The Ancient Magus' Bride

Alt title: Mahoutsukai no Yome

Vol: 18+; Ch: 90+
2013 - ?
4.554 out of 5 from 1,854 votes
Rank #396
The Ancient Magus' Bride

Chise Hitori was a child nobody wanted. Told by her own mother that she should never have been born and passed from one neglectful guardian to the next, the young girl has grown up feeling lost, hopeless, and emotionally numb. At age fifteen she sells herself into slavery, desperate for a home where somebody - anybody - actually wants her to be there, and is purchased by a mysterious being with a skull for a head. He whisks Chise off to his home in England and introduces her to a world of talking animals, dragons, and faeries, declaring that she is to become his apprentice in magic... and also his bride!

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I started collecting the manga of Ancient Magus' Bride after the anime utterly captivated my imagination and made me want to believe in magic. I can say that the manga does the exact same. The author, Kore Yamazaki, said that she was inspired in part to make this story because she felt there weren't enough good "beauty and the beast" type romance manga and there's a moment in the 11th volume that I feel perfectly sums up the entire manga's thesis in just a few beautifully crafted panels.SPOILER WARNING!!!The manga (at least up to the 13th volume, as far as I've read) is in a magic college/school arc, which would normally be a negative in my book (seen way too many generic high school settings in manga & anime) but it's been enough of a grand adventure that I would say it avoids the pitfalls of becoming yet another school setting. There's a colorful cast of new characters that get introduced but only a handful, so it doesn't have that shounen problem of suddenly having a hundred new faces that will never get enough character development.There's a great little subplot where Chise and her new classmates try to uncover the secret of the shy boy Zoe and why he always wears headphones. When Chise's roommate, Lucy, snatches the headphones away it is revealed that Zoe is half-gorgon when his hair turns into a writhing bunch of vibrant green snakes. They corner him to explain that they aren't afraid of him and Zoey's snakes, with a mind of their own, start playing idly with Lucy's hair. Zoe, shy and nervous and afraid, frantically apologizes to Lucy but, completely unfazed, Lucy simply pets one of the little green snakes and says with the closest thing to a smile we've ever seen on Lucy that they are such a lovely shade of green that she wishes she could have a bundle of thread in their color. It lets Zoe know that he's finally someplace where he's safe being fully himself, snakes and all. END SPOILERS!!! It's such a beautiful little encapsulation of the western magic themed "beauty and the beast" concept of the entire story has at its heart and it honestly made my heart skip a beat when I first read it. Kore Yamazaki-sensei really is crafting a wonderful tale that has so much depth, so much beauty, and so much warmth. There are some ugly moments where the absolute worst of humanity comes out but the manga is so masterfully put together that these moments only serve to make the bright, warm ones stand out even more.I would recommend 100% to at least check out this manga; it literally makes me want to believe in magic.

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