The Ancient Magus’ Bride Episode 21: Visiting the Coven and the Innocence of Youth

Quick Summary

In The Ancient Magus’ Bride episode 21, “Necessity has no law,” Chise Hatori and Elias Ainsworth visit the witch’s coven at Mariel’s urging. But, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Hatori didn’t get exactly what she sought — though we can’t say she walked away empty handed. Later, Elias makes a terrible decision by himself, and he forces Ruth to help him. What will Hatori do when she discovers the lengths to which Elias will go to save her? And when will Cartaphilus make his move?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.

What’s In This Post

Quick Episode Summary
3 Favorite Moments
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Elias is, in part, the sum of his experiences so far. It seems the rejections he’s endured have extracted quite a high cost. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The first moments (0:00) perfectly set the tone for this episode. Elias, who we find out sitting on his bed, is remembering all of the creatures who called him “failure” and “half-assed monster.” He also remembers parting with Lindel, meeting Angelica Varley as a child, and even meeting the priest Simon Callum. Those memories were distinct from the harsher ones, but I got a real sense that Elias didn’t know how to interpret them. It was almost as if he couldn’t fathom that those people might think well of him, or might even accept him as a friend. Because when he remembered Hatori, he remembered her as the only one who would just look at him as Elias. It’s that feeling — that sense of Hatori as a personal treasure — that drove his decisions for the rest of the episode. From that perspective, I understood and pitied him.

I think the Ariel might be angry with Hatori! One of the few moments of levity in this episode… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Speaking of preparing us for later developments, the scene between Ariel and Hatori started out as simply adorable (13:46). First, Ariel berated Hatori for making yet another stupid decision that resulted in her injury. The little Fae’s worry was obvious as she sat on Hatori’s canvas-covered dragon arm and picked at the fabric. Shortly after that, we get a critical clue for interpreting what happens later. Hatori tries to confirm that Ariel wouldn’t have worried about her had she not been a Sleigh Beggy. Ariel sounded almost offended when she answered, “So what?” (14:26). This is critical because it underscores something that at least I have a tendency to forget: the Fae are not human. Ariel reacts as she does because she’s a Fae. Ruth acts as he does, at least in part, because he’s not human. Most importantly? Elias is not human, so he does not have a human perspective on the world. That becomes chillingly obvious shortly after this scene.

Not only did Hatori have to endure Elias going off on his own. But he even denied promising to work together with her on the cure! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The show’s worked hard to establish the key elements in this next scene. First are the components of Hatori’s character, like her self doubt, newly found desire to live, and new found friendship with Stella Barklem. Then there’s Ruth’s absolute loyalty to Hatori — a loyalty that goes beyond even morality. Next is Cartaphilus’ desire to have Hatori. We don’t know why, exactly, but I think it’s safe to say it’s not for humanitarian reasons. Finally, we have the not quite Fae and not human character of Elias, for whom Hatori is his emotional everything — but not in the way a human would recognize as love. All of those collided and exploded when Hatori opened the door to the room where Elias and Ruth had taken Stella/Cartaphilus (19:00). Amid the misunderstandings driven by flaws in their characters, Hatori confronts Elias over his plan, which would undeniably leave Stella dead. He readily admits what he was going to do, and why: because he was jealous of the look Hatori gave her. Hatori hit him so hard that she almost broke her human hand. They’ve been together all this time, and yet both have so little understanding of the other.

This episode was tough on Hatori. And the next episode looks like it’s going to be even worse. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.


Between this episode and the last 5 minutes of Record of Grancrest War episode 9, I’m emotionally exhausted!

I mentioned in my third favorite moment how the last scenes pulled together so many of the dramatic threads that the show’s been weaving until now. The interplay between plot and characters has been amazing! The complexity of motivations in that last scene was masterful to the point it bordered on the kind of thing you’d see play out in reality. Well, making allowances for Elias, Ruth, and, well, most of the cast except for Hatori and Stella not capable of appearing in our reality…

What stands out for me is how much Elias’ decisions make internal sense, at least to him. Before I say any more about that, I want to reassure you that’s I’m not a psychopath. I’m not going to try to justify Elias putting Stella in danger. I readily admit and support that idea that she should not be sacrificed against her will. There’s too much precedent in natural law, human law (for most civilized peoples), and even the development of human cooperation as part of evolution to argue otherwise.

Put another way: hurting or killing Stella is just wrong.

But we judge humans according to culpability, which is in part based on a awareness that what you’re doing is wrong. Elias is not human. He’s been alive over a thousand years. He’s tried to study humans. He’s even claimed to understand some aspects of human behavior. But there’s a truth in the cruel taunts the Fae hurled at him: he’s an incomplete creation. His emotions are at best child like. It also seems like they’re incomplete. His logical mind seems solid, but his logic can only proceed on the facts as he understand them. From his perspective, he had to eliminate any threat to Hatori. If that means he needs to trade a life for hers, then he might as well chose the life of a girl Hatori treats with more warmth than she sometimes extends to him. In his mind, that’s the same as killing two birds with one stone. Put another way (again, from Elias’ perspective): why not Stella?

Elias acted out of his own self interests, but he meant to malice. What can we say of Cartaphilus? I’m pretty sure maliciousness is the best we can hope from him. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Really, how else should we expect Elias to act?

I think Rubeus Hagrid from the world of Harry Potter would have understood. Did you read the books? Do you remember Hagrid creating the Blast-Ended Skrewts? They were a cross between a manticore and a fire crab. When they were full grown, they were about a meter long and had a violent temper. They were dangerous and would try to harm anyone who got close. Yet, Hagrid couldn’t understand why people didn’t like them. He expected them to act like foul-tempered monsters. When they did, they were simply fulfilling his expectations. He did not judge them by human standards. Instead, he judged them by Blast-Ended Skrewt standards.

Humans often come away much worse for wear when they encounter the Fae or other non-humans. Hatori is likely too young to even consider this. This is where her innocence of youth (relatively speaking, of course) comes into play. Did she really expect to live between the worlds of the Fae and human and not see something like this? When history’s so full of the consequences of these encounters? When she’s even been involved in some, like we saw back in episode 5, when Hatori helped Mina and Matthew finally attain peace?

And we all remember what happened the last time Cartaphilus attacked Hatori in front of Elias

Again, I’m not saying that what Elias did can ever be considered right in the eyes of humans. Just that what he’s doing is understandable from his perspective. What it means for his relationship with Hatori in the future if a completely different topic!

What did you think of this episode? What were your favorite moments? Please feel free to share them in the comments!

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