It’s finally time to start this book club. For those of you who missed my announcement about this two weeks ago, let me break it down once more, since it’s pretty straightforward. Every week from now on I’ll be reading a manga volume from my shelf and give my opinion as I go through it. I’ll talk about the story, the art etc. and hope some of you will read along.
We’re going to start things off with The Ancient Magus Bride, by Kore Yamazaki. I’ve had this series on my shelf for a while now, but haven’t touched it yet, although I have seen the anime adaptation that it had. This volume contains the first 5 chapters of the story. Without further ado, let’s get this started.
The volume starts off with a one-page Silky’s diary which sees the maid looking forward to a new lady moving in. After some colorful pages we dive straight into a fairly dark story. We start at a slave market where Elias buys Chise. We learn that she’s something called a Sleigh Beggy, whatever that means, and she’s 15 years old at this point. Apparently this underground slave market is fairly common and some of the patrons recognize Elias. He has a bit of a reputation.
Shortly after buying Chise he does a thorny incantation and the two appear in rural London. Apparently he is a real mage. He quickly undoes Chise’s bonds and helps her get into a bath. At this point he’s definitely straddling the line between creepy and a complete lack of social awareness, but the jury will be out on that one. This is also the first time we see Chise talking to non-human creatures, specifically the fairies that fly into the bathroom.
We also get a bit of explanation about what a Sleigh Beggy is. Elias compares it to a queen bee, in that the workers all have an interest in her. That night some of those metaphorical workers show up, and lure Chise into the forest. She resists though and Elias quickly steps in to chase off the fairies, or Ariels as he called them. He then reveals that not only does he want her to be his apprentice, he also wants her to be his bride. Someone tell Elias a thing or two about grooming. One chapter in I think the story seems interesting so far. I will spoil that, from what I’ve seen in the anime, Elias seems to be a decent guy. If not for that I would be a lot more worried for Chise’s wellbeing right around now. Let’s move on to the rest of the manga though. And I won’t describe every single moment, don’t worry, I won’t keep you here for 10 hours.
Chapter two has a lot more comedy than the first chapter, and it is a nice refreshing pace. Elias and Chise go to visit an artificer (I really struggle with that word for some reason) named Angelica. Elias has to disguise himself with illusion magic and Chise kind of disses his new look. Harsh but fair. We then watch Angelica at work for a little bit and she talks with Elias as well about something to hide the fact that Chise is a Sleigh Beggy. Eventually they leave the place and go back home, only to encounter someone new on the way there, a priest named Simon. On the next bonus page we learn that Elias based his disguise on Simon, which is why they look similar.
I do appreciate the comedy in this chapter, and seeing how Angelica acts around Elias makes him seem a lot less creepy than he initially appears. Chise and Elias also briefly talk about Chise’s parents and we learn a tiny bit more than we already knew. Oh, and Chise is flying away on a dragon now, normal mage day right?
It’s good you chose not to ‘fly’ that day without wings.
Man, that one hits right in the feels. I’ve had some bad times in the past, and although I’ve luckily never gotten to the point of wanting to attempt anything of the sort, I can’t say I don’t understand the sentiment. But as Nevin says in this chapter: “The living should not envy the dead.” and he’s right. Live life to the fullest and do not fear death. Dragons return to the earth when their life ends. This chapter hit right in the feelings, a very stark contrast to the previous chapter and masterfully done. I knew what was going to happen, admittedly, since I’d seen the anime a while back, but it still hit really hard. I know it’s only been three, but this is my favorite chapter.
Good night, little mage.
The last two chapters are part of the same story arc so I’m going to bundle them together here. We continue the story on a train to catsville. No, not the movie Cats that was received quite poorly, but to a town full of old cats. We learn that cats do in fact have nine lives and they are in danger. A long time ago a man killed a lot of cats. The cats eventually confronted him and killed him, turning him into some sort of blight that’s locked up in the nearby lake. When Chise goes to exorcise the evil, two people show up to stop her. Apparently Elias already knows one of them and they don’t seem to be friends.
This is where the first volume ends at, and I can honestly say I’m hooked. The art is gorgeous and I love the characters. I’m very curious about Chise as a character and how she will develop. There’s also a lot more to Elias than meets the eye. Does he really want to marry Chise? How many honeymoons does he want to go on, and what other strange adventures can they go on?
I really enjoyed this, and I can’t wait to read the second volume for next week!