Magi News

Magi is a franchise comprised of 3 anime series, 5 manga series
From Anime Vice
News Neon Alley: What's Coming this Fall? -- THE VICE PIT Oct. 18, 2013
News MAGI #21 - - Watch & Learn June 4, 2013
News MAGI #20 - - Watch & Learn May 27, 2013
News MAGI #19 - - Watch & Learn May 21, 2013
News MAGI #16 - - Watch & Learn May 10, 2013
News MAGI #15 - - Watch & Learn May 6, 2013
News MAGI #10 - - Watch & Learn April 10, 2013
News MAGI #7 - - Watch & Learn April 1, 2013
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This chapter reminded me of the good old days of Bleach, before Aizen got tiresome, back when he was still the enigmatic villain the exact nature of whose goals and interests were shrouded in mystery.

All you needed to know about Aizen back then was that he wasn’t completely evil, merely focused upon achieving his goal. A better example might be Fate/Zero, where the exact nature of every conflict chose to ignore the good vs. evil cliché, instead presenting an amoral cast driven by there own personal interests.

My point, Magi is doing everything right in presenting the perfect villain for the series’ heroes.

THE CHAPTERS:
Judar and Hakuryuu embark upon the journey to kill Gyokuen.

MY THOUGHTS:

So we are most definitely in the past; this has to be a flashback of sorts, showing us the events that took place while Aladdin and group partook in their summit; I guess it makes sense, showing us exactly what happened and how Hakuryuu gained the power the defeat his mother rather than allowing speculation to thrive.

+The Good
I wrote a Blog Post a short while ago, giving my take on what it took to create a great villain; and I explained my disinterest in the complex villains of today, the excess of whiny child like antagonists with what had become cliché sad back stories, most of which where intended to attract sympathy to characters that were completely undeserving of pity.

Basically I lamented about the lack of true villains in the anime and manga, those bad guys that were truly bad, and who could truly pose a threat without the risk of them breaking down at the end of the arc; except that Magi, in these two chapters, showed that it is actually possible to create dark villains that are as sympathetic as they are threatening and engaging. 

Hakuryuu and Judar combine two facets of the common villain, coming off as both tragic and sympathetic even while operating in a dark persona driven only by evil.

Having fallen into depravity, Hakuryuu falls into the category of villains that are more or less evil for the sake of being evil.

Because, with a mind driven by dark rukh, Hakuryuu is now acting on instinct, and will commit evil with no remorse or thought, no different from the typical mindlessly evil villain.

Except this is a path that Hakuryuu chose to follow, having counted the cost, realized what he would lose by falling into depravity and choosing to take the plunge.

And that is what makes Hakuryuu and Judar better  than almost any other pair of villains in shonen; they are aware. They are not driven by an uncontrollable lust for blood or vengeance. There are no dark forces deceiving them into following their dark path, or at least there weren’t.

There is a cleverness in the manga’s choice of Djinn in this situation, with Belial allowing both young men an opportunity to fully scrutinize their souls, during which they saw the dark path before them, understood what it offered, admitted that the path of light indeed offered true hope and peace, and still chose to sink into the shadows of their dreams.

They will destroy the world not because they are misguided or unknowing; rather they understand the big picture, better than even Aladdin, and yet they choose to continue in their depravity. These are the sorts of villains I like, the type that are not likely to get talked off the ledge by the heroes when the final battle comes.

+The Bad.
This isn’t bad per say, merely a less flattering consideration, at least with regards to Alibaba; as the primary protagonist of the series, Alibaba is quickly becoming irrelevant and obsolete, far too quick and willing to follow anyone that will promise to save his friends and his home rather than taking any actual definitive action.

And considering the fact that Hakuryuu ranked far below Alibaba as far as interesting characters go in the past, he has come a long way in the time it has taken Alibaba to shift alliances haphazardly.

But maybe that is simply great story telling on the mangaka’s part, showing Alibaba’s failures before finally allowing him to rise.

+RATING: 8/10, both of these chapters were great and provided some insight into the minds of Hakuryuu and Judar, especially the hate they carry and unwillingness to forgive Al-tharmen for the role the group played in creating their miserable lives.

It makes you wonder whether Judar spent so much time pursuing Sinbad because he was simply lonely and wished to share his depravity with someone; because now that he has his king vessel, he no longer shows any interest in Sinbad.

I can’t figure out how Aladdin and his group are going to figure into the coming conflict; as a dark king vessel, Hakuryuu’s only interest is still destroying Al-Tharmen and all they stand for. Which means that the big villains of the story are about to fight. Not a very bad thing for the rest of the world.
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This chapter was one large flashback; and I actually expected to hate it. Because all chapter 242 did was basically tell us what we already knew and had known for several dozen to a hundred chapters.

However it would be accurate to say that all this served as a great reminder and somewhat placed things into perspective.

THE CHAPTER:
The Kou empire stands at the edge of war. As Alibaba makes for Balbad in an attempt to protect his home from the oncoming chaos, Hakuryu acquires the means to wage war on his brother and mother.

MY THOUGHTS:
Thinking about it, I have no idea what the hell I even read in this chapter; parts of chapter 242 were flashbacks. But there were parts I am not quite certain about, especially when taking into account what we learnt at the end of the summit about Hakuryuu’s actions thus far.

+The Good
So, Hakuryuu is making plans to kill Gyokuen? Because I thought she was already dead. And is Gyokuen even Hakuryuu’s mother. Because everything that we learnt in this chapter suggests that Gyokuen appeared on the scene rather mysteriously and long after Hakuryuu was born.

So, what the hell is going on here? I might be confusing my Magi facts.

On the one hand, Hakuryuu could have lied about killing Gyokuen in an effort to further his rebellion, and now he plans to turn that particular lie into truth. On the other hand, chapter 242 was largely about Hakuryuu telling us what happened, in which case that last panel could have been the moment, entire days to weeks ago, when Hakuryuu took Judar’s power and ended Gyokuen’s life.

I don’t exactly understand what I was reading. And maybe I am reading way too much into the chapter. Whatever the case, the information was somewhat educational.

Considering how long it has been since we first encountered Hakuryuu and his family, I think I can proceed with a clearer picture about the Kou empire, its origins and a fair portion of information about Hakuryuu’s siblings, most of whom I can barely remember, save for Kouen and his sister.

+The bad
If my memory wasn’t so vague about the Kou empire history, this chapter would have been more or less pointless, with several pages outlining what Hakuryuu told us a long time ago. As it was, very little story progression actually took place, save for that last bit with Judar.

Maybe we needed to get a clear picture about what was happening at the heart of the empire, but the chapter could have done that in two or three pages; more importantly, without clear knowledge of who is dead and who is alive, I don’t how much of this picture we actually got, outside of Hakuryuu’s reminiscing.
+What mattered?
I guess we now understand Hakuryuu a little better; hearing the news about his actions during the summit, it was easy to jump to conclusions that Hakuryuu had gone dark and whatnot.

The character we met in this chapter was subdued, less dark and more determined; which makes you wonder if there is really any point to the upcoming clash with Alibaba. Hakuryuu is bathed in dark rukh, but really he’s no more depraved than Sinbad, merely a king that will do what it takes to bring about his vision.

And it isn’t even a bad vision. The question now comes down to where Judar falls in the grand scheme of things and what his plans for the young king might be; if it simply comes down to Judar having chosen his king vessel, then Magi is going to climax towards a fight between all the kings.

And truth be told, I want Sinbad to come out on top. Whatever Aladdin has to say, he and Alibaba are idealists whose visions of the future are largely unattainable and unrealistic; rationally speaking, Sinbad stands the greatest chance of not only winning any battle that might arise, even against Hakuryuu and Judar, but as emperor he can actually bring about peace.

+Predictions: Whatever Judar says, Al-Tharmen is no one’s puppet; and clearly they are using Hakuryuu for a new agenda; whatever his original intentions, Hakuryuu will lose himself to the black rukh and I suspect Alibaba will be forced to put him down; or at least he will try until Aladdin stops him.

RATING: 6/10, I am a little divided on this one; at a glance it was engaging, but the more I think about it, the less substance I actually see
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Wow, it feels like Magi gets heavier and heavier with each new week. And these two chapters continue the trend in telling what is ultimately a very depressing and very tragic story.

THE CHAPTERS:

Solomon consumes Illah and seeks to bring about a Utopia. However destiny rears its ugly head again as new conflict breaks out as a result of Solomon’s actions.

MY THOUGHTS:

There is a huge chasm between fighting for freedom and what the idiots in Magi do in these two chapters.

There is a popular saying about how absolute power corrupts; however someone needs to coin a saying about the ills of excess freedom.

The primary purpose behind the actions of Solomon and crew during this flash back has been to bring peace to the world, intertwined with allowing all the different species access to all the freedoms they desire.

What we have seen over the past few weeks is the systematically disastrous consequences of granting absolute freedom to a people that are probably not ready for it.

I am certain there is a lesson in there about human will and how it reacts after decades and centuries of subjugation. However it is difficult to feel any pity for the destruction that will face the populations of Alma Toran, most of whom more than deserve the destruction that will befall them in the next few weeks.

The entire Alma Toran arc has been about Solomon tiptoeing around the sensitivity of a collection of species undeserving of his aid or sympathy. And it is that fact that makes the events of these chapters so tragic, watching as everything Solomon worked for go up in flames, as the entirety of Alma Toran turns against the very individual suffering and perishing in sacrifice for his people’s freedom.

These two chapters didn’t as much create a conundrum with regards to the rights and wrongs of the situation, as they did damn Alma Toran as being completely unworthy of Solomon’s saving hand.

That raises questions about present day Magi; as chaotic as the times might seem to be, I don’t know if Aladdin really has anything to worry about . Not even the Kou empire is that depraved.

Or rather their actions seem to be guided by some twisted moral compass, this as opposed to those who would eventually become Al tharmen, who, for all intent and purpose, lose their sanity.

Call it falling into depravity or losing one’s way, their wasn’t the slightest light of sanity in any of the characters that took to rebellion in chapter 233.

Magi is presenting quite the dark and depressing situation. And I don’t know if I like it.

RATING: 8/10, Magi has done some pretty stellar work these last two weeks, even though the pacing is still a little off for my tastes. We are finally coming to the end of the flashback and these last two chapters provided quite a number of surprises with regards the roles of Solomon’s crew in Al Tharmen’s creation.

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WHAT?! A BREAK! COME ON SHINOBU. We finally arrive at this momentous juncture in the story, when Magi finally gets my excitement juices flowing, when I finally begin yearning for the next Magi chapter like I haven’t in a very long time, and the Manga decides to go on a bloody break.

I suppose there are rational reasons behind the decision but, come on, I haven’t been this excited about a Magi chapter in more than 3 months.

THE CHAPTER:

Solomon rebounds from his great loss and launches a final assault against King David and his horde, bringing to an end a long and very bloody war.

MY THOUGHTS:

Complain I might have about this dragging Magi flashback; yet this chapter, juxtaposed against last week’s chapter more than justified the past few weeks of Magi.

And like Nanatsu no Taizai this week, the key lay in the chapter’s focus upon the action elements, even while allowing the story progress. Speaking of action, I cannot get over the artwork in this chapter.

Maybe Shinobu really does deserve a few weeks break, because a considerable portion of this chapter was quite messy; not that I had a problem following events…well, not after several re-reads, some of these panels were seriously messy.

Throwing these criticisms aside though, it has been a while since Magi delivered such meaningful yet compact action scenes, presenting less chaos in the form of giant attacks flying about and more fast paced and fairly simplistic assaults.

And one might point to last week’s chapter to justify the quality of chapter 230, because Magi this week enjoyed a level of urgency, with each page more than conveying that intense fury coursing through Solomon and crew, with his rage more than exploding on paper.

The chapter simply worked in a way it hasn’t worked in forever, relaying the emotion of last week’s loss, the dismay of those species facing death, the madness of David, fused with disturbing calm and, most importantly, the desperation in Solomon to stop his father. No, not desperation, fury.

There was less shonen cliché than I expected at the end as well, the final battle avoiding the speeches you expect from most manga, Solomon merely doing his all to save his friends from the might of his father, David imparting disturbing as well as enlightening wisdom upon his son in the last few moments.

And that made very little sense as well, those last few moments, almost throwing everything that we knew about David out the window and allowing us a moment to reinvent his personality. Was he really the raving lunatic we thought he was or a genius trying to manipulate the flow of destiny?

Could all this have been part of some grand master plan to avoid the chaos to come?

With this chapter, my interest in these events of the past has been renewed, specifically what it might mean for the future and the threat that is King David, whom I am now more than certain might have awakened within either Kouen or Sinbad.

That account of Setta’s end was almost chilling. Again I can’t tell if David was recounting the event just to push Solomon, or that was really a blood thirsty facet we were only starting to see. Truth be told I never thought David operated with the same mindset as the orthodox magicians and always assumed them to be puppets to his will.

Yet following his proclamations in this chapter regarding the purity of the species, I have to wonder if he wasn’t simply the chief orthodox magician.

RATING: I want to say 9/10, but the shoddy art calls for a 7/10. None the less intriguing chapter. Solomon was pretty awesome this week.

HIGHLIGHT: Solomon VS. David; David’s recount of Setta’s last moments.

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This was brutal, and surprisingly so, even considering the lengths to which Shinobu Ohtaka has gone in past arcs; I have found some difficult to enjoying these flashbacks, mostly because the stakes haven’t felt real enough to me for quite a while, not like they would usually feel with our usual cast of characters.

Yet that didn’t negate the impact of this chapter, which, I suppose, is going to have epic consequences with regards to the war against David.

THE CHAPTER:

Solomon and Ugo attempt to escape their self made trap even as David launches an assault against their home.

MY THOUGHTS:

Chapter 229 was all over the place, starting off quite dull, entering some really muddy waters and then coming out ahead in one of the manga’s most brutal and gut wrenching scenes. There was a point in the chapter were events seemed like they were starting to turn down a clichéd path.

Ugo’s ability to lift the barrier puzzled me; because even his genius doesn’t explain his ability to overcome a trap that took centuries to create; the gibberish in between didn’t help matters. I don’t think we needed a step by step description of exactly how Ugo went about breaking the barrier.

Even as a means of proving his genius, it was unnecessary, and I didn’t buy. That being said it made for interesting progress, watching Solomon basically prop Ugo up as the greatest wizard the planet had seen, not because of any ostensible magical ability, but due to the wonders he had proven capable of achieving through the power of his brain.

One might look at this as an interesting shift in the development of these characters; we have spent so much time watching Ugo fawn over the might of Solomon, it is interesting to understand how highly Solomon views Ugo. It explains their friendship and a lot about what we know of Aladdin’s Ugo and his relationship with the young magi.

There was that moment as Solomon and crew were racing back home that I thought of the scenes we were about to witness, specifically the final clash between father and son that would see the city saved and justice delivered, before the city finally came into view. I expected devastation of some sort, but not an utter obliteration of the city.

This more than changes everything. For one thing these events give credence to revelations made in chapter 222.5, about David’s ability to foresee the future; that he foresaw his son’s rebellion, the force that he would raise to stop him and created a means to utterly crush him places David a few pegs above the all knowing Aizen.

This is a villain like we haven’t seen in Magi. Seriously though, this wasn’t just any little old massacre. David obliterated everything, the home and the communities that Solomon and crew had spent the past decade creating, a life and families that now lie in ruins.

What this is going to do to Solomon’s will, one can only imagine. We can already presume that this is going to lead into the fated Alma Toran tragedy, of which this is a portion. After all most of his followers are likely to lose faith in him, no longer viewing him as that divine creature beyond reproach and in whom they will choose to trust.

Seriously, this changes everything. After that last scene, with Tess’ last words, it suddenly makes all the sense in the world, how some of these powerful and initially righteous people could fall into depravity. Those that were making presumptions about Sheba’s role in Al Tharmen might have to reconsider their position

Because if there is one thing we know about Gyokuen, it’s that she’s crazy. And if there is one recently prominent trait we have come to learn about Arba, it’s the violent nature she might be harboring beneath her calm exterior.

One can imagine the events of this chapter pushing her over the edge. Magi has taken quite the turn in chapter 229, and one has to wonder how this tragedy will translate into the golden days of Solomon we saw in Aladdin’s visions near the end.

RATING: 7/10, despite a few hiccups at the start, this chapter really shined at the end.

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Not what I expected. I am not sure what to think or even feel about this chapter, because one portion made very little sense to me, while another, mostly the end, changed the atmosphere of the arc into something darker and even more exciting.

THE CHAPTER:

Solomon and Crew bring the might of their strength against David and the Orthodox Magicians. As victory finally comes into view, the true nature of David’s plan finally takes shape.

MY THOUGHTS:

This was not terrible; and I say not terrible because Magi hasn’t been the most exciting series to read for some time now. And this chapter maintained the problems I have encountered with the manga in the last few weeks, yet while managing to inject some excitement into this war.

I finally understand why the extreme length of this flashback is proving to be so unexciting. It’s a flashback; essentially this is the past, and as such I simply cannot bring myself to get excited over these events. Certainly I would love to know the eventual fate of Alma Toran, Solomon and his people, yet the outcome of the war doesn’t interest me because, again, this is the past, it happened already, and isn’t likely to have an impact on the present beyond what we already know.

So really, chapter 228 did the best it could do, in actually proving exciting with regards to the conflict of wits and power between father and son, turning an easy victory into what might prove to be quite the gut wrenching defeat.

So, yes, actually good chapter, if only in showing Arba and Solomon’s determination to bring the Orthodox magicians to an end, as well as David’s genius planning ; however the first portion of the chapter was, well, quite cheesy, unnecessarily verbose and quite dull in fact.

RATING: 5/10, more exciting than what we have seen in a while. Yet Magi is still very strangely paced.

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I cannot be the only one starting to lose some patience with Magi. I understand what the author is trying to do, but these are some seriously long flashbacks. We might as well forget about Aladdin and group for the next few weeks to months, with the step by step process in which this manga is approaching its Alma Toran Arc.

THE CHAPTERS:

With war raging among the various freed species across the lands, Solomon must make his sacrifices in finally taking the title of King, if only to bring about a momentary peace. The final battle against King David begins to take shape.

MY THOUGHTS:

Here is the thing with these flash backs; there is some merit to them. Rather than catching a very brief very uninformed glimpse of Solomon, Magi has spent the past few weeks allowing us the opportunity to get to know this particular character and his collection of crazy friends.

Not a bad thing, especially when you consider the level of world building that has been achieved in that time, the revelation of what the Rukh are, the secrets behind the various Djinn transformations and even the formation of the world as it is known.

The problems comes with the execution. On the one hand, as I have said several times before, this story is taking its merry time in reaching a satisfactory conclusion. But even if I was to step back from that criticism, accept that we might be in this arc for a while and learn to appreciate all that we are learning, the Manga is doing an odd job of telling its story.

While certainly slow in comparison to ordinary flash backs, the Alma Toran Arc is also quite erratic, jumping from weeks to months and even years sometimes within a single chapter. Not the most impressive means of telling Solomon’s story, what with the way the panels will move from one random scene to another…Magi might be better off if this entire story was simply narrated within the space of a chapter or two.

I wish it would determine a pace and stick to it, because watching Solomon go from hero to King to the very gates of David’s palace within the space of a few panels just didn’t work for me. It’s possible the author is trying to say too much too quickly, seemingly being hurried either by her own intentions or some meddling editor.

Magi has potential, and still ranks as a pretty impressive manga; the message of chapters such as 226 and 227 are deep and philosophical and intriguing to contemplate, of the nature of freedom and what it takes to achieve true peace; however it would help the author took a different route to telling her story, away from the current, erratic and rather random nature of her approach.

RATING: 3/10, it is disturbing that I would fail to enjoy Magi to such an extent. But this arc needs to either end quickly or step up its game.

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  • Producer: A-1 Pictures
  • Release Date: May 16 and August ?

Plot: The world of the spin-off series is set 30 years before Magi and tells the story of the younger days of Sinbad, the king of Sindria.

According to ANN, the 3rd volume of the manga series, Adventure of Sinbad, will be bundled with the OVA as a limited edition in Japan.

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