The Ancient Magus’ Bride Episode 3: The Life of Dragons and the Search for Home

Quick Summary

In The Ancient Magus’ Bride episode 3, “The Balance Distinguishes Not between Gold and Lead,” Chise Hatori finds that her abductor, Lindel, is surprisingly polite, though he does task her with babysitting dragon hatchlings. An ancient dragon offers her a gift, and she tries to accept — but her past still tries to hold her back. Can even Elias Ainsworth, her mentor, help her free herself?

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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3 Favorite Moments

Elias, would it have killed you to notice Chise was freezing and soaked before taunting Lindel? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
  1. What does Elias do after emerging from Chise’s shadow (6:40)? Does he notice Chise soaked and shivering with cold? Does he ask her if she’s alright? No, he starts taunting Lindel. The latter has to ask the Ancient Magus if he intends to keep her standing there freezing. Elias may be a kind-hearted soul, but he’s not the most observant. Though he does get points for asking a fire fairy to help try dry her off. The little creature seemed delighted to help her!
  2. Uncle Nevin waking up (11:05) was another opportunity for Chise — and us in the audience — to learn something about the magical world. The little dragons cheerfully said that Nevin, as a uils dragon, was going to turn into trees and pasture soon. The little dragons seemed quite cheerful about it! Even Nevin seemed to take it as a matter of course. Then, as Chise looked at the landscape, she could see the signs of past dragons in the grass, in the streams, and in many of the trees. She was so overwhelmed that she had to ask Nevin to confirm that “returned” meant what she thought it did. Moments like this, when the narrative plays with our assumptions about life and death, are one of the things I’m coming to appreciate about this show.

    Nevin’s view of death is dramatically different from Chise’s — and our! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
  3. When Nevin said he wanted to let Chise experience flight for the first time and started to flex his wings (14:26), the part of me that watches story mechanics whispered, “Man, if he magically heals himself enough to fly, that’s gonna kick me out of the narrative.”* But I need’t’ve worried. This is The Ancient Magus’ Bride, after all. Nevin used magic not to heal himself, but to draw Chise into his memories of flight. And there she was — flying in a crystal blue sky beside Nevin in his prime. Chise had a hard time taking it all in — the beauty, the light, the warmth; the all-encompassing freedom. That wasn’t all. Because Chise’s the Sleigh Beggy, Nevin leveraged her strength to make this his final dream (16:45). He willfully returns to the Earth afterward so a Linden tree (Tilia) could spring up. The melancholy of one of the last ancient dragons coming to an end, combined with the sadness still oppressing Chise, compounded with the idea that even the mages are coming to an end, completed enveloped me. This was the kind of scene I search for. The capstone was Nevin saying, “Thank you. Because you were here, I spent my last moments in flight.” What a wonderful scene!

    Pain can leave a lingering imprint. But so can beauty. Chise didn’t know how to accept the beautify of Nevin’s last flight. I hope she’ll learn how soon! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

* Yes, sometimes pretending to be a writer can be a pain. I can’t turn off the part of my brain that sees stories not as finished structures, but as collections of plumbing and writing and studs. I don’t see a light switch; I see wiring and circuit breakers and LED lights. That’s why I like The Ancient Magus’ Bride so much. The narrative is so skillfully executed that I’m starting to trust the writing staff. Also, the story and characters are so beautiful that even the mechanical part of my brain’s becoming enchanted. Kinda apropos given the topic, don’t you think?

Thoughts

The little dragons were ridiculously adorable. They reminded me a lot of Kiri and Sakura from Otome Youkai Zakuro. A little bigger, sure, but I saw the same kindness and energy.

“Doesn’t it hurt?”

Despite all of the pain in her past; despite trying to shut herself off to prevent more agony; despite being in a situation that she couldn’t even have imagined just a little while ago; Chise still asked Nevin, “Doesn’t it hurt?” Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Throughout this whole episode, we see that Chise’s past still has its claws in her soul. She can’t accept Nevin’s thanks and asserts that she did nothing to help. She still thinks of suicide as an escape. She doesn’t want to allow herself to grieve over Nevin’s aches because her own pain is still too close and numbing.

But despite all of that, as Nevin’s telling her his time is close, she asks, “Doesn’t it hurt?”

We’ve seen this stubborn refusal to wither in Chise before. She’d endured terrible treatment, yet when Elias bought her, she didn’t look away from him. She’d given herself up to be sold into slavery, yet on the plane ride, she told the slave trader that she didn’t handle pain well — meaning that a part of her wouldn’t just give up and accept what came. In this episode, she even admitted that Nevin’s sky was beautiful. A part of her, even if it’s a small part, refused to be cowed.

This is one of the reasons I adore this character.

Chise’s tolerance for beauty and kindness is still very low; her encounter with Nevin overtaxed her. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

To be sure, she’s not healed yet. Not by any stretch of the imagination. At the end of this episode, she’s still denying that she grieved for Nevin. The experience of flying with the ancient dragon and her attempt to deny the sadness of his passing overtaxed her, and she passed out. Before she did, her wish for death as an escape surfaced again: “…still, I can’t help but be a little envious of the peaceful way he passed.”

I admire how the writers aren’t glossing over the effects of her pain and abuse. I’m looking forward to traveling the journey of recovery with her. We’re only three episodes (plus three prequel episodes) in, and I’m completely enthralled with this character.

What do you think? Am I overreacting? Or do you feel the same affection and concern for Chise? Let me know in the comments!

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Post Author: tcrow

2 thoughts on “The Ancient Magus’ Bride Episode 3: The Life of Dragons and the Search for Home

    Scott

    (October 27, 2017 - 9:41 pm)

    This is a series with so many powerful moments in it. I’m glad this one appeared this season.

    Thank you for writing about it.

      tcrow

      (October 28, 2017 - 8:31 am)

      Those moments are really something special! I like how they flow naturally and honestly!

      Glad you stopped by!

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