This is both beautiful and creepy.
The twentieth episode of Mahou Tsukai No Yome (The Ancient Magus’ Bride) has aired and I will bring you the recap and review of this episode.
The episode opens with Hugo, Angelica’s familiar, flying around while sensing something is amiss. He’s not the only one as the shaking that follows from the Dragon cutting loose gets the attention of everyone nearby. Chise begs Elias to tell her how to help the dragon, to which Elias can only lament that her most selfish requests are never for herself before telling her to touch the dragon and absorb its magic, while he’ll absorb that before her body breaks.
The others throw stones at the dragon to distract it while Merituuli blocks the fire and tells the dragon they’re going back home. Chise and Elias use that opening to jump on the dragon’s back, but the dragon isn’t having that and flees despite the efforts of everyone else to try and keep it down. So Chise and Elias are left flying on the back of the dragon until the latter gets face full of fire and is blown off.
Chise, despite not having Ruth with her or Elias, removes her bracelet as they get near the river and then initiates the drain. The dragon then falls into the river below and both of them are down for the count until Ruth pulls her out. The others then find that her arm has warped monstrously as a result.
She wakes up later to find Shannon next to her, having been called in to be her doctor and see her new arm. Angelica, Hugo, and Elias arrive afterwards, the former of which hugs and then slaps her for being reckless. Ultimately, she saved the dragon and everyone else made it out for the better, except her.
As Lindel explains, she took on a Dragon’s Curse when she drained it. It’s going to fester inside of her, attacking, tormenting, and hexing her from within. Since no human body can handle it, she’s living on even shorter time than before. Chise tries to play it off as already having two curses in her body and her past, but this upsets Elias and he leaves.
Shannon does remind her that she has the option of living with the neighbors, which will turn her from human into something that could possibly withstand the curse, so Chise states she’ll think about it. Said thinking leaves her to eventually wander outside, passing by Joel’s home and visiting the Leanne Sidhe, before settling down with Ruth and Elias (who had been trailing after her sneakily). They then discuss how their relationship began with them using one another, and now she finds that she actually doesn’t want to die now that she’s found reasons to live and asks that he finds a way for them to remain with one another until the end.
They then head back to find the woman from the auction there, a witch named Mariel the Goatherder. She wants to talk about the transaction at the auction before asking about Chise’s arm and then trying a spell to remove the curse. But the curse is too strong for her to lift, something that seems to interest her enough that she offers Chise the chance to join their coven since they might be able to help her as witches specialize in curses.
Elias ain’t having none of that and says no immediately, but Chise is willing to listen to the proposal at least. Mariel reveals that all she has to do is join them at one of their gatherings and hands her an envelope to open when ready. She then exchanges a look with Elias before leaving and passing by Stella, sensing that something is off with her despite her age.
Stella came to give Chise an invitation to her birthday next Sunday and asks Chise when her birthday was… which was today, as it turned out. Silky, Ruth, and Elias didn’t really grasp the concept of the birthday party, so Stella tells her to come up with some plans next year. But before she could tell her anything, Chise feels sick and starts coughing up blood the moment Stella leaves.
Elias then tells her they’ll join the Witch’s gathering since during that little look with Mariel she explained that Chise wouldn’t make it through the Spring as things stood. So while they decide on that, Stella listens in from the window before we get a cut to Joseph , who is listening in about the dragon’s curse through Stella. He decides that he wants to see if their curses can mix with one another as the episode ends.
This episode covers chapters 35-37 of the manga. It should be noted that there are only 43 chapters of the manga out and there’s no way they’re going to be able to finish without going an anime original ending. I’m still happy for what we got though, which is why I review it.
Anyway, this episode covered the aftermath of the Dragon Whelp’s capture. Chise put her life on the line for the sake of the dragon and so now her life has shortened even more. This is tragic, because she has grown to want to live now that she has met so many people she loved and cared for. The cruel irony of which doesn’t escape her.
As Elias put it best, because of her trauma, Chise believed that to find somewhere she belonged she had to do whatever it took to stay in that place. That led to self-sacrifice, from the very first time he took her out to visit the King of Cats until now with the dragon. Now that has put her on death’s door and she has to do what she can to make it through to the end.
Elias, for his part, is also conflicted. He has grown to want Chise to be with him forever, but fighting off a Dragon’s Curse means he has to do everything in his power to try and help her. He doesn’t like the other fae because of how they treated him for being what he is, and he doesn’t really like witches either, but if they offer him a solution he’s willing to put aside his pride for that.
So now they’ve got an extremely short amount of time to try and find a cure for her, while Joseph is creeping around inside of little girls looking for a way to see if he can collect that curse too. The world really does feel like its against them and you pity them for it because you want them to be happy.
It was a good episode, to say the least. However, like before, a lot of little details were left out. And these may be spoiling some things, so bow out now or read and be potentially spoiled.
Differences in Materials
The first is that Joseph finishes his new arm while wondering what he should do with the leftovers, by which I mean the other dragon he stole. So the other dragon is still alive… technically. This is right after Chise brings the dragon down into the river but before he knows about her curse.
The second is the woman that Chise talked to on her walk, Mrs. Helena. She was thanking her for the medicinal tea and herbal pillow Chise made for her. Another person whose life was made easier by Chise.
The third is the Leanan Sidhe. Chise refers to her as Miss Redcurrant now and they discuss that Joel’s relatives came to put the house up for sale. She hopes that they’ll move in instead, so that she could be reminded of Joel when they look to the garden and smile. She kisses Chise in the hopes that it’ll make her arm better, noting how her scent had changed, an act she seen other humans do for children when they get hurt. So she’s obviously still grieving at the moment.
The fourth is that the Dragon’s Curse is outlined more clearly by Lindel. Dragons can manipulate power, but its not just magic. It’s a power in everything, so in the old times people would imbue themselves or items with power from these dragons, such as eating a dragon’s heart to gain the wisdom to speak to animals (anyone who knows Norse mythology can guess this is where Siegfried got it from). It depends on what kind of power is within them at the time.
The Dragon Whelp had madness coursing through her at the time, and like the warriors who drank dragon’s blood to partake in their power, Chise took in her emotions and pain. He does mention that some humans have lived with a Dragon’s Curse in the past, but none of them met a noble end. They either fell in battle or succumbed to it.
Shannon also mentions that magic isn’t like it was during the old times of myth, so they can’t save her with something like that. Normal artifacts would simply delay the inevitable by a short amount. That why she actually considers going over to the other side when Shannon brings it up, despite the latter pointing out what happened to her husband in warning.
The fifth is another scene with Cartaphilus, where he meets something that looks like him and it tells him that it wants to save him. Carta comments that his name is Joseph once more and asks who it is. This was probably removed from the anime because it hints to the big reveal in one of the latest manga chapters (like 5 or so chapters) involving his origin and I doubt the anime will cover that.
The sixth is the scene with Mariel and Witches in general. Witches are like magi who gather into covens for rites, rituals, and to exchange information. Each coven is different, so the devil is in the details, but Mariel’s specialize in curses for the sake of “curing” and “countering” them since its forbidden to cast curses wantonly. She offers Chise a spot since they’re even numbered and need an odd one for the sake of majority vote and her potential with magic.
Mariel is a bit special in that the blood of “temple prostitutes” runs in her veins. That is to say women who lived in temples of old gods would use their bodies as conduits to transfer divine power into men during sex. And, because of that blood, she can lend her strength to others the same way the Fae would do so to a Magi.
She doesn’t take shame in it since during those days it was important to increase the number of people in the community and it takes a lot of tantric knowledge to maximize pleasure and minimize pain during the transfer. That and she’s lived a long time. We’re talking old enough to be there when the last queen of France, Marie, got her head decapitated before the French Revolution.
The scene with Mariel begins with her finding Chise’s home by talking to birds to learn her location and when they first talk, Chise sees her mother overlapping with Mariel, leaving her to refer to her as “Mother” in Japanese. This is due to something that basically makes others perceive her in a sort of motherly way, one that even affects Stella enough that she mentions it to Chise and it clicks.
She also wants to collect a little of Chise’s blood because she wants the echo of dragon’s power in it for an elixir. That blood will be cursed because it was a part of her, but that’s fine because Mariel is confident that she can cure a small part of it. That doesn’t pan out since Elias is hostile because he believes that Witches lie too easily, because they are close to the children of men, which is a red flag on his part when you remember that his reasoning for staying with humans is because he’s not fond of the fae that much.
But you can guess part of this is because of his feelings towards Chise. Which is why, when she exchanged that look with Elias, she was using a magic called the “art of whispers” like how she did with Chise at the auctions. The moment she told him that Chise wouldn’t last past Spring, he decided to swallow his pride for her sake.
The last is that Stella is hinted at not even remembering how she arrived at Chise’s home once the visit was over. Joseph had controlled her the entire time with the intention of looking for a weakness he could exploit until he learned about the Dragon’s Curse and decided that it might serve as a backup plan if his new arm doesn’t work out.
And that’s about everything.