As Chise rests at the Dragon Aerie, home of Elias’ old master Lindel, the old mage begins his tale… the tale of how he and Elais first met, revealing the secrets the skull-faced mage has thus far kept silent on.

While Chise is away at the Dragon Aerie, Elias remains behind, feeling a coldness in his bones he has never felt before. For the detached inhuman mage, it is something he cannot fully comprehend, though he is becoming ever more irritable at the thought off Chise being sent away from him. Chise herself, while parted from Elias, finally begins coming to terms with her own feelings of detachment, and worry. Are these two perhaps becoming more honest with themselves and each other?

Writing these reviews sometimes feels redundant, but only because as this series has progressed the quality of the series has continued to be excellent, and this latest volume does everything except disappoint. Following the ending tease from the excellent volume 3, we get into the backstory of Elias and Lindel pretty much right away. Not quite everything is revealed (and whether or not we will get a “full explanation” is really up for debate) but Yamazaki proves once again to be an elegant storyteller in creating a world of magic that is beautiful, wondrous and slightly terrifying, something that is perfectly encapsulated in the mysterious nature of Elias brought up in this chapter. The artwork, especially in the shaman incident in the village looks like it’s taken right from a Grimm’s fairy tale, hiding in the realm between horror and amazement.

The overarching dramatic subplot dealing with Cartaphilus and the alchemists takes a back seat here in this volume, with the focus dead set on the steadily escalating romantic subplot of Elias and Chise. If volume 3 was all about Chise understanding her love for Elias, volume 4 is the reconciliation of that feeling with the walls of detachment she has kept up since her mother committed suicide. Elias too gets his own growth, with him trying to understand his feeling of “loneliness” for the first time. The eventual payoff for both these arcs is great as they start to understand the importance of communicating with each other. It’s simple, classic and it works great for this story, allowing for steady forward story progress.

The other great part of this volume is in the ways it continues the trend of consolidating the world building by referring back to the cast of the first couple of volumes. The last volume had this too, but the continuation of this trend is even more pronounced here, allowing to give the world a more living, breathing quality that has a sense of place and purpose, more than just random magical encounters strung along with story structure. This world feels alive, and even the new characters that have started showing up feel a part of the widening canvas. The way this story works makes me want to go back and read all the early chapters again, with the cemented attachment to the character these later chapters have given me, just so I can appreciate them more.

It’s a Centaur Mailman! YES! I love this already!

The Ancient Magus’ Bride Vol. 4 is another wonderful volume, probably the most consistent and thematically cohesive of all the released books so far. The backstory is interesting, and the progress made in the romantic plot is so very fulfilling. Definitely another high point for this modern fairy tale, and not one to be missed.

What do our scores mean?

The Ancient Magus’ Bride Vol. 4 was published in English by Seven Seas Entertainment, on April 12, 2016., translated by Adrienne Beck. It covers chapters 16-20. The original work was created by Kore Yamazaki, and published by Mag Garden, in Monthly Comics Garden. Vol. 5 releases July 5, 2016

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