As social creatures, we live the fullest lives by interacting with others. Relationships bring color to the world. This is a unifying theme in the next three episodes of The Ancient Magus’ Bride season 2. Episode 4 shows Chise interacting with a person new in her life: Rahab the Mage. Episode 5 explores the many relationships among the students at the sorcery college. Finally, episode 6 brings up the story’s central relationship: the “marriage” of Chise and Elias. Whether we’re meeting new people, interacting with peers, or bonding with our dearest loved one, we all need other people. Please enjoy these episode reviews.
Episode 4: The Cowl Does Not Make The Monk
Most of this episode was about Chise spending time with Rahab the mage in a magical place that resembles a foggy seaside house. Rahab summoned Chise and Ruth. She was curious to about Chise’s involvement with Elias. A long time ago, Elias lived with Rahab so he could learn to imitate humans and live among them. Chise and Rahab talk for a while about various things – mostly about Elias and how far he has come in his humanization. Rahab is happy to hear that Elias now experiences many emotions, including enjoyment. Eventually, the old mage sends Chise and Ruth back home.
The long weekend is over and it’s time to go back to the sorcery college. Guided by a friendly centaur, Chise and Elias use a “back passage,” to get to the school. “Back passage” refers to magical shortcuts where space-time is warped. The passages are guarded by dangerous creatures called Hounds. Chise and company arrive safely at the college thanks to the centaur helping them negotiate with the Hounds. Speaking of the college, several of the other students have doubts and anxieties about Chise. Zoe and Philomela in particular are uneasy. Meanwhile, Lucy seems to be suffering from nightmares.
Now for some of my thoughts. I still don’t know what’s up with Zoe and why he’s so afraid of Chise. On top of that, Philomela seems to be in the same boat. I feel disappointed that she’s repaying Chise’s kindness with suspicion. Moving on, I thought the centaur was cool and funny, with a great character design. As for Rahab, she seems very wise and looks really attractive. I like her a lot and hope to see her again. There’s one other thing I want to mention about Rahab: the bride conversation.
Rahab was the one who taught Elias about family and different roles within familial units. The thing that Elias understood the least was the idea of a bride – or more generally, the idea of a spouse. Rahab was never able to make him understand, but apparently, Elias remained keenly interested in the idea. That’s why he told Chise that he wanted her to be his bride. When Elias said that, he didn’t have the idea of traditional marriage in mind, and he certainly wasn’t being sexual. (I don’t think he has the capacity for that.) He was only thinking of the definition Rahab gave him, which is someone you like being around and that you want to live with.
Personally, I’m vastly relieved to know the nature of what Elias meant by “bride.” His intentions were neither romantic nor sexual (though he may have developed romantic feelings since then). He only wanted to understand a new human concept. To be clear, this information doesn’t suddenly make it alright with me that Elias is romantically involved with a teenager. That’s still something that bothers me about this anime. However, the context we learned in this episode was still useful and relevant.
Episode 5: First Impressions Are The Most Lasting
This episode focused on the students who attend the sorcery college with Chise. There was a lot of information and character exposition. For instance, Lucy is a survivor of a mysterious tragedy that killed her family. We also learned that seven well-respected sorcerer families started the college a few generations ago. Most of the students in this episode are from those seven families. Each family is associated with a different career path or specialty. For example, Rian is from the Scrimgeour Family, which traditionally produces sorcerers focused on protection and bodyguarding. Interestingly, the friendly boy in the hoody is not from one of the seven families. (His name is Isaac Fowler.)
It would take far too long to recount all the character information in this episode. Instead, I’ll mention the main event: the truth about Zoe Ivy. He is a Gorgon-human hybrid who struggles to live with his Gorgon traits. Zoe is extremely sensitive to smells and sounds, and whenever he feels unstable, his hair becomes a nest of snakes. Additionally, if he makes direct eye contact with others, they will become temporarily immobilized. Furthermore, Zoe is anxious because Gorgons were traditionally hunted by sorcerers. The nervous Gorgon boy tries to manage all this by wearing earmuffs and goggles and avoiding eye contact.
Zoe’s secret gets exposed to a few students, including Chise, but they all accept him. They even perform a magical contract to keep Zoe’s secret from the rest of the school. Importantly, Zoe apologizes to Chise for ignoring her and treating her badly. He explains that the smell of Chise’s dragon curse was exceptionally aggravating to his senses. It also convinced him that Chise wasn’t human. Chise was happy to forgive Zoe. She is getting along well with Zoe and Rian. However, some of the students still don’t get along. Lucy, for example, is still nasty toward everyone.
I felt just a bit annoyed at how much character information was packed into this one episode. However, there were also many enjoyable and intriguing moments in this installment. Most of the characters are relatable or interesting. I’m especially interested in Philomela and Lucy. I’m glad we learned so much about Zoe. I now understand why he reacted so badly to Chise. As someone who is neurodivergent and struggles with severe social anxiety, I relate to Zoe quite a lot. That’s all for this installment.
Episode 6: Better Bend Than Break
Chise asks Elias why he originally said he wanted her as his bride. However, classes begin, so the answer will have to wait until later. On his way around campus, Elias finds Renfred, and asks him whether he thinks of Alice as his spouse. Renfred says Alice is his daughter and that only wants to protect her. Alice overhears the conversation and is upset by it. She wants be a worthy bodyguard for Renfred, not a dependent daughter. Troubled, Alice asks to spend the night with Chise at her home. The friendly priest from the first season helps out with the ride.
After Alice finishes venting, Chise can’t sleep. She goes to the rooftop and sits with Elias, who answers Chise’s question from earlier. He originally wanted someone to be both his apprentice and his spouse because it would be simpler than dealing with two different people for the two roles. Chise and Elias then discuss the nature of their relationship and their different roles. They agree that Chise has the role of Elias’ “master” because she teaches him how to be more human. They also agree that Elias can have the role of Chise’s husband because it makes him so happy.
The next day, at the sorcerer’s college, Alice tells her thoughts to Renfred. The adult man listened, but still insisted that it’s more his job to protect Alice than vice versa. Alice has a long way to go if she wants to be Renfred’s bodyguard. Meanwhile, something ominous is brewing somewhere in one of the seven wings of the college. Behind mysterious, locked doors, a slimy purple substance is being kept. That’s all for episode 6.
This was a really good episode because it was so introspective about its characters and their relationships with each other. I liked the discussion about how many things in life are up for interpretation. People interpret relationships and roles in many different ways. I also liked Chise’s point later on that even though people have different interpretations, there is still an objective reality. In the context of Chise’s relationship with Elias, there are many ways to describe their roles and interactions; but the undeniable truth is that they love each other.
There are still elements of this anime that make me uncomfortable. I’m not suddenly alright with everything. However, I can’t seem to stop enjoying the show, especially during thought-provoking episodes like this one. I want to see Chise grow up strong and confident. I want to see Elias experience more human emotions. I will definitely continue watching and thinking about The Ancient Magus’ Bride, even if it’s far from perfect.
Thank you for reading~