Well hello there.
Will be starting my review of Magi from Episode 7 onwards since I’ve started blogging after watching 6 episodes of Magi so far. Since I have not read the manga, the only spoilers you’ll be receiving is the contents of this episode.
Basically I was particularly concerned about how the idea of class and struggles are depicted in the episode. It’s a proverbial story/criticism on capitalism: the rich (bourgeoisie) monopolises all the resources while the poor (proleteriat) suffers in the most desolate conditions unfavourable even for basic survival. The lower class then strikes back at the ruling powers that oppressed them, a revolution is started and a communist, classless society is formed. According to classic Marxian thought, that is the inevitable conclusion of every single capitalist society.
Let them have chicken drumsticks!
However, what we’re having within Balbadd is not a classic revolution. Rather, a group of vigilantes are taking it upon themselves to steal from the rich and redistribute to the poor; kinda like an Arabian Robin Hood with genie powers. This vigilante movement (if this happened in the States, we would call it terrorism) have attained immerse support from the subjugated classes and they are seen as an symbol of liberation for bringing hope to a caste of people who were oppressed and neglected too far and too long by the ruling rich.
What is lovely about this anime is that it does not bother making simplistic sociological resolutions as such. In an almost Zizekian twist, Ahbmad points out that:
Looks a little bit like Zizek too…
Which doesn’t really improve the situation does it? As what Zizek would argue, the problem here isn’t the fact that the people in power are corrupt; it is the system which encourages people to be corrupt in the first place. Stealing from the rich or dethroning the powerful isn’t going to helpful if there is a check-and-balance system in place to allow the powerful to recuperate their losses such as taxes, in this case. Fundamentally, there is something intrinsically wrong with the majority of wealth belonging to the top 1 percent of the population while the 99 percent starve to death, working in order to privilege the rich. This is where much of the emotional ethos of Magi is derived of, because there is something about the labour exploitation and social injustice that appeals to everyone; whether this sociological dilemma can be resolved in a tasteful manner by the mangaka Ōtaka Shinobu remains to be seen.
And of course, what is another plus point of this episode is that you already see glimpses on how the rich are not portrayed simplistic as helpless, fat bumbling fools who can only whine about being robbed. There were definitely certain clues within the episode that revealed that there’s some scheme that is brewing underneath all the apparent helplessness. Perhaps the presence of the Fog Troupe also served to their advantage in a particular insidious manner, in which case such vigilante actions did nothing put to perpetuate and reinforce capitalist social structures that oppresses them in the first place.
On a less academic note, I’m greatly intrigued to know Alibaba’s role in all of this. The suspense build-up was artful, the plot direction and pacing was impeccable and the character cast (Sinbad and his white-haired boyfriend in particular) has been nothing but charming. My favourite moment has to be when Morgiana got tired of Sinbad’s sexist bullshit and actually called him out on it, something we don’t really see very often in anime. I’m really looking forward to next week’s episode to see a more angst-ridden Alibaba and why he had reached that particular state of being (probably because he’s pissed off at being cut off from like what, 3 episodes? I know I would be. XD)