Anime Review ー Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic

Magi

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic is an anime adapted from a manga of the same name by Ohtaka Shinobu. The story itself is based off an old classic, 1001 Nights, often referred to as Arabian Nights or 1001 Arabian Nights. The anime is directed by Masunari Koji, produced by A-1 Pictures and is 25 episodes in length. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic started broadcast in Japan on October 7, 2012 and ended on March 31, 2013.

I know that I am pretty late at posting this review, as it has been about 6 months since season one ended. I started writing the review right after the final episode, but I wanted to post it in anticipation of season two… so I waited. Yeah, ‘kay?

Season two airs on October 6, 2013! Less than a month away! So, for anticipation I decided to do the Magi 30 Day Challenge. Should have done it earlier, but what the hell. So after this post I will be posting each day answering a question from the 30 Day Challenge, nothing grand, but fun! For it to be even more interesting, I ask Magi fans to follow along with me and post your answers in reply to my daily post. All just to anticipate the up-coming season two! ヽ(・∀・)ノ

First Impressions

I first came across Magi on MyAnimeList for one of my anime recommendations. The anime had about a month before broadcast at the time, and because it looked interesting and something different with the Arabian setting (which, I actually like), I went ahead and added it to my Plan to Watch list. I looked into it a bit and fell in love with the whole story. This was all prior to my huge interest in manga, where I used to just read a manga if I liked the story and didn’t see a possible anime in the future. However, for Magi, I did NOT want to wait. So I started reading the manga, and fell deeper in love with it. I finished all the current releases in two days (only around 130 chapters at the time). I constantly got bored with waiting for the anime, so I started re-reading the manga over and over again. Nevertheless, I’m a huge fan of Magi, and it is what got me into reading more manga. The manga itself is currently tied with Houshin Engi on being my most favorite manga.

So with me being a huge fan of the manga, no doubt was I excited for the anime. I didn’t think much of anything of A-1 Pictures, and before the anime started broadcast, I saw many people disappointed that they were adapting Magi. Even throughout broadcast there were people hoping that some other studio would pick it up in the future and remake it. Did A-1 do a good job this time with Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic? Let us see…

Story/Plot

“In a fantastic middle-age world where slavery is very common, there are mysterious tall towers named “Dungeon” which mysteriously appeared out of nowhere fourteen years before the story line. Someone who conquers a Dungeon becomes very powerful and wealthy. Our hero Alibaba is a teenager who works for merchants to support himself. He dreams for conquering a lot of Dungeons and becoming a very rich person. One day, he comes across a strange young boy named Aladdin who carries a mystical flute with supernatural powers in it. Alibaba and Aladdin agree to travel their first Dungeon together.” (Source: ANN)

As for most typical shounen manga/anime, going on an adventure is incredibly common. However, I will give credit that this is indeed a rare setting as well as story. It’s not often you come across anime with a Arabian theme. Personally the only other one I’ve seen with one is Tsubasa Chronicle and even then it was a brief moment. So this uniqueness gives points to the story. The synopsis can also be a little misleading, along with the openings and endings of this anime. They make you think that this is all about going on an adventure and conquering dungeons; Well let’s just say that is part of it, but not the whole jest of it. There is a much deeper and darker story to it and it dwells into some politics as well as slavery issues and war. We have light-hearted moments and we have some major serious issues at hand as well. This series isn’t entirely your everyday shounen anime, but it does pack some similar elements to the typical genre. If anything, this story can be enjoyable for shounen and non-shounen fans alike for it’s uniqueness. And while there are a lot of anime and manga based on classic old tales, those are mostly based on the Journey to the West story; while here we have Magi, which is one of the few based on 1001 Nights. So props for going outside the box and kicking it to the curb, Ohtaka-sensei!
Score: 9/10

Characters

Like how Pandora Hearts references their characters from those of the Alice and Wonderland story, Magi does the exact same thing with some of the stories in 1001 Nights. Because it calls for it, I’m going to talk about not only main characters this time, but also a few support characters.

Aladdin:
Aladdin is a 10 year old boy when we are first introduced to him. He calls himself a traveler and wanders around the desert with a flute around his neck that contains a being called a “Djinn” in it; Ugo. Aladdin has spent the majority of his life confined in a temple and so he is rather naive of the outside world. It’s shown that he is very protective of his friends and will stand up to anyone to defend them, such as when Judal called Alibaba pathetic. Despite being a little boy, he has very manly interests. Aladdin is named after the main protagonist from, Aladdin’s Lamp.

Alibaba (Ali Baba):
When first introduced to Alibaba he seems to be greedy; caring only about getting rich from conquering a dungeon. At first he is eager to befriend Aladdin, but only to use his power for the sole purpose of conquering a dungeon, but shortly after he saves a little girl and Morgiana from a creature called a, Desert Hyacinth, he is in turn saved by Aladdin and he agrees to become Aladdin’s friend. While Alibaba seems like a typical shounen character who is “weak at first only to become stronger later,” there is a much deeper aspect about his character and his past. Alibaba is named after Alibaba, from Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.

Morgiana:
Morgiana is a slave at the beginning of the story. We first see her when Aladdin accidentally bumps into her, knocking her down. When he sees that she is a slave, he frees her, not knowing of the consequences for freeing another’s slave. As a slave, she was owned by the chief of Qishan, Jamil, but is eventually freed by Alibaba. She is named after the clever slave girl, Morgiana, from Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.

Judal (Judar):
An arrogant and powerful magician; he is a magi, like Aladdin. He tends to laze around the Kou Empire’s palace with nothing to do, so because he loves destruction and to fight, he leaps at the chance anytime he gets to use his powers. Judal does things his own way, and isn’t above killing innocent people to get what he wants. He is the main antagonist. Named after the main protagonist, Judar, from Judar and His Brethren.

(Spoiler) Unlike most shounen antagonists…

Judal is defeated during the very first fight, and even the second one against the main protagonists.

Sinbad:
Sinbad is a man who established the Seven Seas Alliance between his kingdom Sindria and other surrounding kingdoms. Known as the Legendary Dungeon Capturer, having captured seven dungeons, including the very first dungeon, Baal. He is named after Sinbad, from The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor.

Ugo:
The Djinn that resides in the flute Aladdin wears around his neck. I can’t say much about him that wouldn’t be considered, “spoiler-ish,” so all I will say is that he has some sort of ties with Solomon.
Score: 9/10

Art & Animation

A

Hint: Look at the cave walls, I can assure you that the captives didn’t get bored and start to doodle on the wall…


The weakest point of this series is, without a doubt, the art/animation. At first it starts off pretty nice, but later we just get a collision of derp faces and poorly drawn anatomy. On the image above (episode 6, 19:21), you can see one hell of a screw up on the animators’ part; they forgot to erase notes and the rough sketch… \( ̄□ ̄)\

Below I have a few links of some of my screenshots just to express my point even more on the “derp faces”

Example 01 (A-1… Were you even trying!? What did you do to my dear Judal!?)
Example 02
Example 03

The backgrounds aren’t half as bad though, actually pretty good; if only they put that much effort into their animation. Some of the animation is good though. But the series has a pretty nasty habit of going from good, decent, bad, rinse, and repeat… This just goes to show how much of a budget was put into this, practically none whatsoever. Want to see possibly the worst animation in this season in action? Go watch episode 18 around 21:20… that dance needs more frames per second, it’s not smooth in the slightest.
Score: 4/10

Sound

A

Music, sound effects, voice actors… all amazing! Music was done Sagisu Shiro, so really no argument there. Though, I do wish there was more of a variety of tracks, because the first soundtrack has a lot of sequels to other pieces. Since the second soundtrack based on the events after the Balbadd arc has yet to come out, I can’t say much on that one. But, based on just listening to the music in later episodes, I can tell it helps to make up for the former’s lack of variety. In general, all the tracks are amazing. They are either dynamic, epic, eerie, relaxing, or joyful. Overall, the music is good, but it seems like at times A-1 just doesn’t know when to play the right tracks. There have been a few moments where I could have chosen a much better track from the soundtrack to play at the time. There aren’t many of these, but it was obvious enough to get noticed, and that isn’t exactly a good thing. The openings and endings were nicely done. For me they are certainly addictive, and after the first episode I found myself desperately awaiting for the albums to be released, even with the second OP/ED. We have some pretty well-known and amazing voice actors; Ryouhei Kimura, Yuki Kaji, Daisuke Ono, Haruka Tomatsu, Sakurai Takahiro, and many more! All the voice actors did an outstanding job, and there aren’t any whose voice I disliked or felt didn’t suit their character.
Score: 8/10

Enjoyment

This series has its flaws, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it wholeheartedly. Although, that is most likely due to the excitement of seeing one of favorite mangas animated. I think anyone can enjoy this series, depends on what’s your cup of tea. If you can handle some of the noticeable goofs by A-1 in their animation, go for it! If not, then don’t bother. Don’t worry, I posted the worse above, so make that decision based on those. Overall, I would definitely re-watch this series over and over again. But that is just me and my love for the Magi franchise in general.
Score: 9/10

Concluding Thoughts

A

Magi is an anime any shounen fan would enjoy. With it’s setting and unique story, it gives fans something “different” than your typical settings (Most of which include Japan or China). It has its faults, but they can easily be pushed aside by all the other attributes.

Anime Rating: 7

Pretty good. Good enough to the point I may watch it again out of boredom. The majority of it was well executed, but on the contrary it lacks at least one major quality. Lowest grade where I’d actually recommend it.

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