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The Ancient Magus’ Bride by Kore Yamazaki – Volumes 1-7 Series Review

The Ancient Magus’ Bride by Kore Yamazaki – Volumes 1-7 Series Review
Book Name: The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Mahou Tsukai no Yome/Mahoutsukai no Yome)
Author: Kore Yamazaki
Publisher(s): Seven Seas (US & UK) Mag Garden (Japan)
Formatt: Paperback / Ebook
Genre(s): Fantasy Manga / Shonen / Slice of Life
Release Date: May 12, 2015 (US) May 11, 2015 (UK) November 2013 (Japan)

The Ancient Magus' Bride (cover 1)Do you like folklore? Pretty imagery? Stories reminiscent of fairytales without being a direct retelling or adaptation? If so, you should read The Ancient Magus’ Bride.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride is the story of Chise Hatori, a girl who happens to be able to see into another realm. Unfortunately, what Chise often sees is frightening. When the story begins, she is being sold at a slave auction (for magical beings) in England. Soon, we learn that Chise is from Japan, she is an orphan, and because of her ‘sight’ she’s been continually passed around from home to home after her family’s deaths.

At the auction, Chise is bought by a creature known as the Thorn Mage, though he also goes by the name Elias Hainsworth. The Thorn Mage is a bit of a mystery, both to Chise, the reader, and himself – he has no memories of his past, does not understand his own emotions (literally – he knows he is feeling things, but not what or why), and does not know what he is, other than that he is magically-powerful and non-human. There are some implications that he may have been human at one point, but nothing further has been revealed.

The Ancient Magus' Bride (cover 2)Elias purchased Chise because she is a rare type of human known as a Sleigh Beggey (the term Slay Vega is used in some fan translations), and decides that he will make her his apprentice and his bride.

The term Sleigh Beggey is a little iffy – it is the Manx name for the fair folk, and originated on the Isle of Man. It basically translates to mean ‘fairy’ or ‘fae’. In the story, it refers to people with a specific ability to passively absorb magic from their surroundings. The catch, though, is that they can’t stop absorbing magic, and so it’s easy for them to become ‘overloaded’ and for the magic to become too much for them to handle. Magicians can drain magic off of Sleigh Beggey.

Sadly, both because of the Sleigh Beggey’s abilities and that they are taken for use/study by magicians whenever they are found, it is rare for them to reach 17 or 18 years of age. Chise is 15 at the time the manga begins, and it quickly becomes obvious what the main ‘quests’ are – to find a way for her to survive, and to find out why Elias has forgotten his past.

One of the aspects I love of The Ancient Magus’ Bride is how it weaves many different cultural myths and folklores together. Since the story takes place in England, the majority of it is based in ancient British and Gaelic folklore, but there are hints of Japanese folklore (because of Chise’s heritage) and also references to some Judeo-Christian lore (such as the character Cartaphilus who is very loosed based on the legend of the Wandering Jew). It also carries thematic elements of Beauty and the Beast, which may become more apparent depending on how the writer decides to develop it as the plot goes on.

And, well, since this is manga, let’s not forget the artwork, which is downright gorgeous.

The Ancient Magus' Bride (art 1)

Kore Yamazaki is both the writer and the artist for this story, and The Ancient Magus’ Bride would not be the same without the artwork. Even the simple panels are filled with detail, but Yamazaki’s skill truly shines through in the magical scenes, where the ethereal beauty – or horror* – comes through more vividly than you would anticipate.

The Ancient Magus' Bride (art 2)

And for those of you who are already fans of The Ancient Magus’ Bride, in case you haven’t heard the news – an anime adaptation (licensed by Crunchyroll) will begin airing this fall! Two of the three OVA** episodes are already available, and an anime movie night is being sponsored by Crunchyroll on July 26th in anticipation of the new series. Be warned: the OVAs are technically a prequel to both the manga and the upcoming anime, but there are spoilers for the manga.

*Just fair warning: there are aspects of horror to this story, including body horror, animal cruelty/torture, and animal death, though it is not a main theme by any means.

**A brief description of manga-specific genres, demographics, and vocabulary can be found in my article An Introduction to Anime & Manga.


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