Dark fantasy, brilliant art, and incredibly compelling characters come together to make The Ancient Magus’ Bride as fantastic a series as a it is. At this year’s Anime NYC we got the chance to speak with Kore Yamazaki, author of The Ancient Magus’ Bride, and Kyohei Shimpuku, the CEO of Bushiroad Works Inc. and the editor/producer of The Ancient Magus’ Bride.
The story’s plot follows the orphaned Japanese high school student Chise Hatori after she sells herself at an auction in London. Chise is purchased by non-human mage Elias Ainsworth. Elias makes Chise his apprentice and bride, locking the two into an incredibly unique relationship in an even more unique world. The Ancient Magus’ Bride carries aspects of real-life mythology and folklore, especially that of England and other parts of Europe. Every aspect of it feels surrealist; the blend of locations inspired by real life, magic from the world of fantasy, and romantic, slice-of-life elements give a super special energy to the series. We wanted to get a sense from Yamazaki and Shimpuku of what goes into creating manga and anime like this, what challenges they face in doing so, and how they feel about their and the audience’s continued reaction to The Ancient Magus’ Bride.
Art, Character, and Expression
The art of The Ancient Magus’ Bride is my personal favorite aspect of the series and something I thoroughly enjoy with every page of the manga and every second of the anime. I asked Kore Yamazaki about her mindset and inspiration in creating characters and the fictional world they exist in. She explained what she thinks about when working on these projects, as well as where she turns for information about the mythology throughout the series.
“When I’m first creating my art, I first think about the personality of the characters. Then I think about what kinds of expressions they would use, and then do the same expression, write it down, and draw it.”
“In terms of looking things up [about mythology], the starting point is books. Also, thankfully, the internet is very developed now, so I do research on the internet. But I understand that when it comes to internet resources, the source of information is uncertain. I make sure to buy books, published ones that are sold properly. I’m not that familiar with the history, but I do research while I write. I do that research while I write and I also change the information to suit my tastes and the manga.
I also go to these places. Right now, the world is set in the UK, so I visit there. I look at the museums and also historical sites, and those are part of my [process]. I use those resources.”
One key aspect of maintaining the endearing elements of The Ancient Magus’ Bride, especially as Elias learns more and more about humanity, emotions, and expression from Chise, is Chise herself. Chise faces a lot of emotional turmoil throughout the series. Those darker and more emotional situations require plenty of care and planning to execute properly. When asked about how she does this, Kore Yamazaki noted that Chise is an amalgamation both of elements of herself but also the experiences and darker sides of those around her.
“I don’t have much experience in creating a character like that [Chise], but compared to other characters, it was pretty easy. I think that the dark side that I have, or the dark side that I’ve heard from other people, is something that I’ve created in my mind. It’s kind of like baking a cookie. I mix everyone’s information into all these ingredients, and whatever I bake as a cookie is basically what Chise did. I would say that it was easy to come up with the character Chise, but it’s really hard to express who Chise is. She’s a character that kind of represents myself. I try to remember that it’s a character that could be representative to the reader as well. So when the reader is reading and knowing about Chise, they will be able to put their emotions into this character and relate to that character.”
Anime and spin-offs
The Ancient Magus’ Bride anime was announced in March of 2017 and aired its first season from October of that year to March of 2018. A second season was announced in September of 2022 and aired its first cour from April to June of this year. The second cour premiered this past October and is still airing. Yamazaki has been fairly involved with the anime project, both in the first season and the current one.
“My involvement in the anime production is that I look over everything; that’s my position. I also look at the characters and the little things that the characters wear. Also, when it comes to the anime, there are parts where it’s original to the anime. I look over those scenarios and what the characters say as well. I check if it fits or not”
The staff and team behind The Ancient Magus’ Bride‘s anime all work incredibly hard and put a lot of effort into making sure the anime looks, sounds, and feels enjoyable to viewers. Both Yamazaki and Shimpuku had plenty to say about what fans should take with them when watching The Ancient Magus’ Bride.
Yamazaki: I think the one aspect I want fans to learn while watching the show is that it’s a story that connects the characters. It’s very important that you all can look at it as a story from the beginning all the way to the end. It would be great if you can feel something or have thoughts that come up while watching.
Shimpuku: The anime is produced by Studio Kafka, and this studio was built at first to produce The Ancient Magus’ Bride, so they put a lot of passion into it. If you all are looking at the anime, we would appreciate it if you would really see the studio’s passion and the energy that they put into this work. […] They’re putting a lot of energy and effort into this, so it would be great if you could feel the energy of the studio production. The second point I would like to say is that, just like what Kore Yamazaki-sensei said, it would be great if you guys could see the anime from the first episode and see how that moves along. This anime is about a girl named Chise trying to help others just like her. […] When we were trying to build this character, we were trying to always think about how this character would help others, and what is the best way for Chise to help others. It was a struggle to think about her and build this character. When you all look at the last episode, there might be good things about it or bad things about it that you guys might be feeling. But it would be great if [you all] would see that character [Chise] build up, and how we put our energy into that.
There have also been a few spin-offs of The Ancient Magus’ Bride. These include manga and original DVD animation (“OAD”) with stories that weren’t authored by Yamazaki. I asked how Yamazaki and others balance giving the authors and staff behind these spin-offs some creative freedom while preserving the heart and soul of the series.
Yamazaki: In terms of balancing out the freedom and also really keeping the heart and soul of the artwork, it’s really hard to say [how I do it]. But I do try to make sure that the screenwriter, the author, and everyone is putting their thoughts into it. I try to leave all the good parts of it and then make sure that it’s all balanced out [with the original aspects of the series].
Shimpuku: When more people are involved in making the spin-off, we believe that there will be a new world […] of course, Kore Yamazaki-sensei looks at the screenplay as well. She checks everything. We have a great respect for all the authors and people who are producing spin-offs. They also have a great respect for everyone, so that’s why we’re able to put it up.
Reaction and Motivation Toward The Ancient Magus’ Bride
Looking forward, Yamazaki had some words about the lessons she’s taken from the success of The Ancient Magus’ Bride and what keeps her motivated to keep that success going.
“I would probably say that when I was writing The Ancient Magus’ Bride, one thing I for sure was focusing on is the readers. I definitely was thinking about the readers and how would they feel when they’re reading my manga. So every time I kept writing the stories, I kept thinking about how the readers would feel or react to. I’m not sure if this would be a lesson to myself, but I’m really glad that I was able to write this. Also, the fact that it’s actually ongoing and it continues to be going on. I’m really happy about that.”
“Of course, the reactions of the readers are really motivating. It’s like a meal or a dinner for me, it gives me energy. When I’m writing, I want people in New York City to read my work and I want them to know that I often work abroad. I like traveling abroad, so that’s really motivating. But when people read my work, I want do my best. I’m really looking forward to it. Also, I started having a dog with me, and I realized I really need to make this dog really happy. So that’s one of the motivations for me to work harder and make my family dog really happy.
We’d like to thank Kore Yamazaki and Kyohei Shimpuku for taking the time to speak with us and members of the press at this year’s Anime NYC. You can watch The Ancient Magus’ Bride here. Don’t forget to vote for this incredible anime in our weekly poll.
Images via Crunchyroll
©2022 Kore Yamazaki/MAG Garden, Mahoyome Partners