I will review the Kingdom of magic separately at a later date.
A young boy names Aladdin makes a wish and begins travelling around the world. He encounters Alibaba who has ambitions to conquer a dungeon and gain wealth and fame. Both are inexperienced and have much to learn about the world and begin an adventure together.
Watching the first episode, this anime does not do a lot for me. It’s a bit childish and Aladdin just seems silly and Alibaba is one of those borderline pathetic characters. Once the story moves beyond the set up though, and we learn a bit more about our two main characters, it actually becomes quite interesting, though Alibaba (despite his few moments of brilliance – usually inspired by Aladdin) is still a pathetic character.
I really felt that I would have enjoyed this anime more if it had come out back when I was a teenager. It’s bright and moves swiftly and the issues the characters deal with and the way they deal with them all seem far more suited to a younger audience. That isn’t to say that the anime is bad or that an older audience can’t enjoy it, but I just found the trials the characters were facing really grating at times.
Aladdin is probably my favourite character. He is young and childish and idealistic, but that’s what makes him shine. He really believes in his friends and he honestly wants to learn more about the world and the people in it and his power. If he didn’t insist on groping every woman’s boobs I’d probably like him more. And if he could stay focussed on a single goal rather than a wide ranging ‘have an adventure’ he’d probably help drive the story a bit more.
Morgiana is another interesting character. She’s a slave that Aladdin and Alibaba free during the first part of the series and she kind of chooses to continue travelling with them (because she likes them/owes them/doesn’t really know what else to do because her only other goal is to eventually return to her home land). While she is important to the dynamic of the show, and she certainly saves the lives of the other two more often than anyone is giving her credit for, Morg lacks an individual identity in this first season other than groupie. She’s there because they saved her and they kind of need someone who can fight, throw, jump, etc. There’s vague hints at maybe a love story between her and Alibaba but these don’t go much beyond the occasional compliment and blush.
Sinbad also dominates a lot of the second half of the series but while there are hints at a darker motive, he’s mostly just the overpowered older warrior/mentor. You know, the character you see in shows training the new generation and you wonder why they don’t just go face the danger by themselves because they’d be so much better at it. He’s good looking, a womanizer, and has captured seven dungeons which pretty much leaves him ridiculously overpowered.
Actually, the character I would have loved to have seen more of is Judal. He’s a magi (as we learn Aladdin is) but he’s been taken over or contaminated by the dark ruhk (come to the dark side) and seems just a little bit on the chaotic side. Not necessarily evil (though a lot of what he does might seem it). He comes across as the crazy guy who just wants to press the button that’s flashing red and warning you not to push it, just to see what will happen. The encounters with Judal are brief but he leaves quite an impact on both the audience and the characters in the show.
And then there is the character I liked the least but had to endure because he’s one of the main characters. Alibaba. There is nothing wrong with lacking self-confidence or feeling you don’t deserve something. It’s a fairly standard character trait. What annoys me about Alibaba is how pathetically he acts as soon as the slightest thing turns against him. In any life or death situation he gets talked up by Aladdin and gains this smiling confidence. The enemy gets a hit in or sneers some insult at him and suddenly he’s plunged back into absolute self-loathing. Rinse, repeat, finally defeat bad guy but as a character he makes no ground. That’s the really frustrating thing. At least Megumi in Food Wars continues to become stronger even if only incrementally.
I should probably discuss plot. There is this overarching storyline about Solomon and an organisation trying to plunge the world into darkness and some flim-flammery about creating your own fate, but mostly Aladdin and Alibaba are just kind of travelling and encountering various situations that they then get involved in and have to overcome. Some of them are directly linked to Alibaba’s background and baggage whereas other situations are just kind of happening and these guys are either sent into it or stumble into it. There’s also the Kou Empire expanding (sometimes at the behest of the organisation and othertimes just because stories like this need some sort of empire to run away from).
Mostly, if you like fantastical adventures with a bit of swordplay and a bit of magic, you will probably have fun with Magi. There are some darker moments in the show and there’s certainly a bit more depth to the show than I’ve probably explained in my review, but it’s essentially like watching Disney’s Aladdin in anime mode with more characters and higher stakes (and less singing).