OP Sequence

OP: 「V.I.P」 by SID

「第一夜 アラジンとアリババ」 (Dai ichi-yo Arajin to Aribaba)
“First Night: Aladdin and Ali Baba”

The topic of Arabian folklore and mythology doesn’t appear much in anime, does it? Norse, Greek, Japanese, Egyptian, and even Lovecraft mythology pops up more often than the magical sands of Arabia, making Magi a gem in the sands.

Magi is a show that loosely takes elements of Middle Eastern and Asian folklore and models an alternate story using those elements. This contrasts with mythology placed in a modern context such as Fate/Zero, or an alternate retelling of history as told by Oda Nobuna no Yabou. Instead, the setting is more in-line with series such as Hakuouki, where the setting is historical, the characters have historical basis, but the plot drives in a non-historical manner. While there may be slight nods at the original plots, most of the references mostly refer to the mythological legacy and legends of the characters involved.

Although I haven’t had the chance to delve much into the history and depth that is the ridiculous compilation of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights which Magi draws on for source material, upon researching Aladdin and Ali Baba’s stories…little of their actual folklore is retained, at least for this episode. Although Aladdin (Ishihara Kaori) is portrayed being in control of a Djinn and Ali Baba (Kaji Yuuki) an impoverished individual…the similarities stop there. Ali Baba was an honest individual who had no desires for conquest, and Aladdin began as a far more ambitious than altruistic individual.

Those of you who followed my coverage of Oda Nobuna no Yabou last season know how much I love comparing history in anime, but this time it looks like we’ll be in for a different treat. Putting aside the attention to the actual folklore, Magi is a show that so far, is utilizing and developing its unique setting well.

When it comes to specifically talking about the first episode, there isn’t much to say. The standard character development whilst hinting at the side characters is in play here, though most of the time to hilarious effect. Aladdin shows off his love for any kind of breast and delicious food, while Ali Baba gets the scraps and troubles after Aladdin has his way. The slave girl, whose name has yet to be established, quickly, yet subtly shows her true abilities and character. The mythology of the universe is established, with Djiinns and magically appearing dungeons being key to driving the plot forward. The first antagonists have reared their heads, foreshadowing the immediate conflict of the first few episodes.

What the first episode does besides plot setup is set the tone for the entire series. For those of you who didn’t already know, Magi is classified as shounen, and its shounen elements definitely show. The main protagonist has an almost naive, yet admirable dedication to his values, which causes everyone else to follow his dream. The jokes tend to be very exaggerated, both in content and art style (making chibi Aladdin the cutest thing ever, no?). The development of the characters this episode were not surprises or groundbreaking, but it paves the way to what shounen does best: making redeeming heroes out of the cast, via an epic adventure throughout the land.

Graphically, this adventure has been animated fairly well according to shounen practice. The jokes are well animated and deformed to hilarious effect, and the backgrounds are rich with warm colors that truly represent a Middle Eastern feel. Although sand and stone dominate the backgrounds, a colorful and warm diversity still makes its way in. The character designs are simple yet detailed enough, giving off that shounen taste whilst not sacrificing well-drawn quality. The colors definitely contrast with the warmer orange and white backgrounds, making for a pleasing aesthetic that’s usually reserved for the stereotypical sunset scenes.

Right now, the pace for this epic adventure is taking its time, which is great for a series of this type. From what I hear, the end point in the manga the anime is trying to reach would require much more than two seasons of development, meaning we can expect a show that’ll definitely take its time throughout the chapters. Given the large cast that the manga seems to has (lots of characters to draw from Arabian Nights), this’ll give the show ample time to develop those characters, as well as the vast land of sand that they call home.

However, for some, certain cast and staff members cast doubt on the ability of A-1 Pictures to adapt what’s been quite an anticipated manga adaption. Kaji Yuuki, who’s been known to voice several…beta characters, appears to voice the secondary protagonist Ali Baba. Whilst Ali Baba’s own character isn’t lacking in traits that man up, some may dislike the connotations Kaji’s voice has on the character. Yoshino Hiroyuki, whose work with Guilty Crown and Fractale have been received shakily may also cast doubts on the quality of the show’s flow. However, with his work with Sora no Woto and Accel World being received more positively, the series composition’s quality is still up in the air. Director Matsunari Koji is fairly inexperienced, with Magi being his most ambitious work yet. His previous works come range from 2002-2005, with his most recent work showing in a movie in 2010. Whether or not he has improved since then will reveal itself here. (Edit: I missed Kamichu. My bad!)

Despite the staff, I still have high hopes for this show and the staff’s ability to do it justice. From what I’ve been told, the manga does justice to developing its setting and plots, touching on various issues of the day, with one of the main ones being slavery. The story seems to be wide and vast as well as its characters, with the manga taking the time to develop said characters and keep them around. Although I said that the first episode sets up in a typical shounen manner, according to the manga, we can expect that many resolutions will be resolved in a non-shounen way that does not involve fighting. I already have taken a liking to Aladdin and the girl slave, whose simple sense of honor and friendship puts a smile to my face. I expect that Ali Baba will take a bit longer to get to their level, but such change will come in time.

Honestly, blogging Magi will be a new experience for me. I personally don’t have much experience with the shounen genre, but upon seeing the Middle Eastern setting of Magi after having covered Nobuna, I instantly wanted to try the show out. Hopefully I’ll be able to make as many mythological comparisons as I did historically with Nobuna in the long run, for it looks like I’ll be sticking with this show for a long while! I feel this’ll be a show that gains steam as it moves forward–let’s hope the next few episodes stir things up, away from the stiffness of initial exposition!

So begins the epic adventure of Aladdin and Ali Baba to conquer every dungeon and breast throughout the land…

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「指望遠鏡」 (Yubi Bouenkyou) by 乃木坂46 (Nogizaka46)

Preview

56 Comments

    1. Judging from the OP and the characters shown, they will probably reach ~chapter 75. I can see them reaching there with a 24epi season if they rush certain parts.

      Show Spoiler ▼

      TSouL
  1. Madoka is unleashing all her repressed lesyay emotions on innocent women! And Ouma Shu grew a backbone in only one episode!

    Ahem.

    Great start. I’m a bit weirded out by how the character’s mouths are drawn, for some reason, but this looks very promising 🙂

    Beedle
  2. Lol at the Arabic. At 6:15 when he was explaining the dungeon, the script was basically asfsdgj,dgnd with Arabic letters. There were also some semi-made up letters (for example, imagine the letter i having 2 dots on top of it instead of one).

    I liked this first episode, seems like an interesting anime.

    dxb_blackwolf
  3. I thought it was a great first episode for an AWESOME manga. I really like the animation quality; it shows a lot of polish and some of the backgrounds looked awfully nice.

    CarVac
      1. Time constraints, and for me this also has an added bonus effect if the shows can’t keep me interested after 3 eps, the slot is given to other shows that show promise after 3 eps 😀

        Devastator001
  4. Aladdin sounds like a girl.I didn’t exactly picture that type of voice for him.I wasn’t picturing a manly man’s voice either, but a girl’s voice that doesn’t even attempt to sound like a boy, really?

    Everything else was fine, except I think some parts was skipped.Certain boobs were not groped and was just skipped.

    Magoiichi
    1. Exactly! I find that getting Kaori Ishihara to voice Aladdin isn’t really the right choice. She usually portrays girls full of GAR(Madoka(Rinne no Lagrange) and Metis(Campione!)) which is why I keep feeling awkward about her voice. =\

      Kaori Ishihara have this distinct and unique voice that imo, will only suit female characters.

      Rezzir
    2. 1-First, it’s quiet common for female actresses to voice young male kids in shounen shows (i,e young Naruto was voiced by a female VA).

      2-Yeah, Aladdin sounded like a girl for liek the first 1-2 min, then once your brain get around that everything will be fine and he will sound like a young boy (because … SURPRISE … boys before they mature could sound like girls sometimes).

      HunterWulf
      1. Well, its obvious that magoiichi and most people who watch shounen animes have at least some general ideas of VAs being girls for boy characters, so your point was invalid. Magoiichi did say that Aladdin’s VA didn’t even seem to conceal the fact that shes generally using a girl’s voice to portray a small young boy.

        Luffy and Naruto never really gave the general audience the “vibes” that a female voice actor was behind them, unless people get curious and start to do research. I guess that’s what their voice actors did well in.

        Seraphic
  5. Agreed with Magoiichi’s comment above: Aladdin sounds waaay too girly.

    This first episode actually compiling some storylines from the manga into one, and I have to say they did a damn well job at it. No complain.

    Show Spoiler ▼

    PassingThrough
  6. Alibaba’s hair boner is distracting.

    Some of my friends and I screamed in agony when it was announced that Kaji Yuuki would voice Alibaba lol. While I do like his voice, it just doesn’t work well with Alibaba.

    As for Yoshino Hiroyuki, I think he has issues with writing original works. Although I guess he does have Macross Frontier on his resume. I thought he did an alright job. In the manga, the main three characters were introduced in ways that didn’t express their true character to surprise us. There was no point in the anime doing the same since the three are all over promotional materials and the OP anyway, so condensing the beginning isn’t so bad.

    My only complaint was that they didn’t animate the scene with Aladdin’s head atop Ugo’s running body… ;_;

    Kiseki
  7. Reading this made my eyes bleed
    “Director Matsunari Koji is fairly inexperienced, with Magi being his most ambitious work yet. His previous works come from fairly obscure works from 2002-2005”
    Being the main creators of “original” anime like Read or Die, Kamichu or the recent Uchuu Show he Yôkoso, he surely deserves more credit.

    Kogepan
    1. Ah, thanks for letting me know, and sorry for letting your eyes bleed! I’m not well acquainted with much of the show staff, so if I make careless comments like that, correct me in the future!

      Zanibas
  8. I was very pleasantly surprised at the anime. I expected a children’s tale, but this seems to be serious with good production values, decent characters and an interesting plot. Is the manga as interesting as well?

    dimasok
  9. Very good episode, it’s good to see something fresh besides all the western and medieval themed fantasy series out there (way too many), being a middle eastern myself it’s both good and bad thing to watch Magi, good because I like seeing folklore related to my culture getting the “anime” treatment, but then it comes with its own problems .. like the text in the scene with Ali-Baba explaining the towers to Aladdin .. that was gibberish letters arranged haphazardly, not Arabic or Persian or any other middle eastern language .. it made me facepalm XD

    Chibi-Watermelon-eating Aladdin specially with the watermelon dripping from his mouth is going to be visiting my nightmares for sometime .. how can something be cute and horrifying at the same time XD

    HunterWulf
  10. First time reading a review from this site. 🙂

    I haven’t watch the first episode yet, but I’m not sure how I like what little I’ve seen from the episode. Even though Magi is very much a shounen manga/anime, the beginning of Magi manga is very charming with its focus on people’s relationships to each other (friendships, family, all souls go to one place after death…etc…). I like that the anime retains the humor and sense of friendship (it seems), although it does appear to rush over events. For example, the slave girl’s development into a main character is much more subtle in the manga.

    Anyway, great review. I’m looking forward to watching the first episode with this review in mind.

    Fin
  11. I liked the voice chosen for Aladdin, but then I have a very soft spot for the female voice.

    Looks like a great start to a nice adventure series. Hopefully it won’t get too cliché.
    The 1st ep set things up pretty nicely, so it’s pretty easy to guess how it’ll all pan out.
    Even with that, the light-hearted adventure should be entertaining and a good watch.

    mac65
  12. I who hadn’t seen the original work was not expecting it to be good, but I enjoyed it. I am left wondering where was Aladdin in the beginning, was he on the moon? It IS the first ep so I’ll w8 for it to be revealed later(if ever).

    PS. Tentacles, god why?!?! I swear man ever since I finished THAT VN, tentacles just aren’t the same anymore.
    Which VN you might ask, Show Spoiler ▼

    Reaper201
  13. Ah yes! Finally! Been reading the manga for some time and while it’s also a long running shounen series like many other well known series (Once Piece, Naruto, Bleach, and etc.), it’s more similar to D.Gray-man and Fairy Tail in that it offers something unique that makes it stand out. Well don’t want to say anymore but I sure hope that anime version will be awesome and so far it looks great!

    Silver
  14. Started reading the manga only recently and it turned out way better than what I expected. I think I’m going to give the anime a try…just a little disappointed that Kaji Yuuki is casted as Ali Baba…why is he so popular these days? I don’t get the appeal.

    Yukie

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