Magi – 23, 24
「鬨の声」 (Toki no Koe)
“Fall into Depravity”
This was a terrible time for my schoolwork and the Spring Preview to make life busy…so much is happening in so little time! Someone’s lost their arm, another person’s become a black djinn, a nation is on the brink of being annihilated, and did we mention the massacre of another nation already? Well then, time to get reviewing!
Although I was reprimanded for revealing his name ahead of time, Ithnan’s name has revealed itself, allowing us to focus our rage onto a specific name. Al-Thamen has definitely been planning its next assault vigorously, splintering various groups to defend for themselves while also hiding their true motives at the very last second. Ithnan, though probably a pawn himself in the grand scheme of Al-Thamen, is still terrible–pawns who control pawns themselves are just as despicable as their masters. Their strategy of preying on good people who are emotionally weak during times of great stress and convincing them to use their rage in destructive ways…they truly are people who want to see the world burn. Despite how terrible it is in practice though, the tactic makes for some deeper storytelling, where many of the antagonists happen to be poor bystanders misguided and disillusioned by the cruelty of life.
Magi did suffer from some one-sided antagonists early on in the series, but that all began to change with the start of the Balbadd Arc. The Fog Troupe, Judal, and now Dunya and Issac, all of them have had tragedy befall them, causing them to curse their fates and take revenge on those who stand in their way. Due to this, white and black rukh in a sense cannot be used as measurements of good and evil, but rather the measure of hope one has for a better future. Dunya lost her hope when the greed and selfishness of others took away the one man who cared for her the most, while Judal never had a chance to feel hope at all. When Alibaba fell prey to the black rukh, it was not his soul becoming “evil’ persay, but rather his hope in fate becoming disillusioned, allowing those with cruel intentions to manipulate his heart through the emotions of hatred. It is hard to hate on any of these characters too much–though they have all committed heinous crimes, the characters themselves are not to blame, but rather the hive-mind mentality of Al-Thamen. It’s a bit of a cop-out, like how corporations protect its top executives, but in this case the organization itself truly is to blame. Now that everyone’s emotions are out on the table and severely thrashing about, hopefully Aladdin’s Wisdom of Solomon can guide them all back to accepting fate’s hope for a better future.
Aside from the dark backstories of the members of Al-Thamen, some of the nations of Magi have also revealed some of their history. Undoubtedly we will not see a detailed glimpse into these nations this season, but the acknowledgement that said nations have a deeper story behind them keeps the story able to move forward. More members of the Kou royal family have been revealed, perhaps to play a greater role when a direct conflict between Seven Seas Alliance and the Kou Empire comes to fruition, but the more important royal member to arise is Dunya herself. Apparently the victim of a war between an established nobility and magicians, Dunya’s backstory gives insight into the other nations that exist. Though unclear of how Dunya escaped the treachery of her people and the rebellious nature of the magicians, it is clear she is part of a repressed and hated group that magicians apparently now dominate. To rise from a school of magicians to an entire nation of them signifies that magicians in this world may be more common than we’ve seen and most definitely more cruel than believed. Of course this probably links back to Al-Thamen, the all-encompassing evil organization, but it only serves to exemplify the reach of their influence. If magicians happen to be quite common, what of other formidable groups such as the Fanalis or dragon people? It goes to show how much of the world of Magi we have yet to see, as well as what international conflicts are to arise in the future.
To end on a meta-note, it seems that the anime has gone for an anime-original ending, which highly suggests that this season has been a “test run” of sorts for the series. With Fairy Tail ending its anime run soon, there may be hope that Magi can take up the mantle for a long-running show. This is entirely up to how sales and popularity run with the show though, so only time can say whether an extension of Magi’s anime story will occur–although a hard task, the show can realign itself with the next arc if need be, breaking back into source material. I would be saddened though to see the show end here, for most of the exciting political intrigue and epic adventures apparently start firing up after Zagan.