Mahoutsukai no Yome – 17

In a diverting case-of-the-week that involves non-magical clients, Chise meets Stella, a girl just a bit younger than her, who can’t find her little brother Ethan after he ran off after they had an argument. What makes this most likely a magical case is that Stella’s parents have no memory of their son.

Obviously, Stella’s a wreck, but she’s not so much of a wreck she isn’t totally freaked out by a huge skull-faced dude coming out of Chise (or speaking through her body, turning her eyes silver). I also snickered when she reacted to the dog talking.

Turns out the big teddy Elias gave Chise also turns her excess magic into crystal flowers, like a kind of release valve to preserve her body. She puts those flowers, which are like candy to fae, to good use asking the various beings in the forest where the kid went.

In fact, Chise, wanting desperately to do something for someone after so much has been done for her (though if we’re honest, she’s done plenty), goes so far as to let what looks like a more feral Elias suck her blood in exchange for info on Ethan’s whereabouts. This troubles Stella greatly, but as Elias tells her, mages aren’t omnipotent, and in exchange for something, they must be willing to give something in return.

When they finally locate Ethan, he’s in the clutches of the ancient trickster Ashen Eye, who has claimed the boy as his own after Stella’s harsh words to him (“I don’t need you!”) broke their familial bond and made the kid fair game.

Knowing what happened when Ashen Eye was involved before, I figured no one was actually in any real danger, even when both Ethan and Elias are sucked into a dark void (Ash isn’t omnipotent either, but he’s been around the block, and  a lot more powerful than the younger Elias).

The loss of Elias causes Chise to wig out momentarily, but Ruth consoles her. Ash simply wants them to jump through a few hoops; he’ll only keep Ethan if they can’t find him, and if he and Stella can’t reconcile. As they search, Elias must deal with Ethan, who immediately takes a liking to his bony head.

This causes Elias to transform into a kind of Winter Ops version of Chise, and with his uniquely non-human perspective on humanity, gets Ethan to define what he thinks family is. It’s more than just blood; it’s people you want to be with more than anyone else, even if you don’t always get along and say things you don’t mean.

Chise uses the pelt that Ashen Eye gave her to transform into a were-bear, and uses her heightened sense of smell to locate Elias and Ethan. As I suspected, Ash is satisfied the siblings have learned their lesson and warns them to choose their words carefully, because they aren’t sure who might be listening who will take those words seriously.

When initially speaking through Chise, Elias got Stella to agree to pay them in “sweets” for their services locating her brother (who the parents now remember, reuniting the family as it was). But Chise gets something a lot better for her kindness: she gains a friend in Stella.

And hey, even after all that exertion, Chise doesn’t pass out, cough up any blood, or go into any kind of trance or coma, so everything comes up Team Ainsworth this week. I just hope Chise doesn’t immediately revert to her “ZOMG I’m so useless” attitude next week; she’s without doubt earning her keep.

Darker than Black Gaiden – 01 OVA

Being hunted by Syndicate contractors, Hei and Yin escape Tokyo for Okinawa, masquerading as newlyweds. Hei is looking to book passage to Taiwan, but Yin insists they’re safe, and they stay longer. Hei panics when he sees a hotel guest who looks exactly like Amber, but she turns out to be an impostor created by a contractor with power over illusion. Yin is kidnapped, but Hei is able to defeat the Syndicate team sent to kill him and recover Yin, who continues to evolve.

This four-part OVA that aired from January to July 2010 bridges the time between the first Darker than Black series (The Black Contractor) and the sequel (Gemini of the Meteor). We took an instant liking to the first series’ (obviously) very dark, rich atmosphere, kick-ass action, and stirring music by Yoko Kanno. The second series widened the DtB universe and appealed to younger audience by introducing Suou (voiced by Kana Hanazawa). Both series explored the power and motivations of the subset of society simultaneously gifted and cursed with superpowers that required renumeration.

In this first bridge OVA, Hei is on the run with Yin, a beautiful, formerly emotionless doll, who is suddenly evolving into more of a human, with emotions and a will of her own. This first episode wastes no time throwing us right in the middle of the aciton as Hei takes on a trio of deadly contractors while still in Tokyo. The tropical setting that follows subverts the dark atmosphere, and Hei and Yin have some nice quiet scenes together. But there’s still plenty of uneasiness, and inevitably, the Syndicate arrives, trying to use Hei’s past with Amber to throw him off balance. He cuts himself to break the illusion and thwart the Sydicate…for now.


Rating: 3.5