The daughter of two sensitives and a sensitive herself, Chise Hatori felt like an outcast even before she was abandoned by her family. With no other options available to her, the teenage girl decided to sell herself into slavery in the hopes of finding somewhere to belong, someplace where her ability to see faeries wouldn’t be considered strange, and where she might gain some respite from the teasing of mundanes.

To her surprise, Chise was bought by Elias Ainsworth—a seven-foot tall mage who was neither a man or a faerie but something in between. Though he was capable of hiding his true form behind glamours, Elias rarely bothered to so, allowing the animal skull that is his face to be freely seen when he is among his fellow mages. Chise’s surprise turned into confusion, as she learned that Elias had bought her because of her status as a Sleigh Beggy—a sensitive who draws magic into themselves as easily as breathing air. She was also stunned when Elias freed her of her chains, saying that he intended to make her into his apprentice… and then his bride! Now, Chise is growing into her new role as a fledgling magus, trying to learn what she can of the world around her and the power at her command. She also tries to get to know her new master, though she is quick to realize that human emotions are alien to Elias and that he bought her as much to try and better understand people as to understand her powers. Dark forces threaten them both, as Elias’s duties as a mage place him in peril, and Chise finds herself getting drawn into helping those in need against Elias’s wishes. Still, something seems to be growing between the new master and apprentice, something neither of them have the words or experience to name, but which might be love.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride is one of the most involved and complex fantasy romance manga it has been my pleasure to read. While stories of a young woman falling for a monster who seeks to become more human are nothing new (Beauty and the Beast ring a bell?), Kore Yamazaki builds a complex mythology to support the odd romance between Elias and Chise that mixes elements of traditional fantasy, Catholic/Anglican dogma, and Celtic myth. For instance, in the first four volumes, reference is made to the Wandering Jew, one of the main supporting mage characters tends to a dragon sanctuary, and specific fae such as selkies, Leanan Sídhe and Church grims are encountered as Chise pursues her education.

The artwork is also unique and memorable, with Elias’s design itself being notably alien and eye-catching. Yamazaki’s art perfectly conveys the weird beauty of her world as well as the nightmarish horrors that wait to catch the unwary off-guard. The sequences in which Elias sheds his preferred form and allows the shadows that empower him out lead to some truly horrific imagery.

The series is rated 13+ for Teens and I believe that rating to be a fair one. While Elias and Chise’s relationship is odd, there is nothing improper about it and there is no sexual element to the story at all, despite Chise technically being a slave to Elias’s whims. There is no hint of fan service in the artwork and nothing that would be inappropriate for most teenage audiences in my estimation, though some elements of the evil magic Elias and Chise fight (such as a man who sacrificed cats to steal their lives) may disturb some audiences.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride, vols. 1-4
By Kore Yamazaki
vol 1 ISBN: 9781626921870
vol 2 ISBN: 9781626921924
vol 3 ISBN: 9781626922242
vol 4 ISBN: 9781626922556
Seven Seas Entertainment, 2015-2016
Publisher Age Rating: Teen (13+)

  • Matt

    | He/Him Librarian

    Reviewer

    A librarian with over 10 years experience in public and academic settings, Matthew Morrison has been blogging about comic books for nearly as long as they’ve had a word for it.  Over the past two decades, he has written regular columns, commentary, parodies and reviews for such websites and blogs as Fanzing, 411 Mania, Screen Rant and Comics Nexus.  He has served as an Expert in Residence for a seminar on Graphic Novels and Comics for Youth and Adults at the University of North Texas and has given several lectures on the history of comics, manga and cosplay culture at libraries and comic conventions around the country. In addition to his work for No Flying No Tights, he is the Contributing Editor of Kabooooom.com and maintains a personal blog at MyGeekyGeekyWays.com.

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