magus’ home? Sadly, we’ll have to wait until the next episode on February 4, 2017 to find out.
Or, you know, read the manga.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride was released in Japanese theaters on August 13, 2016. There is currently no word on an international release.