It would be an understatement to say that I was merely looking forward to Mahoutsukai no Yome (MahoYome); it was, handily, my most-hyped show ever since I saw the promotional video. It had many elements that I like: magic, English setting, romance, and a sad but intriguing premise that seemed to lead to plenty of struggles but a happy end. MahoYome, in a nutshell, seemed like that one anime that stood out from the rest of the chaff. It was perfect; no, I wanted it to be perfect.
English: The Ancient Magus’ Bride
Season: Fall 2017
Length: 3 ep. x 24 min. + 24 ep. x 24 min.
Studio: Wit Studio
[Warning: Spoilers, DUH]
…Except it wasn’t. MahoYome, for lack of a better word, lacked the chemistry that all the good stories have.
A Bad First Impression –
Alright alright, I’ll admit it: the slave-girl-turned-into-bride thing is THE number one reason the promo materials got me hooked. And I bet it was the same for many of you, too.
Well, turns out, instead of some war or kidnapping or loan shark or whatever that forced our lead character, Hatori Chise, into slavery, the truth is she willingly signed a paper and sold herself into slavery. WILLINGLY.
Talk about a huge letdown. Look, I understand why she did it; she was depressed and lonely due to the scourge of being able to see things most other people can’t (which is really clichéd, to be honest). But to willingly enslave yourself just to get out of that situation? I don’t want to belittle or “play down” mental illnesses like depression, but even suicide would be more believable.
And let me be clear: this opens an entire can of worms that is sexual slavery, a thought that crossed my mind when I saw a room full of middle-aged men bidding on her, and it should have crossed Chise’s before she signed the paper.
But of course, our knight-in-shining-armor (the mage with the bonehead, Elias Ainsworth), who happens to be a gentlemen with no impure thoughts and a deep pocket, outbids the other bidders and buys Chise for a cool five million pounds. At this point, I don’t even know if I should breathe a sign of relief now that Chise is “saved” from exploitation, or if I should plant my face on the desk that the plot even came to this predicament in the first place.
– to a Worse Second Impression
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised after that disastrous first impression, but boy, were the two leads really really… boring. I suppose that fits with its slice of life genre, but I’ve seen livelier characters in, say, Hinako Note, a show I panned for being generally boring, than Chise and Elias.
Wow? That’s your Wow?
Chise is somewhat of an emotionless child. It’s regrettable albeit understandable; she went through a lot, and didn’t develop emotionally as normal kids have. Even when she gets angry, it looks like she’s just pouting or something.
It’s as if she’s still holding it in even though it’s a cathartic moment
But even in contrast against Chise, Elias is a stone. It’s hard to get excited about two emotionally monotonic characters interacting with each other. Characters are at their best when they can play off each other’s differences, not when they are similar in nature.
This is about as emotional as Elias gets
The household’s fae landlady, Silky, is similarly one-toned, being generally smiling around the household, but never speaking one word.
The other sub-characters are better, but it’s such a shame that the two main characters show so little emotional chemistry between them that it’s hard to believe they want to get married.
I guess Elias is smiling here…?
But At Least There Is One Good Thing
The art. It’s scenery porn. Basically. If you were hoping for cool potion magic/wand waving sorcery happening, forget about it. The magic in MahoYome isn’t so much the magic itself, but the magical creatures and landscapes and the depictions of them.
In MahoYome, magic isn’t something that needs to be actively performed. Magic permeates all things, and it shines through mystical creatures and the lands in which they inhabit. To be fair, at that point, MahoYome has become more about fantasy than of magic.
Even as popular and high quality the production is, MahoYome is a show that I cannot recommend without reservations. My philosophy is that even bad shows deserve a watch in order to better appreciate the good shows, and that is absolutely the case here. However, if you do plan to watch MahoYome, it’s best to keep your expectations low.