…can they even do it? After reviving the sleeping Chise — ever since she helped cleanse the corruption, she had been unconscious — the Fairy King Oberon teasingly asks if she and Elias have any kids yet. Not only does this make the girl blush, the typically emotionless Elias eventually gets a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach when he looks at her. Golly, does our spooky skeleton boi finally have real human emotions? I admit I’m biased. We all operate within certain cultural and emotional constraints, and the ones that I’m bound to do not permit me to empathize with this strangely budding romance.
The anime can explain to me why she loves him. I can also read countless of anime blogs attempting to justify this relationship. But I find myself in a situation a bit similar to the one that Elias is in: I can understand the reasons, but I do not understand the emotions behind their romance. When the characters refer to Chise, over and over again, the story jumps back and forth between referring to her as either Elias’s child or his wife. The halfling mage himself even admits he wanted to raise a human child in the hopes of understanding human emotions. And I’ve said before, from my standpoint, their relationship makes sense within a father-daughter context. But if you try to frame it as romantic love, then you lose me completely.
The love here is unlike any normal human love that you and I will ever encounter. It’s very flashy and showy. It’s very idealistic and platonic. It’s very much like the show’s visual presentation itself. I’m talking about the way the “camera” likes to linger. Like when we first see the sleeping girl cradled beneath a hollowed tree stump. Or how the fairy queen’s entrance is gratuitously long and drawn out. The “camera” is transfixed on her ridiculously undulating breasts. So much pomp and circumstance, and yet, there’s actually very little substance in these scenes. They are merely translations of moments from the original source. But they do look impressive, don’t they? They’re almost visually arresting.
And I can’t help but look at the portrayal of love between Chise and Elias in much the same way. The way their romance unfolds, the story focuses on a few grandiose moments meant to take hold of the heart if it’s already inclined to accept the show’s premise at face value. So taken as they are, these scenes are emotionally arresting if you yearn for this sort of poetic, dramatic love. I’m not looking for the same thing, however, so all I see is spooky skeleton boi and his Japanese child bride that he literally bought for this very purpose. If you try to picture yourself in their relationship, it doesn’t make sense. There’s very little actual warmth there, because even Chise admits that she’s only blindly loyal to Elias because he calls her family. These are just words. If I take a step back and try to imagine how they would interact on a day-to-day basis as a healthy couple, I can’t do it.
Anyway, Renfred isn’t the real bad guy. Instead, it’s that child-like sorcerer that we first met in the corrupted essence’s memories. Oddly enough, he still currently looks like a child, but hey, magic is involved so anything goes. Both the fairy king and queen are pretty accepting of Elias and his halfling status, but Spriggan is a giant assmunch about it. Something something calamity. Uh-huh. In his eyes, we should never interbreed, basically. Yep, we got good ol’ racist fairies on our hands. Beyond this, I have little else to add about this week’s episode. It was a slow one.
Chise’s relationship with Elias squicks me out for exactly the reasons you mentioned. She’s an emotionally-neglected girl who’s been shown kindness for the first time in her life, and is excited to be a part of a family, which is something she’s never had before in a functional sense. So of course she’s becoming affectionate towards Elias; he’s literally all she has.
But imagine how much more interesting their dynamic would be if she’d HAD that family beforehand, had a life, friends, ambitions, something to live for, and then was spirited away (hell, kidnapped) by this bony dude looking for his sorcerer’s apprentice? I feel like it would have given Chise a bit of an edge to her personality, because on one hand, sure, she’d be learning magic. Cool. But on the other, she’d still yearn to return to a semblance of normalcy, so that’d be an interesting push-pull dynamic.
I dunno. The romance would still be an issue, but it’d make more sense to me if Chise was driven to become adept at magic for the sole purpose of wanting to escape Elias/beat him at his own game, before realizing how (sym)pathetic he is, and his reasons for wanting a magical girl around. Something. Hell, I’d be a lot more invested in the show if the were the case, outside of, “Look at the pretty visuals,” in a story without much to say.
Or just have no romance at all. Love between father and daughter is still beautiful enough on its own. Don’t need to squeeze in an unnecessary romance. Same thing ruined Usagi Drop for me.