You know, usually in this column, I’m only ever drawing surprising plot parallels between anime shows. Today, it’s I’m finding coincidental connections to (and that isn’t the first time, I think? I write so many of these, I lose track).
NEGLIGIBLE SPOILERS for last night’s episode: there’s a bit of intrigue about one of the main characters taking over a castle’s financial matters and thereupon discovering that the kingdom actually has many debts that could become disastrous to its ongoing war effort.
Call it “triply-coincidental” for me to be watching both of these episodes around tax day, but it goes to show that banking, lending, debts, interest and the like have been a part of the human experience ever since two cavemen got the idea to trade sea shells for goods and services. We don’t like to think of this stuff as having the same sort of legendary lineage as, say, swordsmanship (because it’s also been terribly boring stuff since those paleolithic days), so anybody who can entertainingly weave accounting conflicts into a proper action-adventure gets kudos from me.
Now, with all that said, the notion of Alibaba’s evil step-brother trying to pay off debts by selling his citizens off as a slave is just a diabolically clever plot twist. The show looks to be exploring slavery from various thematic angles - - contrasting Aladdin as a virtuous master in contrast to the abusive mastery of the other Magi, for instance - - and this would be a perfect evil master plan to encapsulate that.
Maybe more impressively, it’s quite a logical basis. Abhmad isn’t trying to blow up the planet or anything. He’s just trying to keep his luxurious station, regardless of the cost he inflicts on those he’s supposed to serve.
On the negative side, while I did like the look of the new baddies introduced in this episode, I hope the show eases back on introducing any more new characters for the next few episodes. MAGI's cast has already grown faster than I keep track of, and over-stuffing a cast can be one of the easiest shonen pitfalls.