Leveraging an entire city’s populace as a royal wedding dowry? The plot thickens…
Actually, let’s be real. The plot’s been plenty thick since the second episode. At this point, I shouldn’t be marveling over how complex the plotting is in MAGI (despite its disarmingly kiddy style). That’s just restating the fact.
To get more specific then, I do appreciate the complexity of Alibaba’s relationship with Cassim. Over the course of maybe four episodes, we’ve seen it swing from fond friendship to bitter antagonism, with several degrees in between. This episode make a point of stressing that Alibaba has a wavering self-confidence, and you can see that play out in him continuing to seek Cassim’s approval despite the numerous glaring red flags that he ought to just stay away from the guy.
There’s some human honesty to that: especially in a genre where fans really get their pants in a twist whenever any of the heroes aren’t making totally rational decisions at all times. MAGI isn’t just unafraid of letting Alibaba make mistakes, it’s also brave enough to let those mistakes have the same sort of awkward indecisiveness that plenty of real human beings succumb to.
On the opposite end, Sinbad is proving to be quite charming in his developing role as the good guys’ manager more-or-less. The further away we get from the nap that introduced him, the more it looks like he’s a lay-about who eventually got his act together, instead of the incompetent accidental hero that he is in the folk tales. The scene where he coaches Alibaba to believe in himself more was one of the real stand-outs in this episode.
On the down side, though, I question the wisdom in revealing Judar as the secret weapon of the Kou Empire… right after our heroes so easily pantsed him. It’s hard to keep a threat credible after you’ve already set it back a peg. (See CASSHERN: SINS for a more egregious example of that)