Chise’s neighbor Mr. Garland is upon death’s door, leaving his leannan shade companion in utter disarray. Can Chise bring any spark of hope to these tragically fated souls?
Mr. Garland is fading fast, and even Elias acknowledges that not even magic can save him now. However Chise cannot simply stand by and do nothing for the poor man who has less than a week to live, so she is determined to grant him one last request, even if she must use a great amount of her own magic power to do so.
This latest volume of The Ancient Magus’ Bride is as magical as ever, with even more of the serene wonder that has made this entire series great to begin with. Volume 5 in particular comes as a small, but crucial character piece as Chise and Elias both learn how to both express their desires to one another. While AMB has never had the fastest relationship, it nevertheless has continued to have steady, deliberate progress, one that highlights the small intimate moments of love blossoming between characters. In this sense the restraint feels more mature, or at least restrained, content and confident enough that the characters can carry the story without resorting to cliched forced drama.
The slow pace actually reinforces the sense of wonder and discovery, which continues to be a great strength of the series. This sense permeates the entire work from the main relationship, to the incidental characters and the world-building of Yamazaki’s magical world. The almost circular nature of how previously one-off characters like Oberon, and the leannan shade have started returning, becoming more fully fleged and rounded characters, makes the world so much more cohesive and intertwined. It pays off extremely well for fans, and makes every chapter previous more magical to go back to. The ongoing character development for all these minor characters is a lovely touch, investing me more in the story with every new chapter. It also gives me great hope for the future where I can reasonably hope to see some of the new characters who have limited page-time, like our new acquaintances the changeling doctor and her human/fae husband to have much more development in the future. (The husband sadly is another culprit of the androgynous male face syndrome that has often occurred in this series, but that’s a very minor fault .)
This Volume is absolutely brimming with wonderous new scenes and stories, that I have yet to mention. There’s an entire chapter in this devoted to Silky’s backstory which was absolutely stunning and emotional. The artwork is so visceral and beautiful I could almost hear the sounds of the chapter coming through the page. Specifically Silky’s transformation from a heartbroken and purposeless banshee into the joyfuly pragmatic brownie we know and love, has an emotional resonance akin to Beast’s transformation from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. That entire backstory chapter struck at the thematic core of Death, Love and Renewal that typifies the series, making it one of the best single chapters yet.
Not that a single highlight like Silky’s chapter does anything to diminish the rest of the book. Chise’s determined charity towards giving Mr. Garland one last unknown request before his death is a touching and desperate struggle, while her subsequent internment in the fae realm’s medical facility is an appropriate mix of the strange and wonderful. There’s also a wonderful chapter dealing with Chise and Elias getting ready for Yule, which besides being magical in its own right, continues the tradition of weaving old pagan mythology into the series’ magic system in a way that makes both seem all the more marvelous.
Volume 5 of the Ancient Magus’ Bride is another standout volume of this series. Thematically rich, character-development heavy, and full of awe in every page, this series continues to amaze. This is probably my favorite volume yet published, one that has proved the continuing merits of this series, and gives me great hope for the future. This is one not to be missed.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride Vol. 5 was published in English by Seven Seas Entertainment, on July 5, 2016., translated by Adrienne Beck. It covers chapters 21-25. The original work was created by Kore Yamazaki, and published by Mag Garden, in Monthly Comics Garden. Vol. 6 releases Jan 3, 2017
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