Ever wondered what happens after the “Happily Ever After” conclusion in Fairy Tales? Well, look no further, After Marchen is a story that continues after the much known endings of these stories. A tale of two junk-collector brothers who visit one fairy tale after another in Fairyland. With each story they visit, readers get to see the life after the happy endings, the truth as the much happy and fantasy veil of those stories fades out.
After Marchen is a twist to the usual fantasy stories we hear. Drawing upon stories that we grew up with, it brings a brand new perspective showing us another side to these popular tales. Something similar to what the Spiel Anime’s Newsletter does for you. It brings brand new content twice a week, brimming with finely curated recommendations for every kind of occasion, and also presents a detailed analysis of everything anime.
In this article, we’ll go on a ride within the first three chapters of the series, which I consider would be enough to get you hooked on the story altogether. Beginning with familiar faces, the manga is surely going to give a whole new POV about them.
After Marchen brings a new perspective to old Fairy Tales
The two brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm, are junk collectors in Fairyland. They visit places they are requested for and take away any junk the client wants to get rid of. The only condition is that the client would be from fairy tales that have received their “Happily Ever After” conclusion and items that won’t affect the story.
The first chapter starts with the most iconic fairy tale, [Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs]. Let’s have a recap: Snow White is a princess who runs away when she learns of her stepmother’s attempt at murdering her. For a reason quite vain, her stepmother wished to be the fairest in the world, only to be actualized when the magic mirror responded to her question with “You are the fairest of them all”. However, the mirror never lies and always responds ” Snow White is the fairest of them all”.
This enrages her stepmother and she sets to poison her stepdaughter with eternal sleep. She succeeds but is chased away by the 7 dwarfs, never to be seen again. Snow White, in her eternal sleep, awakes when a prince finds her and kisses her. But this is not where the story ends.
The manga picks up years after the said “Happily Ever After”. Snow White now has a daughter named Margaretta. While Wilhelm, the younger brother, runs to play with the little princess, Jacob carries on with his work and meets Queen Snow White. This is where our usual Happy atmosphere of Fairy Tale ends. Snow White wishes to get rid of the Magic Mirror, not because it is an item that signifies the hardship she had to face, but because with each passing day, the mirror turns her more into her stepmother.
Obsessed with beauty, the current Snow White indulges in exercise to retain her youth, but all of this equally as vain as her stepmother’s motivation, the mirror that never lies, responds not with “You are the fairest of them all” but instead with “Margaretta is the fairest of them all”. Unable to process this revelation, Snow White continues to state that the Mirror is broken, as an excuse to not admit that she is slowly turning into her mother.
The next chapter covers the most popular fairy tale, [Cinderella]. Let’s have a recap: Cinderella is an unfortunate girl who is tortured by her stepmother and her stepsister. One day, when the royal ball is in session, she sneaks out of her house with the help of her Fairy Godmother and attends in a completely different guise. With the Prince falling in love at first sight, she leaves behind her glass heel at the stroke of midnight as the magic slowly comes undone.
The Prince sets out in search of her by finding the person whose feet fit into the glass slipper, finally reaching Cinderella and marrying her. But again, this is not where the story ends.
The manga picks up years after the said “Happily Ever After”. Called in by the Prince to collect the broken glass slipper, Wilhelm finds the darkest truth behind this tale of obsessed love. The Prince, while enamored by Cinderella during the ball, did not love her in the way we thought he did. Revealed as a person who has a feet fetish that began with the Young Prince’s first hunt of a deer, the Prince kills those whom he considers to have beautiful feet and cuts apart their heels to put them up for display.
What’s more, is his unending obsession with acquiring anything that he desires. He has specifically kept a jar at the center of his display, titled “Proof of Love: E”, a haunting reminder that soon before her beauty fades, Cinderella would be killed as the Prince adorns her graceful feet on display.
The third chapter covers the first part of Rapunzel’s story after her “Happily Ever After.” Recapping her story, she was taken by an evil witch, Gothel, when she was just an infant. Gothel raised her and soon she was a beauty with very long hair. One day, a Prince stumbled upon the tower where they lived and the youth fell in love. Her mother kicks her out by cutting off her beautiful hair and leaves her off in the forest.
The Prince soon finds her and takes her to his palace to live happily ever after. Skipping over a lot of plot points because there’s a much sweeter revelation than a dark one, more like a bitter-sweet revelation.
Gothel never snatched away Rapunzel, she was given to her by her father because he was caught stealing pumpkins from the witch’s backyard. Although the story portrays her as an evil witch, the brothers were able to find out that she was truly a mother, always having the best interests in her heart for her daughter. Her act of banishing her was an action that was taken at the moment of anger. Even the prince finding Rapunzel was something Gothel carefully orchestrated wanting her daughter to find the person she loved.
The brothers arrive at Gothel’s place on her request to take away the mirror and the dresser, this is when she finds out that Gothel dearly misses the daughter she raised, regretting her decision of sending her away because she was sad that Rapunzel wouldn’t stay with her anymore. With all of her actions misinterpreted by the people of her story, Gothel cannot meet her daughter, even when all her intentions are to love the one person that enraptures her entire heart.
All of the above stories tell us there’s more to fairy tales than what seems at first. It is also a reminder that although these characters are fictional, they are no exception to how the human psyche unfolds. Take the case of Snow White, despite the suffering she had to go, she suffered the same obsession as her stepmother because of the values she was consistently raised with. Always valued for her beauty, she now finds no meaning in anything that does not remind her of being the most beautiful.
Taking the case of Cinderella, what seemed like an unfathomable romantic obsession turned out to be something way more dastardly in nature. The Prince’s fascination with collecting feet that he deems beautiful surely wasn’t in our checklist of ticking when he think of his very determined will to find his love.
Ending with Rapunzel, Gothel is always portrayed as the evil witch who never treated her right during her entire life, but is that really how it was? Although her actions could have been different, she really did act as a real mother in those situations, someone who cared for her daughter and was worried about her future with her daughter.
After Marchen is an amazing story that provides a whole new perspective to the fairy tales that we have grown up hearing about. Not only does it ground these stories in reality, but it also presents a much broader outlook in life, that things are sometimes not as simple as they appear.