The contrast of dragon and human in episode three of The Ancient Magus Bride is stark and purposeful. The ancient dragon, Nevin, and even the young ones (and Lindel, too) see death as part of life, something they shouldn’t fear, something they should even aspire to do well. So even as Nevin breaks apart, like chipping paint from an old house, he is at peace. But the show also reminds us, through Chise’s memories and internal thoughts, that while she’s mended and complete on the outside, and even further has a savior in Elias, she’s the opposite of the dragons; she still has much brokenness within.
For Chise, her journey is very solitary. She shares a powerful moment with Nevin when he helps him experience the feeling of flight one final time, but denies the emotion she’s obviously feeling, pushing it aside as just one notable moment spent with a stranger. That’s very much in Chise’s character – her experience with people is full of bullying, rejection, and even enslavement. She has pushed away entanglements with others to survive in the past, and continues to do so. While Elias has freed her from her chains and given her a new life – and Chise realizes such – she isn’t able to completely transform. Her history still haunts her.
Elias realizes this – I believe he must. He accepts Lindel’s advise about her vulnerability after all, and stays very close to her in every situation (literally, in the case of this episode, in her shadow). And while he rescues her from danger time and time again, proving his love for her, I think Elias realizes that changing her happens not only from consistent experience with Chise seeing that he is who he shows himself to be, but also through Chise learning and making conclusions on her own.
Elias lets Chise experience the “real world,” letting her learn first hand what the life she hated (the supernatural things she witnessed as a child) is all about. He believes in her, but as he expresses, Elias knows it will be a hard journey in helping her become a mage. He patiently allows her to explore, believing that she will grow through these experiences, like being taken by a dragon or pulled away by ariels, when a lesser person might be more forceful in teaching.
Even in the cold, in the waters, he remains by her side.
I think God does much the same. If life were too easy, too perfect, if God was holding us in his arms all the time (instead of watching from our shadows, as it were), our faith would stay elementary. There would be no need for it grow. But in hardship, we learn so much about the world and ourselves, and are even given the opportunity to grow our faith. Even when it’s dangerous. Even in failure.
As Elias does with Chise, God allows us experience the world as it is, for in that way, we with eyes will see God’s heart even more. We’ll see just how mighty and large it really is.
Stream The Ancient Magus Bride on Crunchyroll.