Posted by psgels on 17 January 2013 with categories: Magi

Magi uses its three main characters in an interesting way: episodes in which all three of them are active are quite rare. First they all travelled separately, then Aladdin lost consciousness for an entire month. It’s quite interesting, actually.

Now, as for this episode… the politics… Alibaba sure came with some ridiculous ideas. It was definitely creative, though and I have to say that I did not expect this. If the rest of this series will focus on turning Balbadd into a democracy and the challenges that come into its way, it’s going to make for a pretty interesting conclusion.

Having said that though, there is one thing I realized this episode: Magi is a series based on middle eastern folklore, based on modern ideals. The slavery already was one hint for this: sure, it’s something terrible and all, but back in those days people just found it normal, and were more preoccupied with their own survival. Then this episode with Alibaba’s sudden decision to turn an entire monarchy into a republic overnight. It is that this series suddenly revealed that there are other republics in this world, but still: it just does scream “freedom! equality for all”. Idealistic and inspiring indeed, but historically accurate? Err… Not to mention breaking off an arranged marriage in those days. I’m not saying that this was bad or anything, though it did catch my attention.
Rating: 4/8 (Good)

38 Responses

  1. Rachnid says:

    yeah, the republic stuff kinda bothered me too. This series continues to convince me that its political stuff isn’t very well thought out, but I guess the message we should take away from this is “Alibaba is King material”. I did, however, like the part where tsundere princess used her position to “trick” Sinbad into visiting her, nothing more deliciously devious than abusing power on perfectly reasonable grounds.

    • Airies says:

      tsuncess is the only reason im still watching.

    • HunterWulf says:

      Isn’t well thought out !!!! .. are you kidding me !!!? the guy dodged an arranged marriage .. voided an agreement to sell the people of his kingdom as collateral to another kingdom .. entered the most powerful alliance in the world .. and finally turned his own kingdom into a democracy … all in one stroke .. that’s some of the BEST handling of politics in anime to date .. seriously.

      • Airies says:

        I think you missed the point about it being a modern mindset in a world were it should not be.

        • HunterWulf says:

          Well and you missed the point that there is NOTHING modern about any of the concepts mentioned here, the concepts of democracy and public assemblies where common people rule and have control are as ancient as the Greek civilization (if not more ancient than that), alliances between kingdoms and countries is an even older concept .. so what modern mindset are we talking about here exactly, there is no reason whatsoever the concepts mentioned this episodes can’t exist in that fantasy setting !!!?

          • Sei says:

            Because Greek is very Arabic indeed.

            I know Democracy exists in Ancient Greek and all.

            But if you write a story of ancient Chinese and pull that crap I will call you bullshit.

            The point is, politics is a result of economy and social development. I don’t think that the society in this setting will give birth to the concept of democracy at this time beings.

          • HunterWulf says:

            @Sai
            Now that’s just getting silly, this is -surprise- FICTION .. and ironically you are complaining about the most plausible/realstic thing in the entire damn series so far .. Alibaba didn’t sit in a room for ten days then came out with the concept of democracy or invented a nuclear bomb or something .. he traveled around and saw many other countries .. some of them were republics that apply the concept of democracy (like the GREEKS).. so he thought he might try that in order to save his kingdom .. and well .. hello .. that’s the whole freaking point of fiction .. this is a WHAT IF scenarios.

            And please, none of the cities here even existed, the letters used aren’t real Arabic, Arabic people in real life didn’t have 30 feet tall Djinn, nor did they have any magical dungeons .. so if a fictional Arabic character coming across the concept of democracy in a foreign country he saw during his travels and wanting to apply it to his own kingdom is far more plausible and historically accurate than anything else here XD

      • Rachnid says:

        Maybe I should rephrase, I wasn’t referring to the content per se. I totally agree it’s awesome, but that’s exactly why it didn’t really work, because it came out of Alibaba’s mouth, I don’t think we can believe at this point he is capable of such a feat. Sinbad? Maybe, but it might even be a stretch coming from him. It’s not that it can’t exist, but instead how and who brought it to that place that is the problem. I think you’re mixing up my opinion with psgels’. And even in his case, I think he just didn’t get the point across well enough, like what happened with my first comment.

  2. minstrel says:

    It’s done on purpose, that Alibaba’s naivety will result in tragedy. The politic will soon turn much more complicated to the point of confusing later on. I wish it would stay as a lighthearted adventure. The next arc would be my favorite arc, I can only stick until that part otherwise I’ll get a headache.

  3. Kaiserin Emma says:

    Now, while I still agree with Airies I however feel that the developments in this episode by the sound of it are acceptable given that this is after all simply just fiction.

  4. Deano says:

    “Idealistic and inspiring indeed, but historically accurate?”

    …and I suppose the giant blue magical guys popping out of metal vessals is ‘historically accurate’.

    Come on guys, its an anime show. Allow some artistic licence, or about 75% of all anime can be considered nonsense.

    • Hogart says:

      I don’t think anyone (psgels included) were really griping about it, just noticing it.

      But if you’re interested in debating it, there is a bit of a difference between “historical accuracy” and “physical accuracy”. Having supernatural entities is historically accurate in the sense that the original Arabian Nights mythos this is based on also had them.

      It’s just a bit jarring to see modern mentalities in a setting where they don’t really apply and so don’t quite blend in seamlessly if you’re aware of the mythos it’s based on (Disney-fication of a sort). As psgels said though, it’s not good or bad in and of itself, just jarring.

      • meaqui says:

        Nope, thats fiction;) Trying to apply rules of our reality doesnt make sense at all. As long as it serves its part in the story, every element is fine.
        But I get it – you dont like it;)

        • Kaiserin Emma says:

          @Meaqui and Deano: Ah, excellent both of you get it!

        • Rachnid says:

          Yes it’s fine, but believable and convincing? Not really. When it stands out like that, it’s saying that there is something inconsistent with the context of the setting, and that is where most of us who didn’t like it, i think, don’t like about it. Yes it is fiction, but things can be done in a way that is good or not so good. Alibaba convincing people about going democratic? not so good. From what we have been shown so far, there was no hint at all that democracy has been remotely conceived in that setting, especially with the rampant slavery. The only knowledge of that is given to us seconds AFTER Alibaba suggests it, hence the “jarring” experience. I don’t agree with the use of the word “historical accuracy” too. But I totally understand where psgels and Hogart come from.
          I think nobody is saying that it is bad in and of itself, really. It’s like hitting a road bump you did not expect, and some of us get hooked up on that more than others. Just like you’re about “historical accuracy” ;). Either way, we will all be watching the next episode.

        • Hogart says:

          I guess that’s about the thick of things, yes. In my case it’s simply being forced to compare it to 1001 Nights because they shoehorned their way into the mythos so forcefully. It strikes me as lazy, since I can otherwise enjoy this on its own merits. It’s the price I have to pay for being an overanalyzer, I guess.

  5. hoiut says:

    I feel the same way as psgels concerning the “setting” right now. Pretentious, self-righteous sermons about the beauty of democracy (and somehow equating that with equality) and modern values contrast jarringly with the setting, characters, supposed upbringing, political climate, source material, historical period (albeit one of fantasy), and to some extent, common sense.

    The ideals he spouted are the last thing a believable protagonist would desire after witnessing firsthand the influence of “powerful/good” kings (Sinbad, and to lesser extent his father) in contrast with the abject dependence of the masses and their propensity to easily be misguided by the likes of Kassim and HIS controller. The only lesson to be learned from those particular circumstances from a lad in his position is to install a different (and more powerful/noble) king. Or that revolts are “okay” now and then. But a circumstantially inconsistent and entirely uncalled-for change in the fundamental system of governance?

    Many anthropologists take issue today with the imposition of “western democracy” by Western Superpowers as an artifact of their ongoing cultural hegemony and neo-colonialist global tactics. If anything, the intricate system of financial domination proposed in earlier episodes (a country selling itself out of power/rights) is closer to the modern norm. It can be argued the vast majority of so-called “democratic regimes” in the world today are only successful because one was — and is — and that one is pulling the strings and propping up the others. Proto-democratic city-states of centuries past met overwhelmingly with complete failure, as any student of global history will tell you. And Rome isn’t an exception (or even a “democracy” by anything close to the modern standard).

    I have nothing against democracies. But one look at American history will tell you that without a hell of a lot of luck and the perfect geopolitical environment (not to mention a whole boatload of bloodshed and repeated indoctrination), there’s little chance the One Democracy would have come to fruition in the first place.

    Minstrel’s comment (third on this page as of my post) excites me for this reason, though, at the same time the execution this past episode frustrates me. This particular turn on the road to political intrigue may have been shoddily contrived, but if the destination holds potential, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt for the time being.

    • HunterWulf says:

      Well you seem to think that Democracy is a new thing or as modern as USA .. it isn’t .. and America isn’t the first country to have democratic rule to use it as the main example in your comment … the concept of democracy and giving power to rule over to people and common folk is a very old concept … there are many types of democracies and many nations had their own brand of democracy .. Alibaba traveled a lot on his way to his kingdom and saw many nations .. one of them was probably like ancient Greece .. because if you want to talk about democracy in ancient times then we have Greeks who applied the concept of public assembly and democracy in many aspects of their lives and in many of their cities –>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_democracy … and they weren’t the only one’s who did that.

      • hoiut says:

        You got my point right, but your rebuttal misses the mark.

        The concepts and ideals Alibaba is using to try to create a democracy sound altogether too modern — which the Greek/Athenian version was certainly not (and notably faced heavy criticisms in its time…and today). Democracy was seen as usurping the natural order and quite arbitrary by many scholars of the period. It resulted because of the permeation of philosophy and intellectualism throughout the state and the shabby treatment of the poor by the rich who were running the economy into the ground — the same final stimulus that occurs in Magi.

        But the characteristics of the people, the climate, the social system, and the region’s history make concepts such as these laughable in context, and would not be rationally proposed by a Prince who observed firsthand the corruption of the people’s will by external influence (something that didn’t happen in Greece). Also, a common feature of all early democracies (with the exception of one city-state): they failed. Often miserably.

        That’s not to say some concepts we associate as being “democratic” (or of “people’s republic”) are necessarily part of a particular system. “Almost all cultures have at some time had their new leaders approved, or at least accepted, by the people; and have changed the laws only after consultation with the assembly of the people or their leaders.” — Wikipedia

        ^ ^ So, totally this. This is what I was getting at — Alibaba would have rationally been more inclined to install/become a new, strong king with popular support. It is next to impossible to establish legislative legitimacy without some form of popular consent (btw, the method of extracting such consent doesn’t have to be pleasant to modern ears).

        “America isn’t the first country to have democratic rule to use it as the main example in your comment” — you bet your bottom dollar it is. I am as convinced of this as I am convinced the author only hoists this idealism into his work as a result of living under its modern (American) incarnation. That or the author is far smarter than his naive young protagonist and has plenty of turmoil and sociopolitical criticism in store for his new state.

  6. Sheba says:

    From Ali Baba’s point of view, the democracy was the best solution he could come up with. He saw that his brothers were not fit as kings, he knew that he don’t have the shoulders to stand the burden of power. The best he could do was to give the power to people, or at least a council representing the people. Remember that there are many forms of democracy as well many forms of monarchy. Ali Baba needs to exercise before finding the best compromise that will work for every parties. What he have proposed is just the first step.

  7. HunterWulf says:

    How are the politics not historically accurate !!? .. democracy and public assemblies aren’t modern things .. they are as old as Greek civilization if not older (and Greeks weren’t the only ones to apply the concept of democracy either .. many ancient civilizations did) .. so what historical inaccuracy are we talking about here ?

    • Sei says:

      oh, yeah, the all so mighty Greek again.

      The point is, social advance must be logical. Character action and choice must be logical with their life experience. It’s called consistence.

      WE KNOW that Democracy exists in ancient Greek, but please NOTE that different kind of society give birth to different kind of politics and they will have some other kind of advance. I cannot see that Alibaba could pull that ideal out of his head without the author putting words into his mouth.

      The thing is, that Democracy stuff is literally out of nowhere.

      Politics is difficult to handle, and I don’t think the author of this series could handle it well. As for now I guess we will just see some shallow development that lend way to some cheesy drama, which is not so rare in media nowadays. Not so good, but well nothing out of expectation.

      • HunterWulf says:

        I don’t know if you were asleep during the episode or what, but Alibaba didn’t make this up in his head .. .. i repeat .. he didn’t come up with this by himself.. he saw many EXAMPLES on his travels to his way home .. some of the countries/kingdoms he came across were ALREADY republics and he WITNESSED how they rule and how it is much better than the other monarchies .. it didn’t come out of nowhere.

        And seriously, the series handled politics very well so far .. i don’t know about your expectations but they seem pretty darn unrealistic.

        • kazid1 says:

          Totally agree Hunter, this posts have to much biased comments, “historically accurate?”??? wth? Magi is nottt a historicall anime and repeat “not” is based in 1001 nigths but is not only based in that material, the autor build a whole new world that no enter in the logic of the real world, thus the historicall argument is totally invalid. Second: of course the democracy concept is very weird at first glance but if you put atention to the show is the most convenient solution to the problem Also Alibaba do this knowing that his arguments have to much flaws, but also knowing that other factors are in his favour. For example the imperial princess clearly not want to marry that pig. The other brother is follow him blinded, The king previously have lost to much credits, and others factors, Common I have seen politics whit far more idiots arguments and win, is not about the logical of the argument but the psicological influence they have, the people want a great change, ok I would offer this big change. And the revolutions starts. Also Hunter and the anime explained that in THAT WORLD Republics have been established and Alibaba based his arguments in this. Third. This chapeter is not a wierd follow up that came of nowwere clearly Alibaba was thinking all over past chapters how to save Balbad and finish whit this conclusion. So is a logical follow up. Sorpresive but logical.

          In the end Magi is to much over the top, but are people that not liked how the autor manages this history and is plausible. But for something Magi is the 9 in manga Japan rattings and i this is not for being the tipical shounen manga.

          • Green says:

            Asking a shounen to be historically accurate is too much. The Arabic nights setting was used as a foundation. Example full metal alchemist, zetsuen no tempest, naruto, one piece, ruroni kenshin etc etc. alchemist, ninja pirates and samurai portrayal, none of that were historically accurate. Alchemist, samurai ninja doesn’t work like that. They weren’t meant to be historically accurate. Have everyone forgotten what fiction means? Furthermore it’s shounen.

      • hoiut says:

        Very true. And the democracies he claims to have seen are the icing on the cake of unbelievableness.

        I would propose that Alibaba simply mistook what he saw — or saw only what he wanted to see, and that wasn’t necessarily democracy. He simply saw the leaders supported by the people and who involve them (or take into account their concerns) when forming new laws.

        • HunterWulf says:

          He never used the word democracy .. he said the people in those republics made their choices by themselves .. whether they had public assemblies or were ruled by an elected ruler or by a parliament or a senate is unknown to us as he never gave the details of how those republics worked .. the fact stays that there is NOTHING unbelievable about it .. as the concept of public assemblies and democracy is as old as dirt .. it just wasn’t as widely spread as it is today.

          In fact it’s pretty much one of the few believable things around in the show (same as the negative effects of having a valueless paper currency forced on you instead of using gold or silver coins that have inherent value and global acceptance for use in trade)

          • hoiut says:

            No. Good sir, with these ridiculous assumptions you betray you know too little of their historical scope and context to use them as evidence.

            Yes, the concepts of democracy (people-rule) are ancient. Everyone today knows this. Everyone who has passed through middle school. Thank you for the insight anyway.

            But I can’t understand why you fail to grasp that there were no successful examples in the middle east.

            It would be wise to do a little reading (or go back to sit in on a middle school world history class) before applauding the feasibility of an Arabian/Persian prince suggesting democracy (republic).

            Points to consider:
            – There were no documented democracies in the middle east in any time point corresponding to the original or historically re-imagined Thousand and One Nights. This makes his “I saw ’em around, you know, here and there around the region” a product of his own (or his author’s) wishful interpretation of “hybrid-type” local regimes with a central autocrat. Maybe he mistook a small city council meeting for a scalable, non-autocratic political model. Maybe he just saw nice kings deferring to the people.
            – From the collapse of the Roman Republic to the mid 1800’s the pervading sentiment surrounding the Athenian model was extremely negative and critical by (even Western!) political thinkers, who considered it “mob rule.”

  8. Green says:

    Forrest Gump uses historical events as references and were never meant to be historically accurate. In fact most references were to point of being ridiculous.

  9. Rachnid says:

    The point is…the anime has failed to have us believe that Alibaba is capable of conceiving the idea of democracy, (please don’t assume that we’re all ignorant about democracy, even if we were, Alibaba’s lines about it existing in other countries should have been enough to convince us, but it didn’t, and that says something). That is an indisputable fact, since me and some other people here seem to share the same feelings. I think we are all also willing to overlook it if the coming events at least try to make an attempt to address this. It’s quite common that serialized manga pull something like this, what we need to see is how it deals with it later on. Who knows, maybe the next episode will have all it needs to resolve this.

    • Rachnid says:

      “conceiving” is not a good word, i’m aware he did not invent it. I meant “capable of thinking of using democracy as a solution”

    • Anca says:

      >That is an indisputable fact, since me and some other people here seem to share the same feelings.

      Heh.

      Anyway, I agree with HunterWulf. Democracy in an old as dirt concept, and Alibaba has been shown to be educated and well-traveled. I did find the scene jarring initially – because it came out of nowhere, but it was easy to accept once I thought a bit about it. The show should have foreshadowed it better, but there was nothing wrong with the concept itself.

      And since the manga was written by a modern mind, I’ll bet my knickers that the republic will fail spectacularly.

  10. momotsu says:

    It very amused for me to see you guys critique with Alibaba’s democratic idea is out of no where, though he clearly said that he saw this system work well in other regime while he was traveling.

    hmm

    • Kina says:

      Maybe they want some flashback or proof of Ailbaba’s travels to other places where the cities/town have democracy. Personally, I read the manga so its pretty funny how everyone nitpicking about how historically inaccurate/accurate or out of place Ailbaba’s proposed idea about establishing a republic is when later on in the manga everything is explain/playout. I don’t wanna say any spoilers so just have some patience lol. I really recommend reading the manga though because it is really well written and interesting.

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  • Bam
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 05:40 AM)
    There is a hipster movement of contrarianism, that they just like to hate on whatever’s popular and deemed kinda mainstream. I get defensive when they shit on classics like Akira, Berserk and Ghost in The Shell. I see that wasn’t the case here. Anybody can sincerely dislike Anything; that’s fine.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 05:31 AM)
    I see your point too. We can certainly take the stance of judging a thing by its own merit, unobstructed by social influences and constrains of time. Yet even at that Evangelion is a fairly slick piece of science fiction, and an interesting watch. At worst it’s boring and contrived, but that’s harmless. Never really fair to call it shit.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 05:20 AM)
    @Aidan: looking back soberly I did come back a little too heated. That’s uncalled for and I’m sorry for that. I usually don’t lash out of unrelated daily stress, but there are mistakes here and there.
  • mamamoo
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 03:22 AM)
    @Aidan hahaha can’t wait for the episode reviews for Orange. It’s gonna really test you.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 02:58 AM)
    Look I knew how this would end before it began. We have done this already and neither of us are changing our stance. K-Off laid out things perfectly with his response so I see no reason to elaborate. Only reason I jumped in was because you brought Fate into it and if that was the bait then congrats, you won. I see no reason to continue the farce with no compromise in sight.
    In other words, need sleep. Goodnight.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 02:53 AM)
    @Bam,”I never said the problems it has gets erased by its early release or cultural significance”
    Neither did I. I said you are hand waving it’s problems by stating so, which you are.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 02:32 AM)
    …And orange is still top of the poll…ugh. Seems like this is going to be torture for me. Kiznaiver was already trying my patience with those speeches but if Orange is even worse…oh boy…
  • mamamoo
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 01:35 AM)
    Anyways I’m sure an emotionally manipulating soundtrack will make the anime a bit better :)
  • mamamoo
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 01:34 AM)
    @Aidan, it got to the point where I had to take 15 minute breaks because it was so physically cringing lmao. I started sending screenshots of pages to my friend because we were cackling at how embarrassing it was. Like I shouldn’t be laughing at such serious topics but the execution is just terrible.
  • mamamoo
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 01:32 AM)
    eh I thing my post just died when I hit send. Must’ve hit the character limit

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