Mahoutsukai no Yome Ep. 4: Animal-assisted therapy

I should like this episode, since it’s full of cats. Even anime cats are still cute. It’s when they become catgirls that everything goes wrong. We’ve taken a beautiful animal and perverted it beyond belief. This is the crime that anime must atone for. Anyway, maybe I shouldn’t like this episode after all. It doesn’t have catgirls, but it will lead to an episode in which they suffer. In other words, there’s actually a conflict to deal with! Not only that, the plot doesn’t resolve itself within a single episode. You don’t know how much I welcome this over the slow and sleep-inducing narrative in the three previous episodes. This week, the King of Cats — who’s apparently a majestic female feline by the name of Molly — enlists Elias’s aid.

Before we get to the issue at hand, you should know that cats literally have nine lives. And over the course of those nine lives, they can apparently learn to speak the human tongue. They sound exactly like us! I’m hoping my Nabi learns to speak soon so I can tell her how annoying she is at 3 am. Anyway, Molly tells Chise that in the past there was once an evil man who hunted cats. He killed them indiscriminately, hanging their swinging corpses from hooks. One day, the cats had had enough, and the first King of Cats led an all-out attack to fell the catsbane once and for all. Unfortunately, his corrupted soul would not die, and it has lingered ever since on some tiny island in the middle of a lake.

Recently, however, the corrupted soul threatens to escape from its prison, and Molly has decided that the tainted mass of the catsbane must be purged once and for all. The corrupted soul wouldn’t just hurt cats again. It is also a danger to humans. The current King of Cats has grown terribly fond of its human; she sees the child as one of her own, and what mother wouldn’t protect her babies? Chise’s honeymoon thus continues to be one long therapy session. She not only travels with Elias to see the world and open her eyes to magic, but she is slowly but surely confronting her past. Not all parents are bad. Not all mothers abandon their children. Even a cat can have so much love to give to a child. This is the second episode in a row in which Chise encounters a positive parental role model.

I’m not sure what Elias is doing, but yet again, someone grabs the girl, flies off into the sky with her, then dumps her into a body of water. It turns out a sorcerer and his assistant(?) intends to use the corrupted soul for their own gain. Why did his assistant drop Chise into the lake, though? If they wanted to kill Chise there and then, they could’ve done so. Instead, allowing Chise to come into contact with not only the corrupted soul but the ghost of his wife seems to have seeded doubt in our heroine’s mind. The wife wants nothing more than for Chise to kill them both for good, but Chise hesitates. Is this what the sorcerer is hoping for?

The girl doesn’t know the full story, so she can’t help but wonder why the wife would desire such a hard and final end to her and her husband’s existence. That’s where next week’s episode will come in, and I don’t look forward to seeing those poor, tortured cats. Chise also worries, however, that Elias will lose faith in her if she fails to cleanse the corrupted soul. In actuality, Chise’s soul also needs healing. Our loved ones would never lose faith in us over a single mistake. Hell, they wouldn’t stop loving us after multiple mistakes either. But she wouldn’t know that, would she? Thanks to Chise’s tumultuous past, she has no concept of unconditional love. Naturally, she thinks any failure on her part will spell doom for her relationship with Elias.

I’m starting to think this anime would’ve been better served with Elias as a nurturing father figure than some awkward husband-to-be. This is an inkling I’ve had since the start of the series, but I feel it now more than ever. His unconditional love for her would make far more sense coming from a parent-child dynamic than… whatever we have right now. It would also make more sense for a parental figure to also double as the child’s mentor. Students have certainly fallen for their teachers, but within the context of this anime, i.e. Elias buying Chise from a literal slave auction, I’d much prefer it if she didn’t start seeing him as a love interest. I don’t even discern a single thing about their relationship that appears remotely romantic, so why even bother squeezing in a love subplot when it doesn’t need one? Are we just that love-starved that we’ll take any relationship we can get?

But enough about that. Chise’s attempt to cleanse the corrupted soul is rudely interrupted by Renfred, the sorcerer I had previously mentioned. He also reveals to her that, as a Sleigh Beggy, she will die soon. He quickly accuses Elias of not actually caring for Chise. He reasons that Chise’s nothing more than an experiment to the mage — a curious creature with remarkable powers. The episode comes to an end here, but for a girl with practically no self-esteem, I’m sure she’ll be rocked by these revelations. Still, this week’s episode is markedly better than the first three. It’s still not an anime I would ever watch if not for Moe Sucks, but at least we finally have an actual conflict to follow.

Some snarky notes and observations:

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Just a short list this time.

— These are some derpy-looking cats.

— “You struck me as odd, choosing to pair bond with this cranky old man.” That’s where you’re wrong, cat. There was never a choice!

— “I hate kids,” Elias says. So why are you marrying one? I kid, I kid.

2 thoughts on “Mahoutsukai no Yome Ep. 4: Animal-assisted therapy

  1. Advaris

    Meh, animu catgirls don’t even act like a cat at all. Screw them. Lololololol

    Back on topic, the anime has finally reach this point, huh? This is indeed the point when the manga begins to have a real and more serious conflict. The conflict, the antagonist (i.e. the sorcerer), and the conclusion of the conflict are fine, but there are some shit during the road to the conclusion that drags the whole thing down. You will know what I mean in the next episode.

    And completely agree on the whole “Elias is better as a nurturing father figure” stuff. What the f*ck is the mangaka thinking when she writes this? I have the read manga until the latest translated chapter and I still don’t find a single thing in their relationship that doesn’t have “daddy issue” undertone. (And even “mommy issue” undertone. You’ll understand what I mean if the anime has reach that point in the manga.) It isn’t romantic at all.

    1. ====

      Yeah, it makes me thing that the mangaka has some daddy issues. Or maybe they aimed at shock value, since nothing spices up the story as much as buying a child bride (not really).
      The whole slave thing actually came as a shock to me, since I started with the OVA and the relationship between Elias and Chise there is that of a parent and a child. Now I starting to see Chise sitting on Elias’ lap in a totally different light…


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