Posted by Lenlo on 30 January 2018 with categories: Finished Series: Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction, Mahoutsukai no Yome

Welcome to another week of Mahoutsukai! This week we have an anime staple, the Christmas episode, with a dash of tragic backstory. Like always there are ups and downs this week, so lets jump right in.

As I said, this is our token Christmas episode. There are presents, shopping, misunderstandings and snow. Such pretty snow. There are some interesting bits though. The time spent prepping for Yule, with no dialogue just music and motion, was good. I enjoyed that not everything was explained, like the Centaur and his Lady, and how Elias hid from this. It reintroduces some mystery that Mahoutsukai had lost. The same goes for the Yule Twins. When it comes to the world and magic, sometimes a little whimsy goes a long way. The other half of the episode consists of a shopping trip, which is fun enough. There is more random danger for Chise, as she can’t seem to leave the house without something happening. However this time it served a purpose, allowing us to get Alice’s past. That story has its own issues, but the danger at least had purpose.

Speaking of Alice, she and her story was the meat of this episode as Chise goes shopping with her. Overall it was acceptable. The shopping trip felt like more of a time-sink than anything else, but some good things came out of it. The subtle mixing of Elias’s spirit into multiple scenes, just enough to be missed if you weren’t looking for it, worked well. It added an underlying tension, as we don’t know what this spirit is until the end. While the shopping trip was acceptable though, Alice’s backstory was more than a bit ridiculous. I understand she needed a good reason to love Renfred as she did, but Renfred and Elias have disturbing knack at finding young girls in questionable circumstances and bringing them home. Would it kill Mahoutsukai to give a happy backstory for once? That’s not all the issues though, oh no, I have more.

Next up we have the now clearly pass on master-student penchant for leaving new apprentices in bad situations. Turns out, leaving a young girl you just picked up off the street with no knowledge of magic to organize your collection of books with deadly spirits in them is a terrible idea! That’s not the end though. Our little Alice manages to not only clean and dress a claw wound across Renfred’s face, destroying his eye, but do so well enough that they didn’t need the hospital. I understand magic and all that could help, but this is not a minor injury. And to top it all off at the end Alice, a girl with trust issues from the street who knows next to nothing of Renfred, pledges to be his bodyguard. At the age of, what, 11? A truly disappointing backstory, laying out Mahoutsukai’s many character writing flaws.

Ashen Eye's ashen... eye?

At least in the last few minutes Mahoutsukai managed to pick itself up again a bit. The actual Christmas Eve scene at the house, the swapping of gifts, was sweet. They caused absolutely no change to the plot or were very relevant, but they were sweet. The real content came out of the now standard cliffhanger ending. However this time we have a credible threat, in the enigmatic Ashen Eye, and a character whom we cannot guarantee the safety of, a young child. While I hate the cliffhanger, I do appreciate the other two. Ashen Eye is an intimidating character, who we have previously seen to be unconcerned in regards to his methods. The young child also has no plot armor, as already multiple named side characters have died. Assuming this isn’t another one off arc, we might finally be in for something good from Mahoutsukai’s new season.

All in all, this episode was better than the last few. While nothing particularly interesting happened, the stage has been set for fun future conflicts and our next arc. Ashen Eye has perhaps my favorite design so far and plenty of that magical mystery I have wanted more of hanging all around him. The first few minutes of this week also managed some of that magic with more mystical creatures and traditions, without being bogged down by long explanations that ultimately wouldn’t matter. Thats what Mahoutsukai really needs. More magic, more mysticism and mystery, less melodramatic tragic backstories and wonky power dynamics. I realize this is a romance, of a sort, but it would fare far better if it just abandoned that plot and focused on its best parts. We all know that won’t happen though.

See you next week for our, hopefully, next arc!

4 Responses

  1. Avatar Vonter says:

    I think because I’m familiar with what to expect I’ve been not caring about expecting much else from these series. Once again this episode wanted to make a parallelism with Chise and Elias about keeping secrets from each other can make one hurt the other.

    Yule’s backstory was expected given the writing we have had. I suppose it was a bit of a surprise that’s how his mentor got that scar. Not fighting a dragon or monster but for a careless mistake.

    I also wonder if the cliffhanger will amount to anything since the last one was so inconsequential, I could see just a misdirection or him turning the kid into a magical being. Like how certain folklore monsters do to children that get lost.

    All in all, it seems nothing will happen until the end. Since the last interesting thing that may happen is beating the main bad guy and Elias and Chise being separated in some way. I think it’s late to explore any of the other ideas they’ve presented, like more differences between mages and sorceress. Or how magic can be both a science or a spiritual connection to the elementals, or anything else. I suppose more than the romance is the slice of life direction that makes me feel several things are inconsequential and are mainly different ways to show the relationship between the main couple.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      I can see that. The direction doesnt line up with the story. They need to fully commit to slice of life magic like I suggested, or to romance and the relationship like you have suggested. Either one would be stronger than this half and half treatment its getting.

      For the backstory, I find it funny how both master and apprentice make the same mistakes. IE leaving children unsupervised in dangerous magical locations.

      I understand the parallelism aspect for Chise and Elias as well. I simply dont think its very good. They are beating us over the head with this without any meaningful changes.

  2. Avatar KTravlos says:

    Still I like the shows second part more than the first. It seems to explore some things more than before. But yes, this is to this point a disappointing, though still entertaining show.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      Its pretty and I dont regret watching it. Its just not fantastic. Im not going to tell anyone to go out of their way to watch it.

      For first half vs second half, I think that largely comes down to taste. The first half had plenty of issues, but it still felt like things were happening as characters got introduced and setup. Now it feels like Mahoutsukai is spinning its wheels until it hits a meaningful arc, adapting for adaptations sake rather than for what would make good anime.

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