Review: Magi Episode 11, Falling Short where Code Geass and Kuroko no Basuke Succeeds.

Highlight of the day.

Before I get down towards proper analysis, may I just say that I’m completely on the Alibaba X Morgiana (let me know what’s the name of this ship cause I’m ready to set sail) bandwagon here; they are such an adorable couple and probably one of the few heterosexual pairings that I actually actively support. ūüėĄ What I find particularly lacking however, is the lack of quality interaction between the two. Yes, Magi is action-packed, has loads of side characters and a complex sociological theme on slavery and capitalism but it’s no excuse. Other animes such as Pandora Hearts, Code Geass (and dare I say it, Sword Art Online) had managed to juggle plot and character interaction in a wholesome, organic manner in which Magi can definitely learn from.

Moving on, I personally thought that the conflict between Aladdin (well, Ugo mainly) and Judal were stretched for too long, ranging one and a half episodes. Yes, the graphics are pretty, yes the people involved are powerful but this is what I find particularly distasteful about this show. Magi sets itself up discussing very powerful social themes on governance, social inequality, slavery and the problems that come with capitalism and it presents these themes in a mature, complex manner that I rarely see anime do. It argues that any form of¬†chivalrous¬†thievery ala Robin-Hood style is bound to fail because it’s the social system at hand which perpetuates social inequality; which explains why Alibaba’s Fog Troupe team is bound to fail. (For more discussion, click¬†here) It also argues that the reason why the social inequality isn’t because there are corrupt individuals at the top. It’s because the capitalist system is corrupt, in the sense that it encourages individuals to be corrupt, by providing a social background where privileged individuals are conditioned to believe that their system of governance is fair and just (or maybe they are conditioned not to care) when it is not.

And this is where Magi is starting to get disappointing because it preaches that the way out of such corrupt systems is to depend on “people with magical powers”, where the individuals with the greatest firepower gets to rule. In a way, it’s very shounenesque. The amount of battle scenes in which the commoners are swept aside while a selected magical few fight it out to determine the fate of many is a simplistic way to resolve such a complex social dilemma. In the fight betwen Judal and Ugo, the political discussion between Alibaba and¬†Abhmad, the common man is neglected, tossed away, faceless. In better executed anime such as Code Geass for instance, even though Lelouch has the imba magical ability to force people to obey his orders, his success and failures are usually dependent on normal individuals who managed to outwit him with nothing but lots of cunning and calculation. Instead of defeating antagonists (Fog Troupe, Judal etc) using human intelligence or traps, the anime resorts towards muscle power and brute strength to win the battle. Similarly in Kuroko no Basuke, even though Kuroko and Kagami have “miraculous” basketball abilities, ALL of the basketball team members despite having comparative rudimentary skills have a distinctive characteristic that shines through and aids the team to victory. It’s not a “one-man” show where a character or a few characters dominate the entire series because they have superhuman capabilities; it’s about glorifying the humanness, that being human, or being ordinary in its own way, we can become superhumans in our own rights.

Because in KnB, people without coloured hair matters too.

Yes you.

P.S: The singular form for “magi” is “magus”. One magus. 3 magi wandering in the desert. Slight grammatical peeve when watching the anime.

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4 thoughts on “Review: Magi Episode 11, Falling Short where Code Geass and Kuroko no Basuke Succeeds.

  1. Not sure about ship name for Ali and Mor but I think that’s what most people are going with at the moment.
    Also, I’m not intentionally being an apologist here – and if you feel it’s bad direction, then you’ll feel it’s bad direction – but Aladdin/Ugo vs Judal was long and was also quite long in the manga not just to cater to a shonen audience, but to explain magi and magoi in further detail – and most importantly, to set the stage for something much much bigger to happen soon. Also notice that Aladdin has never been that taken out by a fight before; i think it would be strange if that happened within a 15minute fight. Also, considering that Judal arrived to taunt the folk slightly before the middle of ep 10 and that the fight for Judal ended with the beginning of this episode, to say that Judal vs Ugo lasted 1.5 eps is inaccurate… I think you were referring to how it continued with the Kou empire? In any case, that part is also setting the stage for something, although far less important than the other something I mentioned earlier.

    And no doubt the commoners get sidelined, but if you’re talking strictly in terms of this episode and how everything is attributed to magic – notice that Sinbad has no magical stuff he’s using at all. Neither does jafar, since Sinbad has none of his metal vessels with him at the moment. I do agree, though, that even Sinbad and Jafar are considered heroes/ people in power and that the storyline doesn’t do much to let the commoners/more ‘regular people’ shine. You have a good point. (although considering how magoi works and that everyone has magoi, it’s still possible for some people to cultivate certain abilities with a certain amount of skill – wait for the explanation on how Sinbad is able to do all that transformation stopping/reversal shit with just his bare hands)

    But as for how some of the people from the slums DO feel about getting sidelined like that all the time – you will see the display of those sentiments very, very soon… As well as who used those sentiments, and for/to what ends…

    • It’s more than just bad direction; my grips is fundamentally how it resolves complex sociological problems in a simplistic manner. Fight against corruption = have magic powers. The more powerful, the better the fight. Don’t get me started on Sinbad; his way to stop the princess was because he’s charming and she’s a tsundere. What. Disappointing really. But since this arc has not end yet. I wouldn’t get my knickers up in a knot yet. >.<

      • But the sociological problems havent even been resolved yet… Government is still corrupt and in power, and people haven’t tried taking up their magic stuff to fight them yet.
        I think what you are criticizing are the means it is proposing, but i would say that that’s just what it looks like right now, and that the ultimate solution for Balbadd has yet to be revealed. In fact, actually now that I think about it, I would suggest waiting to see what this solution to Balbadd’s problem is before… Passing further judgement xD I cant remember all the details, and i know that i still found the final outcome rather simplistic and disappointing. But wait and see, wait and see. I shall be looking forward to another commentary of yours once the arc is done.

        And for Sin, I’m not talking about how he convinced her to walk away, OF COURSE I WOULD’VE NOTICED THAT. No, I’m talking about how he managed to stop her transformation. Remember he managed a similar thing with Alibaba some episodes ago? Yeah, it’s that particular skill which has yet to be explained.

    • It’s more than just the sociological problems, sorry if it was unclear. My main concern was how POWER = RESOLUTION. You cannot deny that it’s a recurring theme in Magi. That’s the resolution for the previous arc, so far whatever’s happening in this arc with the Fog Troupe, the Judal scene, the princess scene, everything’s is focussed on magic showdowns. I expected more intelligence and wit.

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