Huh. So MAGI is an anime reworking of 1,001 ARABIAN NIGHTS? Seems rather obvious, now. When I first got a press release about this show a couple months back, though, it was presented simply as an Arabesque show and the literary connection wasn’t explicit. Perhaps the thinking was that spinning this as “ALADDIN: THE ANIME” would’ve made it a tougher sell.
It’s been a few years since I’ve read the SCHEZERADE, but this at least seems like it’s been made by a crew who’s done their homework instead of just window-dressing concepts they aren’t actually that familiar with (* COUGH * BLUE EXORCIST * COUGH *). Again, I can’t say for certain, but the giant, wine-thirsty flower monster really feels like it’s from one specific tale.
Of course, while I might have issues with some of the creative liberties taken in this show (more on that in a moment), the show’s probably better off not staying that much truer to the source material. For as timeless as the book is, its characters are more often blank slates who don’t adventure so much as just get passively pulled into bizarre. Sinbad, for example, isn’t any sort of swashbuckling captain - - he’s just a regular, bland merchant who has got an odd habit of surviving shipwrecks in strange lands.
As such, MAGI should take as many liberties with Aladdin and Ali-Baba as are in reach. Hell, I really like the clever approach they’ve taken to the genie, having him only emerge out of the magic flute with the limbs that are needed for the task. I'm curious to see that sort out-of-the-box thinking applied to other elements of this milieu.
That said, I hate chibi, and if I were to make a wish, myself, it’d be for all the chibi to be barred on the show’s bill of artistic license. Honestly, all the histrionics with the watermelon eating and the mistaking-man-boobs-for-water-melons got me to almost close the window on this. I don’t object to comic relief, no... just this kind of comic relief. It unfortunately besmirschs an otherwise charming pilot.
Watch this episode, "Aladdin and Alibaba" here and decide for yourself.