The Ancient Magus’ Bride Episode 22: Memory Lane and Thanks for Letting Go

Quick Summary

In The Ancient Magus’ Bride episode 22, “As you sow, so shall you reap,” Chise Hatori wakes up in Cartaphilus’ layer, Stella Barklem unconscious beside her. Using Stella as leverage, Cartaphilus makes it clear he wants Hatori’s dragon arm, but first, he has to test their compatibility in a terrible, terrible way. After that, he forces Hatori into her memories, where she relives the awful moments that had shaped her life before meeting Elias Ainsworth. Will she be able to survive the immersion in her own memories? And even if she does, what kind of person will she be?

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

What’s In This Post

Quick Episode Summary
3 Favorite Moments
Thoughts
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"The Ancient Magus' Bride" Original Soundtrack 1 / Animation Soundtrack (Music by Junichi Matsumoto)

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3 Favorite Moments

I don’t want to even think about how much pain Hatori has to be in to clutch Cartaphilus for support… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
  1. Someones I need to remind myself that “favorite” doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to “like” the moment, at least in terms of the pain or injury the moment inflicts on the characters. Instead of a Pollyannish delight, sometimes by “favorite” I mean the moments that I acknowledge has the intended effect, which could be delight, but could just as easily be a horror or revulsion. The latter is my first favorite moment of this episode. Cartaphilus wants to take Hatori’s dragon arm, but he has to make sure his body won’t reject something from hers. So what does he do? He plucks out his left eye (3:53), letting her know what to expect. Then he pins her down and plucks out her left eye (4:44). Replacing it with his eye somehow made it even more horrifying. Sometimes, I wonder just how much more this poor girl has to suffer… It’s been awhile since I had to pause a show and walk away…

    It is true that people are given no more than they can handle? The facts on the matter are pretty clear: No. Sometimes the world breaks people. People like Hatori’s mom. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
  2. “It’ll be okay,” Hatori’s mom repeated again, and again, and again; “I have to protect her,” she also repeated, until the repeated rejections and attacks by the supernatural creatures and the avalanche of overdue bills pushed Hatori’s mom to snap (14:42). The story did a fantastic job of showing each little defeat pile up until it became unbearable. We finally learned why she uttered those terrible words to Hatori; and we finally learned why she took her own life (16:24). Hatori’s mother realized that she’d become a danger to her daughter, and that she had no way to protect Hatori from herself. So she jumped from the balcony. Damn. And did you notice? Hatori had the dragon arm when her mom jumped. Just afterward, when she collapsed onto the floor, she had the slimmer, Cartaphilus-style arm (16:36).

    “Thanks for letting go of me that day.” That single line was so quietly beautiful that I think I stopped breathing for a good 20 seconds… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
  3. This show’s intricate plotting continues to uplift my spirit. Every experience Hatori has had from even the OVAs that came out before the series started have prepared her for her confrontation with the mental image of her mother (18:53). Hatori’s life had been dominated by the memory of her mother saying she should never have given birth to her. It had been dominated by the image of her mother throwing herself off the balcony, an act that seemed like Hatori’s fault. But the young woman Hatori has now become had the courage, the grace, and the strength to redefine her life by another moment. Taking her mom’s hand, Hatori said, “Thanks for letting go of me that day” (19:40). 21 episodes of amazing drama and beauty expressed in a single sentence. It was amazing. It was a moment of pure emotional tone. And despite me trying to develop a more broad emotional vocabulary to review this show, I’m struck once again by how far it is beyond my ability to articulate.

    Hatori’s dad had apparently been able to see the supernatural creatures — and actively protected his family! So what happened? Why’d he leave? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Thoughts

Wow. If you want to take a moment to collect yourself after this episode, believe me, I understand. I had to walk around in an agitated sort of way before I could regain my train of thought.

Since the first episodes, we’ve seen Hatori’s mother in her last moments. From screaming the bitterly cruel wish that she’d never given birth to her daughter to throwing herself off the balcony, we’ve seen an entirely negative picture of Hatori’s mom. The only exception before this episode was a glimpse of a seemingly happy family (like at the end of episode 12). This episode treated us to scenes of their normal family life, from eating together to her father comforting her after she skinned her knee. The message was crystal clear: Hatori had been part of a loving family. Her mom had been a Sleigh Beggy, with the associated frail constitution like Hatori. Her father could apparently see the supernatural creatures, too, and he actively protected Hatori and her mom from attack.

This view into the supportive, loving family that had been Hatori’s world was a masterful setup for the aftermath of her father leaving. I still don’t know why he left. Was he possessed? Was he afraid for his son? He almost offered to take Hatori with him. Did he balk because she was a Sleigh Beggy, too?

For the record: I despise him for abandoning his wife and daughter. I hold him directly responsible for his wife’s death. A human can only take so much. Platitudes aside, we all have a breaking point, a point at which we can no longer make good decisions. A point at which the darkness within grows gains too much influence. This show gave us an almost terrifying accurate portrait of Hatori’s mom’s descent into that place.

The young woman Hatori has become was able to say goodbye to the mental image of her mother — the image that had trapped her for so long. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

All that setup what was the climax of the episode for me: Hatori finally remembering and understanding what had really happened to her mom. She saw with her now more mature eyes. She understood that her mom had been crushed by the weight of her responsibilities. She understood that her mom had decided to end her own life since she’d become a danger to her daughter. And in that understanding, buoyed by the strength she had developed through all of her relationships with the people who now love her, she was able to move on.

That moment was just beautiful. Like I said earlier, I find myself without any way to say just how amazing this was. So, I hope that by describing around it, I can give you a sense of how I reacted in the hopes you can find some commonality with your own feelings. Series like this don’t come along very often, and I think it’s important that we celebrate them together!

What did you think of this episode? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

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