I’ve come to prefer simpler romances, i.e. the ones grounded in reality. In other words, the ones that don’t require so much world-building. World-building is usually a nuisance if it fails in execution, and I can’t say that I find Mahoutsukai no Yome’s universe to be all that exciting. Whenever I get bored, I start multi-tasking, and boy, did I multi-task through this week’s episode. I guess part of the blame lies with me. If I’m to be honest with myself, I’m only watching this show to see how the relationship between Chise and Elias will play out. I don’t care about the girl’s magic potential or what Elias intends to teach her. Furthermore, I’ve never really liked any take on magic and sorcery, anime or otherwise. Sadly, the whole mage thing makes up half of this show’s premise, so we must necessarily sit through the obligatory info-dumping. Magic can do this, magic can do that, yadda yadda yadda. It all looks pretty, but at the same time, it fails to be mentally stimulating. Nothing here makes you take pause and wonder.
I like science fiction, because it often takes a look at all the problems that humanity faces in the present day, and tries to imagine how those problems might be addressed in the future. Or instead, it’ll just imagine what bigger problems we’ll face as a result of technology. Stories involving magic often don’t engage me in the same way. They almost always feel as though they should only be taken at face-value. Almost always are the operative words here. They’re not all boring to me; there are some interesting stories that involve magic. And to be fair — and I will give credit where credit’s due — magic has the potential here to unlock Chise’s memories. In this week’s episode, we get a glimpse of her mother through magic. This is, sadly, the only interesting moment of the entire episode, but nevertheless, it hints at something greater to the power of magic than just, well, silly magical shenanigans. For Chise, anyway, magic has the potential to be therapeutic, and this would be a fascinating angle for the story to explore to the fullest.
(Look, all those people defending last week’s episode because Chise technically consented to being sold into slavery are nuts. I can technically consent to euthanasia as well, but that doesn’t mean I have a sound mind. The girl doesn’t need a husband. She needs a therapist. Unfortunately, we don’t have mental healthcare in either anime or the real world, so magic will just have to do.)
My biggest concern, therefore, is that we’ll only get a drip-feed of Chise’s mental landscape being treated by magic. In the meantime, we’ll have more dull world-building about fairies, familiars, priests who heal through magic, blah blah blah. We’ll introduce obligatory threats like a silver-haired pretty boy who — with the help of a dragon — absconds with our heroine. For the love of god, don’t introduce a rival. Don’t also introduce an exigent threat to the world at large. There are two things I really want from this show: 1) focus on the weird relationship between Chise and Elias and 2) help the poor girl out with her issues. So far, I’ve gotten very little of both. This is why gimmicks like magic only serve to bog these shows down. The previews for the third episode seems to suggest that we’ll see more of her past, but we’ll see. This week’s episode had way too much world-building that I simply did not care for, so previews aren’t really good indicators of what we’ll really get. Still, at least we’ve identified some promise in the anime.
Other loose thoughts and impressions:
– My other problem with magic is that Elias doesn’t even use it in a way that makes me think, “Oh yeah, I definitely wish I was a mage.” For instance, for all his magical abilities, he still has someone to cook and clean for him. It’d be so much more awesome to me if he could just fulfill the same tasks with magic. Anyway, I’ve never heard of a landlady who cooks and cleans, but this might be another case of the word being used differently by another culture.
— Ah, the classic English breakfast. It looks incredibly unhealthy, but also delicious. Now I’m starving.
— This is terribly naive.
— Elias suggests that he and Chise go on a honeymoon. Obviously, he doesn’t understand what a honeymoon is. But that’s not the interesting part. Rather, why does he not know? And it’s not very convincing to merely say he’s child-like. He’s obviously a well-read man. He’s obviously learned. Am I supposed to honestly believe that he purchased a bride — an Asian bride, no less — and never even bothered to read up on marriages, honeymoons, etc? That’s a bit hard to swallow.
— Our magus puts on a human facade when he goes into public. Ah, the ol’ Batman conundrum: is Bruce Wayne the real person or the mask?
— Yep, Elias went all the way to Japan to purchase a bride. Sure, sure, he did it because she’s a sleigh something. But I can’t help but be reminded of those middle-aged dudes who take annual trips to Thailand. Y’know, for “sightseeing.”
— Too late for that.
— Plus, I dislike the way the story just sweeps his actions under the rug. Angelica socks him in the stomach, and that’s it. Good ol’ anime violence. If a guy trips and falls on your breasts, just hit him! If the guy sees your panties, just screech and hit him! If he forces you to get naked, just hit him.
— The show has these sudden tonal shifts to comedy that don’t really work for me.
— By the time we’re introduced to Simon, my mind started to wander.
— The anime is well-produced by Production I.G, but it’s not terribly imaginative. All I get to see are the same verdant fields of grass over and over. The previews for next week’s episode hold some promise, but for now, there’s really not much to look at unless you just like grass that much.