Posted by Lenlo on 23 October 2017 with categories: Finished Series: Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction, Mahoutsukai no Yome

This week, Mahoutsukai moves into a slower pace. Showing off more of its world and delving a bit deeper into magic and how it connects to the world. Lets jump in.

There are two main points I want to touch on for this episode of Mahoutsukai. The first being the actual main focus of the episode, magic and dragons, and the second being Chise. I suspect that is going to end up being the split for most episodes, unless the treatment of Chise changes as we go.

The actual dragons, their story and how they connect to the world was actually very good. We meet Nevin, an ancient Uil type dragon, made of rock and earth. Covered in moss as it grows on his body. He takes on the wise, caring elder role. His purpose is to make Chise care about living again, with lines such as “The living should not envy the dead”. Its poignant and we see through some flashbacks that Chise seriously considered suicide, leaping from a building. Its all very tragic, I would almost say over done, but there is a subtly to it. Mahoutsukai doesn’t just say “Chise tried to kill herself, now look shes all better”, but chooses instead to show it.

It does this with Nevin’s line about envying the dead, comments about how he is glad she didn’t try to fly and a shot of her starting to fall. Its interesting to me that Nevin, this elder dragon, is showing Chise more kindness than any human she has supposedly met. As if to try and combat this pain, Nevin explains what is basically the circle of life for a dragon. How an Uil dies, becomes rock and earth for a tree or a glad. It pans over the mossy field, seeing multiple hills that are now revealed to be dead Uil’s. Its a solemn scene, finished by having Nevin share his final dream, that of flight, with Chise.

This particular scene was downright beautiful. Its mostly 3 images with some digital effects, changing the color of the water and increasing the brightness of the rising sun. However the music, the actual images themselves, everything works together really well here. Specifically, the music was gorgeous. Maybe I am just a sucker for piano pieces, but I loved it. The culmination in Nevin’s death and Chise basically witnessing death firsthand was all done well. As a whole, the actual story and focus of the episode was great. I love the mystical life lessons sort of stuff, its why I love Mushishi.

Problems arise though once we move on to our second main point of the episode, Chise and her treatment. You see we started this episode with Chise basically being kidnapped, yet not once is that really addressed. Its simply blown off with some light-hearted chibi art humor. Chise then becomes relegated to baby-sitting duty, while the adults go talk. That one alone isn’t particularly bad, as with her age that could happen to anyone. The role is treated less as “Woman watching the children” and more as “Child playing with other children”, which I find acceptable. The hatchlings really accept her as a friend. Really however the only character to treat Chise as something other than a child is Nevin the Grandpa Dragon, who truly does try to help.

Beyond that, we learn a bit more about Chise herself. Some flashbacks to her past, general treatment. There are some interesting parallels in regards to her flashbacks and what happens this episode. The obvious one is her almost suicide attempt, which then turns to Nevin and his dream. Next there is her sitting alone in a classroom, juxtaposed by her sitting coiled up with the 3 dragon hatchlings. It all looks like a buildup of love and assistance around her, which I like. They don’t just solve her past, her pain, with a few English breakfasts in a strange mans house. Instead it looks like Mahoutsukai is in for the long haul in regards to her trauma.

All in all a good episode. At this point I expect each episode focus/story to be pretty good. The art and music is on point and Mahoutsukai nails that magical world feeling. Only Chise’s treatment and the language used when referring to her is worrying, as characters all treat her like a child. Which she is technically, but we need to see some growing up from her.

Apologies for slight rush/lateness of this, but it has been a busy week. See you next time!

20 Responses

  1. Avatar Vonter says:

    To be honest, both in the manga, and anime. I don’t know how much this chapter added to the story. I didn’t get what was accomplished here, besides world building and a bit about the different perceptions Chise and the dragons have. With Chise seeing it as an escapism from an awful existence and the dragons seeing it as an offering to the world and passing their memories to the next generation.

    Anyway, I think what still doesn’t work is the chibi sequences. Not that the style can’t work, but that the moments that are put on, feel like they do it is to hammer in a joke.

    So far this anime has that Harry Potter feeling. With magical society living hidden from the “real” world.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      The chibi style, so far atleast, has taken away from the series imo. It just doesnt fit and ends up looking out of place with the rest of the detailed scenes.

  2. Avatar Bokusen says:

    This was the episode I found that this series just isn’t working for me. I love the magic elements, and really want to like the characters, but just…don’t. Chise is so passive and Elias is still creepy. I really hope the next episode impresses me, because this and Kujira were the new series I was most looking forward to this season, and I’ve already dropped Kujira…

    Manga readers: Does Chise eventually show some initiative and *want* to do something? I get that she was suicidal, and feel for her, but it would be nice if she had a goal, or something. I know Elias is trying to make her a mage or something, possibly so she can control her powers better and live longer, but does she eventually want that, or does she just go along with it because she has no choice?

    • Avatar Masky says:

      Haven’t read it in a while, but I do remember her going through slow character development through whole series, especially when she gets more friends of her own age. There are some moments she does have initiative to do something instead of just being passive.

      Elias though I’m pretty sure is supposed to be creepy. I think having deer skull as face is pretty give away about it.

      • Avatar Bokusen says:

        Thanks! Hmm, guess I’ll see how the next episode is and then decide whether I want to keep following it or not. I’m not sure if I could take 24 eps of Chise being passive. Makes me want to get back to reading the Twelve Kingdoms light novels instead. Not that I’m expecting this series to be like Twelve Kingdoms or Yona, but it would be nice if it at least got an overarching plot soon. Unless it’s meant to be “magical slice of life” or something, which would be cool too if I liked the characters more.

        I’m glad Elias’s creepiness is at least intentional though. Unlike stuff like like those skeevy imouto shows… Makes me have a bit more faith in the mangaka.

  3. Avatar Bufo viridis says:

    This anime is so impressive. The pacing is a little slow, but the sheer beauty of it compensates for it. It was nice before, but this is the episodes that completely sold me. The only flaw so far is the main character who is still kinda dull. But I’m expecting some character development. Other than that, I don’t remember an anime that impressed me so much since Mushishi.
    Anyone noticed the Dodo birds on the island?

  4. SuperMario SuperMario says:

    I’m quite surprised with the general mixed reception regarding Chise’s character. For me, the show nailed it at depicing people who experience real depression and personal trauma. It’s her personal issue that I consider the biggest strength in this series and I found this episode quietly beautiful and one of the strongest episode so far this season

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      I like Chise as a character herself and I like the slow pacing of how she is being developed. Her personal issues are great. As I said, I like that she isnt just fixed by a smile and an english breakfast.

      I, and others, are iffy on other characters treatment of her however. Aside from Nevin the dragon, they all treat her like a child or a pet. Just kinda telling her where to go.

      Its only 3 episodes in, this could be part of the character development they want, as she grows in agency as well. If not however, I will be unhappy.

  5. Avatar Victim says:

    I was expecting universal praise, but it is not the case? Hm.

    I love that kind of thing. For example, I could watch Ikari Shinji doing nothing whole day. But with him, you see his avoidant traits in every gesture of his body. You can see how he constantly sways between opening up and barricading himself away. I feel no such thing here. For me Chise remains a blank slate self-insert magical isekai character.

    This show is doing great job contrasting a hopeless character with all kinds of contexts, but that is about it so far.

    And it really puts me off how they continue to introduce characters in a role of antagonist only to turn them inside out and hammer in the only trick so far – putting Chise into a hopeless position and then transform it into a positive experience, which is supposed to heal her (and probably also raise her stats, I mean she is basically the classic main shoujo character, who every character desires the most, the main guy is even overprotective of her, but somehow she still manages to get into all kinds of dangerous situations).

    I’m positive there is some goodness to come, but for me this series is already spoiled enough to not really care. Ah. Every time I write a comment about this show, I end up lowering my own opinion of it…

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      After the conversation we had last week, I started paying closer attention to how Chise herself is treat and I started to worry.

      Visually Mahoutsukai is stunning. Sound design is the same. The only area I find it falling short is certain character aspects.

      My favorite character so far, for example, is Nevin the ancient dragon. He had a clear purpose and didnt look down on anybody. He spent his last moments being the wise old grandpa and helpin the next generation. I thought he was done well.

      Meanwhile, the Blonde Dragon Caretaker might as well not have existed in the episode.

  6. Avatar Bokusen says:

    Also, I forgot to mention it earlier, but thanks to Lenlo for the great review! It seems like you’re really getting into the swing of anime blogging.

  7. Avatar Suburbanbanshee says:

    For most of her life, every surprise Chise got was a bad surprise. I think the mages, in their own unsubtle way, are trying to give her some happy surprises. (While messing with Elias.)

    There is also a tendency for people faced with someone very reserved and depressed to try to cheer him up by making Big! Emotional! Gestures!, and then to be a bit embarrassed about it.

    Finally, one gets the impression that mages as a group are not exactly un-eccentric, or widely famed for their social skills.

    But finally, Chise is a kid. Nobody has ever protected and treated her properly as a kid; but she is now hanging around with ancient beings, and they are darned well going to treat her like a kid. Or their version of a kid. Probably not the worst idea, either, since she’s got to build up her strength and learn a few things before she can act.

  8. Avatar KTravlos says:

    I finally watched. Despite the issues, episode 3 was truly a work of art. I am glad they left Chise with the hatch-lings. I think her interaction with them and Niven was more important for Chise’s development than anything she would gain by being included in the “grown-ups” talk.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      Oh Nevin and such was great. I loved them. I just worry about future treatment of Chise, which with episode 4, is slowly getting better.

      Episode 4 will be up soon.

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