Magi – 08
「守れない約束」 (Mamorenai yakusoku)
“Promises You Can Not Keep”
Finally, Magi delivers an antagonist that’s not as shallow as the kiddy pool, while also shedding light on Alibaba’s past! All the while, the Kou Empire continues to show more shades of intrigue, indicating that the divide between people like Ryosai and Hakuei is on a national scale. Let’s begin diving in, shall we?
First off, props to Morgiana for setting things straight between Alibaba and Aladdin, despite their initial awkwardness. Although I thought that her bones got crushed in the last episode, she’s still got the willpower to set an obvious wrong right. Like Jafar pointed out, Aladdin is still a child, so betrayal of a promise closely held hits hard…perhaps the hardest he probably can remember. Such feelings were so strong that it literally left him powerless, something Morgiana could relate to well. Although Alibaba was initially apprehensive to reveal details, a death glare from Morgiana spurred answers quickly.
Those answers consequently gave us much insight into Alibaba’s character. While it may be far from Alibaba’s historical basis as a merchant, it was an intriguing story with many implications. Alibaba’s training in the royal style obviously pointed us in the direction of being in contact with royalty, but today was a confirmation of that hunch…and more. It turns out Alibaba is actually a prince and supposedly once set to take up the throne of Balbadd. He does have the makings of a great king–experienced in many walks of life, a sense of justice, cleverness–which makes sense as to why the King of Balbadd preferred him over his supposed sibling, the current King of Balbadd. Let Kassim roll in though…and suddenly any chances of kingship are whisked away out of guilt.
One facet that popped out during this part was the decision of blacking out the King of Balbadd’s face until he confessed his love for Anise to Alibaba on his deathbed. It was a nice way of symbolizing the disconnect Alibaba had with his father up until that point: to him, the king was figure, and never really in a position of fatherhood. This contrasts heavily with the scenes that involved Anise, who in a few short scenes, established herself as a loved figure both by Kassim and Alibaba. Thus, when his face is finally revealed to us after Alibaba’s father shows some humanity, the scene is even more accented. The show did a wonderful job framing Alibaba’s past as a prince, as it flowed well in terms of pace, as well as provided a satisfactory explanation for all of his actions.
Meanwhile, during the same flashback, we see Kassim’s past as a bit darker, but it justifies the actions that he takes in his current state, making him an antagonist with empathetic qualities–a first for Magi! Man, does Kassim’s father act like your stereotypical drunk. It sucks that Kassim had to grow up defending himself and his sister from that sort of environment, but it is nice that he did get to have a sense of family as Anise took both him and his sister in, even for a little while. However, this darker past does explain Kassim’s hardened atmosphere, first during Anise’s death, but also his jadedness when threatening and robbing the rich. Life in Balbadd wasn’t kind to him, and as such, he is not kind to the city either. While Kassim’s intentions look to be straightforward–vengeance with “helping the poor” as a fringe benefit–I have to repeat that this is a big step in terms of antagonists. Magi’s conflicts are becoming less clear-cut in how they should be resolved, as each antagonist continues to have more empathetic and justified reasons for acting contrary to the forces of “good”, so to speak. The Kou Empire is looking to be a major antagonist of this fashion: while some members of the royal family may have good intentions, others, especially those with jurisdiction over matters of Balbadd, may share darker intentions, like those shared by the ominous Judal. Darn paper money, ruining all our economies!
In closing, a great episode to kick things into high gear, as we will most likely see the fate of Kassim’s Fog Troupe in the next few episodes. Alibaba, go forth and set things right in your home city, so that your adventures may continue!