Posted by Lenlo on 7 February 2018 with categories: Finished Series: Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction, Mahoutsukai no Yome

Welcome to another, better, week of Mahoutsukai no Yome! For the first time in weeks we have an episode I actually enjoyed, with my favorite character in the series and a new spin on Mahoutsukai’s standard relationship commentary. Lets jump in!

To start off, I must say, this was the best episode in weeks. The story was concise and explored a new type of relationship, that of family, without shoving it down our throats to much. We also got more of the magical lore aspect, which I have wanted for weeks. The bartering with the forest Fae was brilliant, actually using the crystallized magic from the teddy bear we opened on. Progressing, once out of those, to trading blood. I enjoyed how the Fae were actually used rather than being background or antagonists, and how Stella couldn’t see them. It was interesting. The problems with this episode, of which there are few, are mostly the fault of prior episodes. The reused cliffhangers and “Chise cried danger” problems of earlier episodes hurt this one. Its a shame, as we finally saw what Chise can do on her own here as well.

Speaking of Chise, there are two big things to talk about with her. First up, and I cant believe no one seems to have a problem with this, Elias and his basically mind controlling her. Is this not an issue? The man took over her body to demand compensation from a child. I understand why, Elias is a Fae of some kind and I actually enjoyed the reminder that he is not benevolent. It was quite eerie actually. I am just surprised no one, not Chise nor Ruth, have a problem with this. Its one of the major issues in Mahoutsukai for me, their relationship. Every episode of Mahoutsukai explores a facet of what it means to be in a relationship. From Ruth and his old owner to Stella and Ethan. Yet it rarely develops our actual Leads relationship. Its content to comment on it, but never drive it forward.

However the other big thing about Chise this week, that I am happy finally happened, was Chise taking care of business. She basically did all the work this episode. From leading them to Ashen-Eye through the forest, to tracking Elias and Ethan down. I am very happy that she is showing more agency and the ability to take care of herself. In particular I loved her standing up to Ashen-Eye about the terms of the game, how he loses nothing. It plays on the typical rules of games that Fae play. We also see that her new fox pelt can transform into more than just foxes, basically making Chise a Druid now. Its great that she is developing her own skill set separate from Elias, especially considering how useless he is for being an old and powerful mage. He’s been duped by Ashen-Eye twice now after all.

Finally, we have my personal favorite character in Mahoutsukai who I have mentioned multiple times until now, Ashen-Eye. Somehow this character with no face and only 2 appearances has managed to become the most convincing “antagonist” of the series. I use quotes, because so far all he has done are a few games. Yet those games, at their outset atleast, have always come off as legitimately dangerous. Take Ethan for example, a side character who doesnt have plot armor. Anything could happen to him and it wouldn’t be outside what we know of Ashen-Eye’s character. I think a big part of this is his VA, which has managed to sell me on this “Ancient” aspect of the character, while the music and design “tell” us that he is supposed to be dangerous.  I very much hope we have not seen the last of him, as he is always a treat.

All in all, I give Mahoutsukai a B+ this week. It gave me more of what I wanted, mysterious magical lore, and for once Chise wasn’t the one in danger. It avoided the trappings of other side stories with the use of Ashen-Eye, a character who will clearly be important soon/in the future. Most of all however, Chise finally got to shine. She was the hero this episode. She tracked the kids, she negotiated with Ashen-Eye and she found Elias/Ethan. Mahoutsukai is finally letting Chise be and act strong instead of just telling us she is now strong. I hope it keeps it up. As with 7 episodes left for the season, there is plenty of room for Mahoutsukai to screw it up.

See you next week folks!


2 Responses

  1. Avatar Vonter says:

    It really shows a story isn’t much about form but execution. I think Mahoutsukai have the elements to tell a good story. But it may be on how it emphasizes certain things. Ashen Eye more than a villain could have been an interesting antagonist to move Chise forward in earlier episodes. It could also have fitted in the self contained episode format. I got the feeling that maybe if they gave it another shot with a different direction the story could turn better.

    Also just to add, this anime has a lot of nominations in the Crunchy Roll anime awards. Even the evil kid got a nomination. I find that amusing.

    All in all, this episode made me wonder how would this series have been done in the 80s and 90s where despite filler episodes writers at least tried different scenarios while reinforcing the main themes, a bit better. Perhaps is because as an overarching story it’s slow and as stand alone episodes it’s ok or weak, despite it could hit harder with some things.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      Its entirely possible its simply not adapting well. In manga form, theres no real clean definition like an anime episode. With anime however they need each episode to basically have a start middle and end, they have to confine some sort of story to a 22 minute broadcast. That can hurt a lot of stories.

      Dont get me started on the Crunchyroll awards. There are some that I think Mahoutsukai is perfectly fine being up for and others it has no right to be. Lets just hope its not a repeat of Yuri on Ice.

      I do agree that Mahoutsukai has everything it needs to tell a good story. I like Chise as a character concept, a young girl who doesnt think her life worth living. I like Elias as a character concept, the outsider trying to understand humans. I love the interweaving of folk-lore and magic. I just cant stand the… anime-ification of it all.

      Like I said before, if they committed 100% to the romance plot or 100% to the magical lore/world plots, it could be good. It would slam dunk one of those two genres. However by spreading itself out like this to hit the largest audience, it has diluted whatever potential it had.

      I am very curious how bingeable this is and whether or not it would be better like that. As episode by episode, I feel we are just losing the pacing/story beats.

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