The Ancient Magus Bride has a absolutely beautiful holiday arc.
Why is the spirit of Christmas such a beautiful backdrop to highlight intricate relationships? Episodes 16 and 17 of the Ancient Magus Bride gives us some insight to what is so fascinating about human connection during the holiday season. What stands out most to me about the show is the way it captures the feeling of Christmas. From simple montages of magic and snow, to the consumer culture of London where friends shop for one another, to the epic quest of a game of hide and seek, these two episodes demonstrate many redemptive bonds.
Alice and Chise speak on the fact that being in the world of magic can be lonely. They exchange the fact that they don’t have a lot of people to give gifts to during the season and that makes them self-conscious about their social lives. Still, they share a meal together in the heart of London because they are able to celebrate a season that brings people together.
Alice goes on to explain her tragic back story, and her bond with Chise deepens. Just as the spirit of Christmas goes, Alice tells her story of being redeemed by her master and her journey of learning to trust.
There is a beautiful scene where Alice is binding the wounds of her master who jumped between her and a demon creature to save her. I believe that one of the deepest connections a person can have for another is that of protection and trust. Alice has a bond with her master where they protect each other, a parent-child relationship. Alice and Chise build their relationship on trust seen by how they share their inner struggles with one another. Christmas isn’t just about having joy with one another, it’s finding healing through emotional connection.
The aesthetic of episode 16 enhances the significance of the love between each character. Indeed, a lot of Christmas spirited shows circle around the idea of affectionate bonds between two people. Still, I think Chise has a hard time understanding the true meaning of Christmas. She is still stuck in the mentality that she needs to prove herself to other people by giving them the right gifts. You can tell by her body language in episode 17 that she struggles to accept the love of other people in the gifts they give her on Christmas day. Christmas for her may be filled with more guilt then joy—a feeling I believe that many of us can relate to.
It isn’t until she helps a child in need that she really discovers the true significance of connection between two humans. Stella, the young girl in episode 17, utters that she doesn’t need her brother to his face, therefore breaking the magical bond between them. She can no longer remember anything about him such as what he looks like, sounds like, or even his name. This episode touches on the significance of words and names. In this world, they have a magic element that calls for a magical journey through the snowy forest.
In the end, Chise, in bear form, discovers that Elias belongs to her as Ethan belongs to his older sister no matter what anyone says or does. Underwater, Elias has a conversation with Ethan about the meaning of family. Although Elias speaks in a rather logical way, lacking empathy, the two come to the conclusion that family isn’t limited to blood relatives—it’s made up of those you choose. Christmastime illuminates our boundaries, or what does and doesn’t belong to you. Some family members may not truly be there for one another, where friendship is what makes someone truly belong to someone else.
May you find a place where you belong this Christmas season, where kind words and deeds are both given by you and received.
Day 11: A somber Christmas episode is ahead tomorrow, as Lynna talks Angel Beats, episode seven.
The Ancient Magus Bride can be streamed through Crunchyroll.