|Title (Japanese):||Mahoutsuki no Yome: Hoshi Matsu Hito|
|Title (English):||The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting a Star|
I’ve been meaning to watch The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting a Star for a while ever since the first episode came out a year ago. I’ve held off on it because OVA schedules are almost always so agonizingly slow that it makes more sense to binge them rather than wait several months for a new episode. The timing of the third and final episode is pretty impeccable though considering that the full television adaptation of The Ancient Magus’ Bride is coming out a month later. And let me tell you, watching through all of Those Awaiting a Star was not only a great time; it got me hyped to try the TV anime when it premieres.
While three episodes is nothing for people who frequently binge watch, I really do insist that you watch Those Awaiting a Star’s entirety back-to-back. Not only is the OVA one continuous story, but it also just feels downright cinematic. If you remove the credits and did some slight editing, you could make this OVA into a feature-length film. The visuals are certainly above the average that you expect in a TV anime. From the coloring to the lighting to the character designs, the series just looks gorgeous. Wit Studio should seriously pat themselves on the back for this work. They have the talent and skill to create some strong visuals but rarely do they ever get the budget to do so. When they do get a chance however, they really make it count.
I did get the sense that this prequel OVA assumes that you have read the manga to some degree (or at least wiki’d basic information). I got the gist that this is Chise (Atsumi Tanezaki) recounting her childhood to her teacher, Elias (Ryouta Takeuichi), and her friends but the story does begin right in middle of her daily life. And many of the present-day characters show up as though you should know who they are. This OVA also just assumes I know certain details about these characters such as why Elias has a horned skull for a head for example. While slightly confusing at first, once the story transitions over to Chise’s childhood, things become a lot more accessible. And ultimately, this choice of framing does work in the product’s favor because after learning about Chise’s past, I became really curious about her present (which is obviously the TV show) and how she became Elias’s student.
To my surprise and to this OVA’s benefit, much of the narrative relies more on its visuals rather than its dialogue. Instead of Chise narrating her life to her friends and the viewer, it’s largely the facial expressions and body language of her younger self that does the talking for her. There isn’t a whole lot of exposition either. We aren’t given an explicit explanation about the creatures Chise can see and it’s only at the very end that the nature of the library is elaborated. The most expository the OVA really gets is in regards to Chise’s terrible foster family and even that is deliberately left in the background to reflect Chise getting lost in her reading. It kind of reminds me a bit of Ghibli films in that regard; more emphasis on letting the visuals play itself out as opposed to dumping a ton of dialogue, explaining the world to you.
In spite of the short three-episode run, something about the two lead characters in Those Awaiting a Star really got to me emotionally. There’s a lot about Chise that resonates with me – her troubled childhood, her feeling that she’s misunderstood, her reliance on literature to escape from her life troubles. No matter how I looked at it, I couldn’t help but sympathize with her. Meanwhile, I really like the bond she develops with Miura (Takahiro Sakura) who acts as a sort of surrogate father for her. I admire the great lengths this character went to supporting Chise from helping her with her book report to making sure she makes it home when he realizes that something is up about the library. By far, the best scene is when he reads a picture book about a lonely star and uses it to invoke hope into Chise. It was both an emotional and visual delight. Also, I won’t spoil things but his own arc and how Chise plays into it also had me a bit teary-eyed.
I enjoyed this OVA so much that I have to wonder how the TV show will fare. Will the main story be just as strong? Will the production values of this OVA carry over to the TV show? The PVs are out and they do show a lot of promise. I supposes I’ll know soon enough since, at the time of this post, the TV show premieres in less than a month. Regardless, if this OVA was intended to get newcomers excited for the TV show, then it certainly did its job.
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2 thoughts on “The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting a Star – Review”
I really enjoyed these three parts but wish they’d come out closer together. I had to stop watching part three and go back and rewatch part 2 because I’d totally lost the flow of the story. Still, this did make me really excited for the series and hopefully it will be just as beautiful to watch.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.
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