It’s getting close to decision-time with Magi.
I don’t know if Magi is taking an inter-seasonal break like most series, but it certainly didn’t go out of it’s way to generate a logical stopping point for the close of its first cour. We’re very much right in the middle of everything – every element of the story is in flux, and if anything the plot seems to be in a transition mode. With the new season starting up and so many Fall shows carrying over, I have some hard blogging choices to make, and Magi is definitely one of them.
Make no mistake, I like this series. It’s a good, solid shounen that reflects the somewhat edgier style of its magazine. The production values are excellent, and I enjoy the focus on politics, which is a pretty rare thing as a main subject matter in this demographic. I’m just not sure if I have enough to say about it to justify continuing, with my commitment to trimming my blogging schedule already under fierce pressure from the carryover shows. And it’s not as if the series is hurting for exposure – it’s widely popular, and my voice is just one among many. Ultimately, it may come to blogging it on a case-by-case basis – when something especially noteworthy happens, cover it. It may also come down to whether any of the new series beyond the small circle I’m already committed to makes the cut.
That said, we got another pretty entertaining episode this week, though it lacked the headline moments of the last couple of episodes. I don’t find Alibaba as involving as the other leads – Aladdin, Sinbad, Morgiana – though he’s perfectly fine (and probably Kaji’s best role of the year). Alibaba is something of a generic shounen lead, and with Aladdin’s offbeat humor sidelined and Sinbad on his best behavior, things can get a bit plain yogurt. The flavor could come from eye-dropping action sequences as featured in the last two episodes, or from a more intense dive into the politics of Balbadd – the latter of which we got a bit of this week. It seems as if the story is focusing on Alibaba’s arc for the near future, so one way or another he’s going to have to carry the story.
To that end, Alibaba faced a classic choice this week – step up to the plate and take responsibility to govern Balbadd as King, or take the easy way out. It’s clear that neither of his elder brothers is capable of leading the country competently, and Sinbad realizes this perfectly – he’s surely capable of managing the current crisis better than Alibaba (or anyone) but he also knows he needs Alibaba on-board to have any chance at a long-term solution. Not helping matters is the fact that Kassim is back in the mix, planning an armed revolution from the streets under the cajoling of a masked arms dealer who sounds a lot like Shinichiro Mikki, who plays Markkio (which which makes a lot of sense if you think about it). Whatever grey there was in Kassim’s character seems to be vanishing like Aladdin’s Magoi – at this point he seems to have a green car ticket to a villain’s role.
I confess a certain curiosity about Alibaba’s final decision, as it seems as if his role in the story would change drastically if he were actually to become Balbadd’s King. I don’t find his personal arc as interesting as the politics that are driving it, and I rather hope that Aladdin springs back to life soon because I think Magi rather misses his energy when he’s completely lacking it himself, as he is now. But it’s stories like Alibaba’s that provides the backbone of most shounen, so the fact that the anime is leading with it is hardly a major surprise.