Posted by Lenlo on 27 March 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, Mahoutsukai no Yome, Reviews by Lenlo

Fantasy is a rather prolific genre in anime, with a vast majority of Isekai and Shounen fitting snugly into it. Most take place in their own unique setting, either Amestris of Full Metal Alchemist or the made of world of the latest Isekai trash. Few however try to set themselves in our world. To peel back the mystery of our own myths and legends of lore. Mahoutsukai no Yome attempts to do just this. To bring magic into our regular dreary world. However it Mahoutsukai stretched itself to thin, attempting both a fantasy epic and a sweet character drama, only to fail at both.

Lets jump in!

Animation/Art

First off, the biggest thing Mahoutsukai has going for it is its art. When it wants to be Mahoutsukai can look beautiful. The details, the effects, and the composition of some scenes are PC wallpaper worthy. When it wants to Mahoutsukai can bring a scene to life. The problem is, it seemingly rarely wants to. Occasionally the background will be done in beautiful detail while the characters in the foreground are not, making it clear what is a backdrop and what isn’t. Many times this leads to scenes where the characters feel like they are on a stage rather than actually in a location. This isn’t common enough to ruin it however, so overall Mahoutsukai’s art is above average. The real black mark for this category however, as I have ranted about often, is the Chibi shots.

To put it plainly, these shots need to go. No doubt Mahoutsukai thinks these shots are cute, that they inject levity and comedy into the series, but overall they are simply terrible. There are the occasional Chibi scene that works great. However the vast majority of these shots are terribly timed, ruining what would otherwise be emotional scenes. Its as if Mahoutsukai is afraid of being to dramatic, but all these scenes do is flip-flop the tone at any given time. With how often they are used, usually multiple times an episode, they also stop being novel very quickly. They are simply out of place in an otherwise detailed and well presented series. Remove these whole sale and Mahoutsukai gets better. Replace them with lighter-handed comedy, without the art change, and it improves dramatically. As it is, these take away from any scene they are shoehorned into.

Direction

As far as direction goes, for Mahoutsukai I would call it adequate. It has its fair share of scenes and on more than one occasion remembers not everything needs sad music. It manages the grandiose nature of some magical creatures and the lighting/camera work does its job more often than not. However its rare for Mahoutsukai to surprise me in any way. After a few episodes you start to expect the dramatic switches, the facial close ups and the swelling sad music. Its all there, but little of it is compelling. Add to that the perpetually aggravating decision to use Chibi in near every episode, and you have a passable if occasionally above average direction. When Mahoutsukai wants to make a point or a scene it does so. It simply doesn’t feel the need often, apparently.

Story/World

Here we start getting into the… less than savory aspects of Mahoutsukai. First, the story, if there was one. Mahoutsukai has no story, atleast no consistent over arching plot. It attempts to be a character drama, and often it succeeds, however a fantasy epic a 24 episode character drama does not make. Each arc feels disjointed from the others, existing for no reason other than to compare one type of relationship to our two leads. The only binding, consistent plot point between most arcs is the antagonist, Cartaphilus. But even he disappear’s halfway through only to come back in the end for a ham-fisted “final” arc. Mahoutsukai attempts to have this grand finale yet with no real consistent plot, it just comes down to melodrama in a deserted London square. It all lacks weight, hitting with the force of a ballistic feather pillow. It just doesn’t come together.

As far as the world goes, Mahoutsukai started strong here. The first few episodes really put a lot of effort into building up a modern world with magic. We see modern applications of it, we get some well placed explanations and really everything is just rolling along well. However come the 2nd half and all of this gets thrown away in favor of the hastily built attempt at a meta plot mentioned earlier. Magic gets bandied about with no fanfare or explanation, witches are introduced and removed in the same 5 minute segment and all the while Chise has to deal with not 1 but 2 magical effects trying to kill her. The pacing goes from slow and steady wins the race to “gotta go fast, hit that next plot marker”. The world of course suffers for this and Mahoutsukai never really tries to fix it.

Characters

Finally we come to the characters, what could be called the core of Mahoutsukai. To make a long story short, there is promise here. Individually each of these characters, Elias, Chise, Lindel, Titania and Cartaphilus, etc, are good. They all work on their own and in small groups/interactions with each other. They all have something the others want and are distinctive enough to be memorable. If these were all the characters in Mahoutsukai, with some 1-2 episode side characters like the Vampire, then it would great. Sadly that is not the case. Mahoutsukai inundates us with characters, naming them all, even the smallest most pointless side character. Its hard to have a character focused drama when every episode there are new names and faces and relationships to learn. Not everyone needs the spotlight. Let Chise and Elias hog it. They are the only ones who matter, really.

Conclusion

All in all, Mahoutsukai no Yome is not terrible. It has its issue’s no doubt, but do I regret watching it? No, I don’t. There are some strong scenes and specific episodes that stood out against everything else and made it worth the time. Mahoutsukai simply fails to come together as a cohesive whole. Were this closer to my genre’s, had it focused more on the characters or more on the overall plot, it could have been something special. As it is, I would have to say the First Half of Mahoutsukai was better than the Second, which ended up dragging it down. Were it cut short to about one cour, it would be better for it.

 

7 Responses

  1. Avatar KTravlos says:

    While in general I do think this is a C show, for some reason I feel that the grade is not fully fair. My feeling mind you.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      Eh. I wavered between this and a ~72 or so for a while, but eventually hedged on the side of personal taste. A case could easily be made for bumping it up to a 75 or so based on your personal preference. Nothing wrong with that.

      There might also be a bit of a wish to be a contrarian in here, so take it with a grain of salt. Its why I try to justify each individual section.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      Heck, if possible, I would ignore the numbers entirely and focus purely on the words. If it wasn’t the format of the site, I wouldnt include numbers and would simply categorize things with things like “recommended” and “Dont bother” and such.

      Never liked numbers.

  2. Avatar KTravlos says:

    No problem Lenlo. You always make your case well.

  3. Avatar Mike says:

    I wasn’t into the romance between Elias and Chise too much but the fantasy element was nice. I agree about it not coming together as a cohesive whole but the final arc with Cartaphilus was the highlight of the show for me.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      Cartaphilus was to good for Magus Bride in my opinion. He was an interesting character looking back on it. The Bibilical setup, his end goal not being necessarily evil since he just wanted a new body, most problems in the show occuring because of experiments. As a foil to Chise and Elias, the thing that let him down the most were the characters he was supposed to be foiling.

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