As Kore Yamazaki’s second serialized title, following Futari no Renai Shoka (2012), The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Mahou Tsukai no Yome) presents an interesting departure from Yamazaki’s slice of life romance origins. Published first in Monthly Comic Blade, then in Monthly Comic Garden, the series has garnered quite a bit of positive attention including a number 2 ranking from male readers in the 2015 Kono Manga ga Sugoi! survey and a Manga Taisho nomination in the same year. Seven Seas Entertainment provides the English version with Adrienne Beck, known to readers of this site for her work on Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto, working as the English translator.
Our story opens with the heroine, Chise Hatori, being sold at auction to an audience of alchemists and members of the occult. In these circumstances, it’s no surprise that her buyer is none other than the well-renowned and otherworldly mage Elias Ainsworth. Yet Elias quickly makes it clear to Chise that despite the circumstances of their meeting his intentions for her are anything, but unsavory. Rather, he wishes to take Chise on as his apprentice and wife. What follows is Chise’s gradual introduction to mages, fae, and dragons as she comes to learn more about what her place is in this world.
The plot and pacing are slow to start in the first volume, with most of the story focused on explaining the importance of Chie’s powers to the world of magic and exposing the ways in which mages and the world at large interact with magical creatures. However, by the final chapter, a summons to Chise and Elias from the king of cats, the action starts to pick up with Chise sent in against an adversary for the first time.
Yamazaki’s style is also somewhat unconventional for a manga. The characters in The Ancient Magus’ Bride appear stout and broader than even the typical shounen style, though the somewhat more Western appearance is somewhat thematically appropriate for the story’s English setting. Though Beck’s translation does well with some of the more obscure terminology used in the volume, at times the story leaves the reader with want of a glossary or a bit more in the way of translator’s notes. Terms like ‘sleigh beggy’ wait for half the volume before they’re given any sort of definition or explanation, and even then it’s unclear if Yamazaki’s simply created a mythos and system of magic to suit the storyline or if these themes have their origins in English folklore and the occult.
Overall, for a manga with a title like The Ancient Magus’ Bride, the story that Yamazaki offers is much more sedate and far less romantic than one might imagine. The story’s framing may be familiar, but the way it executes itself distinguishes itself from others in the genre. Though at times the pacing may be somewhat frustrating, the volume ends on a solid promise of something more to come.