Anime Review: The Ancient Magus Bride Episode 3

chise petting dragon

I hope that everyone is had a good week, and enjoying a relaxing weekend.

Things have been going fairly well here, as I can still do the things that I enjoy.

This month, a series that I was kind of looking forward to seeing air finally started being broadcasted on one of the sites that I have a subscription with, and I decided to cover it during its run.

Today, I will be reviewing another episode from that series, which is called The Ancient Magus Bride.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.

chise captured by dragon caretaker

Ainsworth has received some tasks to care of, albeit reluctantly, and he and Chise head towards the location of the first thing that needs to be taken care of.

However, before the two reach their destination, Chise is snatched up by a dragon, a species thought to no longer exist, and she meets another person who knows her mysterious teacher.

Lindel, the dragon caretaker.

Even though the previous episode really impressed me, unlike the pilot, that does not mean that things are on the up and up, especially because the show is just starting.

And after seeing this, I can only say that it was okay.

Like the last episode, I found myself quite engrossed in this episode to the point where I kind of did not want to stop watching it for any reason, though it was not to the extent of its predecessor.

While I was kind of hoping to see things be a whole lot better, due to the fact that many anime fans know to give anime more than one or two episodes, things seemed to be good enough to lure me in a bit and keep me wondering what exactly is going on.

If I had to say why it did a good job of pulling me in initially, it was because it did what was expected of it and started off where the previous episode left off.

Back in episode, after Ainsworth received a request to look into things, we see Ainsworth and Chise head off towards their first destination, and before they get anywhere, a dragon appears, snatches Chise up off the ground, only to end without being given too many details, which made me want to see this episode right then and there, just to see what would happen.

In this episode, it starts up with Chisel being dragged off by her captor, and the intrigue of what exactly he plans to deal with her had me on the edge of my seat.

Now, a writer or a group could have handled this cliffhanger in multiple ways, such as the way this episode starts off or have it start by having Ainsworth trying to search for her, but for an audience's attention to be captured quickly, the writer or writers, as well has directors and other staff, need to remember who the protagonist is and what kind of story is being told.

In the case of this series, the story revolves around Chise and her journey, at least at this point in the series, and as such, I would have definitely started things off by showing what is happening to Chise after the events of the last episode.

Likewise, the staff at Wit Studio are creating these episodes, and that decision ended up making it really easy for me to jump right into things, even though it had been a week since the airing of the last episode.

If they had started things off differently than what was seen here, I would have likely felt disappointed, because the staff would have forgotten that Chise was supposed to have the most focus at this point in the series, and it would likely cause a few problems as the episodes progress from here, seeing as the content presented is still mostly that from the volume and this series, like the original magna, starts off from Chisel's perspective.

Fortunately, they did not do that, which makes me feel like giving them a little praise for doing something right.

Hopefully, the staff at Wit Studio can still make the right decision in the future episodes, as that would be the only way to give newcomers a good impression of a series that does deserve the recognition it gets, but because of the terrible track record that they have right now, I just need to remind myself that things could end really badly, like they did for Attack on Titan.

I also liked how Chise is starting to find happiness in her new life.

When Chise was first introduced to us, she seemed to be a very broken individual because nobody seemed to really want her around and she was even treated pretty poorly by her peers, thus leading her to have a sad or empty expression a lot of time, and I was left wondering just how Chisel would begin to develop.

Even though she has not grown all that much during the course of this series, which is to be expecting during the first eighth or so of a series, she seemed to have truly begun to become much more human than she seemed to be towards the beginning.

This change starts to become more prominent when Chise talks to a dragon that is on its deathbed.

After playing a bit with the young dragons, Chise goes and looks at a dragon that looks like a bunch of rocks and the dragon starts to have a conversation her, saying that she should not envy the dead, reminding her that Ainsworth may not have found an apprentice if she died, and even offering to show her the sky through his memories.

Seeing the conversation and the flight via memories, it felt like Chise was seeing something truly amazing and having a pleasant conversation, and there was actual happiness to be felt from her, though not enough to make me have any of the happy tracks from Clannad play through my head.

As much as I still find the magna to be superior to this anime adaptation, as my interest was captured right from chapter 1, whereas this anime did not grab me until episode 2, this particular moment stood out more in this episode because I could actually feel like she was becoming happier, whereas the magna counterpart of these events just seemed to gloss over things.

Now, some of you guys might be wondering how there could be such a huge difference, seeing as there is not too much different between Korea Yamazaki's work and Wit Studio's adaptation so far, but, other than the fact that there are limits to what can be with any medium used to present a story, it all depends on how believable and realistic things feel.

In our society, we have a huge belief that we can be happy by choice, because my elders keep trying to tell me that things will only be great as I think they will be going into it, or smiling even when you feel unhappy.

However, people cannot just become happier or more content, just by trying to change their outlook on things.

For example, let us take a look at Kotomi Ichinose from Clannad and what she had to deal with.

Towards the beginning of her story, she seems to be a shy person who really does need to come out of her shell, as opposed to somebody that is mostly introverted, and Tomoya tries to help her find some friends, but after something happens that triggers something in her, making her say that she will be a good girl over and over, she starts pushing people away and starts to secluded herself, because she blames herself for the death of her parents and she was left to suffer through it alone.

While Tomoya, who was her friend from childhood, and the adults did not exact leave her alone at first when the trauma started, only giving up when the adults realized they lost her emotionally and Tomoya's guilt kept him from visiting her long enough that he forgot her, Kotomi was suffering from these feelings for so long that if Koromi had started feeling better immediately better after people checked up on her upon the recent events, things would not have really felt that believable in a series of stories showed the importance of family and what it is, unless Kotomi were going to commit suicide, as those that do attempt it can show extreme mood changes, according to a page on the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.

Likewise, in this series, if Chise finally found her happiness and started smiling a genuine smile that could only come from somebody that had found true happiness after this encounter with the dying dragon, I would have been mad, because Chise being happy with her life would have felt just as unbelievable to me as if Kotomi Ichinose had not pushed Tomoya and the others away after she was tormented by the past.

This is only the beginning of the series and that means that any moment of happiness is one that needs to be small, and because the staff at Wit Studio had extended things out a bit more than it was in the original source, it makes me think that they understand that enough that I want to give them a bit of applause.

This is exactly how a small moment of happiness should be executed and they really delivered.

If the staff at Wit Studio working on this anime can keep doing things this well, my opinion of them might changed from the lousy excuse of a studio that I view them to be right now, and I would be more willing to check out more of their work, as well as show people why this series is so good, and that is what I hope they will bring to the table, instead of giving me more reasons to wonder how they will ruin this series.

The thing that I liked the most though was how this episode felt like a breather.

While many people watching this series would be expecting something big to happen, due to the kind of cliffhanger that ended the previous, and I kind of did as well, even though I already know what will happen because I follow the magna, things can be become quite boring if every episode were focused on action or progression.

The audience needs to get to know the characters during the course of a series, and if things just keep happening on a constant basis, the characters will not be able to be fleshed out to the point where we can actually care about them and want to continue on with things.

In the case of this episode, nothing really seemed to happen, other than Chise beginning to find happiness in her new life, but things seemed to be mostly alright and I just felt like I could relax, knowing that not every cliffhanger will signify that something bad is going to happen, because the characters did get some more time to be fleshed out and relax a little, before things start to happen in the coming weeks.

If things had just kept on happening, I would have been mad, because Wit Studio would have been presenting this as something that it is not, instead making it seem like more of the typical anime and and magna out there.

However, because they did not do that, I feel like I can way a bit more time before the content that is truly new content for this adaptation gets released, and I feel like giving them some bit of applause for allowing me this time to relax.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could stand on its own.

Because my interest was grabbed quickly, and Chise felt like she was becoming a little happier, as well as the fact that it felt like a good breather, before things truly get serious, this was a relatively decent episode.

Nevin reacting to Chise's curiosity.

Although I liked the episode, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, there were only two things that really bugged me.

First, this episode felt rather boring.

Now, some of you guys might be wondering why I am complaining about an episode feeling boring, especially since this show just started, but just because a series is still in the beginning portions, it does not mean that it can get a free pass until a quarter or so of it has been released.

In the anime community, there is something called the 3-episode rule, or, more accurately, guideline. According to this guideline, one is supposed to give a series a chance to impress them within the first three episodes and, if they are not impressed after those three, they stop watching it.

Even though this rule is not exactly perfect, as was explained in a video published by Tristan Gallant on YouTube, there are many people that follow this rule like their life depended on it, and I would have dropped this series right here and now if I had followed that rule, because the pilot failed to capture my interest and this episode did not seem that exciting.

The first few episodes need to give people reason to invest their time in the show, and that is not what I am getting here.

If I had to say why this was the case, it would have to be because the way this episode was handled just made things feel mundane, because there was too much focus on Chise and things just felt ordinary, when all of this should have felt incredible and fascinating.

Avid readers and television fans might be aware that not everything in life is a new adventure and exciting, but they use these various mediums in which fiction is presented to escape reality for a short time and relax, and in order to do that everything must seem interesting, regardless of whether something is actually happening or not.

When things are interesting, regardless of whether they might be mundane events or not, the audience feels like they are having fun and they would be willing to continue to follow a series.

For example, Spice & Wolf may seem to be a boring to many people, due to its slow pacing and dialog being the thing that moves the story along the most, making it feel boring, but the way that Isuna Hasekura wrote many of the volumes, those seemingly boring events were actually engaging and interesting, which helped to give the series a unique feel, when compared to how many times mundane events happen in American television.

This episode in particular was one that I was expecting to have that fun feeling, in addition to getting the feeling that Chise was starting to find happiness, but I just felt like my time was being wasted as much as watching titans go on a rampage in Attack on Titan.

In fact, even though I absolutely hate Attack on Titan, I would much rather be watching that if I did want to waste time than seeing this.

What the heck, Wit? I thought you guys were turning things around, but this is the second time I have felt bored by watching this episode, and you guys have utterly failed to make me feel as engaged as I was by the second episode.

If you are going to continue to make two episodes unimpressive or okay episodes surround one good one, I do not see how this series can be good enough to bring it more fans to the series, and it makes me feel sad.

Hopefully, the staff at Wit Studio can get their act together in the future episodes, because this is anime that I want to like with every fiber of my being, but I am just given more reason to complain, and that will only turn people away.

Unfortunately, with their rather poor performance, I am not too sure that they can turn things around.

The thing that I hated the most though was how this seemed to end on an unnecessary cliffhanger.

In the world of fiction, there is a need to utilize cliffhangers, because they are the easiest way to make a reader want to find out what will happen next, and they can add some more mystery to a work.

However, this is only the case when it is either a good cliffhanger or one that is really needed, such as the first installment of a series of event that will span multiple episodes or books, because they were executed well.

For example, episode 2 of this series ended with Chisel being taken away by somebody riding on a dragon, who seemingly has nefarious purposes, and it makes the viewer want to find out what this guy has planned for Chisel, even though I and all the other fans of the magna know that he will not hurt her, which is why that episode ended so well, other than the fact that Ainsworth and Chise were traveling to the dragon den at that moment.

On the other hand, in this episode did not seem to be an episode where anything big happened, as there was mostly conversation and Chise got another small moment of happiness, but this episode ended with Chise collapsing to the ground, as if she went through something major.

Yes, Chise does expend a lot of magic, which has been noted could cause her to faint or even die, and she was not feeling the greatest after the conversation with Nevin the dragon, but this event was not that big, compared to what will happen later in the series, and, by having Chise faint, I thought something major was going to happen.

Chise and Ainsworth's business was complete at the end and this stop even felt like only a little side trip, yet the staff at Wit Studio decided to put in something that felt like a cliffhanger.

If I were to handle this episode, I would have ended it like it did in the magna.

In the magna, after Nevin becomes a tree and Ainsworth says they would come back to get her a wand, Chise says she is not upset over Nevin's death, since she barely knew him, and it ultimately ends with her looking off somewhere.

Even though she does say that she feels dizzy in thoughts in the original kanga, which does lead me to think that she would collapse like she did in this episode, the ending felt more satisfying, because it felt like things were indeed over and that it was time to move on to other things.

Here, however, because Chise collapsed at the end, I got the feeling that the next episode would continue into the beginning of the next episode, before concluding the events that transpire in the first volume, though the preview for the next episode does make it clear that Wit Studio is about to wrap up the first volume.

As I stated before, I am not expecting a perfect frame for frame recreation of the manga, but I do expect the people working on the anime how to end each episode in the best possible way, but the staff working on this episode completely and utterly failed in this department.

Is it really that hard to figure out how to end things properly, Wit? If the original creator can do it, it should not be hard for a team working on an adaptation of said work.

However, because the episode ended in a way that was worse, just like the pilot episode, I am not too sure that I want to see what was not presented in Crunchyroll's special screening that occurred earlier this year.

For now, I will give them more time to improve, but I will not be surprised if things end up getting worse.

Thankfully, nothing else bothered me to no end, so I can just leave things be, and stop ridicule a series that I consider one of my favorites.

While there was not too much wrong, the issues that did crop up were bad enough to possibly cause another black on the series, pushing it towards the negative end of okay.

Despite the fact that there were a few things to like, the two greatest negatives outweighed things enough to make this episode seem like a waste of time.

I only recommend this to fans of The Ancient Magus Bride, as they will be able to find the most enjoyment from what is present.

As for everyone else, it might be worth giving a try, but with how dull the episode seemed and that it had something that seemed like an unnecessary cliffhanger, it might be best to skip this episode, as it might not give the greatest impression of this series.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or, if you want to get best impression of this series, buy the first volume from Book Depository, so that I can continue following a series that many of us enjoy and possibly find other worthwhile anime to watch.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.