Ancient Magus’ Bride (Anime) Review

Acient Magus Bride

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’ll be talking about an anime I recently watched called Ancient Magus’ Bride! As usual, I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum, but I’m going to talk a bit about the premise, so let’s jump right in!

Our protagonist is a girl named Chise Hatori who, in the wake of her mother’s suicide, decides to just sell herself into slavery; nothing good happens around her, and she sees strange creatures few others can. She is bought for a fortune by an otherworldly-looking magus named Elias Ainsworth – who, upon taking her home, immediately frees her but asks her to be his apprentice anyway. He reveals that Chise is a Sleigh Beggy – someone who can see magical creatures and wield magic herself, but who is frail in exchange. With nothing else to do and nowhere else to go, Chise agrees to stay with Elias.

What follows is a series of escapades during which Chise learns more about the vast world and its mysteries while slowly coming to understand Elias. She meets Elias’ acquaintances and, often through them, encounters a wide array of creatures from dragons to faeries to a boy who is rumored to be the devil himself, all the while gaining a better understand of who she is of her place in the world.

I don’t want to spoil too much, so I won’t delve into further detail regarding the plot. I will, however, say that Ancient Magus’ Bride succeeds where many stories fail at making magic feel both awe-inspiring and deeply interconnected with the world. It presents magic in a way that centers it in how people relate to each other and conveys the sense that everything has a price, giving it a Fullmetal Alchemist-esque mystique, though it’s far less combat-centric.

Chise’s adventures feature overarching themes of love, loss, and how to cope with life’s trials. Each of the major characters struggles to fill some void, making them incredibly relatable. The focus is on nourishing acceptance, inner-strength, and on fully embracing those deserving to be your home, not concealing vulnerabilities. I found the whole journey incredibly touching, and, admittedly, even cried at times. I therefore rate Ancient Magus’ Bride 5/5. I recommend it to anyone seeking to view the world from a new perspective.

Have you watched Ancient Magus’ Bride, or read the manga? If so, what did you think? If not, which anime have you watched that you found most moving? I’d love to hear about them below; I’m a bit of a fan of tearjerkers. =p May your days be magical! I hope to see you again next week!

 

Tales of Xillia 2 Review

ToX2

Hiyo, everyone! Today I want to talk about a game I recently got to playing, and found myself spending hours on most days – Tales of Xillia 2, of course! It’s one of many games in the large “Tales of” series of which I have been a huge fan every since playing Tales of Symphonia, one of my favorite games ever. It’s also a direct sequel to the original Tales of Xillia, so in discussing the premise, I will have to touch on some spoilers from the first game. I’ll keep them to a minimum, though, as usual.

The story follows a man named Ludger Kresnik who, as of the beginning of the game, lives with his older brother, Julius, in an apartment in the world of Elympios. Having failed to pass the exam needed to work for the enormous Spirius Corporation alongside his brother, Ludger begins his new job working on a train. However, the train is quickly attacked by terrorists. Ludger meets with a strange little girl named Elle who seeks a mythical land, the renowned researcher Jude Mathis (who is one of the original Tale of Xillia’s protagonists) and Bisley Bakur, the CEO of Spirius Corporation. They advance through the train until they find the ultimate culprit – who appears to be Julius. He pulls Ludger into another dimension, where Ludger receives a powerful ability called Chromatus. Ludger defeats a version of Julius from that dimension; since alternate-Julius served as the dimension’s catalyst, the whole dimension is destroyed in the process and Julius returns to his world.

Ludger is greatly injured in the battle, but never to fear! The Spirius Corporation heals him, leaving him good as new – and with an enormous 20,000,000 Gald debt. However, having seen Ludger’s power, Bisley decides he ought to hire Ludger after all. The latter is tasked to enter even more alternate dimensions – called fractured dimensions – and destroy the catalysts within, thereby wiping out those dimensions in order to ensure the safety of the one he lives in.

Ludger’s journey then alternates between paying off his debt and destroying fractured dimensions. Along the way, he meets and joins up with several characters from the original Tales of Xillia, some of whom weren’t playable party members the first time around. They travel throughout the recently-joined worlds of Elympios and Rieze-Maxia, facing all sorts of foes along the way. I don’t want to spoil more than that, so if you like action RPGs, I suggest you play Tales of Xillia. (You gotta play them in order!)

The game does a good job of developing its characters; aside from Ludger, each playable party member has their own series of optional missions you can follow to learn more about them. Xillia 2 also touches on some surprisingly dark themes, such as what it means to obliterate another world and what people are willing to sacrifice to achieveĀ  their goals.

As is usual for Tales games, Tales of Xillia 2 looks great and has a strong soundtrack, though I didn’t find a single track I really loved as I usually do in Tales games. The combat system is engaging and diverse – you can control 9 separate characters – but, to me, felt a little bit bloated with mechanics. Others may disagree, though! I had lots of fun despite that fact, so it’s all good!

Tales of Xillia 2 reuses many of the locations from the original Tales of Xillia, and it builds on characters starting where the original left off, so I strongly recommend you play the original first. Admittedly, Tales of Xillia 2 is a bit grindy. There’s certainly plenty of cool fights and powerful story moments to keep the player interested, but you may often find yourself retreading familiar ground, especially if you do all the sidequests.

My best recommendation is to play Tales of Xillia and continue on to Xillia 2 if you find you want to learn more about that world. I did, so I had a great time. I therefore rate Tales of Xillia 2 4.3/5.

Have you guys played any of the Tales games? If so, which are your favorites? If not, are there other RPGs you’re into! Please let me know in the comments below, and have an absolutely lovely week! Ciao~

Successor’s Promise by Trudi Canavan Review

Successor's Promise

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’m going to review a book by one of my favorite authors, Trudi Canavan! I just finished reading Successor’s Promise and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I should note this is the third book in her Millenium’s Rule series. (If you Google that, you may see it referred to as a trilogy, but there’s another one coming, so I guess that label is outdated. =p ) The previous two entries are Thief’s Magic and Angel of Storms. Obviously, I recommend you check those out before reading Successor’s Promise; without having done so, a lot of the story won’t make much sense.

On that note, while I will avoid significant spoilers for Successor’s Promise, there will be spoilers for the previous two books. I’ll try to keep those to a minimum, too, but, without some, I can’t properly describe the premise.

Successor’s Promise takes place across many, many worlds; I don’t know whether the term ‘multiverse’ is appropriate here, but that’s the feeling I get when I read about them. Mages with sufficient power are able to travel between worlds quickly and freely as long as they possess enough magic. The story’s two viewpoint characters, Rielle and Tyen, are exceptionally strong mages. They can also easily read the thoughts of those who are magically weaker than they are, which makes for interesting interactions.

I’ll briefly discuss the backgrounds of our two main characters. Rielle comes from a world with little magic where use thereof is strictly forbidden. She is tricked into using magic and eventually cast out of society for it. She’s delivered to the angel Valhan, who takes her from her world and helps her master her strength – all so he can use her for his own purposes. At the end of the second book, she makes a decision that alienates her from Valhan’s faction.

Tyen’s world also has little magic, in his case, as a result of magical machinery consuming a lot of it. He discovers a book which contains the memories and knowledge of a woman named Vella. After being framed as a thief, he, too, finds himself up against the laws of his world. He flees and, eventually, he finds a way to travel to another world and later encounters the Raen – the ruler of worlds – who forces him to act as a spy for him by posing as a member of the Resistance trying to overthrow him. He does so while trying to protect as many people as possible all while hoping the Raen will find a way to create a body for Vella. In the end, however, the Raen is killed. Tyen’s role as a spy is suspected but not revealed to all, so others remain wary of him.

In Successor’s Promise, the Raen’s most loyal servant, Dahli, endeavors to find a way to resurrect his ruler. He manages to rope Tyen into playing a role using the potential of resurrecting Vella the same way as a bargaining chip. Rielle, on the other hand, feels responsible for the well being of Qall, a boy she saved from the Raen five years (‘cycles’, by in-universe terminology) ago. Dahli is searching for Qall, who has now come of age, and does her utmost to protect him.

I feel I’ve already said enough about the plot, so I’ll stop there. xD It’s quite intricate and is best experienced from the beginning.

As a reader who has been following the series since volume 1, I found it very satisfying to see how the characters have evolved. They’re constantly faced with difficult decisions with strong repercussions. I’m really eager for the fourth volume to arrive, to learn which paths they take and what they’re willing to give up as a price.

I found Successor’s Promise to be quite the page-turner due to its deep lore, introspective characters, thorough world-building, and strong momentum. The only part that seemed a little puzzling to me was an arc near the beginning of the book that served more as a way to bring Rielle and Tyen together than as an important part of the plot. Overall, the book was still excellent! I had a lot of fun watching the plot evolve and hidden truths be revealed. Therefore, I rate Successor’s Promise 4.8/5.

Have you read any of Trudi Canavan’s work? What did you think? Who are some of your favorite authors? Please let me know in the comments below, and thank you for reading! I hope you all have a stellar week. Ciao~

Review: Fate/Apocrypha

Apocrypha

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’m going to review an anime I’ve been following through its two season run: Fate/Apocrypha. As usual, I will do my best to keep spoilers to a minimum, both for Apocrypha and the other Fate/ anime I’ve watched. But I’ll definitely cover the premise of the story!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Fate/ series, there’s a general structure to the conflict taking place. Seven mages, called Masters, each summon Servants – heroes from throughout time, but mostly from the past – to fight on their behalves. They battle each other until only one remains to claim the prize, the Holy Grail, which grants the winner a wish.

The catalyst for Fate/Apocrypha is a mage faction called Yggdmillenia, which breaks off from the rest of the Mage Association and claims ownership of the Grail. In their efforts to retrieve it, the Mage Association eventually manages to activate a scenario where Servants are summoned again – but, this time, there are fourteen of them. Two factions, each with a member of each of the following hero classes: Saber, Lancer, Rider, Archer, Assassin, Berserker, and Caster. The seven Servants of Black fight for Yggdmillenia, and the seven Servants of Red fight to regain the Grail for the Mage Association. Of course, this creates fourteen masters, too. However, due to special circumstances, the viewer never meets all of them.

I won’t list all the servants present in the battle, but just to give you a taste, let me name a few of the better known ones: Achilles, Frankenstein, Shakespeare, Mordred, Vlad III, and Jack the Ripper.

In addition to the fourteen Servants, the Grail summons a fifteenth spirit, Jeanne d’Arc, who is of the Ruler class and is to serve as an arbiter for the battle. There are rules to be followed; specifically, those who have nothing to do with the Grail War are not to be involved. Jeanne quickly finds herself in over her head trying to enforce that!

I won’t go deeper into the story than that except to say the primary protagonist isn’t a Servant or a Master, but a homunculus who the viewer meets in the first few episodes. If you like action, fantasy, drama, or mythological lore, I definitely recommend you check out the series, though I should mention that the Fate/ franchise isn’t afraid to interpret heroic spirits as the writers see fit.

I really enjoyed Fate/Apocrypha. The main characters undergo great development throughout the story, and there are plenty of intriguing characters to become attached to. The downside, in this case, is that there are so many characters that there’s no time for all of them to last very long. I became fond of several characters who died quite early, and that was a bummer!

One of Apocrypha’s themes is the salvation of humanity, like in many of the other Fate/ anime. The cast offers a varied selection of viewpoints regarding that topic, which makes Apocrypha fun to watch for me since I like delving into philosophical subjects. In the end, I wasn’t entirely certain which side to root for – a sign that the writers did justice to all sides of the argument.

Personally, I don’t really watch stuff just for the action scenes, but, for those of you who are into that, Fate/Apocrypha delivers spectacularly. There are many battles throughout the series – simultaneous battles of weapons, spells and ideas that kept me interested quite reliably.

Overall, I rate Fate/Apocrypha 4.7/5. It’s a super cool anime that gives you all sorts of reasons to get involved! The only caveat is I feel you’ll get the most out of Apocrypha if you watch Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works beforehand. The two are connected, and understanding how gives the viewer better insight into the characters.

Have you watched any Fate/ anime? (Or played any games?) If so, what did you think? I find the concept of writing a show involving a wide array of heroes from the past ultra intriguing. Please let me know what you think in the comments below! Ciao for now!