Sunday, January 8, 2017

REVIEW: The Ancient Magus' Bride (manga, vol. 1) by Kore Yamazaki, translated by Adrienne Beck

The Ancient Magus' Bride is a fantasy series. It's licensed by Seven Seas.

Review:

This starts with the heroine, Chise Hatori, being sold in an auction. Her new owner is Elias Ainsworth, a mage with some kind of animal skull (bull?) for a head. Elias tells Chise that she’s to be his new apprentice. He removes her chains and even gives her her own room. It’s hard to believe that all of this doesn’t come with strings attached - and then Elias tells Chise that he also plans to make her his bride.

You’d think that’d be the start of something awful and creepy, except Elias doesn’t actually do anything. He takes Chise to town, where she meets Angelica Purley, an artificer and one of the world’s last witches. Chise also meets other acquaintances of Elias, including Simon Cullum, a priest, and Lindel, caretaker of dragons, and learns more about what Elias meant when he called her a “sleigh beggy.”

So far, so good. I’m crossing my fingers that this is going to turn out to be a sweet “found family” story, because Chise could certainly use it, poor girl. Elias’s sudden “oh, by the way, I also brought you here to make you my bride” revelation was a bit creepy, but it helped that he didn’t seem particularly inclined to do anything about it after that. I’d really like to know more details about his plans for Chise, but the tone of this volume tells me that there probably isn’t anything to worry about. I hope?

My favorite of Elias’ acquaintances so far is Angelica. I realized later on that she reminded me strongly of Fullmetal Alchemist’s Izumi. I’m also interested in Lindel, although that character’s introduction was a bit off-putting.

As far as the ending of the volume goes, the stuff with the cats reminds me of something, but I can’t remember what. A short story? Folktale? I’m not sure.

My primary complaints about this series, at this point, are that it’s unclear when this is set (I thought it was historical, but characters kept referencing computers whenever they tried to explain how magic worked), and the more action-filled moments are occasionally a bit hard to follow. Also, Chise has mostly just been dragged around by Elias so far. No questions, no testing the boundaries of her current life with Elias - she just goes along with Elias and gets rescued when things go awry. Granted, she’s had a hard life so far, was only just recently considered a thing to be sold, and wouldn’t have anywhere else to go even if she did try to leave. I look forward to seeing how she acts after she’s had more time to adjust to her new life.

Extras:
  • A picture of the layout of the living room in Elias' house.
  • "Silky's Diary," a four-panel comic from Silky's POV shortly after Chise joined the household.
  • Two full-color illustrations.
  • A one-page comic-style afterword from the author. This first volume of The Ancient Magus' Bride is apparently only Yamazaki's third published volume.

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