I hope that everyone is having a good weekend, regardless of how it is being spent.
Things have been going fairly well and I can still do what I like.
Last month, I was expecting at least two books to arrive just before the end of the month, and even though it is a bit late, I finally got my copy of the other book.
Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called The Ancient Magus Bride Volume 8 by Kore Yamazaki.
As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.
After the dragon's rampage was brought to an end, Chise finds herself back at Ainsworth's place and found out that she got cursed by a dragon, and she is determined to find an answer, even if it means aligning with a group of people she just met.
However, Ainsworth is up to something that he does not want Chise to know about that might help her and an old adversary makes their presence known.
While The Ancient Magus Bride anime, which I tried covering at the end of last year, ended up being a failure, I have not really given up on the series entirely, though I know that the manga could very well go downhill.
And after reading this installment, I can say that I am still liking the series and I really enjoyed the volume.
Just like many of the other volumes, from the moment that I opened up and starting reading the book, I found myself so engrossed that I did not want to stop reading for any reason.
Even though I do not fully remember exactly what happened in the previous volume, as it has been nearly half a year since I read it and focused a lot of my time on the anime, which was still behind the content published by Seven Seas at the time, and do not currently have access to my copy of that volume, I had little to no trouble of getting immersed in what was happening here, because I was kind of reminded of the dragon incident, by starting with Cartaphilus commenting about how the auction ended, before going over to Chise.
While this may not have been the way I would liked to see the first chapter of this volume start things off, I do not really see how this could have started any other way and still be considered good, because the final chapter of the previous volume, which I had view through online scans, due to my current predicament, ended right with Chise being found and there possibly unconscious, while we saw that there was something different about her, so starting things off the way they did here was actually a benefit to the story for both easy immersion and a small reminder.
If Kore Yamazaki had forgotten about what happened at the end of the previous volume, I would have been disappointed, because series only work really well went the audience is not confused and the lack of any such confusion in this work is one of the things that make the manga better than the anime that WIT Studio has been putting out, even if they did make a few decisions that ended being better than what Kore did manga.
Thankfully, that did not happen here, and I feel like giving Kore a good round applause, though Mag Garden, or whoever they had compile the chapters in volumes, do deserve some credit too for knowing how to start and end each volume.
I also liked how witches were incorporated into the series, and the part they played.
In many works of fiction, when new groups are introduced, they are usually either evil or, if the creator is really lazy or wrote themselves into a corner, they end up having or being the solution that the protagonist or protagonists needed at that time, and it causes things to become extremely boring, as it is easy to predict, or in the case of works in the detective, mystery, and crime fiction genres, baffling because the detective had info the reader did not.
Now, things like that do not seem to happen too often, if at all, in this series, so I was wondering how Kore Yamazaki was going to handle how Chise's arm was going to be returned to normal, and when I saw witches being introduced, I thought that Kore was about to fall into that trap, though witches do not necessarily feel out of place in the world she created.
Here, however, when a witch, who we find out is the same person Chise made a deal with back in the events of the previous volume, comes and says that she might be able to help find the solution to Chise's predicament, with the only condition being that they had to at least attend a gathering, Chise and Ainsworth find out that the witches do not have an answer either, though their specialty is breaking and deflecting curses.
If Kore Yamazaki had presented the solution that created the miracle Chise wanted through these witches, I would have been really disappointed, because I consider Kore Yamazaki to be one of the best in the manga industry, alongside Jun Mochizuki, and by relying on what is called a dues ex machina, that would have led to a possible start of a slump that no fan of this series wants to see, especially because Seven Seas releases are not far behind the Japanese releases.
Fortunately, that did not happen here, which makes me want to give Kore an even bigger round of applause.
Hopefully, Kore Yamazaki will be able to keep up the good work and continue to refrain from relying too much on dues ex machina, because I, and many other fans of the series, do not want to have to be forced to forget about this series entirely, but seeing as she is only human, like the rest of us, I know that she will not be able to continue putting out gold, especially if it ever gets as long as Detective Conan or other 1000+-chapter publications.
Another nice thing that I liked was how there were things to chuckle about.
While there was not too much too laugh about in this volume, considering how much the overall tone of the volume was a bit more serious, it was still nice to be able to have a few things to laugh about.
As I may have mentioned numerous times, one of the most enjoyable aspects of this series was how the comedic moments actually come off as funny, helping to make things feel more lively and believable, and Kore Yamazaki tends to do a good job of making the little moments come off as funny.
Things are no different in this volume, and it helps me to be able to relax, amid what is happening in the series.
If there was no humor to be found in this volume, it would not have been too much of a big deal to me, as things were still quite interesting, but I still would have been a little disappointed because it would have meant that there was nonstop tension and the mundane events that occurred would have felt more mundane than interesting.
Thankfully, Kore remembered to sprinkle in a bit of humor, and it helped to keep things enjoyable for much of the volume.
Hopefully, the humor will remain in the series as it progresses, but I hope even more that Kore will know when the humerous moments need to be omitted for the series to thrive, as having humor just for the sake of humor is just as bad as writing a happy ending that feels unearned.
The thing that I liked the most though was how this volume ended.
While how a work of fiction begins is important, how things end is just as important because it helps to make the reader feel like they made a good choice in investing their time in the work.
In a series like this one, the ending is supposed to give readers some kind of incentive to read the future installments.
In the case of this volume, it ends with a pretty big twist of a protagonist deciding ally themselves with a former enemy, after chastising the other protagonist for not caring whether they hurt others for their own convenience, saying that they cannot be with them as they are now.
By seeing these events play out, including everything that led up to it, I am wondering what exactly will be happening in the future and anxious enough that I want to get the next volume right now, which will not be out until September, according to the product page on Amazon.
If things had not ended like this, I would have been really disappointed, because Mag Garden, or whoever they have compile chapters into volumes, normally does a great job of deciding how each volume starts and ends to where I find myself wanting to pick up the next volume, and by having an ending that is as bad as the one found in Secret Volume 1, the series would start to look bad way before Kore Yamazaki ever reached her peak and that would drive fans away, instead of attract more attention.
Fortunately, they remembered that this series is not great just because of everything Kore Yamazaki does right, but because of everyone involved in putting out each installment of a series that many like, and that makes me want to give those people another good round of applause.
Hopefully, things will stay like this right up to the series conclusion, which will probably be many years in the future, but I am ready to put people in their place if need be.
Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that stood out as much as what I talked about.
Because my interest was captured quickly and held right up to the end, even kind of reminding me a bit of what happened in the last installment, there was no solution that came out of nowhere for Chise's current predicament, in spite of a new group being introduced, there were a few things to chuckle about, and the end was something that really grabbed my attention, this was one of the best releases in this series.
Although I liked the book, there are some issues.
However, aside things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, I cannot think of anything that really annoyed me.
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, this was definitely worth reading.
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, but it would be better to read the previous volumes first.
If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider either supporting me on Patreon, buying a copy of the reviewed title, or preordering the next volume from Book Depository, who offers free shipping to many countries around the world, so I can continue following this series and possibly find more worthwhile reads for you guys.
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