The Ancient Magus' Bride
by Anne Lauenroth,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Ancient Magus' Bride ?
Following the events in Iceland and Ulthar and the subsequent physical and emotional healing, Chise has believably become a new person. She's still reserved and quiet (which she should be to preserve some of her precious life energy), but she wakes up with a smile. There's finally something to look forward to in her day, since Elias hasn't just taken the first tangible measures to protect her from her own powers, he's also started to teach her magic, which Chise appears to be taking quite seriously. She's also enjoying it – and it's no wonder, with all those adorable creatures around her.
But the change in Chise's outlook on life and magic goes beyond learning and enjoyment. Tackling the situation with Alice and Ulysse on her own shows initiative, wit, and a newfound resourcefulness and trust in her own abilities, however flawed they might be. She may have to be rescued from a truly frightening creature in the cemetery, but it's not due to a lack of value for her own life and safety. It's because she's come to trust Elias so much that she's let her guard down around the fears that had always ruled her life. In Chise's case, feeling safe enough that something like this can happen is a step forward rather than a sign of naïveté. Given that Elias' element is shadow, we also can't be sure when he first shows up on scene. I have no trouble imagining him proudly observing Chise restrain Alice and set up a perimeter, seeing no need to interfere because she has things handled.
Showing great courage when she pushes Alice out of harm's way, Chise taking the piercing blow for Renfred's apprentice feels less like a self-sacrificial act and more like taking responsibility for her "prisoner". It's obvious that Alice doesn't possess the same magical sensitivities as Chise and is hence unable to feel the silver-haired sorcerer approaching. Of course, Chise immediately pays the price for it in this episode's splendidly executed final moments.
There's no dramatic music to distract from the shock of Chise's chest getting run through. In complete silence, all we hear are the exaggerated sounds of her being hit and her blood drenching Elias' glove. This obviously wouldn't make any such sound in real life, but it helps us feel the flow of her blood on a physical level, just as Elias does when his future bride begins bleeding out in his arms. It's brutal, immediate, and powerful. Into this cruel intimacy walks the sorcerer, to a tune as minimalist as it is creepy. Elias opens his mouth to let out a heartbreaking and simultaneously terrifying silent scream of pain and rage, before foregoing all attempts to appear human and transforming into what I assume is his true Pilum Murialis form. In less than two minutes, we get a spectacular climax to an episode that probably held back to hit us harder.
We learn a few more details about Renfred and Alice, whose relationship mirrors the one between Elias and Chise a little too much for nothing to come of it. The unnamed sorcerer boy is trying to use Renfred to do his dirty work by threatening his apprentice, who Renfred apparently cares enough about to lose an arm for. Since Chise interfered with the original mission in Ulthar, Alice now wants to procure the black dog so that Renfred doesn't get hurt more than he already has. As someone who can't pass by any dog in the street without feeling compelled to cuddle it, I'd also prefer for Ulysse to stick around instead of becoming a chimera ingredient. On the opposite end of the magical spectrum, Elias' errands for the church are part of a deal that followed from a past mistake, keeping us guessing while connecting these errands and encounters to his past and the bigger world.
Once again, The Ancient Magus' Bride leaves us on a cliffhanger – with Chise badly hurt, Elias in berserk mode, and a villain on the scene. It's obvious the wisest thing for Elias and Renfred to put their differences aside and team up against the guy threatening both their beloved apprentices, but now that Chise's already hurt, reason will probably give way to rage. The OP reassures us that Elias, Chise, and even the black dog will be okay for at least a few more errands, but the outcome is less certain for our grumpy sorcerer duo.
The Ancient Magus' Bride is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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