Jumping the Track: The Ancient Magus’ Bride

I’ve been writing about The Ancient Magus’ Bride more or less as I have been experiencing it chronologically. That can be insightful with a story that disguises the narrative direction that it’s taking as this one does. As you watch you see a story that looks like it’s heading one way and then ZOOP, it’s off doing something else.

So, yeah, since the last time I checked in I’ve read manga volumes 8, 9, and 10, which catches me up to date so far as I know.

To me AMB is interesting because of the interplay between Chise and Elias. They are two excellent characters to begin with, and as the story develops their interrelationship has gotten shiftier and shiftier. For instance, at the start they were, among many other things, a father-daughter dyad, and to a large extent they still are, but as the story has progressed Chise has sometimes taken on the mother role for Elias…she sings him lullabies, for instance… to the point where Ruth, her familiar, actually remarks on it. So they slip from Father (Elias)/Child (Chise) into Mother (Chise)/Child (Elias). The former predominates, but the latter is there.

Whoa. That’s neat, especially given the other differences between them. Elias is enormously, centuries, older than Chise. But Chise is much better at being a human being.

Chise

Chise Hatori

Underlying the first seven volumes, though, was the information that as a sleigh beggie – a human in touch with the fey world – Chise would be short-lived. Her life expectancy is stated several times to be a maximum of two or three more years, and so the meta-plot of the first seven books is Overcoming the Monster, where the Monster here is death. Elias has vowed to find a way to extend her life; whether he succeeds or fails resolves that meta-plot.

That was until The Ancient Magus’ Bride became a big hit with a lot of commercial potential.

Um, oops. Chise dies = end of franchise.

I don’t have a problem with artists getting paid. I write science fiction, fantasy, and pulp, and I want publishers to put the money RIGHT HERE (points at palm of right hand). “Oh, yeah, your love gives me such a thrill, but your love, it don’t pay my bills, I want the money, that’s what I want.” And so I agree with Kore Yamazaki saying, “Geez, this series is a hit, I need to keep this going so I kin git paid, yeah, baby.”

Problem: if Chise gotta die, the series gotta end.

Um.

Oops.

So let’s try this, as they did in the most recent volumes of the manga (8, 9, 10): Let’s get Chise cursed by Cartaphilus, a.k.a. The Wandering Jew, who is himself cursed to roam the world endlessly.

See the gimmick there? Cartaphilus is CURSED to roam the world forever, and he curses Chise. What’s a curse from the guy cursed to roam the world forever going to be? Well, Cartaphilus knows one really good curse, you betcha. Three guesses, and only “Cursed to roam the world forever” counts.

Oh, lookee there, Chise has gone from “Dies in two years” to “Could potentially live forever.”

Boom. That’ll change your meta-plot in a hurry! Indeed it does, from Overcoming the Monster to Voyage of Discovery: Chise needs to find out who she is and what is her destiny.

To do that they send her off to college. That’s stealth storytelling. What it says is, “We’re not wrapping this up, so where’s a bunch of new characters in a new (to Chise) situation?” While they are trotting out those new characters we’re not supposed to notice they’ve moved the goalposts on us.

But if now Chise can live forever, where’s the tension in that?

Surprise! Chise has also accumulated a Dragon’s Curse. It has turned her left arm into something non-human and can affect her in other ways. What ways? Wait and see ways!

Chise's dragon arm

Chise’s cursed dragon arm

That was pretty cute. She was doomed. Then she got the immortal curse, and she doesn’t have to be doomed. But she also has a dragon curse, and that does what?

If you know, write the answer here: __________________________________

See it? She’s not Overcoming the Monster any more. She’s on the Voyage of Discovery: What does it mean to be double cursed? And the cool thing about that is that it moves Chise’s story from being closed-ended (she will die soon) to open-ended (What does all this mean for Chise?).

Damn, that be smart.

I always look at comments and feedback, and I’m sure I’m not the first to see what I’ve seen, so have at it. Just keep it clean and keep it on target…no personal attacks, okay? Thanks.

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