The Ancient Magus’ Bride, by Kore Yamazaki, is one of the most offbeat fantasy stories that I have read in manga form.
It’s not offbeat due to being distinctly different from any other fantasy story, but it is offbeat due to its dependency upon European mythology in a way that I have not seen used often, if at all, in the manga that I have read. This is a good thing.
Telling the story of Chise, an abandoned young woman who has the powers of a Sleigh Beggy, as she is auctioned off to Elias Ainsworth, the titular Ancient Magus, this manga seems to be looking to play with typical shojo-manga tropes, all within a familiar fairy tale framing.
Actually, this manga seems similar to Naomi Novik’s recently released novel – Uprooted – in concept and it’s exciting to see this form of story making a comeback.
Now, the first volume of this story does a lot to set up our two lead characters.
With some flashes to Chise’s past, giving some clarity and hints to what her background is, and interaction with some old acquaintances of Elias providing some characterization to the enigmatic figure as well.
It works wonders to getting the reader involved in the story.
The biggest negative for this volume is that there doesn’t seem to be much of a plot set up yet.
We know that Elias intends to take Chise as his bride, and train her as his apprentice, but other than that we’re still just being given early world building moments and it does make the volume feel a little less engaging.
Overall, this was a great start to the series and a very interesting decision on the mythology to use to back up the story.
Future volumes will tell whether there is a more distinct overarching plot, but for now, we’ve been given some interesting characters to follow and the promise of a fascinating world.
Volume 1 Rating: 8/10
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