Not every story that takes place in an alternate universe requires a drastic change in the environment to capture our imagination.
In The Ancient Magus’ Bride, manga-ka Kore Yamazaki takes familiar settings and works her magic, taking commonplace scenery and reminding us of the beauty we often take for granted.
I began my journey alongside Chise with the three episode OVA which aired previous to the anime series. Here I met a young woman dealing with the loss of a parent and trying to navigate a cruel and scary world. One day, scared and panicked, this young woman stumbles across a library deep in a forest. On the surface it is just like any other library, a refuge for those who seek it, shelves bursting with books waiting to be discovered. But as Chise spent more and more time here, it brought me back my youth and how much I loved visiting my local library.
On occasion, Chise and her master Elias, have found themselves as visitors in the Land of the Fae. Once such trip brought them to a district known as Ant Hill. Immensely tall trees occupy this district, and inside the trunks live the area’s inhabitants. Without a moment’s hesitation it made me think of the Ewok village in Episode VI and the Elven homes in Elder Scrolls. I’d long since been intrigued by the concept of homes such as these in fantasy stories, but my deep seeded fear of spiders keeps me from ever discovering it first-hand.
Hidden away deep within Iceland live the last of the dragons. This lush green land serves as their home, prison, and eventual resting place. It’s heartbreaking and wonderful at the same time to watch as these mighty creatures give themselves back to the earth. Unfortunately, poachers aware that magic exists in this world are always searching for the dragons as they are extremely valuable. They threaten to destroy this amazing habitat, and I find this speaks to how we need to work towards conserving the homes of our own endangered wildlife.
The last and most important locale in the Ancient Magus’ Bride world has got to be Elias’ home in the English countryside. It’s the idyllic English cottage with an expansive garden filled with the herbs and flowers mages work with. There’s the picturesque hillside and forests, the well-worn roads that take you past other stonework homes. And around every corner are the faefolk drawn to Chise’s magical ability as well as her kind heart.
I sincerely hope that if you haven’t experienced The Ancient Magus’ Bride that you consider diving into the story, either by way of the manga or by watching the series on Crunchyroll.