When I was a child, I latched onto any book I could get my hands on. My genre of choice was fantasy, particularly anything based on Celtic and Gaelic mythology. Some of my favorite authors included Lloyd Alexander (The Chronicles of Prydain), T.A. Barron (The Merlin Saga), Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising), and, of course, J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings). They each wielded their magic with aplomb, weaving narratives that bewitched my senses and promised a journey of my own someday.
These days, I read far less than I used to or would like, and when I watch anime, most of the fantasy is based on Japanese mythology. When The Ancient Magus’ Bride appeared before me, I felt an instant jolt of nostalgia and affection. Its familiar setting and language brought me back to my childhood, where I imagined going on that adventure promised me so long ago.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride takes place in an England still full of magic where mages and sorcerers walk the earth and faeries flit between shadow and light. Almost every scene brings us together with a fairy tale: the King and Queen of Faeries, the will-o’-the-wisp who leads travelers astray, and the black dogs who stalk alongside death. Ruth, the grim dog, is hands down my favorite myth brought to life thus far, with his thickly curled fur and protective stance. This may have a little to do with the fact that I’ve always lived with a black dog in my life, and I like to imagine Suzi traveling through life as not only my friend, but also my familiar.
Then there’s Selkie, Lindel’s familiar, representative of the seal legends from the Scottish Isles. Many versions of the legend state that hiding a selkie’s pelt will trap the transformed woman on land, though her hunger for the ocean will stay with her the rest of her days. I recall in particular a story where a woman seemingly happy with husband and child found her pelt and without hesitation left everything behind her and returned to the waters.
We’re only midway through the series, so there’s still far to go in Chise’s journey. From what I’ve seen so far, I expect to meet many more familiar creatures and hopefully some new ones. I look forward to getting to know all of them, and seeing what the future holds for our Sleigh Beggy.
Watch The Ancient Magus’ Bride on Crunchyroll or Funimation.