The Ancient Magus Bride: Those Awaiting a Star
D: Norihiro Naganuma
W: Kore Yamazaki
Released: August 13, 2016
3 OVAs 22 minutes
Prior to the full 24 episode season aired in 2017-2018, a three part OVA was released in 2016 which is called “Those Awaiting a Star”.
The OVA is exquisite in its delicate construction whose themes are those of eternal returns within an elaborate multi layered construction. But this work is hardly an abstract structure, but rather vividly frames an intense and troubling series of injuries and sufferings of total rejection and existential lonliness.
In the OVA there are three separate and distinct story levels, and each layer is told within the context of the previous one. “Those Awaiting a Star” involves the return of two books.
In the First Level, between EP 12 and 13 of the regular full season, Angelica Varley finds and returns to Chise Hatori a book called “The Lonely Little Star” which initiates the next two levels of story as
Chise Hatori must now tell to Elias and Ruth her horrible back story of rejection. It is difficult to fully detail the full experience of hurt and pain in this, but it strikes directly to the heart and goes a long way to explaining her character.
The Second Level is Chise Hatori’s back story, and centered within this story, is a book called
“The Lonely Little Star” which is given to her by a character in the Third Level called Riichi Miura
who tells her that she needs this book as he shows her the vast and lonely world of the star filled sky.
But at its end, little Chise rejects the book and lets it escape! Because of her suffering, she cannot believe in the message of “The Lonely Little Star”
The Third Level is Riichi Miura’s back story of how he became the Librarian of the Forest, and that his beloved Niikura Mayumi had given him a book called “Spring Will Be Missed” which he must return to her, but he is unable to do so for reasons which are necessary to discover without spoilers.
In that case he asks little Chise to return the book for him and she agrees to do so.
The cycles of eternal return are clear as “Spring Will Be Missed” is to be returned to Niikura Mayumi
through the agency of Chise Hatori, and “The Lonely Little Star” is to be returned to Chise Hatori through the agency of Angelica Varley. Both books are in Japanese but while “Spring Will Be Missed always remains in Japan, Chise’s book, “The Lonely Little Star” travels to England and finds it’s way into a used book store in London where Angelica finds it. Because it is in Japanese and knowing that Chise is Japanese, she purchases and sends it to Chise with many other study books.
As a wag over at Crunchyroll said in answer to skeptics who doubt that a book could travel so far,
a book of this sort has a way of finding its owner!
The artists here have stitched cycles of returned books through a three level story structure with each level enclosed within the previous one. Brilliant and beautiful to follow this heartfelt and moving story
of enormous suffering and pain within an even more abstract structure of eternal returns.
The physical animation art itself and the incredible music track fully and completely structure the emotional character of your own heart.
As Chise is thrown out onto the streets, she loses all hope and happiness which she had so briefly found with Riichi in the library and as she says, she cannot believe in the message of the book, and she throws it away at the end. And that ends Chise Hatori’s back story told to her little community at the Elias Ainsworth cottage. But in a circular loop back to the beginning of the OVA, Angelica finds the book which Chise threw away, and returns it to her.
Chise now sees the book and herself in an entirely different light, that she is The Lonely Little Star and she has been found by a Child of a Star
The OVA is incredibly moving and terribly beautiful with exceptional artwork. While many do not care for the OVA, it is vital to understanding the world of Magus, and especially to understand the horrible things which happened to Chise and forms her character early on. This back story explains clearly why Chise sells herself and to this reader, is a necessary prologue to fully appreciate the 24 EP season.
The Ancient Magus Bride OVA is a very melancholy and exceedingly sad story of Chise as she comes close to suicide and for that very reason is perhaps where much negative interest is centered. As you might imagine, the OVA is not a fun watch, and is guaranteed to bring tears.
This prequel is an outstanding masterpiece and highly recommended viewing, and if you do not like it so very much, it casts forward viewing so that you would probably not enjoy the full 24 EP season either.
Note by Pywackett:
Pywackett considers the OVA to be a much greater artistic work, than the later, full 24 EP season for many various reasons, but mostly for its very, very subtle plot. There is a great deal of exterior reference to both Japanese and even Chinese cultures and language.
At the end of Chise’s story, Elias mentions that the Library in the Forest reminds him of something he learned. So he pulls one of his reference books, called “The Legends of Tono”, and looks up what is called in Japanese a “mayoiga”. This leads to a exceeding complex series of cultural references.
A mayoiga has two versions of expression
マヨイガ mayoiga is hiragana which is phonetic for the Japanese word “mayoiga”
迷家 mayoiga is Kanji which translates as Lost House. This is roughly the same meaning in Mandarian
9 strokes. JLPT N3. Jōyō kanji, taught in grade 5.
10 strokes. JLPT N4. Jōyō kanji, taught in grade 2.
Kun: いえ、 や、 うち
In 1910, Kunio Yanagita (1875-1962) wrote and published “The Legends of Tono” in Japanese. Elias’ book which is in English is an obvious translation of that Japanese work.
Section 63 in “Legends of Tono” speaks about mayoi-ga. While Lost House is the most obvious translation of mayoi-ga, it is not the house which is lost but rather the person who finds the house who is lost in the forest and in that sense, the Lost House is salvific as it is for Riichi who through Chise, completes his obligation to return the book, “Spring Will Be Missed”, to
his beloved, and for Chise who through Angelica, returns the book, “The Lonely Little Star” to Chise. The “lost” character here 迷 has a more connotative meaning for its a sort of emotional or ideational “being at a loss”, a sort of mental/emotional confusion which certainly describes Chise and her emotional state. Chise says at the end of the OVA, that she will reread “The Lonely Little Star” with a different frame of mind, a sudden moment of awareness which changes one’s Point of View.
All of these sudden moments in time, are like a string of pearl stars and as one suddenly lights up, the next follows, and if the OVA works like lights, then as a viewer of this anime, you will light up with a sudden moment of awareness.
Chise feels herself to be entirely alone, the lonely little star, but Riichi explains that all stars are like the string of pearls, they are all interconnected. This grand harmony follows as a string of images,
But It is sometimes necessary for a heart to break in order for the mind to see.
For a viewer of the anime who might be at a loss concerning The Ancient Magus’ Bride, if you find the Lost House, you will surely and suddenly become aware that this anime has much bigger grains to grind than most others, for it deals exclusively in the world of the Fae.
Fae is a very large subject and not at all clear as to how it is defined. Usually considered about fairies, Fae as in Fairies, it also covers all imaginary creatures who are usually less than gods or demiurges.
Magus begins in Japan and Japanese mythology, and then suddenly transitions to England where Elias buys Chise at the London human auction, and this begins the 24 EP series.
Elias’ book, “The Legends of Tono” is an English language translation of a Japanese work.
Mayoi-ga is the central core message of the OVA and lays out in some detail, what the series is actually about.
In order to leave the Lost House, the mayoiga, one must take something with them. Riichi does not take any object from the house, and there fore is trapped within in it, but he makes sure that every time Chise visits, she leaves with some object such as a book.
Elias consults his reference book, and speaks of mayoi-ga in the following context as
Also at the very end of the OVA, Elias mentions to Chise, that also one who takes something from the house is blessed with enormous good fortune. And Chise slyly responds that is perhaps true.
Riichi shows Chise the stars.
1) Start audio - Fluidscape by Kevin MacLeod
Fluidscape by Kevin MacLeod
2) Start video
3) Expand video full screen
The Ancient Magus Bride - OVA is a masterpiece and Highly Recommended.
The Ancient Magus Bride
D: Norihiro Naganuma
W: Norihiro Naganuma
TV series: 2017-2018
24 Eps 23 minutes
With the OVA having set the stage, the 24 EP series begins. The Ancient Magus Bride is tour de force into the world of the Fae, a little word for a very large subject.
While Tolkien brought Nordic, Viking, and Germanic mythology back to the world of the Fae, Magus deals almost exclusively in Celtic mythology. The Anglo-Saxons, a Germanic people, seem not to have brought much mythology to England when they migrated/invaded the Celtic Britons, but rather absorbed that area of mythology. This was the motivation for Tolkien to reinvent English mythology which be believed to be of rather poor quality.
If the OVA, has placed you into the proper frame of mind, then the full season will drive a stake into your heart as the artists pound incessently.
No other story, not even Tolkien, has captured the magic feels of the strange, the weird, and the other worldly qualities of the Fae quite the way “The Ancient Magus Bride” is able to do.
That Japanese artists so fully understand Celtic mythology, is on consideration, rather amazing.
Watching Magus, is itself rather amazing, in that the sense of the Fae is real, you can feel the Fae
throughout the run of the series. Just over your shoulder off in the corner, a you feel the Fae before you see it.
An ancient English mysterious magus, Elias Ainsworth, travels to London, and at a human auction,
he purchases Chise Hatori for 5 million pounds. Elias is essentially a monster, maybe even a demon with a skull head and horns. His origins are mysterious, and never fully explained but he seems to either have lost his humanity, or he never had it to begin with, and one of the reasons he wants Chise is to help him connect/reconnect to being human by becoming his bride. But there is a substantial problem in that as he explains, Chise Hatori is a Sleigh Beggy or Sleih Beggey in the Celtic Manx language on the Ilse of Man off the West coast of Great Britain midway in the Irish Sea between Ireland and the United Kingdom. And she has Red hair, which while very rare, does occur among Asian peoples, she appears very strange to most Japanese people. Her own father and mother reject her, as do all the people who surround her. This leads to horrific pain and suffering. The father leaves the family taking his son with him and one might suppose that looking the way she does, he believes that his wife has cheated on him, and the mother kills herself saying to Chise, I wish you had never been born. And even worse, Chise has the Sight, she can see Fae which terrifies her. She therefore presents to the Japanese people as very non-Japanese and is severely rejected such that she is totally alone and lost. No one wants her until she finds the Lost House, mayoiga and she receives the two books, but then the Lost House evaporates.
This utter despair leads her to reject the message of the Lost House and to contemplate suicide.
Instead she sells herself into slavery because being owned by someone is at least to belong somewhere to someone. Elias buys her at the London Human Auction for the immediate purpose of making her his apprentice and he takes her home to the English countryside where she is completely accepted by the Fae, many of whom fall in love with her like Silky and Ruth, or simply want her for her power. Even dead, her organs can evoke magical power.
Chise as a Sleigh Beggy is a magus who has the potential for great magical power, but the exercise of that power, weakens her body, and will lead to her eventual death in about 3 years.
Elias knows all this but is hoping to find a remedy for her survival. This is the overriding plot element of the series because Chise must confront the evil of the world, and transform it, even to the point of sacrificing herself.
The antagonist is Cartaphilius, a being so old and warped that he does not even remember why he does the profoundly evil things which he does.
Chise as the protagonist and hero of Magus must do battle with Cartaphilius not to destroy him but rather to transform his very nature. Deep within the name, Cartaphilius, are the words kartos and philia which is the ancient Greek words for strongly or deeply and love so that the name could be interpreted as “deeply beloved”. It is hard to imagine a character more in denial of anything even remotely like a person who is deeply beloved, but Cartaphilus is an ancient creature even older than Elias. But as Chise being a Sleigh Beggy, to save one is to sacrifice one’s self. The absorption of sin may be beyond the considerable power of Chise, and may end with her own transformation and destruction. She may have to absorb all the sin of Cataphilius in order to save him. As Cartaphilus has deep connections to Jesus Christ, the Christological aspect which Chise must absorb is clear. She types Christ on the Cross and must sacrifice herself.
All of this is even beyond the understanding of Elias and gives considerable ground to the village priest, Simon Kalm, whose image Elias sometimes uses, and to Ruth, the church graveyard guard dog.
This is the theme and climatic denouement of the series.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride could have been a very heavy, depressing work, but the artists have leavened the dough with a great deal of humor at the oddest moments. And they employ the standard anime trope of deformed faces to emphasize the emotional state and reaction of their characters.
The art of the animation is beautiful and the music so delightful.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride is wonderful in all aspects, and a joy to watch and rewatch.
Test with the OVA. If you like those three episodes, then in all likely hood you will throughly enjoy the full 24 EP season.
Ancient Magus Bride is one of those rare
works which descend very deep. Fae or Fairy Stories
seem archane and childish to modern eyes and ears.
But J.R.R Tolkien(1892-1973) would disagree.
His theory of Fae is that only in the Fae can you
explore and describe very deep subjects necessary for
human development and growth.
G.K. Chesterton(1874-1936) and
Carl Jung(1875-1961) agreed
with that point of view!!!
Highly recommended with no reservations what so ever!!!
Folcwine P. Pywackett