Mahou Tsukai no Yome (chapters) 1-9

I think I went into this expecting too much. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great. Not as great as I had hoped, anyways. As someone who has visited the 人外×少女 tag on pixiv for a long time (and as expected there is a TON of this series in it now), I thought the idea of a series that was this tag embodied would be pretty awesome! So I guess that’s just why my expectations were so dang high.

But hey I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt. Nine chapters isn’t very much, after all.

It’s a strange series to be sure. A strange series that is doing extremely well. I only read it because it popped on my twitter feed with kvin listing numbers about just how well it was selling. Of course I wanted to jump on the bandwagon before it got stupidly popular, of course. So I know if I have to be excited or not in case it does get an anime series!

Like Gakkou Gurashi! But nowhere near as addicting as Gakkou Gurashi.

But  you know what? What makes this so strange to me is that it doesn’t feel like manga. If I hadn’t known better I would have been sure it was a OELM ala Bizenghast or whatever Yen Press puts out these days (which I may turn my nose up at but I know non-anime folks like my tiny imouto happens to enjoy so there is a market for and that’s not a discussion for today). It feels so western. There’s nothing manag like about it at all. Does that make sense?

Furthermore, it evokes so much nostalgia in me. It feels so western and reminds me of novels from grade school. Though much darker and adult that the novels I would have read in grade four when Harry Potter was at the height of popularity (a bit of quick math and googling tells me that in grade four I would have been nine maybe and it would be about 2002ish so the second movie should be out by this point) and our classrooms were filled with fantasy novels about dragons and fairies and all that. But see, I never read those books. I remember them being popular with my friends and picking up the colourful book and reading the description and not finding it very interesting. But I’m reminded of that. I’m reminded of my grade four self. I can’t explain it and it’s a very powerful and unexpected feeling that makes me feel weird towards this as well.

Moving on, the obvious thing to talk about here would be the unusual ‘romance’ between the two main characters. It’s not shoujo let’s establish that right away. The romance is minimal so far but I see the series billed as such everywhere. Well you know the main character is a slave bought to become the apprentice and wife of the goat lookin main character sooooo you know how it is.

You know I’m probably desensitized because I read a ton of shoujo and I’ve browsed that aforementioned tag pretty extensively but it’s not as creepy as you would imagine from that scenario. Like sure she’s sixteen and they joke about how they’re gonna have a kid eventually cause they’re gonna be married but as far as gross shoujo tropes go, this could be worse.

Ellias is interesting only for his designs and abilities. As a character he’s just ok. When he’s the butt of jokes by side characters worried about Chise, then yeah I like that. BVut as a love interest and serious character, he’s rather boring. The “oh mysterious man takes me in and is kind to me but has a Deep, Dark Past™  full of awful things he’s done and maybe he’s actually bad???” feels SO familiar and done before but I have trouble placing a specific name to who also fits that bill.

The Beast from Beauty and the Beast would be the closest, most obvious comparison though he is the exact opposite from Ellias. I also thought Livi but thinking about it, Soreseka is just incredibly similar to BatB and I never realized before. Despite not being able to pinpoint any specific character to compare it he doesn’t feel like an entirely unique (appearances aside) person at all.

Chise is no better. She’s very blank which makes for an uninteresting character to watch. We can blame it on her past but that’s a dif issue we’ll get to in a bit. She goes along with things far too easily (again, we’ll get to this), doesn’t have much personality and is not compelling at all.

Like I said earlier, Chise has a Very Tragic Past™. The thing is the severity of it seems to fluctuate. Yeah her mom killed herself (in front of Chise apparently) and Chise was unwanted by her family and eventually ended up a slave that prob would have been tortured to death but  hey no biggie right. She’s so ~bland~ it has no bearing on how she acts or meets people. She is a bit reserved but it doesn’t take much to win her over.

Like despite all the things that happens to her, she accepts Ellias relatively easy when she definitely should have been more skeptical. Especially because he admits that yeah he did those things specifically to win her over and trick her into accepting him quickly so he could put her to his own uses.

You would think someone who went through so would be a bit more guarded or skeptical and untrusting but I guess not huh.

And god not to mention she is one of the special few who is the best and can do all kinds of exceptional and great magic without trying that hard and absorbs everyone else’s awesome magic that they worked super hard for and wow is this character going to die nope not on The Great One’s watch, lets use this super great magic to completely save the day. Everyone flipping their lids about how great Chise is gets real boring quickly. Oh no Chise is in trouble NOPE solved it with super magic and also Ellias is here now?!

But the side characters! Now there’s a reason to keep going. In nine chapters a whole slew of side cast is introduced and most of them have absolutely fantastic designs (such as the fairy queen Titania and her husband Oberon!) or are just interesting individuals (the mechanic lady).

It was also my impression at the beginning of the series that it would be a lot more cynical (or she should be) and that life sucks. I kinda expected a crapsack world but pretty much everyone she meets (including the antagonists?) seem pretty chill and nice. It’s still early on so we’ll see if they turn out to be horrible jerks who betray them or get mad owned but both of those seem unlikely from what’s happened so far. I guess it’s just my expectations being betrayed but it really seemed strange to me.

Not to say there isn’t a dark tone to the story. The cat killing chapter was pretty awful because I love cats. Love em. From the shots of cats being hung all over the place to Mina just falling a part in a big sploosh of blood, it’s the darkest arc so far. Though it was resolved in a relatively anticlimatic way (though I was happy the cat didn’t die).

And I LOVE the magic system in this series. It’s pretty much exactly as I’ve written magic systems in stuff I’ve written in the past. I love when magic has a scientific angle. When it has to follow rules and formulas and is precise and not just LOL ITS MAGIC I DON’T GOTTA EXPLAIN which is why I might be annoyed with Chise because her power (which is magic that is a miracle and should not exist) is pretty much exactly that. It doesn’t need to follow rules or guidelines, she can bend them without consequence. Well the consequence is she’s so powerful she’s gonna die but hey they’ve already vowed to fix that and I have no doubt that they will.

I’m gonna keep following it with the hope that it does something super exciting or interesting and doesn’t continue following the same worn pattern. It still has some nice, atmospheric art and setting. Not to mention the side characters are consistently great looking (and one good thing about Chise I will say is she’s had multiple outfits and one was cute, if I recall correctly). Not to mention almost more interesting than the main characters.

 


5 Comments

  • Ck

    March 28, 2015

    Kinda found this by accident, and figured I’d comment(since no one else was bothering to). The accusation that Chise is a mary sue is kind of silly. It’s made clear that she’s not unique, just rare. Her power is a burden on her, as it will lead to her premature death. A mary sue must be perfect. Chise is not perfect. Also, her power only has only been used as an aid successfully once in the series so far(though, she only made use of it once in the first 9 chapters). Every other time, it has been cut short or was inconsequential. A good example is the cat arc. She needed the aid of the cat king and aerial to actually succeed. Also, it’s not stated that her magic is something that “should not exist”. Slay Vegas are established as being merely rare, and that her abilities are like any others’. It’s merely likened to miracles(which is magic in general), rather than the more scientific spells. Kinda need to read the context there, as they make it clear that her power itself isn’t all that special, it’s just that there’s a lot of it due to her nature. No one complains because there’s nothing to complain about.

    Chise actually has a character. She’s depressed, has a sarcastic wit, and is going through some dependency issues. Bland is something like Belle from Twilight, who complains constantly, never tries to improve and has no features at all. Chise, at least, takes everything in stride and is constantly learning. She’s trusting of Ellias because he bought her, and that there’s no real reason to think otherwise. He was rather upfront about much of what was going to happen to her, and has so far merely acted as a guardian. Her trust issues seem to be directed against people, not the supernatural(hence, she trusted the fairies). She had nowhere else to go. She eventually comes to trust Ellias quite a bit after spending some time with him. Also, the slavery thing was an auction for rarities. Why in the heck would they torture and break something so valuable? A better question, I suppose, is why would you break something before you sell it? You lower the value by a lot that way. It makes no sense at all. It also helps that this manga is a slice of life, so the conflicts that require her power(should any come up) are not part of the center stage, as it were.

    I know that was a lot to type, but I saw a ton of misconceptions about this. A lot of your misgivings are covered by the manga. A lot of what I said is covered in the first 9 chapters, though some later chapters do expound on it a bit more. The “it’s not a Shoujo” remark is interesting. Technically, it doesn’t need to be romantic in order to work as a shoujo. It merely needs to appeal to young girls. It does help that there is a tinge of romance, though only just. It’s fine if the manga doesn’t appeal to you, don’t get me wrong, but I felt it was a shame that some misconceptions were a part of that.

  • Fang-tan

    March 28, 2015

    Thanks for your reply! I do feel a bit bad for being so hard on Chise because I agree with you, I didn’t mean to make it sound like I think of her as a Mary Sue. I just found the first few chapters (nine then) repetitive with how it treated her and her situations.

    It was hard for me to get a grasp of who she was as a character. She’s had time away from Ellias and with other characters now and I do feel I understand and like her a bit more because of this.

    I’m mostly current with it and I do think she gets a better characterization past these chapters. In fact, as a whole I’ve found it improved past the beginning. Both with world building and with establishing characters.

    I may do an updated post with more recent chapters because there have been some developments, new characters and stories I’ve really enjoyed and I hope I won’t give off any misconceptions about how I feel for the series that time, haha.

  • Ckarasu

    March 29, 2015

    Yeah. The world building has been pretty good so far. And that line at the end of the most recent chapter was a pretty ominous indicator of Ellias’ past. Also, the Leanan Sidhe chapter was so bittersweet. I don’t really blame you about the apprehension with Chise, as it can be easy to forget that they deconstruct what makes her so “different”. We all have seen too many tragic past special snowflakes that don’t have any real substance. It really becomes a gut reaction.

    While I wouldn’t call Mahou Tsukai a masterpiece yet(still too early), I feel that it’s got a good chance of becoming so much better than it already is.

    I’d also reccomend Voynich Hotel for a nice read. Kinda starts off a bit odd and slow, but it really comes into its own.

  • Ckarasu

    March 29, 2015

    I didn’t spell recommend right. I must now make you aware that I know how to spell it by talking about my mistake.

    In other news, the sales numbers for this manga are insane. I was worried that this might become one of those “great, but going to get cancelled” type of manga.

  • Fang-tan

    March 29, 2015

    Yeah, to be honest I first heard of it BECAUSE of how well it was selling. I assumed it that it would eventually be getting anime eventually and I wanted to check it out first.

    I don’t think it’ll get cancelled per say but I’m not sure how much marketability it has and that could hurt it.

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