This is review number one hundred and sixty nine. This is another Fall 2012 anime. My internet connection is super slow so I’m having a hard time stocking up on anime. It took two days to finish downloading this anime and the review took four days. Curse my slow internet connection and my fast anime viewing. This will all fix itself once I start watching the 2013 anime though. Anyways, I’ll be reviewing Magi. It’s a twenty five episode anime about a boy named Alibaba and a boy named Aladdin trying to conquer a dungeon and get the treasure inside. It gradually expands from there though like putting too much bubble liquid in your tub. It’s a great anime though so let’s read on.
The anime is about Alibaba, a boy who dreams of conquering one of the dungeons that grants tremendous wealth to whoever reaches its top, and Aladdin, a mysterious boy that agreed to help Alibaba conquer his dungeon. It is said though that whoever conquers a dungeon have the power to become a great king someday. Alibaba and Aladdin are soon plunged into a world full of politics, hardships and other future kings that has the power to shape the future by forcefully changing the present. The two must soon act and shape the future as well.
Taking the Pants Off
As it stands, Magi is currently hailed as a failure because it crammed 100+ plus chapters of the manga into a mere twenty five episode anime. The loud groaning of the manga fans certainly crushes the efforts of the anime. I’m here to judge the anime based on its own merits though (because I’m an ignorant anime addict who doesn’t read any manga) and made a decision on that alone. So is the anime good? No. It’s great. Magi is a really great anime that nicely combines the fantasy adventure appeal of the Shounen genre and the stiff ideals of some socio-political topics. It’s a familiar Shounen anime but it’s shorter than the ones you’re used to. That’s basically the complaint in the anime. You just can’t fit that much chapters without some things being omitted and some aspects being ignored. I do understand but I’m sure the anime has something good to offer as well so let’s give it a f*cking chance.
The anime is also inspired by the 1001 Nights stories, a collection of stories also known as the Arabian Nights. It takes some ideas from the Arabian Nights and some familiar names are present in the anime. Some characters and their relations to the stories within the 1001 Nights stories are also utilized. The anime seem to take ideas from Arabian Nights and give it a Shounen appeal. It’s pretty ingenious though because the anime has flying carpets and genies but it also has awesome Shounen battles using magic and stuff like that. I’ve seen it done before as well. Magi is like the anime “Pandora Hearts” that takes inspiration from Alice in Wonderland but also injects its own Shounen appeal. They should rip more Shounen ideas from popular literatures. It clearly works.
The anime started out pretty straight forwardly. Alibaba wants to conquer a dungeon and Aladdin helps him out. They face the danger inside the dungeon, they become closer as friends and they encounter some dangerous people along the way. I didn’t really know what the anime was about but I was pretty excited with the idea of more dungeon crawling from the anime. I was wrong though because the anime blows up from there. The story is actually a bit bigger but it’s mostly contained in two plot points.
The first one is about the various conflicts on countries that the characters are in. At first, it was just some stories about various conflicts among the people. There are always some people opting for peaceful resolution while others want to create anarchy. The main characters are usually outsiders looking in often forced to joining to amend the situation. As the anime progresses though, the conflicts gradually become bigger and the characters are personally involved in some of them. Like most Shounen anime, the story started out simple with the characters travelling and seeing the lives of the people. They help in the problem and they continue their journey but it grows from there. It soon becomes a story about liberating a nation, avoiding war with a powerful military nation and the state of the world under the different ruling bodies.
This plot point also deals with a lot of things. The anime is set in a rather savage and unruly world with only a few places being nicely developed. The anime uses a lot of things to its advantage like slavery and the unjust treatment of people, the tyranny of a corrupt body and the hardships of the people under them and the nature of people in this vast world. The first half especially gained a lot from this because it really explored these topics pretty heavy handedly. Some people are really treated like trash while some are laughing while others die in pain. This was also a smart way to get behind the characters while the overall story is slowly being established.
The second plot point is about the Magi and the future kings. This was the Shounen aspect of the anime and it does have very little explanation to it. The setup is pretty familiar though. Basically, the people who conquer the dungeons are considered future kings and a Magi helps in the process. They help the person they feel has the right to be king someday. The idea exploded though as we are introduced to a lot of future kings. These kings are also given some powers by the djinns inside the dungeons they conquer. This is why most future kings are current rulers of a country but has yet to actually rule the world. As the anime progresses, the various future kings are pitted against each other and they test out their awesome powers. This doesn’t stop here though. Amidst the power plays of the countries and future kings, there is also an evil group trying to rule the world through underhanded means. Things progressively expand from here.
Shounen anime doesn’t really possess complicated stories so it’s pretty easy to follow the one in Magi. The two plot points are also closely related so one progress with the other. Of course, it’s also pretty easy to follow Shounen anime since they are divided into arcs. There are two main arcs in the anime and one minor arc that make itpretty easy to digest the stuff happening in the anime.
The characters are the typical Shounen characters. Alibaba is the normal boy who was granted awesome power and he must now train his way into becoming a powerful guy. He is nicely rounded because the anime really indulges in moments where he acts like a hero and also when he fumbles around being overwhelmed by his inability to help people. He is an effective Shounen character with the never say die attitude that audiences easily cheers for. Aladdin is the mysterious character. Little is known about him and one of the subplots in the anime is actually revealing who he is exactly. He is a Magi and a powerful one but has little knowledge of how his powers work. Just like Alibaba, Aladdin also cares for others and he is often caught up between conflicts but he always has a sound mind when deciding things. He also loves boobs. One of the running gags in the anime involves Aladdin stuffing his face in some boobs.
The rest of the cast is typical Shounen characters as well. There is a large cast of supporting characters though but they stay true to their stereotype. There is the super powerful character that the main characters wish they could become, there is the concerned friend that sticks with the main characters and a lot more characters with awesome fighting abilities. Magi is one of those expanding universe type of Shounen though, like One Piece, so expect a lot of characters being introduced. Familiarity with the genre goes along way when watching this anime though.
Familiarity also helps with the terminologies in the anime. There is little explanation to some of them but they are pretty easy to pick up. There things mentioned like Rukh, Magoi, Djinn, metal vessels and household vessels. These things are pivotal to the story yet the anime just lays out a brief description of them. The explanations are followed by some application on fights and whatever so it’s pretty easy to understand despite the lack of explanation. I don’t really believe there is an anime fan out there that isn’t a seasoned Shounen fan so the setup of Magi is easy to understand.
One of the great aspects of Magi is the villains. From the one shot villains to the recurring ones, the anime has a lot of nasty characters you really want the main characters to beat to a pulp. Some of them are really just anarchistic bastards that use their power to hurt others. You’ll see them treat slaves and commoners as dirt rags and watch their smugs as they do dastardly things with no remorse. It’s even better when they act arrogant with the idea that they can never be defeated which really makes you want to punch them in your screens. I personally love one of the antagonist Magi in the anime. He is a guy that loves maniacally, loves picking on the weak and uses his tremendous power to create chaos everywhere he goes. After a few scenes watching him laugh and look down on the characters, I was ready to see him die. Shounen villians should generate that kind of annoyance in the audience and Magi has a lot of them.
This is an amazing anime. I’m not going to lie though. I share the same sentiment as the manga fans: I wish it was longer but to be fair, the anime is still pretty great. The pacing was something I never felt rushed because the story was progressing pretty nicely and the characters are getting a stable development along the way. I have seen a lot of rushed to oblivion kind of Shounen anime and it’s safe to say that Magi isn’t one of them. The arcs are decently paced and there is enough action in the anime to keep you tuned in. The length is certainly a bother because after the anime ended, I really want more of it. I can’t wait for the second season. It’s too bad Fall 2013 is a long time away.
Sight and Sound
The character design is pretty great. There is a wide range of flashy outfits in the anime that I really admire. The characters are the typical Shounen characters with bright colored hairs and a normal body type. They look pretty great though and the outfits are also nicely inspired by the Arabian Nights stories set in the Middle East. Some characters were turbans, long cloths that drape their bodies and some accessories that dangle on their bodies as well. There are also some pretty wild outfits though that really looks RPG inspired. There are characters that hail from different places and their outfit reflects the people of their country. There are traditional Chinese garments and battle wear from characters of a certain empire, there are characters with heavy set armors, some have tribal wears and many more. It really makes the world of the anime pretty colorful because of how many unique people are in it. The outfits are then placed over the typical Shounen characters that look flashy when they fight. The result is pretty amazing.
I also love the designs on the monsters and the animals in the anime. They have that RPG feel to them and again, the anime takes inspiration from the Arabian Nights. There are nice looking animals like tigers and monkeys but there also some pretty nasty looking monsters that I personally wish I can fight in a turn based battle. The imagination just runs wild when it comes to the monsters and I am a big fan. Shounen anime should be running wild with its imagination and Magi do that with ease.
The animation is inconsistent though. You can see from the first episode that the animation is pretty cheap. The movements are stable but it lacks the flashy appeal most studios are proud of. I am also not a fan of cutting to chibi scenes. They aren’t that great and you can see the anime abandoned it during high quality episodes. Some of the characters great looks are often not being brought out because of the subpar animation quality. Further in the anime, the animation does start to look great. During some of the great fight scenes in the anime, you can see the quality improving.
The fight scenes in the anime are pretty great. They have the flashy appeal of Shounen battles and the movements are pretty great. The storytelling in the fights is also nicely done. I love it when the enemy overwhelms the characters at first and then the heroes may a decisive comeback later on. It’s not without the various monologues, self-narrations and constant commentaries from onlookers as well. There isn’t a lot of one on one scene where the characters cross sword but those scenes are pretty amazing as well. The movement is pretty smooth so the audience can follow the fight and the characters are able to look really cool during the fights. Majority of the fights involve magic and a lot of characters dishing out magic based attacks. The effects in the fights are really nicely done and I love how the background gets a massive involvement in the fights. No place remains clean during fights. Characters would crash into walls, the ground would often shatter during the awesome fights and a lot of debris and rubble often gets used during the fights. A lot of bystanders and no named soldiers are often caught up in the fights and you just got to admire how they are helplessly thrown around during the epic fights.
The soundtrack in the anime is also inspired by the Arabian Nights theme. There is that familiar Arabian music in some of the scenes in the anime but there also some impressive rock music during some scenes in the anime. I distinctly remember the impressive guitar instrumental in the final moments of the anime. It nicely helps in making the world of the anime nicely come to life and the mood is reinforced with some exciting music.
The anime has two OP. The first OP is “V.I.P” by SID. It’s a really nice and catchy song. It sounds pretty simple with its standard style but after a few listening, the song really sticks to you. You also cannot call SID ordinary because their music makes for some pretty amazing OP songs in anime. The OP sequence features all the characters but it also has some spoilers in it. Some characters introduced very late in the anime are in the OP while some characters who are still bad guys or useless side characters are revealed as important ones thanks to the OP. Some of the surprises are a bit spoiled thanks to the OP. The second OP is “Matataku Hoshi no Shita de” by Porno Graffitti. I love this band ever since I heard them in GTO. They make great songs and this one is no exception. The song is really impressive with its amazing rhythm and the stand out voice of the singer. After a few episodes, I even find myself singing along with the song. The OP sequence features the arc in the second half and all the characters involved. There are no spoilers this time and the anime nicely captured the brilliance of the arc through the OP but the OP changed while we are still in the finishing another arc though so it felt weird.
The anime has two ED. The first ED is “Yubi Bouenkyou” by Nogizaka. It’s a catchy song because of the stand out voice of the singer. The song has a upbeat sound to it that gradually increases as it rolls towards it chorus. I personally love the song because it’s energetic yet also decently paced. The ED sequence features the three main characters travelling the world and bonding and looking cute. The second ED is “The Bravery” by supercell. I’m a big fan of the band and I love how they make awesome music. The song is no exception. From the nice lyrics to the rhythm and the singer’s voice, there is a lot to love in the song. The ED sequence features all the important characters in some awesome poses. Nothing complicated.
8/10 “A solid shounen anime nicely utilizing the Arabian Nights as inspiration.”
It’s a great anime, no doubt about it. Whether you hate how the anime turned out or you just plain hate A-1 Pictures is neither here nor there. If you’re a fan of Shounen with all of its flashy characters and even flashier fight scenes then you’ll enjoy this anime. The story is compelling, the fantasy aspect is amazing and the characters are nicely rounded. You’ll easily enjoy this anime. I highly recommend it.