I hope that everyone is having a good weekend, regardless of how it is being spent.
Things have been going fairly, though things ended up being more packed than I had expected, and I can still do what I enjoy doing.
Back in October, there was a series there I was interested in seeing and I decided to cover it as in aired, and now the series has finally entered its second quarter.
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 has finally started getting official lessons from Ainsworth and has been good about getting her work done, but the time for rest has ended and the duo head towards their next destination, to deal with the third request, which is an investigation on a black dog roaming a church graveyard.
However, what seems like a simple investigation into the threat level of a mysterious beast turns into something more, as they discover a corpse upon their arrival and a new threat appeared seeking that same dog they are after.
With how well the first quarter of the series was going, I had high hopes that this anime would continue going down the right path, especially after I gotten a bit more than I expected from the previous episode, but I have to remind myself that the first quarter is not a good indicator of what a series will be like, beyond what kind of show it is, and that the final three quarters could very much ruin things.
Thankfully, I can say that I quite liked this episode.
From the moment that I started watching this episode, I did not want to stop watching for any reason, though I do have to satisfy the same needs as everyone else.
If I had to say why it was able to hook me in so quickly, it would have to be because the way the episode started to slowly drag me into the world of the series and made me think that this was just another day in the lives of Chise and Ainsworth.
While some people probably would have wanted things to pick up from where the last episode ended, where a character, who was once called Ulysse in a memory we see in this episode, appears on Ainsworth's doorstep asking for help, as something did seem to happen recently, the fact that episode brought events of the cat kingdom to a close and ended like there was nothing more does not make such a decision the best way to handle things, as it would come off as rather cliché or generic, instead of fun and interesting.
One of the best things about The Ancient Magus Bride, at least that I have noticed while reading the manga, is that the series gives off a very strong feeling that it is unique and its own story, even though I cannot really say that it is actually unique, since almost everything has been done in every medium one could use to tell a story, and the staff at Wit Studio working on this adaptation has been able to do a great job of presenting that so far, by not taking the route that would make things feel generic.
Just like readers, anime fans want to be swept away into another world via the shows and movies they watch, and while there are many methods of doing this, such as making the audience wonder what is going on, which is how both Pandora Hearts and this series start off in the first volume, though in different ways, the thing big thing that will prevent that immersion is they get the feeling that what they are watching is just the same as everything else, and the staff at Wit Studio working on this series seems to understand this quite well.
If they had not started things off like they had in this episode, I would have been disappointed enough that I would have decided to focus solely on the manga, as this anime adaptation would not have been able to show people why this series is so well liked, and it would have started leading this series into a direction that it would end up looking just as bad Attack on Titan, which is something that fans like me would not like to see.
Fortunately, they remembered that how something begins is just as important as how its ends, and that makes me feel like giving them a good round of applause.
I also liked how Chise was not completely helpless in this episode.
One of the things that I have heard people complaining about is that Chise was pretty much the clichéd damsel in distress, seeing as Ainsworth had to keep on saving her over and over, and even though this does kind of make sense, Chise was in a world she did not know too much about and was a broken person who had nothing to give her that feeling that she needs to keep on living, which is why she hardly made an effort to save herself, unlike Kagome Higurashi, who continually calls out to the titular character in Inuyasha, even though she had everything Chise did not prior to meeting Ainsworth.
Not only was Chise a broken person in an unfamiliar world, but she also did not have any proper lessons from Ainsworth, even though he calls her his apprentice, so Chise being unable to do too much on her own does make sense.
Besides, I doubt there would be anyway for there to be any development if Chise somehow got a grasp on things, not to mention that it would not feel very believable.
However, when this episode starts up, we find out that Ainsworth has started giving her proper lessons and we see her practicing the art of making potions and doing a lot of reading, making me wonder just how much she improved.
Later on, in the episode, Chise is at the graveyard where she meets the church grim that she and Ainsworth were sent to investigate, and she encounters a creature that asks her questions and she starts running, knowing that if she said anything that the creature would do something.
While I was kind of expecting her to attack using magic, even though I have read all of the seven volumes that Seven Seas Entertainment released, I really liked how things played out here because it fits more in line with what we see Chise doing at the beginning of the episode and that she knows what to do when facing certain enemies does a much better job of illustrating that she is learning than a random attack of magic.
If the staff at Wit Studio had her deal with the situation using magic, instead of keeping in line with what Kore Yamazaki did in chapter 9 of the manga, I would have been really disappointed in them, because things would no longer as realistic or believable as I had thought this series was becoming, as it would have taken the all too commonly seen moments in anime and manga where characters can perform new magic just because they trained or got lessons.
However, because the staff at Wit Studio did not do that, it helps to make the series feel more unique and shows that staff working on this adaptation remembered that Chise just barely started getting lessons, which makes me want to give them even more of a big round of applause.
Hopefully, things keep going like this, so that we can see how Chise become proficient in magic, and that the series can continue having that feeling that is unique in a world where it is nearly impossible to find anything original, as that is something that the fans of the series want to see, otherwise it will just disappear into the sands of time as yet another series that people thought would be the best anime of the year, instead of a good candidate, which is what I currently see it to be.
The thing that I liked the most though was how this episode ended.
As much as I hate Wit Studio for putting out one of the worst anime I ever seen, the one thing that the staff there that are working on have been doing right so far is ending their episodes in a fairly decent way.
Yes, there have been a few slip ups, such as the pilot episode, where a zoom out diminished interest in the series, and the third episode, which ended with what felt like an unnecessary cliffhanger, but they have been able to get me excited to see the next episode on consistent basis during the last half of the first quarter by knowing when to utilize cliffhangers and when not to do so, or even make things feel like cliffhangers.
In this episode, which starts off the second quarter, that has not changed, because it ends on yet another good cliffhanger.
After getting in contact with the church grim and realizing that it poses no threat, at least right now, Alice, Renfred's companion from the previous two episodes, comes for Ulysse and Chise knocks her out, only to start asking why she wants Ulysse when she wakes up, and she tells her that somebody is having them collect things needed to create a chimera, before the conversation changes to why Chise and Ainsworth were in the area.
Moments later, after Alice asks Ainsworth for help dealing with this particular individual, whom she says took Renfred's arm, that very individual attacks, hitting Chise, who pushed Alice out of the way, and then shows themselves, calling Chise a guinea pig and talking to Ainsworth, as if they know him, and the episode finally ends by showing Ainsworth in a monstrous form and Chise seemingly dead.
While these events did remind me of why I like the Seven Seas Entertainment's translation more than Crunchyroll's subs and did not officially start off the events of volume 3 of the manga, like how the cliffhanger in episode 4 kicked off the events of the second volume, as it ended even closer to the end of the second volume than episode 4 did with the first volume, I was wondering who this new character was and what they were planning to do, as well as how Ainsworth would get out of this current predicament.
This is how a proper cliffhanger should be done and the staff at Wit Studio were able to deliver.
If they did not have things end like this, I would have been very disappointed, as there would have been nothing to challenge Chise and Ainsworth and Alice's appearance here would have seemed pretty pointless, especially considering how she would not reveal where Renfred was, thus giving me no reason to continue on to through the halfway point of this series.
Thankfully, that did not happen, and instead, I have a strong desire to see the next episode right now, though I have to wait for it like everyone else, which makes me feel like giving them another good round of applause.
If the staff at Wit Studio can keep ending episodes just as well as this one, I have no doubt that it would truly deserve to be called anime of the year, even if it has an incomplete ending like Legend of the Legendary Heroes did.
Then again, the people bringing us this anime adaptation are human, just like the rest of us, so I would not be surprised if they fail to deliver, especially in the second half of the series, which should air next year.
Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could either stand out as much as and/or could not be added into what I already talked about.
Because the episode was able to capture my attention quickly and hold it up until the end, by remembering that we are on the next part of the story, Chise is showing signs that she is better able to handle herself in her new life, as she is now getting proper lessons, and the cliffhanger was able to get me excited enough that I cannot wait for the next episode, this was one of the best episodes from the series that I have seen so far.
Although I liked the episode, there are some issues.
However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as why I think the Crunchyroll subs are not as good as the Seven Seas translation of the manga, nothing really bothered me too much.
As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth mentioning.
Considering that there was quite a bit to like and nothing to really hate, without being too nitpicky, this was definitely worth watching.
I mainly recommend this to fans of The Ancient Magus Bride, as they will be able to enjoy this the most.
As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, seeing as the events of the previous episodes are not absolutely necessary, but it still might be best to watch them before seeing this, otherwise you will have questions that the fans of anime and the manga know the answers to.
If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or, if you just cannot wait to find out what happens next, buy a copy of the third volume from Book Depository, who offers free shipping to many countries around the world, so that I can continue following a series that many of us enjoy and possibly find more worthwhile anime to watch.
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