The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Mahou Tsukai no Yome) is a manga by Kore Yamazaki that is currently running in Mag Garden’s Monthly Comic Garden. An anime project was started in 2016 with the original OVA trilogy The Ancient Magus Bride: Those Awaiting a Star (Mahou Tsukai no Yome: Hoshi Matsu Hito), which was released with the special edition versions of the manga.
Chise Hatori can see things that others cannot see, and that leads her to become alienated and eventually suicidal. At that moment, she is approached by a mysterious person and Chise ends up putting herself up for auction. She is bought for a high price by a strange-looking magus named Elias. He buys her not only to be his apprentice but also his wife. Chise was just overjoyed to be told that she has a place she could belong. As she gets comfortable in her life with the long-living magus, Chise gradually starts to recover what is so important to her.
MANGA.TOKYO visited WIT STUDIO, which is producing the anime, in order to conduct an interview with the producer, George Wada.
What was your first impression of the manga?
I first got into the manga because I saw the front cover and thought it looked interesting. I was impressed because it showed the world Kore Yamazaki has created. I was interested in it as the staff members at WIT STUDIO, including myself, like fantasy and sci-fi, and had been hoping to make such an anime. We wanted to adapt the manga into an anime which enriched its charms by adding things only anime can do, such as sound and movement.
So, you made a move to get an anime adaptation at an early stage, didn’t you?
We did. We started to negotiate with the publisher when the manga’s first volume was published. Fortunately, the publisher Mag Garden and WIT STUDIO belong to the same holding company, IG Port, so the negotiation talks began quickly.
The same staff members have been in charge since the drama CD.
We wanted a TV anime series right from the start, but we couldn’t cut a deal at the time. We proposed to the editorial staff that we make the drama CD and OVA instead, in the hopes that it would lead to a TV series.
Did you plan to have Norihiro Naganuma direct the TV series as well?
Absolutely. Every staff member who is involved in the adaptation has been working on it for 3 or 4 years. It has been a project for a long time. The amount of communication with the original manga author is twice as much as for other TV anime series. We’ve created the fantastic world of The Ancient Magus Bride anime piece by piece. I think it was a necessary process to make a fantasy anime adaptation.
What did you give importance to in the series?
We had to make viewers believe it’s still The Ancient Magus’ Bride after adjusting and customizing some parts for the anime. We put our efforts into every part of the anime, as the original manga is so good. If I must choοse, I think the greatest importance was put on the creation of the music and background art. They are significant parts to create the world of The Ancient Magus Bride, but the manga doesn’t have them. They are also vital tools to instantly allure viewers into the fantastic world of the anime. We asked a composer to create original insert songs. We appreciate the way he dealt with our difficult requests.
Junichi Matsumoto, who has been involved in these adaptations from the start, created the music for the TV anime series, which fits right in with the world of the anime. I believe in him, as he said that he likes the story. The world of the story has a lot of Celtic influences, but we didn’t focus on Celtic music. Its music was made by a Japanese composer but we weren’t going for Japanese fantasy. We asked him to represent the sentiment of the story with the melodies. I’m happy with how they turned out. That’s how things worked out in this anime.
Yamazaki’s mental scenery must include forests and greenery from Hokkaido where she resides. I think the unique world of the story is somewhere between Hokkaido and the world of her favorite Western fantasy stories, including Harry Potter. I primarily believed that the world of the anime would be the selling point. So, we visited Hokkaido and London several times to know the world of the anime. We also talked directly with Yamazaki about the story. All main staff members went on location-hunting in London a few times, though the trips paid off eventually as we created the great world of the anime.
Are there things which exceeded your expectations?
I feel more viewers showed empathy to Chise and Elias than I originally would have thought. The story is filled with many unique characters with their own stories. The screenplay was written with a focus on the drama between them. I was pleasantly surprised that so many viewers were interested in the future of Chise and Elias.
They don’t have many lines, do they?
They don’t speak much. [laugh] They show little emotion, too. Elias only mumbles. Chise is very quiet, as she has a sad past. Viewers who also watched the OVA understand why she is so quiet, and I was pleased to know that many fans feel for her.
Elias’ doesn’t show any expressions, though.
We tried to compensate for his lack of facial expressions with the music and his movements. I think we did better than we expected, as the anime is a total package. We used a cute version of him when he is happy about his work.