I had every intention of waiting for this particular flashback to end before taking steps to review its intricacies, mostly because a number of the earlier chapters were so uneventful.
However this is starting to feel less like a basic flashback and more like a mini arc of its own, which isn’t a bad thing, granting us the opportunity to understand and follow the progress of this character formally presumed to be the god of the Magi world.
And besides, the past few chapters have been quite action packed, going about laying open all the secrets of the Magi world, so many little details that we (or at least I) paid little heed to but which are suddenly proving to be quite important to the structure of the Magi universe.
Young Solomon attempts to break away from the evils of his Father David, in his attempts to unite the world under the teachings of Illah, resisting the campaigns of the orthodox authorities with the assistance of a select few helpers, magicians in their own right, whose names later take on greater significance as the various DJinn of the current Magi world.
I have to say that Shinobu Ohtaka’s art has faltered somewhat in some of these recent chapters, especially during battle scenes, where some panels came off as somewhat messy, making very little sense in others. And while I have come up against these faults before in Magi, they have never affected my enjoyment of the series as they did with this flash back.
A flash back that is actually so much more fleshed out than I thought it would be; if these past few chapters have achieved one thing, it has been to allow us a true glimpse into life as it was before the great catastrophe of Alma Toran, presenting the various Djinn as they were before acquiring their current status.
Does this really change events on the ground though? I would say, yes. After all we see what humanity was like before acquiring magic, that they were little more than insects to be hunted by the monsters that roamed Alma Toran, that they were granted power by Illah because they more than anyone else knew what it felt like to be weak and would know best how to temper their greed; that these same humans went about doing to other species what was done to them.
Looking back on those events, the current stand off fares no different; you have two rulers in Kouen and Sinbad, one seemingly righteous and another evil, but both wanting the best for their world and both doing whatever it takes to achieve peace, even bringing about great war.
Aladdin stands in the place of Solomon, a true seeker of peace, one that will see the races united on an equal playing field, with no interest in ruling, but only looking for the best in his comrades and enemies; well, maybe comparing Aladdin to Solomon is a bit of a stretch, because Aladdin is indeed much more innocent and pure than his comrades.
Yet only because he doesn’t have the power that Sinbad has; which Solomon also possessed, so greatly endowed with skill and magic that many around him where ready to worship him; just like Sinbad who dazzles everyone he meets. And while Solomon saw his own short comings and gathered people around him to keep him in check, Sinbad seems to have lost his way a long time ago.
So maybe Sinbad is truly Solomon’s incarnation; because we know things went wrong in Solomon’s utopia; he too must have fallen. And why wouldn’t Aladdin then reveal these events to the most powerful persons in the world, if he can see them slowly starting to repeat the mistakes of Alma Toran.
+The primary goal of this flashback seems to be to flesh out the grand characters of the current magi world, and it is doing a hell of a job, laying out the secrets of the world’s creation, the various beasts that inhabited the planet before humans, the source of the DJinn equip theory, the mechanisms behind Magoi and rukh control, even providing a glimpse at the early life of what must only be Gyokuen.
I mean, we all agree that Sheba is Gyokuen, right? Who else could she be? And why place so much focus around her if she is not growing up to be the great evil of the Alma Toran world? We saw just how nasty she was as a child. That genocidal hate doesn’t go away after just a few years and even Solomon commented on seeing that rage hiding about behind her eyes.
Will she be the one to bring Solomon to his knees? Or does his downfall connect somewhat to the works of his father, David, in bringing about the death of their god, who we can guess will become the source of black rukh and that ‘father’ thing we witnessed in the previous arc.
So many questions littered among so many answers being provided in these chapters. Following the conclusion of Aladdin’s little show and tell, I cannot wait to witness the reaction among his guests, Kouen and Sinbad most of all.
IS this really the beginning of war? Will Alibaba really betray Sinbad? Because for all his deviousness, we know Sinbad stands as the more righteous of the two. Is Yunan a descendant of the mother dragons? And how about the Fanalis and their connection to the red lions, one of the two earliest inhabitants of Alma Toran?
Note: Has anyone read chapter 222.5 of Magi? Because I think Hiro Mashima needs to have a read of what is essentially a five page chapter special, which somehow manages to drastically progress the Magi story .
Hiro, this is how you do a manga special, one that takes an already complex story and further entangles it, allowing David’s time line to intertwine with the current world, giving us a glimpse at the master plan of his intentions, an inkling of the insight he possessed in foretelling the events of the current Magi world and taking steps to manipulate events to his own end.
Five pages; and all Hiro presents us in his 20 something page specials are stories about missing cats and the like. Really, Hiro?
RATING: 6/10, The Alma Toran Arc has been all but flawless, introducing a wealth of well developed and highly entertaining characters; and if not for the sometimes wonky art, these chapters would have had a higher rating.