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

So here we are again. It’s the start of a new season of anime. With the massive list of new series that are starting, it can sometimes be difficult to choose one that stands out above the others. Not this time.

For the upcoming fall season of anime, I have picked The Ancient Magus’ Bride as my most anticipated series. There are a lot of reasons why this series looks extremely promising, the setting of magic and fantasy, the studio behind it and production value… But there was one instance that elevated this series above the others in my mind.

Looking over the various trailers, I was given a general sense of the overall plot of the series. Young introverted girl Chise is sold into slavery and, because of her hidden talent, she is purchased by a mage, Elias, who seeks to make her his protégé and his wife. Through her experience, she will learn of a whole other world she never realized existed and find joy and beauty in life. Seems fairly standard. However, it was upon my viewing of the third official trailer that something clicked.

At the 49-second mark, we are shown a scene where the Chise is abducted by a dragon. Big dramatic moment. But the scene is overlaid with a voice over leading to a flashback where a woman, obviously Chise’s mother, says the line, “I wish I’d never given birth to you.”

This struck home extremely hard for me because it opened the series up to a new layer in its theme. The Ancient Magus’ Bride is about abuse. Cold, hard, reprehensible abuse. Chise is a girl who has spent her life abused by a parent who actively despised and abandoned her.

Parental abuse is a topic that is a little sensitive for me. There are people in my life who have been subject to fairly extreme physical and psychological abuse by people who should have been the ones to unconditionally love them. It’s an extremely destructive force that leaves deep, deep scars. Realizing the sort of background that Chise comes from totally changed my focus of the series. It’s no longer about the mysticism and wonder. It’s about a girl with psychological damage going into what is very possibly a highly toxic relationship.

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

Make no mistake about it, Elias may be rescuing Chise from her old life and showing her a new world, but their relationship is entirely founded upon his motivation to use her for her talents. He may care for her, but the event that established their relationship is literally Elias buying Chise. The two are not on equal ground. In the trailers, Elias speaks to Chise in a kind and gentle voice, but everything he says has a commanding tone that leaves no room for argument. Elias says he intends to make Chise his wife, but everything he says and does reinforces his dominance over her. This is not a healthy relationship for someone who was the victim of abuse. Elias means well, but I wonder if he can actually do well—or more importantly, do right.

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

It’s very rare for a series to accurately cover the topic of domestic abuse and do it justice. Honestly, I can’t think of a single one off the top of my head. I sincerely hope that The Ancient Magus’ Bride will manage to pull it off. Everything I’ve seen from the trailers gives me a faint glimmer of hope that it will.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride will begin airing in Japan on October 7, 2017. It will be viewable with English subtitles on Crunchyroll and English dialogue on FUNimation.

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

Comments (1)
  1. Having read a good bit of the source manga, if this show follows the source you are selling the character Elias short, for he is not human and the whole contract is very strange. He means well, but he does not think like a human, and the world is more “Faerie” than it is of any traditional magic. The OVA was pretty well done, but this TV show is what I am truly hoping to see.

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