Welcome to AniMonday, our bi-weekly anime review!
* * * * * *Warning! Spoilers Ahead!* * * * * *
This isn’t the story of Aladdin that you know. No Robin Williams Genie making quips with comically erratic behavior. No Princess Jasmine held captive by the evil Vizier Jafar. Instead, our hero, Aladdin, a young boy on a journey to find friends, comes across the earnest worker, Alibaba. Together, the two of them explore their world and dungeons alike, finding vast treasure, befriending the Djinns Ugo and Amon, a slave girl named Morgiana and the king of the seven seas, Sinbad, all the while facing villains that would seek to undo the world as they know it.
From Humble Beginnings
The ancient story that is Arabian Nights, dates all the way back to the 9th century, historians believe. The story is told from the perspective of Scheherazade, daughter of a vizier who offers herself to be the bride of a mad king who plans to kill her the morning following their wedding. To prevent this, she tells the king a story that captivates him, but she doesn’t end it. Enthralled, wanting to hear the rest, the king postpones her execution. Scheherazade continues this for 1001 nights, beginning a new story as soon as she ends one saving herself from death.
In 2009, Arabian Nights was adapted to manga by artist Shinobu Ohtaka, best known as the creator of Sumomomo Momomo, taking only the characters and re-imagining the stories they existed in, bringing them all together in one big story. Spearheading the anime is director Koji Masunari, director of Read or Die, and screenwriter Hiroyuki Yoshino, famous for his work on Mai-HIME, Macross Frontier (2008) and Guilty Crown. Joining them is award-winning composer Shiro Sagisu, best known for composing the soundtracks for Bleach and Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance.
One of the best parts about Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic is the sense of wonderment and adventure that you can expect from any fantasy story. Alibaba and Aladdin venture forth into the dungeon that resides in the city, from which no one has ever returned. Inside is a magical world of traps and monsters and puzzles, leading to a vast wealth of knowledge, treasure and power.
After conquering the dungeon, however, the three main characters, Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgiana, end up separated, subsequently having their own adventures before all coming back together again. On one hand, this allows the viewer to see how vast their world is and that it’s not only as small as where the main characters exist. On other hand though, the more characters you meet on their separate adventures, the more difficult it is to get attached to them as they usually end up just disappearing for a large chunk of episodes.
Shonen at Heart
As our characters come back to one another, the action breaks and brings the adventure to a halt. Henceforth, the series begins to become more of a shonen anime, involving strange powers, intense training to reach new heights, you get the sum of it; becoming more like shows like Naruto or Bleach, losing most of its wonderment. This isn’t all bad, however, if you’re a fan of this genre, but in its transformation it begins to latch onto the standard clichés that come with the territory.
When it’s all said and done, good and bad, this series is an enjoyment to watch in full. The adventure gets you hooked and the drama keeps you reeled in, coming together for a giant climactic clash at the end. That’s not the end for our heroes either. Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgiana return for even more adventures in Magi: The Kingdom of Magic. Both series are available to watch in full on Crunchyroll subbed and Netflix in both subbed and dubbed formats.