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Dated 9 October 2017: The Ancient Magus' Bride reminds us that fairies are assholes

Chise
Arguably worse than mosquitoes.

The long-awaited anime adaptation of Mahō Tsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus' Bride) is really here. Based on the first episode, Wit Studio is faithfully reproducing the look and feel of the magic realm (well, England, actually) where 15-year-old Chise finds herself. Although it's probably unrealistic to expect the standard set in the three prequel OVAs and the first episode to persist throughout the next two cours, I'm fairly confident Wit will be able to do the series justice. It's a gorgeous manga, so expectations for the anime are quite high. No pressure.

Chise
It's been a long day.

Despite the title, Mahoutsukai no Yome isn't really about a child bride, although the opening minutes of the anime (and the opening pages of the manga) are meant to invoke some troubling impressions. There are dark undercurrents in the series, but they're offset for the most part by the magic and splendor of the story and setting. I'm seven volumes deep into the English-language releases by Seven Seas Entertainment, so I've got a general idea where the anime is going to go. I'm still a bit uncertain how to promote it, since this isn't a title that relies on tremendous highs or emotional whirlwinds to keep readers interested. I suspect some of the complaints I saw about the OVAs' pacing will apply to the TV series as well, at least among some viewers. I'm by no means suggesting The Ancient Magus' Bride is for everyone, but it definitely deserves investigating for at least an episode or two. At a minimum, it's a stark rebuttal to the typical complaints people have about "anime these days."

Dated 8 January 2018: I don't know what to write about Mahō Tsukai no Yome, so here is Chise bathing

Chise
Chise in the bath in episode one.

The first anime season of Mahō Tsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus' Bride) was visually stunning from start to finish. I had some doubts the show would be able to maintain the same high standard all the way through, but I've got no complaints about the first cours. The second cours has also started in fine form, but I'm still somewhat at a loss as to whether this is a show I would recommend or not. At a minimum, Mahoutsukai no Yome offers a different sort of anime that we rarely get. Even though Chise is Japanese, she practically could have come from anywhere, since the ethnic and cultural parts of her background don't matter so much as her early personal life and hardships. The setting is ostensibly British, but it's "Magical Cotswolds as a launching point to other realms" British and not, like, "chip shops on High Street" British.

Chise
Chise in the bath in episode 12.

However, The Ancient Magus' Bride might be a little too consistent for its own good, in that there aren't a lot of dramatic highs or lows in the first half of the anime. I frankly have a difficult time imagining what the series must be like for someone who isn't already familiar with the manga. Would someone coming to the anime first be as impressed with it as I was with the manga? Rather than pursuing some objective which Chise strives toward each week, the series consists of seemingly unrelated stories that improve Chise's understanding of the magic world around her. There are occasional reminders that she'll face serious challenges ahead, but there's no corresponding sense of urgency. I have to admit it would be reasonable for viewers to simply dismiss Mahō Tsukai no Yome by saying, "It's fine, but not my sort of thing." Reasonable, but unfortunate.

Dated 27 February 2018: The Ancient Magus' Bride? Still good

Redcurrant and Chise
I really liked this arc, but it was less visually jarring in the manga.

Two-thirds of the way through the second cours of Mahoutsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus' Bride), the show is about as good as it was during the first cours. That said, the Autumn 2017 half finished as my top show of the season, while the Winter 2018 half looks as if it will finish fifth. This, though, results from the appearance of four outstanding shows in what is turning out to be a very strong season of anime. Meanwhile, episode 20 of The Ancient Magus' Bride also takes us past volume seven of the manga. That is, finally further than what I've read of the source material. With that, I think I'm finally able to view the anime for the first time the way someone coming to it fresh might see it.

Silky, Ruth, and Elias
Anime Silky is pretty great, though.

To be honest, it sort of reaffirms my nagging suspicions that The Ancient Magus' Bride works better as a manga than it does as an anime. I don't believe this is the fault of the WIT STUDIO adaptation, because it is beautifully done and the quality has remained high throughout. Instead, I suspect the stories featured in the series might just lend themselves better to print than anime. The occasional transitions to comic SD-style bits also work better for me in manga form than animated. Ultimately, I'm still glad the series received an anime adaptation and I'm pleased it has turned out as good as it has, but I'm left wondering if a television series was the best vehicle for it. I suspect, in hindsight, that a series of OVAs like its prequels would have been a better format. Thus, assuming the manga continues to run for some time, I hope we'll continue to receive further installments of the anime in time as OVAs or movies after the television series is over.