Image source: 松竹チャンネル/SHOCHIKUch on YouTube

Upcoming anime The Ancient Magus’ Bride is the story of Chise, a high school aged girl who sells herself into slavery at a magical auction—only to be bought by an ancient, inhuman magus in order to be both his apprentice and bride.

Image Source: TVアニメ『魔法使いの嫁』‏‏ on Twitter

The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting a Star is a three episode OVA prequel tasked with answering one major question: why would anyone sell themselves into magical slavery?

This is no easy task and the story needs to walk a fine line. It needs to show why someone would hate their life enough to give it away to someone else but would also, at the same time, understand that their life is valuable enough for someone else to want it. The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting a Star manages this magnificently.

Image Source: TVアニメ『魔法使いの嫁』‏‏ on Twitter

In the first The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting a Star prequel episode, we see a bit about Chise’s life as an elementary school age child. With a mother that committed suicide and no family members who particularly want to take her in, Chise already faces a hard road. But adding to her problems is the fact that she can see terrifying monsters everywhere—monsters no one else can see. Her cousins mock her behavior along with her mother’s suicide. Her aunt reacts angrily to the seemingly ungrateful child and her odd outbursts.

Even making friends outside of her family seems impossible. Whether in her aunt’s house or in a park, the monsters are everywhere. And while most ignore her, more than a few watch her intently—and some are more than happy to attack her outright.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride Is a Short Introduction to a Magical World

This episode has one purpose in the overall narrative: to show just how terrible the status quo is for Chise’s life. Not only is Chise an orphan (thanks to a suicide nonetheless), she also lives in a state of constant terrified paranoia. There are literally monsters out to get her and no one else can even see them. She has no idea which monsters are safe and which are dangerous and so has no choice but to treat them all like they all are out to get her. It’s a hellish existence for a child—and one that is only compounded by being ostracized and treated like a pariah by both the children and adults in her extended family. She has absolutely no support network. She is completely alone in the world.

Image source: 松竹チャンネル/SHOCHIKUch on YouTube

The second prequel episode is the story of the one positive moment of Chise’s childhood. Chased by a monster made of rats, she stumbles into a mysterious magical library in the wooded area of her local park. While the library is, like the rest of the world, filled with strange creatures, all seem content to do nothing but read. Moreover, the librarian, Miura, is a kind man—and the first person who Chise has ever met that can see what she can.

Finally, she has found a safe space, a place where the monsters are more cute than scary and there is a person who treats her kindly. It doesn’t take long for her to come out of her shell as she spends every possible moment she can in the mysterious library.

Of course, it is then that Chise makes a mistake, accidentally breaking one of the rules that protect the library. This not only leads to the destruction of the library, but also ends up killing Miura as well.

We Saw Part Two of The Ancient Magus’ Bride

Image source: 松竹チャンネル/SHOCHIKUch on YouTube

At the end of the first episode, Chise’s life is at such a low point that it seems impossible for it to get any worse. In fact, the only way to drop it any lower is to give her something good in her life and then cruelly take it away—i.e., exactly what is done in the second episode. For a brief moment, she had what she always wanted: a place to belong. She was safe, content, and even had a friend who liked her for who she was—a friend who was even considering adopting her.

Yet, she loses all this due to her own tiny mistake: She left a door open. It something that any child could accidentally do—especially one worried about the health of her one and only friend. Before, she had just been a social pariah, but with the death of Miura, Chise now has a reason to hate herself and all she is. It was her own actions, not anyone else’s, that lead to the destruction of all she held dear.

Image source: 松竹チャンネル/SHOCHIKUch on YouTube

The third episode, begins where episode two leaves off, with Miura mortally wounded. As he dies, he tells his story—that he is already dead. Sneaking out to visit the woman he loved before her impending marriage to another man, he fell and died—only to appear in the library as its guardian. He asks that Chise do one thing for him: Return a book he borrowed from his beloved before he was bound to the library. Chise does so, but returns to her aunt’s home to find that she is being shipped off once again to yet another new “home” that doesn’t really want her.

Image Source: TVアニメ『魔法使いの嫁』‏‏ on Twitter

While the first episode portrays the everyday hell that is Chise’s life and the second shows why she hates herself, it is the third episode that shows how she discovers that she—or rather, her powers—do have some sort of value. Without them, she would have never found the library nor would she have given Miura’s soul the rest it so longed for. Of course, on the other hand, he wouldn’t have been destroyed along with the library either.

Thus Chise’s childhood mind is left with two undeniable facts: 1) Her powers can be useful when properly directed and 2) she shouldn’t be the person to use them.

Image Source: TVアニメ『魔法使いの嫁』‏‏ on Twitter

Over the years that follow, she remains unwanted and unloved but knows that part of her is useful. Thus, when presented with the chance to sell herself into slavery, to find someone who can use her powers properly, she gives up her life and freedom. In her mind it is simply better to be exploited as a tool than be completely isolated and unneeded.

And luckily for Chise, she gets a life more magical than she could have ever dreamed.

Image Source: TVアニメ『魔法使いの嫁』‏‏ on Twitter

The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting a Star’s third episode was released in Japanese theaters on August 19, 2017. The previous two episode can be seen with English subtitles on Crunchyroll. The The Ancient Magus’ Bride TV anime is scheduled to stream with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

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