The Spring 2023 Anime Preview Guide
The Ancient Magus' Bride Season 2
How would you rate episode 1 of
The Ancient Magus' Bride (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.3
How would you rate episode 2 of
The Ancient Magus' Bride (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.5
What is this?
Chise was able to accept Elias and herself, if not necessarily everything about her situation. After Cartaphilus fell into a slumber that would not last forever, Chise could return to her regular life. Then she receives an invitation from a mutual aid organization for mages called the College. Under the British Library exists a secret society of mages. Encounters and interactions with people are about to open some new doors. This is a story about saving yourself to save another.
How was the first episode?
There's a notable difference between series premieres and season premieres. Series premieres need to introduce characters, setting, the general plot, and feel of the series, and somehow make that all interesting enough that you want to come back next week. Season premieres, on the other hand, already have the interest of their audience—especially when the anime is serialized rather than episodic in format. Few are likely to watch The Ancient Magus' Bride's second season without watching the first. Thus, this season premiere's job is to make sure that the audience is up to speed with what's happened so far, especially after the show's five-year break.
What we get here is an extremely low-key first episode. We're reminded of all that has happened to Chise—about her nature as a Sleigh Beggy doomed to die early and how she is now afflicted with two curses, the curse of the dragon and the curse of immortality. Of course, the problem is no one knows how all these different magical aspects are going to react within her body, so the sorcerers want to study her at their magical academy.
With this, we get Chise moving from a world of natural magic to a world of human magic. While she has met those from the human side before, this is the first time she is going to be surrounded by children like herself with magical abilities. Rather than being shunned for seeing things others can't see, she has a chance to make friends with equals who have likely faced similar issues. Of course, while she may understand this logically, it doesn't stop her from fearing the worst and flashing back to her trauma. Even opening the door to her new room proves to be a dilemma as she doesn't want to get on the wrong side of her sleeping roommate inside.
Meanwhile, Eilas, a naturally selfish creature, is working on his empathy. He wants Chise to be happy and is determined to support her in her desires, despite personally wanting nothing more than her safe by his side. As part of understanding Chise's feelings, he has started to fear the idea of being hated by her—to the point he is starting to respect her privacy since he doesn't know how she would react if she were to find him spying on her.
These are good reminders about where our two heroes are in both their mental states and their relationship and how far they both still have to come before they are stable, happy people. Hopefully, this will be a turning point for the better in both their lives going forward.
Bad news and good news. Bad news is, if you haven't gotten a refresher on AMB in the past five years since season one, you'll need to revisit at least the last few episodes unless your mind is just a steel trap for anime. This premiere spares no time for recapping the story before this, and the amount of critical details from Chise and Elias' past adventures that are referenced make it clear that you'll need full context for this new story arc. You're in the deep end here, and no water wings are being offered.
The good news is this premiere uses all that time instead to build a ton of intrigue for this new season. While nothing too shocking or thrilling happens during Chise's first day at Magic College, it's evident through every line of dialogue and framing choice that there is something – perhaps many somethings – afoot at the school, and our Sleigh Beggy heroine is most certainly going to be in the center of it all. On top of that, she's also about to face her most harrowing task yet: going to school with people her age. The double whammy of navigating school life as a socially maladjusted teenager and as a rare being of immense power and interest is a great hook. Combined with some excellent direction that constantly emphasizes the lurking dangers behind the school's mundane façade, you have an excellently moody first chapter to this new story direction.
Of course, as a fan of the first season, it's also really nice to see these characters again and witness how they've grown – or at least are trying to grow – after the events with Joseph last season. Chise finds herself searching for a new way to live, hoping her lessons at the school will give her skills to help people without sacrificing her own life. Elias tries his best to honor their new status as equal partners rather than master and apprentice while fumbling through his emotional awakenings in an environment totally out of his wild magus element. There's still the creeping danger of Chise now carrying two different magical curses and how their narrowly maintained stasis could shift at any moment. It's good stuff that immediately pulls you into the cast's heads and hearts and sets the stage for more wonder and terror to come.
Altogether, it makes for a premiere that isn't all that eventful but is fully engaging, thanks to its established character writing and superb atmosphere. It perfectly captures what made the first season of AMB such a treat while promising new mysteries and avenues to keep us coming back. Plus, just look at these good cats. That's worth an extra half-point right there.
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