Magi is a magical journey that dares to challenge the world (and dares YOU to watch it next)
There's a lot of good shonen out there, and a lot of really choice adventures too. Between the many titles, how do you choose what's next to read or watch? Do you want an adventure? Do you want a stunning fantasy world to distract you from the mundane? Do you want a broad story to occupy your time? Might I suggest Magi? The manga, first penned and illustrated by Ohtaka Shinobu, first gave rise to a vibrant world, which A-1 pictures then brought to life. Today is the series' anniversary, so let's take a look at what makes it so special and why you should give it a binge if you haven't already.
What stood out to me the most, besides the gorgeous character design, is the fact that it uses familiar concepts with a new spin. Recognizable names stood out to me as soon as I started the series — characters from 1001 Nights such as Alibaba, Sinbad, and most importantly, Aladdin. This is also what drew me to the Fate series too, the ability to take mythology and grow something completely different out of it. While the characters are reminiscent of the originals, in their talents and their drives, they have a life of their own. The main trio of Aladdin, Alibaba, and Morgiana are a formidable set of names on their own, and as they forge bonds, it's exciting to see what these mythological figures have ahead of them. Aladdin knowing nothing about the world makes him a perfect guide for the audience, and we are charmed with his curiosity. Alibaba and Morgiana's drives go beyond their countries, and we want to see what their dreams will lead to.
As the three of them set out into the world, they explore what sort of place the world is and confront their own issues along the way. The world itself is an enchanting one! Each country they visit is different, with its own culture and layout. No one country is exactly the same as another, making the worlds feel rich and vibrant. The same goes for the dungeons scattered throughout the land and the djinn that dwell in them, waiting for someone worthy to take their power. One of the highlights of the series is finding out what the next country looked like, what sort of powers the next djinn would bring in the quest for supremacy. The designs are also delightful, with each djinn equip being interesting and unique. The clashes between them are thrilling.
It eventually becomes clear that Magi wants to tell a much more mature story than it would seem at first glance. What begins as a long fantasy journey ends up being more about the structural problems of society itself. Everyone is anxious and insecure. Even the people in power don’t necessarily feel like they’re doing the right thing, but rather what they have to do to accomplish their goals. It’s all too easy for a story to choose to have one person responsible for all wrongdoing, that the seed of all evil can be traced back to a single villain. It’s much easier to say that there are a few bad apples instead of the fact that perhaps the system itself is flawed. To remove a single apple and have everything return to normal is the nicer option, the easier option, not one that is often fraught with sacrifice and pain.
Altogether, what starts out as a simple treasure quest turns into a challenge of what it means to live. What happens when your lofty dreams clash against reality? What does it mean to want better for the world? Is destiny inescapable? These are all questions the series doesn't hesitate to bring up and critique, which makes the story all the more engaging. You come to care for all the members of the cast, hoping to see what they can accomplish in the world. While the anime still has several arcs left to bring to life, the manga is completed, and it’s definitely worth a watch and a read. If you have some time, why not give it a shot? If a magical fantasy story is the type of thing you enjoy and you have some spare time on your hands, then this will surely not disappoint.
Have you watched Magi? Tell us what you think!