The previous volume left off on a dramatic cliffhanger as Elias, enraged by the wounding of Chise, began to lose his human form and revert to his natural one. What follows is a rousing sequence of action and drama as the two, and those in their immediate vicinity face off against Joseph, a.k.a. Cartaphilus, a.k.a. “The Wandering Jew.” This long-lived individual, currently assuming the form of a kid, is a real piece of work. Blithely acknowledging the pain his experiments cause, all for his stated purpose of living a painless life, he is immediately hateable even as his absent-mindedness about why he was performing certain experiments and rage at being called by his true name hint that there’s more to him than the carefree surface he presents. After that conflict is resolved, the drama mostly recedes into the background as Chise and Elias return home, with the former getting used to life with her new familiar and the latter dealing with the consequences of assuming his real form. They’re soon split up again as Chise heads up north at Master Lindel’s invitation to craft her own wand and learn a bit more about Fae that calls itself Elias.
Vol. 3 continues this series exploration of magical rules and history, while also offering deeper insight into its two protagonists. We see a more emotional and vulnerable side to Elias than we have in previous volumes, which should make clear that he cares more for his charge as a person than as a thing he bought at an auction. Better still is the in-text acknowledgement that Chise can’t simply continue depending on her benefactor. At some point, she’s going to have to become her own person and stand on her own two feet. This acknowledgement is also administered in a fun, if not overly transparent, manner courtesy of Lindel and the welcome return of Angelica. While mangaka Kore Yamazaki has made her intentions clear that she wants Chise and Elias to wind up as a couple, that idea has been problematic from the start due to the owner/property relationship established between them at the start -- to say nothing of their physical/spiritual differences. Yet even as the mangaka works to show that genuine feelings are starting to form between the two, she’s also tackling the more difficult task of forging Chise into her own person. This is probably the most compelling plot thread in the series, causing it to resonate with everything else on display in this volume as one of the year’s best.