Anime Review: The Ancient Magus Bride Episode 1

Chise meeting with person to auction herself.

Kind of weird getting a post now, huh?

Usually, I am taking a break over the weekends, just like many others, so I do not get myself burned out, though it has now become the norm with an unintentional move to a somewhat weekly schedule.

A while back, I found that a series that I had been following was going to receive a tv adaptation in its home country, thanks to a few sites on the internet and a special screening that just so happened to be in my area, and I decided that I would look into it beyond the taste that I got back in July.

Today, I will be doing just that starting with the pilot episode of that series, which is called The Ancient Magus Bride.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post and I do not think that I can write write any other way for this episode, I will forego any summaries.

Ainsworth patting Chise's head.

When I first saw this episode back in July, thanks to Crunchyroll's special screening in July, which was announced on their site in a post published back towards the end of June, I was not really that impressed because the way things were presented was not really the ideal way to see it, as each of the three episode announced to be screened were combined together like a movie, instead of three separate episodes.

However, after watching this as an actual episode, I can say that I kind of liked it.

Within the first few minutes into the episode, I found myself not wanting to pause or look away from any reason.

Even though this might be because I was trying to figure out exactly what was going on, as is to be expected from a pilot episode or the first few chapters of a book, it was still kind of what I expected to get from pilot episode.

A pilot episode might not be the best episode of any series out there, with some exceptions, such as the pilot episode of Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, but there are still things that it needs to do and WIT studio did fairly well in that regard.

If I had to say why, it is because it was able to generate some of the same questions, such as why Chise seemed to be so broken and what her new life would be like in the care of the.

Now, the way this episode may not have been executed quite as well as the first chapter of the manga, which is the original source for much of the entire episode, but it still did what is should have done from the beginning and did not make bored from just watching.

I may not have too much experience with series produced by WIT, aside from Attack on Titan, which I wish did not exist, but it seems like they have a fairly component staff working on this adaptation.

If things were not that intriguing in the first episode, I would have decided to forget about watching this series and stick with the manga release and there would also be no way to introduce newcomers to such a great series, since anime is mainly used to create more awareness of a series, instead of presenting original stories, though there are definitely anime out there not based on or adapted from anything.

Fortunately, the staff at WIT studio that are working on that series did not do that and actually made something decent, which makes me want to give them a bit of applause for delivering the bare minimum.

Hopefully, WIT Studio can improve over the course of run of the series and actually make it look as interesting as the original manga, as I do think that this a series that people should at least try, and being able to deliver a extraordinary series would be able to get it the attention it deserves.

However, based on how terrible their Attack on Titan adaptation was, whose first season was so bad that I had no incentive to watch the second season, my hopes are not that high for this adaptation and I would not be too surprised if this series, which is slated to have 24 episodes, also ended just as badly.

I also liked how I got a laugh or too.

While they were not quite as funny as the things seen later on in the series, things were executed well enough that they were still pretty hilarious.

For example, when Chise first arrives at Ainsworth's home, he has Chise take a bath and forcibly strips her and has her get in the tub.

Even though this does happen within the first chapter of the manga, which WIT Studio has been fairly faithful to at this point, and is certainly funny there, I found myself laughing more in this episode because I was actually seeing it play out, instead of having to put this moment together in my head from the panels featured in the manga, and helps to make the characters in the show seem more like themselves and actual human beings.

This may have been the only humorous moment of both this episode and the chapter that it was based on, but without the humor, this series would not have had the charm that it does, nor would it have seemed to be that interesting.

Another nice thing about this episode was how it showed that Chise's life was not really a happy one.

At this point the series, it is obvious that there is not something quite right with Chise because nobody wanted her, and WIT studio was able to put in some scenes that showed how she was tormented or went unloved, which makes her situation a bit more understandable, though she is not broken enough to not feel any embarrassment about Ainsworth seeing her naked, and helps to make Ainsworth's home the heaven that it seems to be.

If WIT studio had not shown any such moments in this, I would not have had any reason to follow Chise and see what her new life was like because she comes off as empty and not a human, other than the fact that a strange entity decided to take in her and purchased her for a large sum of money.

However, because those moments were present, though not exactly the same ones seen in the manga, Chise gets a bit more depth to her empty and broken nature that she has at the beginning of the series, I at least have some motivation to continue watching the series all the way through, other than to see how much material from the manga WIT decided to adapt into the 24 episodes that comprise this anime, though my guess is 24 chapters since the first three episodes all come from the first three chapters of the manga, and feel like giving them another good round of applause for doing something right.

The thing that I liked the most though was how this was actually presented as an episode.

Now, those who were either not lucky enough to get tickets to or see the special screening of the first three episodes back in July might not get the appeal of why an episode was shown as a regular episode, as that is to be expected from a televised series, but the way things are presented does play some importance into how well received things would be.

As a stated earlier, when Crunchyroll showed the first three episodes of this series in theaters, I found myself kind of bored, wondering where each episode started and began, because the only thing that designated a new episode was an episode title and each of the three episodes were combined together, but now, there is a definitive beginning an end.

Yes, there may have been things that were not determined yet, like opening and ending themes, which none of the articles online that announce this adaptation mentioned, but I would have really liked to see something other than episode titles split up the three episodes that were shown in theaters, as this is a television series, not a movie, like I thought it was when I became aware of the screening in July, and that means that the audience should not need to have read the announcements to know that what they were seeing were episodes of an upcoming series.

Because of this blunder, I walked out of theater feeling rather disappointed and not impressed enough to watch the series again in such a format, since it screamed that this was just a promotional event for this series.

Here, however, I can safely say that I did see one of the first three episodes of the actual series, and feel much more satisfied with the series.

If Crunchyroll and their partners had shown each episode like this in theaters, I would have felt like I was actually getting something special and I would have been much more excited to see this adaptation of a series I enjoy.

Unfortunately, the theater goers only got something that felt like promotional material and made things seem a bit weak.

Thankfully, WIT Studio did not have the networks do the same thing that Crunchyroll did, and it led to me being much happier with this series than I was when I saw it in theaters, which earns them the biggest round of applause I have given them yet.

Hopefully, Crunchyroll learns from their mistake the next time they try to preview episodes, because the first few episodes are supposed to give a viewer the incentive to watch a series, not feel like promotional material.

Then again, I am not too confident that they will learn, as I am not too sure if they had any prior experience to doing these specials screening.

Because the pilot was able to capture my attention and gave me some questions, so that I would have a reason to continue on the series, had scenes that were funnier seeing animated than only through panels, and that this actually felt like an episode, instead of promotional material, this episode was fairly decent.

Chise Hatori looking back with little emotion.

Although I did like the episode, there are some issues.

However, aside from a few things that are expected, there was one thing that really bothered me.

This episode did not make truly feel like I just had to continue watching this series.

While it should not surprise anybody that a pilot episode did not seem to be very interesting, especially in the anime community, seeing as there is a widely known guideline called the 3-episode rule in the community, the pilot episode needs to draw people in and give them a reason to continue on with a series.

For example, the pilot episode of Boku Dake ga Inai Machi showed Satoru Fujinuma going about his daily life and established a real bond between he and his mother, as well as set things up in away that there was supposedly a multipart mystery, though everyone now knows that it was not really a mystery series, at least on par with today's standards of what makes a good mystery that were established by Agatha Christie and other writers who lived in her time.

That episode not only gave me a reason to watch the series all the way through, but it also gave me the feeling that I just had to know what was going to happen next, even though I already knew what would happen.

Here, however, there was none of that intrigue or curiosity, beyond a few questions that have as little depth as the questions that Attack on Titan fans think are deep in that series, and I did not truly feel like I just had to follow these characters.

If I had to say why, this failed so badly that I am talking about something that is not all that uncommon in visual mediums used to tell stories or entertain, it is because there is little, if any, element of mystery.

Regardless of genre and medium, the audience needs to be given many questions that need to be answered over the course of the series and there also needs to be some surprises in store for the audience, which all create an element of mystery that helps the audience learn more about the characters and the story being presented.

In the manga, Kore Yamazaki did this really well by starting things off with the auction that Ainsworth attends and never really revealing too much, other than the fact that Chise did not lead a happy life prior to her being auctioned off to Ainsworth, and that Chise really felt happy to be in Ainsworth's home, ending with Chise being surprised that Ainsworth wanted her to marry him.

Even though those things do happen in this episode, WIT Studio started off by showing Chise put herself up for auction, which was not revealed until volume 7 of the manga, and ended the episode by having the fairies call Ainsworth a half-baked loser and zoom out to behind Ainsworth just as Chise shows her surprised.

Really, WIT? Is this really how you want to start this series?

I may not expect a perfect frame for frame retelling of the original manga, as that can show that staff are not exactly putting the heart and soul into a project, but I do not expect surprises to be revealed this early like they are nothing. Chise's past is supposed to be mysterious, with only allusions that it became horrible after her mother disappeared, and Ainsworth is supposed to be a creature we know nothing about.

By doing things like this, not only are they targeting current fans of the series, like myself, but they are also possibly making the series less interesting to newcomers, which will help make it much more well known.

If the episode had ended just like the first chapter of the manga did and things like the fact that Chise auctioned herself off were cut out, this would have been a great start to a series that really does deserve the attention it gets, as it would rival some of the other great pilot episodes in television history that exist.

Unfortunately, the staff at WIT Studio delivered something that was much more inferior to the original source so badly that I do not know if I would want to continue watching this series after the third episode airs.

Hopefully, the staff at WIT Studio can get their act together and delivers something better in the future, because I would not want to see this turn into another Attack on Titan.

Then again, seeing as many of the series they produced either were not liked all that much, except for Attack on Titan, or were titles that never really impressed me, I am pretty sure that this series may end up being just as bad as their other work, so I can only tell if this will be any good by watching more than just three episodes.

Thankfully, this was the only thing that really ruined my enjoyment, so I do not have to make a series I enjoy look worse than it may be.

While the only big issue was something that is not too surprising for a pilot episode, the fact that it revealed things that were not supposed to be known early on and ended in a way that did not make me feel like I just had to watch it, even though I am a fan of the manga, this episode ended up being one of the worst pilot episodes I have seen.

Despite the fact that there were a few things done that should be in a pilot episode, the fact that the staff at WIT studio made this episode in a way that made this series seem less impressive than it actually is made it a waste of time, as much as I hate to say it.

I recommend that everyone avoid this like the plague, as WIT Studio might make this series look just as bad as Attack on Titan, but you are certainly free to watch this episode if you want, as it does set things up for the series and a fictional work may not be bad just because the first few episodes or chapters were awful.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or, if you want a better impression of the series, buy the first volume of the manga from either Amazon or the Book Depository, so that I can continue finding more worthwhile anime to watch and keep covering the manga version of this series, and do whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.

Use an app on your phone (e.g. Scan for Android) to capture the image above. If successful, you should be taken to the web version of this article.

Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.