Chise Hatori: Finding a Reason to Live

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The Ancient Magus’ Bride is a show about a girl named Chise Hatori, who is sold off to a mage that decides to make her his apprentice in magic. Chise suffers trauma because of her past, and her growth causes her to find a purpose in life, as well as a way to unbind the chains of her past. I love the way she grew throughout the show, making her one of my all time favorite anime protagonists, so for this post, I will be doing a character analysis.

WARNING! Major spoilers for the entirety of The Ancient Magus’ Bride!

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Chise starts out as a girl who only desires one thing, to be loved. Instead of committing suicide, she is convinced to sell herself off at an auction, in hopes that someone who needed her would buy her. She is bought by Elias, a mage who isn’t human. Expecting a life of servitude, she instead finds out she will be an apprentice mage, and is treated well by Elias.

While the show brings up valid moral questions over buying another human, this doesn’t concern Chise at this time. She just wants to feel loved. That is why she chooses to stay with Elias instead of going with the fairies. She feels she belongs somewhere for the first time in a long time. But she still suffers from the trauma of her past, and while not a literal slave, still acts subserviant to Elias.

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One of the first important aspects of her character growth was meeting the dragons. A dragon named Nevin talked to Chise before he died, explaining that one cannot die without regrets if they never lived first. Chise says she felt jealous of him, and the reason for that is that she herself is suicidal. She had originally planned to commit suicide while still feeling pain and misery. She hadn’t really lived due to her trauma, making the idea of death feel more scary than she thought it should be. It explains why she agreed to sell herself off. She hadn’t felt loved in life she hadn’t felt fulfilled enough to die without regrets.

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For now she is fine being subservient to Elias, as long as he cares for her and gives her a home. She is afraid he might leave her, but she has no other option but to accept the only love she feels she can receive. She ends up getting called out on this ideology from Angelica.

I initially found this strange, because a major part of her growth, which I will get to later, involves her realizing her own desires, and in the process, having more agency as a person. This is opposed to wanting nothing more than Elias’ love. But when put into context, it makes sense why be loyal to Elias for the sake of his love would be considered selfish.

She is giving up any sense of agency for a feeling of being loved. Instead of living her own life as her own person, she gives that up for the sake of a sense of security and belonging. She doesn’t desire anything else, nor does she reach for her desires of her own volition. This is why not reaching for her desires is considered selfish, as opposed to the other way around.

But as she spends time with Elias and meets more people, this begins to change. She realizes she wants more in her life outside of just being loved. She wants to create her own purpose in life, as opposed to having that purpose decided by other people. But at this point in the story, Elias is still very controlling of Chise, largely for the sake of her protection.

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She is inspired by her next visit to where the dragons live to actively communicate with Elias her own desires so they can both come to understand each other better. Over time, they better start to understand each other and Chise gains more freedom to do what she wants. She even sneaks out of the house to go buy Elias a Christmas present.

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As Chise begins to realize her own desires, she feels the desire to help others. She ends up helping many people with their many problems, which ends up hurting herself in the process. It’s sad that she tends to find meaning in her own life through self-sacrifice in her attempts to help others, much to the dismay of Elias, who’s finally beginning to understand humans because of Chise. She even begins to fear death after realizing her own desires, evident after realizing the dragon’s curse will kill her soon.

But it’s the choices she makes herself. Even if it shaves years off her life, she gains a sense of purpose. Her existence means something because it makes the lives of other people better. In spite of her past suffering, she grows to be a very empathetic person, not wanting others to suffer she has before. This is a very important point for a bit later.

This regained sense of agency over her own life also allows her to express a wider range of emotions. She is able to feel anger over Elias’ willingness to sacrifice her friend Stella to save her own life, feeling that communication with each other was more important, and would be the proper way to find a way to cure her.

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One of the most important moments of Chise’s character growth is right after this scene. She is captured by Cartaphilus, who wants to perform an experiment involving Chise’s cursed arm. Earlier, the Nevin in Chise’s dreams hinted that the Nevin she sees isn’t the real him but a manifestation Chise created based on her own memories. The important moments of growth from these conversations wasn’t given to her by someone else, but herself.

This is one of the most important ideas in this anime. The images we create of the past become reality and affect the way we live our lives. While she did grow because of the friends she made, some of her most important moments of growth also came from within. She had to overcome personal barriers in order to grow as a person with more agency over herself.

And the final barrier was her trauma. She confronts the memory of her past. Of her father abandoning her mother. And more important of her mother almost killing her. She was too young to notice at the time, the toll raising Chise by herself took, as well as her ability to see the supernatural. It caused her immense suffering yet she still did everything she could to raise Chise.

At one point, she finally breaks and almost kills Chise, telling her it’s her fault for making her life miserable. Realizing what she had done, she commits suicide. Chise was left with the impression that her mother hated her, which caused her obsession with wanting to be loved. Chise felt she was defective. She felt nobody loved her, so even she started to hate herself.

But reliving this memory of the past made her come to realization that the image she had of her mother was something she created out of her own trauma. She created the worst image of her possible due to damaging impact it had on her, but this image wasn’t entirely accurate.

Her mother truly did care for her, even if her mother did try to kill her in the end. While Chise can’t forgive her mother for that, it doesn’t erase all the good her mother did for her. She understood how much her mother suffered for her. She was able to erase the image she had of her mother and realize that she was always loved. The chains that binded her to the past and caused her trauma in the present was broken and she was able to accept both her past and herself. This was one of my favorite scenes in the entire anime, and of all anime if I’m being completely honest.

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Overcoming this barrier left only one thing for her to do, and that was to defeat Cartaphilus. Receiving that help of her many friends, she confronts Cartaphilus for another one of the most powerful scenes in the show. They both discuss their suffering and the areas in which they are similar and different. But Chise explains that her suffering is no excuse to cause other people to suffer like Cartaphilus has been doing. Her suffering allowed her to become more empathetic to people, and made her realize her desire to help others. While Cartaphilus only ended up hurting more people. That is the key difference between the two.

In a final showcase of the empathy Chise has for others, she creates a trap for Cartaphilus, but instead of punishing him, she gives him a hug, understanding the pain he has gone through, and sings a lullaby to ease his suffering. By the end of it, she ends up taking in the immortality curse of Cartaphilus and combining it with the death curse of the dragon, and freeing Joseph of his suffering. Even when confronting the anime’s main antagonist, she still manages to express her desire to help others, and is even able to lend a helping hand.

I feel shows that stress the importance of empathy are good, but it’s especially so when it comes to people who have suffered themselves. Many people become bitter towards the world and become awful people themselves. But the idea of not wanting people to feel the pain you felt yourself is a very noble line of thinking, and if people applied that level of thinking today, we’d have a more empathetic society concerned with reducing the suffering of others.

This is why Chise is one of my favorite characters. She is a girl who overcomes her past trauma, gains a sense of agency for herself, and becomes a more empathetic person who makes a difference in the lives of others. And by doing so, she was able to give meaning to her own life, on her own terms, in a truly beautiful and inspiring way.

Anyways, thanks for reading this blog. If you made it to the end, tell me your opinion of Chise and let me know if there are any similar characters that you like.

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