Cross stitch pattern of a woolly bug from The Ancient Magus’ Bride. Check out my review down below. Download the PDF here: Ancient Magus Bride Pattern
Grid Size: 99W x 84H
Design Area: 6.93″ x 5.86″ (97 x 82 stitches)
Donate to my Patreon if you want a custom pattern.
I like The Ancient Magus’ Bride and I watched the whole thing, but…
There are some things that don’t sit right with me starting with the mispronunciation of one of the main characters, Elias. Really, if you can’t look up your main character’s name then why name him that? Why is the main villain off somewhere else most of the time? Why would you put a wedding, a birthday party, and the final battle all in one episode?
Then there’s the elephant in the room. The premise of this show is that a man buys an emotionally scarred teenager from a human trafficker to raise as his apprentice and fiance… in modern day England. And this is where the isekai aspects of the story become scary. If this were an entirely fantasy world, you could say that this set up was normal or at least unremarkable, but when you say that this is really going down at the same time as The Great British Bake Off is filming a town over, you run into ethical questions that could have been avoided if this was set in ye old fantasy Nottingham. And, there is absolutely no reason for this to be an isekai at all! The whole point of isekai is that you can follow a normal person into a fantasy world and see their reactions to things through a modern lens. The thing is that Chise is not a normal girl even when she was in Japan. She already could see spirits and fey. If this weren’t an isekai, her relationship with Elias could have been framed as further education in an obscure and misunderstood field of study, then you wouldn’t need there to be a separate modern world. Like, I don’t personally know anything about municipal water purification centers and I don’t need to come from a different world in order for the Sanitation Department to feel alien to me. They could be doing magic in there for all I know.
The other problem is consent. It’s pretty clear that neither Chise nor Elias have a healthy idea of what marriage is and they don’t talk about it to make sure that they’re both on the same level before getting married. Even though Elias bought her, he says that Chise can leave anytime she wants, which sounds nice until you realize that, no, she can’t leave. She’s in a new country that she knows nothing about and wouldn’t have the means to fly back to Japan and she loses her Fiance Visa if she doesn’t get married within six months, and she can’t even get a job to be self sufficient because, in the UK, a Fiance Visa is not a work permit, and it’s revealed in episode 19 that she’s legally dead, and the auction house been withholding her money from her own sale which is grounds to sue in both countries, and do you see now why setting this in modern day is awful?
Chise also has a poor grasp of personal boundaries. It seems like the only time she ever protests to something, and that protest is respected, is when the Fairy King flirts with her when they first met. Remember that time she’s forcefully given a bath, nope no one cared what she wanted. That time she said she could walk, nope you’re getting carried. That time Elias literally possessed her in order to extort payment out of a little girl, yeah Chise has learned not to protest to this stuff. Not even a “warn me next time you do that” or anything. It’s scary how little bodily autonomy this girl has and Elias is not even trying to find someone who can teach her these things, and her lack of boundaries is not portrayed as negative.
In the last episode, there’s a scene where Chise and Elias have a conversation about both of them being more open in their intentions and not doing risky stuff, a healthy conversation to have, but in the next scene we see Chise once again reduced to a child role when Elias asks her to repeat what she’d learned before going outside. This could have been remedied if Elias had also said what he had learned too, making their conversation even. You can’t treat your protagonist like a child then marry her in the same episode!
The show suffers from pacing issues too, probably because they had to shove so much into 24 episodes. The episodes in the Land of Dragons when Chise gets her staff are all jumbled up and not in a good way. The big climactic moment of song and dance comes right in the middle so that Lindel has to do a second smaller song again later when it matters more but is far less impactful. This would have been a great time for Chise to sing herself as foreshadowing to the final battle, but nope. The scene where she meets that dead dragon should have been much earlier so that it can help build up to later scenes. And Chise randomly talks to Elias remotely during the big song, splitting the focus of what should have been a pivotal moment.
Now I can’t be too hard on the show either. It is pretty good and it’s the closest I’ll ever get to reading Harry Potter for the first time again. The world is breathtaking and packed full of whimsy. It’s loads of fun just experiencing these magical creatures with Chise as she learns about them each episode. They nailed the look and feel of a fantastical world without resorting to making a ton of cheap monster girls. I love how the crystal flowers from the beginning come back throughout the story for continuity. I love the creepy blood drinking spirit in episode 18 even though it doesn’t have much screentime. Those rock gnomes that follow around the Fairy Queen are so cool and there’s just enough randomness to really sell the illusion of depth. I always felt like there was something I didn’t understand just beneath the surface and that’s hard to do. I love how the show randomly gets super dark at times. I adore the beautiful scenery, sets, and music. It’s easy to immerse yourself in the fairy tale logic, which makes it all the more jarring when someone pulls out a laptop.
I don’t know if I can really recommend The Ancient Magus’ Bride. if dubious consent is your thing and you can get over the time period, then yes The Ancient Magus’ Bride is for you. If you watched the episode with the guy who murders cats and want more of that, then you’ll be sorely disappointed.
The OVA is fantastic though, so if you’re on the fence, watch that.