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. XD 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.