Posted on 8 February 2013 with categories: Magi

I haven’t dropped Magi yet. It’s just that out of all the series I’m blogging, it takes the least priority. In the past few weeks I was a bit busy, so I’m just going to combine these three episodes in one. They close off the Balbad arc in any case, so it fits pretty well.

Here this show moved from the politics to more action, in a string of battles to wrap up the show. To be honest, the battles were not that interesting. What I mean by that is that they took too long. The whole ordeal took up 3 episodes in total. First they fight, then they wait for Aladdin to arrive, then Aladdin fights. Only near the end did it get interesting when Alibaba confronted Kassim about their past. I really liked that, and that is where the dragged out pacing really worked. The way in which it just kept switching back and forth between the two of them. That really worked.

I also liked that there is consequence in this series: Ugo seems to be gone now. It’s now up to the creators to play with that and turn that into interesting development for Alibaba without making it just an excuse for him to become more powerful. It was interesting that the creators put him and that other Magi in a coma, but if you do: don’t start waiting for them. What the show now needs to do is develop its setting correctly: go iin-depth into what it takes to turn Balbad into a democracy, instead of just pulling the “everyone lives happily ever after and the tory moves somewhere completely different”-card.

Kudos to the animation department by the way. The fight scenes were long, but they did have some pretty neat animation and camera work to spice things up. A-1 previously did a prime-time series with Ao no Exorcist, but I think that the animation in Magi really is a step up from that.
Rating: 4,5/8 (Good)

Posted 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)

Posted on 9 January 2013 with categories: Magi

The creators really splurged the budget on this episode. I remember the previous prime-time series that A-1 pictures did: Ao no Exorcist. And when you compare those two series, I really have to say that Magi is a huge improvement. The action here was so much better than what Ao no Exorcist showed me: the art was messy, yet fluid. Not to mention the awesome camera angles. Yes, this show definitely made the wait during the new year time-skip worth it.

The interesting thing also is that Abhmad is completely weak and unsuited for fighting. That’s not something you see often in a fighting series like this, and it had a nice side-effect: this episode was full of action, but as soon as the focus went to Abhmad the action toned down, Alibaba became powerless and instead we got to see a much more personal conflict. I quite liked seeing him being pushed into a corner like that.

This series also has a new OP. I don’t really like the song, but I do like how much the creators managed to stuff into it. I think that that also strikes the animation of this episode: it had a ton of detail stuffed into it, both the character-designs and the backgrounds. There were a lot of shots with huge crowds, and still the creators managed to keep up a pretty good framerate.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 24 December 2012 with categories: Magi

There may not have been any action, but for me this was one of the most solid episodes of Magi so far. I like how a prime time series sets its action apart for one week to focus on its politics, and especially Alibaba’s part in this episode was very interesting to follow: he’s nowhere near ready yet, yet now he’s forced to do something in order to prevent an all-out war that could potentially slaughter hundreds of civillians, making the country even more vulnerable for the Kou empire to pick off.

By the way, I’m also glad that I’m finally noticing some arabic influences in the series’ soundtrack. This is just me and my memory, though. I could have sworn that this had been done earlier, but it’s still good because I remember complaining about how not-arabic the OP and ED for this show are.

I also liked Kassim here, how he forced so much out of Alibaba. He knows what he wants, yet he is so obviously manipulated by the Kou empire. With this I’m also much happier with that idiot king there, who thankfully got more depth than just being evil for the sake of being evil.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 18 December 2012 with categories: Magi

A-1 really grabbed some good animators for this episode. The fight that showed the conclusion of last week’s episode had some really solid animation there. It lacked the emotional impact that last week had because it was just there to resolve things and wrap things up, and introduce this new tsundere princess character who is bound to be important later on. And it was good to look at. The soundtrack was also better than ever.

Then this episode came with its world building, that did make the impact I was looking for. So far the slavery has been fairly simple: it’s evil. This episode put some more depth to it by explaining why there was so much slavery in Balbadd to begin with, with the use simple macroeconomics. It’s definitely the start, but I’m still looking for this show to go further in exploring its characters like this.

This definitely was a good start, but I’m still missing something from Magi. I mean, it has the development of its characters, but it’s not enough as of yet. I can’t put my finger exactly on what I’m missing though, but this episode had a bit of it.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 11 December 2012 with categories: Magi

I think that if there is one thing where this show disappoints a bit, it’s is storyline. Compared to the rest of the series this season, I feel like it could have used itself better, and right now its main theme, fighting for freedom and against poverty, it has been done many times before unfortunately, and better.

What this show does have is interesting character. Perhaps they’re nowhere near the best of the series, but they have this charisma that makes them interesting to watch. That other magi in this episode made the fight that this episode was all about worth watching with how confident he was. The episode really worked in how far it actually went: it started off mundane, but got more and more serious as it went on, to the point where Ugo just went crazy.

Most peculiar detail here is that something else was giving the magical powers to do that, meaning that there is much more behind their bond than what Aladdin thought at first. It definitely gives a much needed different dimension to such an overpowered being in this series.
Rating: 4.5/8 (Good)

Posted on 8 December 2012 with categories: Magi

And another episode that came with a twist that I just did not see coming: Sindbad easily changing sides and becoming a member of the band of thieves. But yeah, the purpose of this episode was clear: this series, or at least this arc, seems to have a very big focus on corruption, and putting an end to it.

In this episode we continue Alibaba’s explanation of what happened to him, and even though it was already hinted that he was fighting for the people in the slums, this episode explained the extend to which this happened, with everyone being extorted. The band of the fog also turned out to be noble thieves who give the things they steal to the poorest.

Personally I prefer my villains a bit grayer on the moral scale (that evil king really is pure evil with no good side about him whatsoever) but I still really liked this episode. Kassim also became quite the interesting characters when he kept hopping sides throughout the episode. And I like the idea of focusing on negotiations over violence like what this episode promoted, but yeah: that will only work if the recipient side will turn into a bit less of a stereotypical evil overlord, otherwise you’re just talking to a brick wall.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 28 November 2012 with categories: Magi

This show has one very misleading ED. I really thought that it would be a happy cheerful adventure featuring the three lead characters having fun. This episode showed that the atmosphere in this series is in reality muh darker. With the slavery themes this already was to be expected, but this episode really took the cake.

Alibaba’s past was… gloomy. The creators really tried to show how poverty can drive people to do strange things, and the whole story about Alibaba’s friend growing up to be the leader of a bunch of thieves is definitely a great one. This episode lso loved to use its facial expressions for that with a much more exaggerated look than normal, which also did quite some wonders in bringing up emotions.

The tension is mostly between Alibaba and Morgiana, the latter of whom will probably have a lot of trouble accepting what’s going on. I really liked how she just dragged Alibaba over the rooftops to Aladdin for a talk. The big danger right now is for this show to devolve into too much angst: making it too one-sided in a way. I’m not sure what it exactly is, but it feels weird, like something is missing from it or the show is trying too hard to get to this angst.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 23 November 2012 with categories: Magi

Well, the start of the episode made it rather obvious that this was originally written by a woman. In a way, I like that this show has fanservice for both genders, and that the fanservice also knows when to shut up. Afterwards this episode turned into a pretty interesting episode for wurld building by showing the city that Sindbad the Sailor founded.

All accompanied by some good old fashioned chemistry. Sindbad already is an interesting character from the start, but he works particularly well. With Aladdin meanwhile it’s good to already spot a bit of character development: he has become more aware of his goal, and he’s definitely less ignorant than what he was in the first episodes.

Also, A-1 is on fire this week. First there was the surprisingly good animation for Sword Art Online, and now this episode too had some really good inbetween animation, although a lot more polished. But the characters here look so incredibly dynamic: everything is just moving, and this definitely is a great use of a big budget. Also, next season A-1 will do seven shows at the same time. Holy crap.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 13 November 2012 with categories: Magi

There is one thing that this series really likes to drive through, doesn’t it? Slavery sucks. Slavery is evil. Slavery should be banished from this world altogether. While I totally agree with that, my problem with that is that it makes the villains of this series rather one-sided. There just are a lot of bad guys in this show that look too much like each other, and I would have liked to see a bit more variety.

On the other hand, I’m really digging the rest of the characters in this series. I even feel sorry for the really minor side-characters, so those villains are at least doing something well. This episode was all about Morgiana (and a half-year time skip!), and I really like that Goltias still plays a prominent role in this series. He could have just been some random goon that got forgotten as soon as he died, but the creators did a great job of making sure that he still has impact.

This show also has the talent to instantly make the people who the main characters run into likable. I’m not yet entirely sure why this is, but it still is something that definitely not every series can boast. Either way, I like the warmth between them, and they’re quite well acted, and together they feel like an actual community: they strengthen each other, which especially was true near the end of the episode.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

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