The Wild Hunt’s origin in British and Welsh folklore explained as seen in The Ancient Magus’ Bride OAD 3 trailer

Key visual for The Ancient Magus' Bride: The Boy From the West and the Knight of the Mountain Haze and Wodan's Wild Hunt.
Key visual for The Ancient Magus’ Bride: The Boy From the West and the Knight of the Mountain Haze and Wodan’s Wild Hunt (1882). Pic credit: @mahoyomeproject/Twitter and artist Friedrich Wilhelm Heine

In March 2021 it was announced that the Ancient Magus’ Bride would receive an original three-part OVA series titled The Ancient Magus’ Bride: The Boy From the West and the Knight of the Mountain Haze. The episodes are bundled with the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth volumes of the manga.

The first OVA was released on September 10, 2021, the second was released on March 10, 2022 and the third will be released on September 10, 2022.

The story takes place shortly before Cartaphilus took a nap and Chise became an auditor at the academy. One day, Silky is helping Chise to get the proper measurements so that she can get her uniform made for the academy when Spriggan appears at their house with a spooky black horse in tow. Spriggan informs them that the Wild Hunt is acting differently from how it is supposed to and without their leader it will unintentionally spread death in its wake as it rides across the land. The horse with Spriggan belongs to the leader of the Wild Hunt.

Chise’s life is in danger from the Wild Hunter’s dire affects on the land

Unbeknownst to Chise, Elias and the others, the location of the Wild Hunt’s leader is at the house of a young boy. Gabriel is an ordinary boy who just moved from London to the countryside.

One day, when Gabriel was peering out of the window of his tree house he spotted a mysterious purple smoke in the distance and decided to investigate since he was feeling bored and lonely. When he arrived at the location, he discovered a series of standing stones that had been hit by lightning and finds a special rock. He brings the rock back to his tree house and polishes it  – this releases the spirit of the leader of the Wild Hunt that was trapped within the stone.

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Unfortunately, the leader of the Wild Hunt is suffering from amnesia and doesn’t remember his true purpose. Gabriel decides to help the spirit discover where he belongs and gives him the name Evan.

Evan’s proximity to Gabriel begins to take a toll on Gabriel’s already weak health, however. When Gabriel manages to take Evan to the standing stones they encounter Chise and the others, and Evan is reunited with his horse.

Evan ends up remembering his true identity as the leader of the Wild Hunt and informs Gabriel that he must leave him. Gabriel is reluctant to lose his new friend and a dark aura forms around him.

A new trailer has been released for the final episode teasing its dramatic climax:

The Ancient Magus' Bride OAD Part 3 - Official Trailer | AniTV
Official trailer for part 3 of The Ancient Magus’ Bride: The Boy From the West and the Knight of the Mountain Haze.

In the trailer we see that Gabriel tells Evan not to go and Evan explains that he cannot turn his back on his responsibility as the leader of the Wild Hunt, but he offers Gabriel the chance to join him. Gabriel accepts the offer and joins the Wild Hunt not knowing that the repercussions of this could be losing his life.

To understand why Gabriel joining the Wild Hunt may end with his death we must investigate its origins in folklore.

Will Gabriel decide to become a Ghostly Rider or stay with his family?

In the British folklore and the folklore of various northern European cultures the Wild Hunt appears as a motif. Wild Hunts are usually led by a mythological leader or lost spirit escorted by a ghostly or supernatural group of hunters engaged in a chase.

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In Germanic legends the leader is associated with Odin. Other historical or legendary figures known to lead the Wild Hunt are: Theodore the Great, the Danish King Valdemar Atterdag, and the Welsh psychompomp Gwyn ap Nudd. Certain biblical figures are also known for having led the Wild Hunt: Herod, Cain, Gabriel and even the Devil. In Arthurian legends, the leader of the Wild Hunt is the King of the Underworld whose responsibility is to make sure imprisoned devils don’t end up destroying human souls.

The hunters are the souls of the dead, ghostly dogs, and sometimes fairies, Valkyries, or even elves. Legend has it, that if one witnessed the Wild Hunt riding past it was said to foretell an impending war, plague or even the death of the person who witnessed it. It was also said that people who encountered the Wild Hunt might be whisked away to the fairy kingdom or even the underworld.

If the Wild Hunt rode by someone’s house and they were sleeping it was possible for their soul to be whisked away to join the hunt if they couldn’t resist its allure. This means that because Gabriel encountered the leader of the Wild Hunt he could end up joining the Wild Hunt, but will end up “dying” in the process of becoming a true ghostly rider. In the trailer we see Gabriel’s eyes start to glow red – a sign that he is beginning some kind of supernatural transformation.

Is Evan’s true identity the legendary Gwyn ap Nudd?

In Welsh folklore the leader of the Wild Hunt was Gwyn ap Nudd, who rode a demonic horse and hunted souls at night along with a pack of hellhounds that had white fur and red ears. At the end of episode 2 Evan’s horse’s hair turns white and he and his horse have red eyes.

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Evan might be a “hunter of souls” if it turns out his true identity is Gwyn ap Nudd. Gwyn ap Nudd is sometimes called “King of the Tor Fairies”, “Lord of the Underworld” and “Leader of the Wild Hunt”.

Legend has it that every year at Samhain (Halloween) Gwyn begins his role as ruler of the dark half of the year by leading the Wild Hunt. The purpose of his hunt is not to hunt foxes or beasts, but to gather up the souls of all those who died that year and return them to the Tor Fairies or to be given to rebirth by the Goddess.

Screenshot of Evan from The Ancient Magus' Bride: The Boy From the West and the Knight of the Mountain Haze.
Screenshot of Evan from The Ancient Magus’ Bride: The Boy From the West and the Knight of the Mountain Haze 2 trailer and drawing of Gwyn ap Nudd. Pic credit: Wit Studio and http://picture-book.com/content/wild-hunt and legends.alisonwrenn.co.uk

In 1835, historian Jacob Grimm developed the concept in his book Deutsche Mythologie on the belief that a series of Germanic folklore stories represented a unique pagan tradition, but similar illusions to such a hunt were also found in folk myths throughout Northern, Western and Central Europe. The term Wilde Jagd (Wild Hunt) was popularized by Grimm to describe the phenomenon.

In England, the Wild Hunt has also been called Herlaping, Woden’s Hunt, Herod’s Hunt, Cain’s Hunt, the Devil’s Dandy Dogs (in Cornwell), Gabriel’s Hounds (in northern England) and Ghost Riders (in North America). In the Ancient Magus’ Bride they chose to simply call it “The Wild Hunt”.

Are you excited to see what will become of Gabriel in The Ancient Magus’ Bride: The Boy From the West and the Knight of the Mountain Haze? Will Chise save him? Or will he choose to become a ghostly rider? Let us know in the comment section below!

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