Chise’s lifes in danger when she and her friends are set upon by the mysterious boy alchemist, causing Elias to reveal himself in full fury!
The boy alchemist from Ulthar is up to more mischief, setting his sights on Chise’s new companion - the Church Grim Ulysses. In facing this psychopathic alchemist, Chise and Elias face someone who pushes them to the breaking point emotionally, leaving them to come to terms with the real nature of their relationship.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride’s third volume continues to soar to greater heights. Where volume one was the magical introduction to the world; and volume two was a slightly darker, world building exercise; this third volume really fleshes out the dynamic between Chise and Elias, in a way that is often sweet and nuanced. The care and worry Chise and Elias show for each other really hammers home the genuineness of their relationship, even as Chise has to come to terms with Elias “half-baked” nature.
Elias’ hardships in the aftermath of the volume’s first encounter leads to a great feeling of pathos for the inhuman man. The manga likes to straddle the line between Elias being an emotionless monster and an odd eccentric man showing his struggles with the few emotions he has begun to nurture after centuries of living as a recluse. The effect comes off as really well, making me really care about his role in all this. It allows me to feel something of his pain, while still leaving me in the dark about what all of his plans are for the future. He continues to be a lovable and intriguing figure who makes me really want to continue with the series further.
Chise gets most of the attention in the volume, and the new addition of her familiar/brother (the aforementioned Grim) is really nice, allowing the normally reserved Chise to have an emotional outlet, as well as a good friend. Their interplay is a lot of fun, and drives some of the funniest, as well as the most heartwarming parts of this volume. Chise really does come into her own, showing a lot of strength of characther as she grows more comfortable in her life as a mage. It might have been easy to make her passive characteristics boring and dull, but here her more passive nature is shown to be more of a conscious choice by Chise herself. She may not be the most forward of characters, but she definitely isn’t weak, far from it.
Speaking of heartwarming, the bringing in of Ulysses (renamed to Ruth) into the Chise’s magical household was a shining moment in this volume. It was not only heartwarming and beautifully done, but it also concludes chapter 12 with one of the most nuanced biblical references I have ever seen. It was a masterstroke, and brought home really how well built The Ancient Magus’ Bride’s world building is, both in its cohesiveness, and its usage of real “western” and classical mythology. The effect of all this, and other similar references that pervade the volume, really drives home how real and grounded its fantasy feels. Everything from the types of fairies, to their behavior, to the identity of the main villain is a reference to old traditions. And it is because of these myriad references that The Ancient Magus’ Bride’s world feels truly “magical.”.
The art of course is still incredibly breathtaking, able to make both intense and laid-back scenes magical and dripping with personality. The small visual gags peppered through the volume are always a treat to see, while the setting and backgrounds continue to impress. The story is consistent and well paced, both in terms of keeping the volume good on its own, as well as in following up on plot points from the first few volumes. The entire series really nails a sense of having a rich, interwoven world that has a life of its own. And I love it.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride volume three is a great volume. The most consistent thematically, and cohesive plot-wise of any of the three volumes released so far. It’s an emotionally touching and poignant book, and is definitely worth reading. If you haven’t picked up the series yet, I still highly suggest giving it a look, especially for any fantasy and light romance fans.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride Vol. 3 was published in English by Seven Seas Entertainment, on Dec 1, 2015, translated by Adrienne Beck. It covers chapters 11-15. The original work was created by Kore Yamazaki, and published by Mag Garden, in Monthly Comics Garden. Vol. 4 releases April 12, 2016.
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