Fourteen years ago, mysterious buildings called "Dungeons" started to rise in various places around the world. Within these dungeons, powerful beings called djinns rule over. When a person successfully conquers the dungeon, the djinn offers their immense strength in the form of Metal Vessels, recognizing him or her as a worthy king candidate. Adventurers from many empires and kingdoms venture into the dungeons in search of their bountiful treasures and the power of djinns. However, to travel through them is not an easy task, and only Magi—legendary magicians who choose kings and develop countries—can guide people through.
After being trapped in a room for most of his life, a young Magi named Aladdin finally sets out on a journey to explore the world along with his friend, a djinn named Ugo, who he can summon from his flute. Through a series of fateful encounters, Aladdin meets new various friends and allies, and together they begin an adventure that will change the fate of the world.
Magi won the 59th Shogakukan Manga Award for the shounen category in 2013.
The series has been published in English as Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic by VIZ Media under the Shonen Sunday imprint since August 13, 2013 by Shogakukan Asia since April 25, 2014; in Italian by Star Comics since September 17, 2011; in Spanish by Planeta DeAgostini/Planeta Comic since October 22, 2013; in Brazilian Portuguese by JBC since July 2014; and in Polish by Waneko since November 3, 2016.
It's frustrating when a series can be consistently good for 250 chapters goes to horse poop in the last third/quarter. How can such a beloved work, with an interesting fantasy world, with interesting characters, on top of it being shounen, drop the ball as much as Magi did? I'll tell you why, I'm gonna blame a character that has no reason to be a staple in Magi when hes a staple in his own damn Manga. No doubt the weakest link in this whole latter third of Magi is Sinbad, who has some contrived reasons for creating conflict and has really disengaging dialogue to read.
I'm more into Alibaba's style of being boisterous and naive, and Aladdin's reactions and jokes. Magi really dropped the ball after XXX kicks the bucket, because the world building, which Magi did a decent job of pretty much transitioned into something new that wasn't particularly engaging. I say that because it's so vastly different that I have to forget that old world and accept the new one, and to add to the problem, it wasn't even used to its advantage.
That’s enough about the latter third of the manga, which is the real reason why I’m making this review to begin with, but lets focus on the whole picture. Besides the sour aftertaste of finishing this manga, I would overall still recommend reading it, simply because it is one of the better overall shounen manga out there right now. The combination of good art, decent characters, enjoyable dialogue and banter, and execution makes the journey worthwhile. I also recommend watching the anime, as I feel the seiyuus used in it created a good depiction of the characters. It wouldn’t be the same without reading Alibaba’s dialogue in his stupid, nonchalant voice and Morgiana’s deadpan reactions. It’s not often you see an anime adaptation complement the manga as well as Magi does.
Magi is good, could’ve been great, but Shinobu Ohtaka rushed the ending like crazy. Instead of announcing the an arc being the final arc, it should just end whenever one can see the ending. What we ended up getting was a convoluted plot with elements that came out the bootyhole and it splattered all over the first 2/3 of the manga. The art also became a lot less clear towards the end since so many things were happening. However, overall, I’m glad to have finished Magi because it really is one of the best shounen manga out there. It’s one of those series where you can look back at it in retrospect and appreciate the level of detail that went into each panel (up to the final third).
To be fair, you have to have a high IQ to comprehend the inner workings of Egyptian culture present in this piece of art. It’s not everyday you come across luxurious fine details depicting what the middle eastern lifestyle is. I have no doubt Shinobu Ohtaka went through existential nihilist crisis whilst creating this piece of work because of the subtle references to Egyptian culture and Djinn myths. Not every scholar can follow the Quran to the letter like ol Ohtaka did, and her personal philosophy is extremely apparent, the way she can write Alibaba to symbolize every transcendent being on Earth. We also get to witness Ohtaka break barriers in terms of gender norms, creating Morgiana to be a metaphor for Cleopatra and promoting power of women. Only truly intelligent beings will be able to appreciate such detailing of Sand culture
Arguably no genre in anime suffers more from an ill-fated combination of cliche reliance and an elementary premise than action shounen. Whilst it is not inherently bad for a show to skilfully execute well-trodden territory (for which there are plenty of shounen that do), Ohtaka’s “Magi”, true to its adventurous spirit, treads beyond the boundaries of its genre without ever losing the heart-racing excitement that all shounen lovers yearn for.
An allusion to the Middle Eastern folk tales of “One Thousand and One Nights”, the world of Magi is unlike any we’ve seen that neither draws its main inspiration from the ninjas, folklore and mythologies of
Japan à la Naruto, Bleach etc. nor from the superheroes of the West. The premise is that of a world in which mysterious towers have spawned across the world, that if overcome, supposedly grants the conquerors of these life-threatening dungeons the magical powers of a djinn. If this were a typical shounen, the premise would end there and we would be promised with a small cast of characters who will inevitably face fierce rivalries, powerful friendships, slapstick comedy and visually stunning fights.
Magi guarantees you all of this, especially at the start, but as readers of the manga know, the story truly shines later, in the use of its premise as a springboard for exploring socio-political, economic and ontological issues. The conflict in the plot arcs of Magi are grounded upon one of these issues which makes for a more powerful and realistic experience but connecting each and every one of these arcs is a story about a boy whose search for his identity, beliefs and ideologies on the social and political issues in his world are constantly challenged. It frustrates me beyond belief when in shounen our protagonist has such inherently strong convictions and sense of justice that they are only “weak” in terms of their physical abilities and powers because that narrows the storyline and character development to merely the acquisition and development of their combat prowess and never truly engage with the complexities of the issues they face. Alibaba and co. are not fight bots who merely beat people up into magically agreeing with their ideology nor is he a paragon of wisdom whose words convince anyone he manages to speak to – that is more along the lines of Sinbad but even he has more depth than initially seems. Magi’s world and characters may be wonderfully supernatural but they are also a reflection of our own world and people.
My issues with Magi are only that its ambitious storytelling means that the balance between action and its politics is at times compromised and that the ending was rushed. Certain arcs can be very focused on the politics and others on the fighting. For many shounen readers, if the action is the only aspect you want to observe, then this may not be the manga for you as there will be times when you may find yourself losing interest. Magi does not achieve the absolute pinnacle of storytelling that sees a perfect transition between the two but nonetheless it still achieves this better than the vast majority of shounen. Regarding the ending, although the series concludes excellently with regards to the main issues at hand, it felt rushed and further attention to the vast cast we met along the way would've very much been appreciated.
One of the main benefits of having a manga have its premise set in Middle Eastern folklore is being able to have art that shows the dazzling designs and drawings of fantastical beings and creatures that most people have probably never come across. Where the character expressions and designs are not particularly spectacular, although certainly very competent, Magi’s art shines in its action. When our warriors fight and djinns are released, the manga often requires you to spend a couple minutes per panel just to marvel in the designs and as the series progresses, the sheer scale of the battles and wars that we observe. Combined with Ohtaka’s panelling, which excels in constructing fluidity between scenes in a medium where images are still, Magi is rarely ever a visual hassle to read.
Magi, the manga, was not what I expected after having watch the anime. Whilst certainly, Balbadd and Magnostadt arcs certainly give you a glimpse of its potential, the anime did not adapt far enough to see what Magi is truly about. If the more cerebral aspects of Magi appealed to you, I recommend reading it entirely. Even if Magi is not as surgical in its exploration of these issues as manga who dedicate themselves towards intellectual matters, the fact that it is also an equally amazing adrenaline-rushing, heart-pounding and action-filled show, should convince you to read Magi and for those aforementioned reasons, I would wholeheartedly recommend this manga to both shounen lovers and shounen-sceptics alike.
I have been reading this manga for 8 whole years and it is my favourite manga since then but still as a devoted fan I can't be more honest when I say it has let me down.
First, the story is the base structure that makes Magi unique, seeing as it benefits from its inspiration, the Arabian Nights stories. The world Ohtaka created is marvelous, it is incredibly complex and you must pay great attention to fully understand it. The art helps on this aspect, there are panels in this manga with incredibly detailed artwork which gives the environment the arabesque feeling borrowed from original source.
Even the magic in this world is something completely new, the Djinns might have been borrowed from its Arabic counterpart but in the Magnostadt Arc we get a new look into the Magi's magic.
While the world is uniquely beautiful, the characters are the most complex part of the Magi series. Most people would concentrate on giving Alibaba, Aladdin and Morgiana (the main trio) as an example of complex characters, but I believe each and every character in this manga is complex. Ohtaka has this great ability of giving even the most minor character an ever expanding personality.
Now as I praised this series thoroughly, you might be asking yourself "but you just said you have been let down". While I have enjoyed this manga greatly and yes, I hold it to heart even now, the third part of the story is a complete disappointment, because all the strong points I have just listed completely disappeared. For some unknown reason (at least to me) the creator rushed the story by the end of the series and it started to make no sense, the characters didn't get a proper resolution and some mysteries remained unresolved.
But even so, I STRONGLY recommend the Magi series, don't let the ending (or the third part of the story) let you down, if you're here for a great journey you will get the best one you've ever seen, in a complex, beautiful world full of magic, accompanied by some of the best characters you'll ever get to know.
(I just couldn't write this without expressing what I Disliked & loved about it.)
The start of this manga, is the part I loved. The old times theme (What era would it be? ;o), the characters, adventures, and the comedy they chucked in with the rest. Below is spoilers from Final Arc (Suggest not to read unless you like spoilers... yeah)
I personally loved this manga, all the amazing fights and whatnot. The thing that I disliked though was the final arc. It turned into a world a lot like ours, and I though that was going to be how it end. But instead it went with
the fact it was like ours, and in the end it completely changed again! This manga and series will always have a special place in my heart, I love this manga and would love to see season 3 of the anime :D
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