The Ancient Magus’ Bride Ends

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4.5 Stars
The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Crunchyroll) (previous posts) has caught up with the original manga, so this is it for the series, at least for the next few years. It’s probably popular enough to justify a second season, but it would take that long for the manga to generate enough new material.

After some soul-searching I’m going to knock off half a point for the fact that the ending seemed a bit rushed. Maybe I’m being overly harsh here, penalizing the show because the first half was pretty-near perfect and the second half was darned good but not perfect. But there you have it. It was still a bit disappointing.

There was a time when a two-cour show would often get 26 episodes, but now 24 is pretty much the maximum. Another episode or two might have made a big difference here. A bit more time for explanation, a few more scenes where the characters worked out their feelings, even a few more framing shots in the final battle, and this ending might have felt perfect.

A lot of people seem to be wondering whether the outcome of the final confrontation with Joseph/Cartaphilius even makes sense. After rewatching it I’m convinced that it does. Maybe I’ll write a “spoiler” post in the future, but for the moment I’ll just say that if you’re prepared to watch the last 3 episodes twice it will probably become clearer.

This isn’t the first anime that needs to be watched more than once in order to make sense, and in this case at least it’s only the last 3 episodes. I’ve previously given shows a pass if the ideas just seemed too complex to absorb all at once, but in this case it seems like something that could have been fixed with a bit more exposition.

In spite of these criticisms I want to emphasize that this is overall an excellent show, almost certainly in the top 5 for the year. It gives us a rich and original fantasy world and fascinating characters. The producers have topped it off with first-rate production values. This is a show that is well worth your time.

However, though the show has a satisfactory ending it goes into some rather dark places along the way. This is definitely not a good choice for small children.