In The Ancient Magus’ Bride episode 6, “The Faerie Queene,” Mikhail Renfred again taunts Elias Ainsworth for putting Chise Hatori in danger. Plus, despite having his own uses for the corruption that Hatori cures, he’s visibly relieved that Hatori is unharmed after she completed her mission. Concern for Hatori? Some other nefarious purpose only a sorcerer would understand? Exhausted from her effort, Hatori sleeps for weeks while Elias watches over her. She awakens to an infusion of magic from Oberon, King of the Faeries. He had tagged along (uninvited) when Titania, the Queen, paid Elias a surprise visit. What’s their interest in Hatori? And why do they all seem to want to keep Elias at arm’s length?
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What’s In This Post
3 Favorite Moments
- I swear, this show is testing my vocabulary. How many different ways can I say “beautiful?” Last week, from Hatori’s perspective, we saw the dissolution of Matthew and Mina’s imprisonment in grief and rage. In this episode, we caught a glimpse from the perspective of the three who remained outside. The spray of flower petals caught in a current of air was, well, beautiful (starting at 2:41, with a particularly breath-taking shot of Hatori in the midst of the whirlwind around 2:52). But do you know my favorite part of the scene? The spontaneous joy in the cat’s voices when they discovered that their king was safe (3:12). This display of tiny details fleshing out the world has become a hallmark of this show — and I couldn’t be happier!
- Elias is going on and on, explaining why he wanted to perform the experiment to keep Hatori alive. All the while, she takes it in as exhaustion begins to claim her. After a certain point, she stops listening to the words and hears his meaning, and that meaning seems to touch her heart.
Just before she passes out, she tells him, (6:55) “There’s no need to be scared. I’ll stay by your side…” Elias has no idea how to emphasize with humans, so he doesn’t know what they really need to hear, or how to even articulate his own feelings. Yet, she’s the one in danger of dying early, and she feels compelled to comfort him. What an interesting character she is! The scene gets bonus points for one of the cats teasing Elias by saying (7:15), “Look at that quality male, being confessed to by a female.” That sounds just like something a cat would say — though I would expect a little more sarcasm from the cats I know!
- The arrival of Titania was an amazing triumph of light, music, and form (10:24). Her Spriggan herald’s introduction was both somber and jubilant as it demanded the very elements of nature rejoice at the Queene’s presence. The camera showed her flowing black hair, then holds on Titania’s eyes for a moment (11:19). When she opens them, we get to see they’re the color of a lovely purplish-pink spinel. The next shot is where a lesser series might have reveled in fan service, and for a moment, I thought The Ancient Magus’ Bride might have decided to go that route. What made me think that? I’m talking about Titania’s overflowing abundance (11:26).
After I got over my surprise, I realized what the show is really doing: This is Titania, who represents nature and natural abundance. She’s practically a fertility goddess! So of course her breasts are ample. What’s more, hers are not breasts designed for fan service. Contrast Titania with Rias Gremory or Saeko Busujima. Those two are characters that I like a lot, but they’re clearly designed to elicit a different response than Titania. Titania’s form flows naturally; Gremory’s form especially defies gravity. What I liked about this scene is that it seemed like the show was gently playing with the audience’s expectations. Instead of going with the expected modern fan service approach, they decided to elicit memories of ancient fertility statues: something primitive and close to nature — and filled with a mysterious magic and power.
This series likes to play with perception. Above, I mentioned how the show used Titania’s form to tease us not with fan service, but with ancient symbolism, but that’s only one example. The biggest example is how the show treats Elias. He’s not human, he’s not fairy, and he’s not pure spirit. He’s something in-between, and that makes him a target for misunderstanding based on the other character’s perspective.
Renfred out and out says that Elias is just using Hatori. Elias’ retort that “She was expensive, after all” (1:55) doesn’t do much to contest Renfred’s assertion. Even when he answers Hatori’s questions about his motives, he sounds completely removed from humanity. For example, when asked about her possible early death, he said, “Your death isn’t part of my plans” (5:06). A little later, answering her question about why he was interested in the experiment to keep her alive, he answers, “To see what will happen if I have a Sleigh Beggy around me, a reservoir of limitless magic” (5:16). At one point, it sounds as if he all but comes out and says he manipulated her by saying, “I let you hear the words that I suspected you would want to hear, and gave you shelter, food, knowledge, and attention. I thought I might learn something if I raised one of you myself” (6:20).
Even the silly Oberon got in on the act when he said, “I wonder how long you can keep up your false kindness for this one person” (14:30).
But I think they’re projecting their own perspectives onto Elias. There are three things that make me think that. First, Elias has treated her with nothing but kindness. Sure, that could still mean he’s trying to use her, but if that was his only goal, given her past, he could have treated here with a lot less care and still gotten a positive response from her. Her parents and others in her life set a decidedly low bar, after all!
Second, the king of the cats showed a keen insight when she said, “It looks like you’ll finally have what you’ve sought, after your long journey. I’m glad for you” (7:32). The king clearly liked Hatori, and she would take a dim view of anyone trying to hurt her. The fact that she treats Elias well means she trusts him to treat her well.
Finally, there’s Hatori herself. The second of my three favorite things this episode (see above) shows what I’m talking about. Elias was going on and on in his honest but detached way about why he was helping her. She saw beneath his words to their meaning, and she saw someone who was trying to reach out to her. He didn’t know how; he didn’t even know how to clearly say he didn’t know how. But she saw his effort and also saw that it scared him. So she responded by saying she’d stay with him.
It’s worth noting that her own damaged sense of self-worth tried to intrude at that point. Even as she promised to stay with him, to herself she added that she’d stay until he had no more use for her. That wasn’t Hatori reacting to Elias; it was Hatori still imprisoned, in part, by her past.
It seems they both have something to offer each other!
What were your favorite moments in this episode? Let me know in the comments below!
Other Posts of Interest
- The Ancient Magus’ Bride Episode 1: April Showers Bring May Flowers
- The Ancient Magus’ Bride Episode 2: One Today is Worth Two Tomorrows
- The Ancient Magus’ Bride Episode 3: The Balance Distinguishes Not between Gold and Lead
- The Ancient Magus’ Bride Episode 4: Everything Must Have a Beginning
- The Ancient Magus’ Bride Episode 5: Love Conquers All