The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Vol. 1

By Kore Yamazaki. Released in Japan as “Mahou Tsukai no Yome” by Mag Garden, serialization ongoing in the magazine Monthly Comic Garden. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

There have been so many fantasy series released over the past few years that it can be a bit difficult to sort out the wheat from the chaff, and you find yourself looking for some plot point or character that makes the new license stand out from the pack of selkies, vampires, goblins and fairies that dot the manga landscape. I’m not sure that The Ancient Magus’ Bride possesses anything that makes it immediately leap out at a reader, expect perhaps for the skull of said magus himself. But what it does have it a strong plot, likeable characters, solid, pretty art and a desire to get the next volume in the series the moment you set the first one down. In other words, no flashy stuff here, just a very, very good book.


The premise is that a teenage girl who has spent most of her life shunned by friends because she can see “invisible things”, and whose mother has passed away, is kidnapped by a bunch of alchemists, who realize that she is a Sleigh Beggy, which is to say a giant magical sponge. Luckily for her, the one who purchases her is Elias, who may have a face like a cow skull and claim that he plans to make her his bride one day, but in practice seems happy to take her on as an apprentice, showing her the joys and dangers of a world where magic is slowly dying but still present, and allowing her to use her considerable power to try to help those in need.

As I said above, I’m not sure where the ‘bride’ thing is going, but given that Chise is 15, I hope it’s nowhere anytime soon. Chise herself is a fairly quiet, reserved type, as you’d expect from a child with her past – we see her pondering suicide in one flashback – but she is also very much attuned to the wonders of the world she is now part of. This can be dangerous – in the first chapters, she’s almost kidnapped again by “helpful” fairies who try to take her to their own land – but also tremendously heartwarming, as when she’s kidnapped AGAIN, but this time manages to help a dying dragon have a vivid and wonderful final dream before he passes on.

It’s a bit difficult to know what else to say in a review like this, as I don’t want to spoil too much, but I will say that I was smiling a great deal as I read it. There’s likeable supporting characters – Angelica in particular is awesome, and there are some interesting bad guys who pop up near the end as well. As I said before, the art is excellent, showing off the world it’s creating without being too complex or showy. And you really want to see Chise learning more and growing into her power fully, as well as realizing what life can hold for her and learning to love herself after spending so long on the edge of despair. There’s also some humor, mostly from Elias – or rather, against Elias, who gets beaten up for not remotely recognizing the trembling of a young maiden’s heart.

There’s nothing specifically outstanding about this title so far, but it doesn’t put too many feet wrong, and as such ends up adding up to something excellent. Mag Garden’s titles are somewhat genreless, but I think this is a title that could appeal to both men and women, even if it has a bit of a shoujo feel to it. Seek it out immediately.

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