The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Volume 3 – Review

And we’re back to ye olde fairy tales. This volume of Ancient Magus’ Bride was actually fairly light on the magical vignettes, because it was instead focusing on what has always been the most difficult element of the story – the uneven relationship between Chise and Elias. I’ve pretty much been continuously worrying about how the story would eventually handle this, and this volume went a great distance to assuage my fears. It’s clear in how Chise is framed and how those around her talk to her that the story understands this is a messed-up situation born of an unhealthy psychology on Chise’s part. She’s a broken person, and that’s a big part of the story. I’m happy the manga was willing to directly engage with this, and impressed with how well it used Chise’s story to reflect Elias’ own narrative in contrast. Ancient Magus’ Bride continues to be a very engaging story all around.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my chapter notes below!

The Ancient Magus' Bride

Chapter 1

We see Elias in his full form from outside Chise’s perspective, and he’s terrifying. A looming mass of limbs and bones

Opens with some lovely full-page spreads, and also monstrous creatures. The manga has a great grasp of fantastical horror

On the other hand, this black dog backstory feels maybe a tad too reminiscent of the lake incident

Chise and Elias growing closer. Chise is not afraid of his form. She is a natural

And this villain. Hmm

Chapter 2

Chise is angry, and her limiter breaks. Chise can be as frightening as Elias, but he is equally unafraid of her

The no-face Will o’ the Wisp is lovely too. Great designs all around

The pacing is pretty quick in these chapters

Cartaphilus, “The Wandering Jew,” is the villain. Cursed by god, doomed to wander the earth acting upon his whims

Lovely sequence of Ulysse returning to his church grim form

Apparently all of the spirits are “fae,” Ulysse included

Ulysse becomes her familiar, and is renamed Ruth. These chapters really are moving fast. A little too fast, not much weight to anything

Cartaphilus, or “Josef,” wants to “live a painless life”

“‘Ruth,’ from the hebrew for ‘sympathetic friend’”

Chapter 3

Ruth feels insecure about being a dog. This is good

Still not totally sold on his character position yet, though

Chise seems more comfortable now

Angelica shows up

Chise lies about being fine, but Ruth tells Angelica the truth. Pretty great

chubby jackalope in goggles

Magic puts strain on her body as a very direct metaphor for not being able to do everything herself. The actual magic system of this world requires her to draw magic out of others, to rely on them

Everything is in terms of exchange, which fits with both “being a part of a natural system” and the threat of using magic too carelessly

Angelica chastises Chise for her complacency, which leads into a great sequence that directly engages with Chise’s strange, awkwardly dependent/insecure/subservient relationship with Elias

“Be good… but not too good, understand?” Good advice

“I always used to hate going back to a house when all the lights were on.” What a great little panel

This chapter is all about Chise’s situation in an intimate, non-magical sense, which is wonderful

“I’m not scared of him… because I’m cursed.” THAT’S HEALTHY

Chapter 4

And Chise dreams of her mother, who resented her

Hah, Ruth has a new Chise-sized human form

“It’s important for all of us to love someone other than ourselves”

Okay, these two actually have a very strong rapport

“You’re Thorn’s new bride, aren’t you?” “I’m his apprentice, yes.” “Same difference. You might as well get used to the idea”

Joel Garland, an old man who tends roses and is unknowingly haunted by a fae that feeds on his blood

A very nice little sequence of this muse who loves a human too much to want to hurt him, but can never connect with him

Elias once again is hurt. While Chise is dependent on him, he refuses to rely on her support until he’s in actual danger. His actions reflect what Angelica was saying

“Some of what he’s saying is true… and some of it isn’t, I think”

Chapter 5

Gorgeous opening spread of a snowy forest

Elias is letting her exercise more independence

Ooh, someone from the college wants to speak with Elias about Chise’s future

“Long ago, there were many like me, but… so few with the gift have been born in recent centuries” The sadness of this world ending. and that increases everyone’s interest in Chise

“Why do you think it’s acceptable for him to keep you as if you were a pet?” Again, directly interrogating their relationship