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The Ancient Magus’ Bride vol. 5

July 29, 2016

Here is where we take a break from any long-term story threads this title has been nurturing.  Anyone expecting to learn more about Chise and Elias’ pasts, the mage school that approached Elias in the previous volume, or what that evil alchemist from the first couple of volumes is up to will have to wait and see if mangaka Kore Yamazaki decides to touch upon any of them in vol. 6.  What we get here is one subplot being capped off in emotional fashion as Chise lends a helping hand to the succubus who fell in love with the old man who tends his flower garden.  The old man is dying and the succubus is beside herself with fear and guilt at this thought, as her presence is still draining his life force even though she doesn’t intend for it to happen.  With time running out, Chise feels that the best way for this situation to be resolved is to cook up some fairy ointment that will allow the old man to finally see the spirit that has been at his side for many years.  There’s relatively little drama in the making of this ointment, but Yamazaki does a great job of selling the feelings of the primary characters in this story.  When they finally meet, the emotions of the scene ring true in bittersweet fashion.

The end of that story segues quite smoothly into the next one as the effort Chise expended in making the ointment has a devastating effect on her body.  Unsure of how to properly heal a human, Elias accepts Oberon’s offer of medical assistance and crosses the threshold with Chise into Tir Na Nog, The Land of the Fae.  While Chise gets some decidedly unconventional medical assistance from a changeling doctor, Elias hears out Titania’s request for him and his charge to come live in Tir Na Nog.  What’s most interesting in this section, and the rest of the volume in general, is the worldbuilding that Yamazaki engages in.  Fairy medicine doesn’t work the same way as the human stuff does, but there are clear and logical rules set out for how it does.  We also get to learn about Silky’s tragic-then-hopeful background, and find out about the traditions and terrors lurking in Yuletide.  Vol. 5 ends with a hint that we may be getting back to one of the threads that was put on hold here.  Yet it shows that even when Yamazaki decides to step back and flesh out the world she has created within this series, the results are still pretty fantastic.

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