The Ancient Magus' Bridge, which debuted during the Fall 2017 anime season, is one of the best anime to air in recent years. It follows a teenage girl named Chise Hatori who sells herself at an auction because her family is gone and she has nowhere to go. Elias Ainsworth, a mage with a cow skull for a head, purchases her because he wants to teach her to refine her incredible magical powers. From there, the two forge a relationship that is focused in part on magical education, but mostly on mutual emotional healing.
If you're on the fence about whether to watch this anime, this article will detail why you should watch The Ancient Magus' Bride. It features stunning art, music, and animation, finely developed characters, an engaging plot, and so much more. It's well worth your time - and now it's time to find out why.
If you watch anime for aesthetics, you shouldn't miss The Ancient Magus' Bride. This anime features lush, detailed backdrops that are as visually pleasing as they are beneficial to the magical world the story establishes. Chise visiting a group of dragons would be exciting enough without the exquisite art to back it up, but the art supports the story. The character designs, background music, and animation are equally on point. If you're looking for an anime that is truly a work of art from every possible angle, look no further than this one.
The bonds between biological family members can be beautiful, but what happens when your blood relatives are unsupportive or even abusive? Sadly, this is the reality for many people, but that doesn't mean that they can't have meaningful bonds. That's why stories about found family - people you choose to build familial bonds with - are so important. Chise starts off the series alone but ends up surrounded by people who love her and work to help her see herself as worthy of that love. Whether it's her romantic relationship with Elias, her human/familiar relationship with Ruth, her equal friendship with Alice, or her ultimate willingness to pass on her warmth to the series' villain, Chise builds herself a new family, to replace the biological one that didn't provide for her needs.
The relationship between Chise and Elias is far from perfect. Chise spends the first part of it unable to express her feelings because she's so insecure and depressed that she's willing to do literally anything as long as Elias doesn't throw her out. Meanwhile, Elias can be controlling and overprotective, getting upset when Chise goes out without telling him, and even going behind her back to try and perform a human sacrifice to save her from a curse.
But over time, Chise learns to assert herself. With the support of the people around her, she learns to tell Elias when she doesn't like what he's doing - and Elias, who isn't human and doesn't fully understand the impact of his behavior on humans, learns to listen to her and changes his behavior accordingly. It's not perfect - both of them backslide from time to time - but their relationship is on a positive upward trajectory.
The Ancient Magus' Bride is based heavily on actual mythology. The protagonist, Chise, is a sleigh beggy - a creature from Gaelic mythology. The girl is a conduit for raw magic and can cast powerful spells that weaken her. In Gaelic lore, though, a sleigh beggy is a slightly irritable, naked faerie, similar to the Ariels, who follow Chise around, hoping to taste her magic.
Other characters also have major mythological connections - Elias is likely based on one of several biblical figures, while Ruth, Chise's canine familiar, could be based on a figure from Scottish folklore called the cu sith, or fairy dog - which may have also served as an inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles. Other characters are based on Shakespearean figures, such as King Oberon and Queen Titania. When Chise is in Japan, the mythical creatures are yokai, which shows that the creators are making an effort to make their myths and stories culturally relevant, even when they take liberties with the actual content.