Letting go of the past.
The twenty-second 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 the immediate aftermath of Chise going off with Carta, waking up in a dark lab to find Stella laying on the ground next to her. She’s alive, thankfully, when Carta calls her into the next room. In that room she sees the Dragon Whelp that didn’t escape, finding it also alive, before Carta basically gives her the rundown on what’s going to happen after his arm turns to goo in front of her.
Basically, their curses are of equal strength so he wants to take her left arm that’s been warped, and will give her a part of his body in exchange. Since the curses are linked to their bodies (a fact revealed in an earlier manga chapter), it will transfer them to one another. Then he rips out his eye and transplants it with hers in order to make sure they won’t reject one another.
Chise is naturally in pain afterwards and falls asleep, with Joseph intending to transplant the arm once the curse of immortality settles into Chise. That’s when she starts having a flashback to the days when her family was whole. Back when her mother was taking care of her, before her dad and little brother vanished.
They lived in a relatively small home but lived a happy life with her father, Yuuki, doing most of the work since her mother, Chika, can’t due to the fact that she’s a Sleigh Beggy and there’s no one like Elias around to prevent her body from breaking down. He also beat the living daylights out of any of the supernatural creatures that came remotely close to his girls, so its clear he also had True Sight too.
Chise, at this point, figures out he put her to sleep and is keeping her dreaming so he can operate on her without her waking up when a silhouette-faced Carta appears in front of her. It reveals that its the fragment of him that’s been chopped off, located within the eye, and that Carta has played mix-and-match with his body so much that what was originally him is unclear at this point. The Dragon’s Curse within her arm is allowing her to remain aware enough to communicate with this fragment of his, but warns her not to touch him until she’s ready.
The fragment of Carta then vanishes as Chise’s brother wakes up. Her father takes him to make some baby formula when he spots some kind of Japanese Youkai with red eyes staring at them through the balcony window. What happens next is that he decides to get dressed when Chise wakes up and asks where he’s going. He at first extends the offer for her to come with him, but then merely tells her he’ll be back before leaving out with her little brother. The two never come back, leaving Chise and her mother alone.
It’s here that everything goes to Hell. Without her husband, Chika has to work. But because the spooks are complete assholes, they wreck everything around her and torment her, making it so that she can’t get steady work. Then they actually outright attack Chise, threatening to chew her arm off, along with harassing them every step of the way.
Chika tries to protect her as best she could when something whispers in her ear she’d be better off on her own. Her eyes go dull, as if in a trance, and she begins to strangle Chise while saying she shouldn’t have given birth to her. Chise’s about dead when Chika snaps out of it and then commits suicide after apologizing to her.
Adult Chise is naturally upset and begins to hallucinate that she’s being strangled again by her mother, telling her to die. However, at this point Chise realizes its not her mother, but a memory of her that contains the guilt she feels, much like how Nevin’s memory guided her into waking up in the previous episode. Because of the people that she’s met, Chise is able fend off the guilt and even thanks her because it led to meeting Elias.
She then moves on from the guilt that had been a chain on her heart and meets the fragment of Carta once more. He explains that he is the blessing and curse of immortality that was given to Carta. She’s trying to accept him, so in doing so he will be a blessing as long as she wishes to live, but a curse if she wants to die.
Chise then asks what it is that he desires, for a fair trade. The fragment explains that there is one wish that its heard many times from Joseph. He wants it to be granted, and so when she wakes up she grabs Joseph and decides to find out why he’s doing all by diving into his memories as the episode ends.
This episode covers parts of chapters 41-43 of the manga and oh, it hurt me to watch.
If you’ve watched the OVAs (or read my reviews) before the anime then you know that little Chise was a ball of misery because things kept constantly attacking her. But here we see the kind of life she was living before then, with family whole and her father protecting her. The moment he disappeared with her little brother, it all went bad.
Chika couldn’t keep protecting Chise and finding a steady job. Their lives were going to hell, and the moment she was tired one of them influenced her into doing the unthinkable to the daughter she loved. She gave it everything she had, but it just wasn’t enough at that point.
No mother should have to bury her child, let alone being the one to kill her. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think she killed herself afterwards because she realized that if it happened once it could happen again. My question is where did her father go with her little brother?
Chise, on the other hand, has to watch all of this because Joseph wanted to bully her. It makes him somewhat more terrifying because he doesn’t act outright hostile. Even the way he was holding and speaking to Chise in a comforting manner despite hating her gives the impression of someone who normally seems peaceful and well-meaning.
However, it gave her a chance to recall the good times that she’d forgotten. Allowing her to draw strength from that along with the experiences she had with Elias, which allowed her to finally move on. And now she potentially has a blessing that will make her frail body immortal, though hopefully without the downsides.
Part of what made this episode a lot more dramatic is that they don’t even bother with music at the dark parts or get graphic. They cut to black when Chise gets her eye removed and you just hear the sounds of the eye coming out. And the horrifying silence when Chika snaps, right up until she throws herself off the balcony and hits the ground with a dull thump. It gave me shudders.
It was a great episode, but it was rushing things like before and that means I have to point out the below.
Differences in Materials
The first is that immediately after Elias’ screw up, there’s a scene with Spriggan, Titania, and Oberon. Since the previews showed them, I’m only going to cover that if it doesn’t come up next week.
The second is that Joseph explains both why he kept the Dragon Whelp alive (higher resale value for living specimens) and why he approached Chise when he did. He was originally getting close to her because he needed her as a backup just in case the arm he cultivated didn’t last, which it didn’t as we saw here. Elias screwing up pretty much made it convenient for him to take her when he did.
Their curses are also expanded upon. Chise’s body will constantly heal, but the Dragon’s Curse will kill her. Joseph’s body continues to break down, but he cannot die so he’s literally rotting away while alive. He believes that the curses will reach and equilibrium if exchanged, by taking in enough of her body to nullify his own and giving her enough of his to make her immortal.
He also doesn’t give Chise anything to dull the pain before taking out her eye because her Dragon’s Curse would burn chemicals right out of her system.
The third is about how Chise sees the memory of her past. It’s done like the movie Get Out, where she’s in a little room with a VCR player, only once the movie starts playing she gets sucked into her own memories due to Carta borrowing the power in her eye that he stole.
The fourth is about Chika and Yuuki. As its apparent, Chika is also a Sleigh Beggy so she attracted a lot of unwarranted attention. Only Japanese neighbors are complete assholes, so they like tormenting her instead of what happened to Chise in London, where they love her.
Yuuki, on the other hand, emits some kind of energy that wards them away. He has the ability to see spirits as well as harm them, so that scene where he was going to town on the living blob was in a nutshell how he kept them safe. He was their protector.
So when Chika says that Chise takes after her while Fumiki takes after her father, she’s referring to how their unique natures passed onto their children. One attracts while the other repels. So once he left with Fumiki, they were officially vulnerable for everything to just screw with them.
The fifth is when he left home. He promised Chise that he would come back for both her and her mother someday before he left out. But he never did, and while Chika could fend for herself, she couldn’t protect Chise as well, The Japanese neighbors who didn’t outright attack them even began to referring to them as the forsaken ones for this reason, citing them as pitiful yet delectable.
The sixth is when Chika eventually tries to kill Chise. Chika’s search for a job on the phone fails because they note she has a bad history of quitting where she works for various reasons and so she looks unreliable, meaning that no one will hire her at this point. They haven’t been able to afford food well and soon they wouldn’t be able to pay their bills, but she couldn’t leave Chise alone or she’d very likely be dead when Chika came back.
This is when whatever that thing was that whispered into her ear appeared, when she was at her lowest and weakest. It drove her into thinking that her husband abandoned them because of Chise and that pushed her over the edge. Chise calling for her snapped her out, but she realized that she fell under the influence and that there was nowhere she could go after that.
The seventh is that Carta’s Blessing / Curse is expounded upon a little more. It was placed onto him the moment he threw stones at the Son of God, being neither Joseph nor Carta, but both at the same time. It will keep her alive, even if fighting against the Dragon’s Curse that is protecting her while eating away at her. But when asked what it wanted, it explains it exists only to be salvation and damnation for people and that the wish it wants granted is the one echoing inside begging to be saved.
And that’s about everything.