Title: The Ancient Magus Bride (Mahou Tsukai no Yome)
Publisher: Mag Garden (JP), Seven Seas (US)
Artist/Writer: Kore Yamazaki
Serialized in: Monthly Comic Garden
Translation: Adrienne Beck
Original Release Date: January 3, 2017
As of The Ancient Magus’ Bride‘s sixth volume, Chise’s life remains an episodic tale of both light-hearted and dangerous magic in the modern day. The story has woven together a rather impressive side cast and part of the fun of each volume is seeing who reappears.
This time around there are two reoccurring characters who are the focus of the two stories in this volume. The first is Alice, the apprentice to Renfred the alchemist whom Chise and Elias ran into back in volume two during the cat story. Alice is a prickly young lady who knows she was picked up by Renfred partially as a pity case. She is fiercely trying to prove her own worth to herself both through protecting Renfred as a bodyguard and, in the case of this volume, finding him a nice Christmas gift. Both she and Chise are at a bit of a loss for what to get their prospective mentors due to their equally tragic childhoods where love and gifts were in short supply, but the two of them manage pretty well for themselves all things considered.
Our second and more sinister reoccurring character is Ashen Eye, the being that gave Chise her shape-shifting pelt back in volume four, and in this volume they prove to understand even less about human emotions than fellow non-human Elias (Elias, as usual, is still rather clueless despite having been around for decades if not centuries at this point). Chise manages to get events mostly sorted out by the end, although curiously enough this highlights how Elias is not one of the main focuses in this volume.
There have been stories before in The Ancient Magus Bride where Elias has been a very minor character but his presence is almost nonexistent plotwise in this volume, even if he’s constantly on Chise’s mind. His only notable moments in this volume are all related to Chise’s co-dependent relationship with him and by now I’m starting to be a little worried by this story. Yes the title is The Ancient Magus’ Bride but starting in the very first volume character after character has pointed out to Chise that her life can’t revolve around just one person, and yet Chise still isn’t ready for that. I’m truly unsure where Kore Yamazaki will take this part of the story.
Elias’ presence/lack of presence isn’t a major problem for the story since Chise is the titular character and can easily carry the story on her own, but the story is playing fast and loose with Chise’s magic in this volume which is a problem. It’s been well-established that the nature of Chise’s magic is bad for her health but it seems as if the story is willing to overlook that for some plots and use it as a hurdle in others. If Chise was improving her skills, both in strength and variety then I could understand some inconsistencies, but she’s not. In fact it’s rather hard to tell if she’s gotten much better at using her magic or if she’s simply using it more actively. Right now it feels as if the story is using Chise’s magic as a writing crutch which is another worrying sign for the strength of the story as a complete work.
There are other plot threads The Ancient Magus Bride isn’t addressing in a consistent manner but so far they remain background details rather than vital elements of the story as a whole. Alice wonders why Chise hasn’t been contacted by The College yet, something which has briefly come up before, and the very last pages of this volume bring an old villain back into the picture. It sounds as if this villain at least will play a larger role in volume seven so, as much as I enjoy simply exploring Chise’s magical world, I hope that Chise begins to interact with it more concretely soon.
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