PTSD in Anime: What, Why and How to Overcome

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PTSD isn’t something that should be ignored, yet it’s rarely talked about in the open. For this blog post,  I have chosen an anime series that is close to my heart. That anime is The Ancient Magus Bride or Mahō Tsukai no Yome as it is known in Japanese. On the surface, this looks like just another anime to watch when you’re bored. Except it’s not. It deals with themes of mental illness and other important issues such as PTSD.

Here at The Nerdy Girl News, I always try to make sure to talk about as many issues as possible. Right now, PTSD is something that is weighing heavily on my mind and I hope ya’ll can gain some help from this.

The protagonist of the story is Chise Hatori who is the apprentice and future bride of Elias Ainsworth. Her father and brother abandoned the family when she was young, and her mother committed suicide in front of her. Feeling unwanted by her relatives, she sold herself into slavery so that she didn’t have to worry about anything. This is how Elias purchased her.

How Does Chise Have PTSD?

As I mentioned above, she was sold into slavery, and watched her mother commit suicide in front of her after trying to strangle Chise.  Throughout the series, we see Chise struggle with opening up and believing that she has a place in the world.  I can’t imagine anyone NOT having some mental health issues while going through that.

She has said several times that she doesn’t care for her life, and that she didn’t want to live. This was also true due to the fact that she is what’s called a Sleigh Beggy, and only had about 3 years left to live. It wasn’t until the Christmas episode that she finally admitted she was actually looking forward to the next day.

PTSD Moments

During episode 22 of the anime, we finally get to see more of Chise’s backstory. To me, this was one of the more emotional episodes and I did cry a few times. We get to meet her family and see how happy she was…a stark contrast to the original girl we met at the very beginning.

It’s so sad to realize that the Hatori family would’ve been just like any other if not for their abilities. It reminded me so much of my own past, and how my life would have been different had I not been adopted.  I initially didn’t like Chise’s mom when I first heard of her, but after this episode, I had changed my mind a little.

With no warning or reason, her mother was suddenly pushed into being a single mother who has to fend for herself and her small daughter while they’re constantly attacked by monsters. She suddenly became a super mom in my eyes, and I felt so bad for what horrors she had to go through for Chise.  To top it off, the only way she knew to protect Chise from herself ended up traumatizing her daughter even more! Tragedy upon tragedy. But it still broke my heart a little that she chose to follow that voice in her head and not find the strength to fight it even more. Suicide is NEVER the right option(take it from someone who has tried. I’ve been there).

Ancient Magus Bride: PTSD in Anime: What, Why and How to Overcome

WHAT IS PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that causes anxiety, fear, depression, and often times disturbing flashbacks as a result of a stressful or traumatic event. People with PTSD cannot fully heal until they find internal resolution by coming to terms with the events in their past that seem to be causing the disorder.

I was diagnosed with PTSD and have had it since I was a toddler. For children with PTSD, it often goes undiagnosed and the child’s brain rewires itself to protect itself from future harm. The longer it’s left untreated, the worse it gets.

 Chise does have some of these symptoms, which is normal for people with PTSD. Throughout the series, she has some flashbacks and nightmares, especially when Joseph traps her into her dream where her mother tried to kill her before killing herself.

CHISE OVERCOMING HER PTSD

 It’s time for Chise to make a HUMAN friend closer to her age, someone she can just be a normal girl with. This is where Alice and Stella come in. Alice is Chise’s equal, not just in apprentice status but also in shared trauma. Instead of having her mother try to kill her before committing suicide, Alice’s parents turned her into a drug addict so that they’d have a willing dealer. Though originally, Alice didn’t like Chise, the two eventually become friends.
Stella is good for Chise as well. Though young, she seems to have an old soul, and treats Chise as a real friend. Chise mentions how she’s afraid to speak at times in case she offends the person. Stella replies that words aren’t for others, they’re for just being heard. This spoke volumes to me since it’s one of my own fears. I struggle with talking out loud to people, afraid of being judged or offending anyone by accident.

Letting Go of Her Trama-Her Mother

The last thing Chise needs to do, is to come to terms with her past and overcome her PTSD. Throughout the series, we can see her progressing. But the PTSD remains. In episode 22, we get her backstory and see how she overcomes it. Which makes a nice little wrap up before the finale, I think.

Chise doesn’t have to forget or forgive her real mother in order to heal, she has to correct the mental image inside her – the distorted mother that tried to strangle her – and overwrite it with the still sad but more complex reality. Young Chise wasn’t able to see the full picture or cope with the fallout. But even if she couldn’t access her memories, something on an unconscious level kept her from going through with her own suicide just like her mother didn’t go through with killing her.

Ancient Magus Bride: PTSD in Anime: What, Why and How to Overcome

Ancient Magus Bride: PTSD in Anime: What, Why and How to Overcome

This part just tore at my heartstrings. Her mother was asking for forgiveness and Chise didn’t give it, yet she did say she wouldn’t forget her but she needed to finally let her go. This was the final turning point for Chise and she was finally able to let go of her past and look towards her future.

Should You Watch?

Overall, it may seem like a cutesy series, but The Ancient Magus Bride has a very important message. Mental illness is real and can negatively affect people who have been through trauma.  I highly recommend it for anyone who might be dealing with PTSD, depression or any type of mental illness.

Ancient Magus Bride: PTSD in Anime: What, Why and How to Overcome

Have you seen this anime before? What other anime reminds you of this one? I’m always on the lookout for more anime to watch. Let me know if the comments below.

As always,

Keep Smiling! 

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