The premiere episode of The Ancient Magus’ Bride establishes Chise Hatori’s outlook on life as one of apathy. She no longer cares for her own well-being and sells herself into slavery because of this. Chise’s fluctuating mental state makes up the backbone of the series’ narrative. Much like the tagline “April showers bring May flowers,” our introduction to Chise marks both her distressing past and her hopeful future.
Framing this are a variety of flowers, all purposeful in their meanings at the periphery — or, in the case of the poppy flower, an upfront visual manifestation — of Chise’s story. Around each corner of the world that Chise explores is a flower or tree that informs her journey. The latest examples are the dandelion and nemophila (baby blue eyes) flowers, that bookend the series’ most recent story arc.
In sixth grade, I joined concert band. I was the only girl in the trombone section. There were only about five of us in total, including a kid from my elementary school, Ben. We were friendly acquaintances but not close friends. Ben was the funny kid, and as the funny kid, he thought it would be cool to gross out the rest of the band by waiting to release his spit valve until it was as full as he could make it. He would then release it on the floor in front of the section.
Spit has grossed me out ever since.
When Chito (Chii) pulls her hand out of Yuuri’s (Yuu) mouth in the first episode of Girls’ Last Tour, there is an audible pop. Yuu’s face stretches before releasing Chii’s hand and a trail of spit shines in the air. It’s a disgusting and funny scene to watch. Chii puts Yuu’s spit to good use — it allows her to pinpoint the direction of a breeze that eventually leads them out of the tunnel — but these slime trails of spit are also visceral reminders of Yuu and Chii’s existence.
The ink is still drying on Chise Hatori’s signature when the above line appears across the cityscape: April showers bring May flowers. Given Chise’s initial mental state in the opening moments of The Ancient Magus’ Bride, the proverb is obvious. Before reaching the point where she signs that contract, Chise has seen and lived through some horrifying things. This is her turning point.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride also uses flower language liberally throughout its first episode to set the mood, giving small hints and insight into Chise’s circumstances.
It’s rare to find a series that focuses on fashion beyond a unified aesthetic and looks at current trends, especially when it comes to the ephemeral nature of Japanese street fashion. However, URAHARA, despite a few flaws in visual direction and dialogue, tackles just that in a way that, even if unintended, is interesting in context of the current Tokyo street fashion climate.
With this post, I’d also like to announce my return to the Crunchyroll features team. You can find my first post on URAHARA and the current climate of Harajuku street fashion here.
Like last year when I blogged Orange and Kiznaiver, I won’t be putting up posts here announcing my Crunchyroll articles, unless I receive overwhelming feedback requesting this.