From an initially questionable premise - a centuries-old magician buys a young girl to become his apprentice and bride - The Ancient Magus’ Bride develops into an engrossing tale, full of magic, peril, and a little romance. The bride of the title, Chise, has not had the best start in life and sells herself into slavery at an auction attended by the rich and powerful. The winning bidder, Elias, is a mage, a powerful magician who is not entirely human, and reveals to Chise that she is a sleigh beggy - a powerful half-faerie who attracts magic. He vows to help develop her magical abilities and, perhaps, one day become his wife.
Elias brings Chise to a small village in Britain, and from there she meets the people that inhabit his world, not all of them with the best intentions. Chise is naïve, and not just in the matters of magic, and this leads her into situations where she is very much not in control. As for Elias, he may be ancient but he still has a lot to learn about the world, and especially the ways of human beings.
This release of part one of the first season includes the first twelve episodes, the first cour as it aired in Japan, and leaves the story balanced for the second part. The animation from Wit Studio (who also produce Attack On Titan amongst others) is fluid and delightful, and the Japanese voice acting talents of Atsuki Tanezaki (Liz & The Blue Bird) and Ryota Takeuchi (Naruto) are well cast. Also included is the Funimation English dub, with One Piece’s Brian Mathis and relative newcomer Dani Chambers doing a solid job of interpreting the characters.
Adapted from an ongoing manga, The Ancient Magus’ Bride still has many twists and turns to take, inhabiting an immersive fantasy world a step away from our own. Once you get over the initial discomfort of the premise, it’s hard not to fall for Chise, and sympathise with Elias, a protagonist who is very much trying to do the right thing but who doesn’t always know what that should be.
Extras: The Ancient Magus' Bride: Those Awaiting a Star OVA Parts 1-3, Q&A with cast and crew, Episode 8 commentary, textless opening and closing songs, trailers.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride, part 1 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: NORIHIRO NAGANUMA / SCREENPLAY: AYA TAKAHA / STARRING: BRIAN MATHIS, DANI CHAMBERS / RELEASE DATE: 29TH JANUARY (USA), 1ST APRIL (EUROPE)