Mangaka: Ohtaka Shinobu
Years running: 2009 – 2017
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy
Cheapest to Buy (Volume 1 New Copy): rightstufanime.com
Cheapest to Buy (Volume 1-35 Used Copy): ebay.com
Although the influences are the same, Magi is in no way the same as Disney’s Aladdin. Though, I believe you will enjoy the few similarities that both have with each other.
In this world, magic exists and people use it pretty commonly. This world also has these magical labyrinths called Dungeons that are summoned by one of the three Magi of this world with the purpose of choosing king candidates. Aladdin is one such Magi, the fourth one to come into existence. He suddenly appears in this world with his friend, the djinn Ugo, having been living in isolated for the last ten years of his life. Follow Aladdin as he learns about the outside world for the first time, understanding his origins and his place in the world.
Part 1: Volume 1-29 (approx.)
I like to classify this manga into two major story arcs. This isn’t an official categorisation hence the “approx” in the title.
Part 1 follows Aladdin as he leaves the Sacred Palace and explores the outside world for the first time. He meets and becomes friends with Alibaba, a wine-cart seller, and Morgianna, a slave. Together, the three of them go on adventures…well mostly following Aladdin as he learns about the various nations along with their customs and political problems. They also get pretty involved in some of these conflicts and learn some hard lessons about life.
I won’t go into too much detail regarding the plot because the world of Magi is really extensive with more than 3 countries duking it out for various political reasons. It’ll be a nightmare to explain everything (;*´Д`)ﾉ
This part of the manga ends with great forces conspiring against Aladdin, forcing him (and Morgianna) to disappear off the face of the earth and Alibaba vowing to find him.
Part 2: Volume 29-37 (approx.)
Part 2 begins with Aladdin (and Morgianna) re-appearing after 5 years of absence. The world has changed much since then and the countries which bullied others previously are now struggling. Alibaba helps them find legitimate means to get back on their feet and becomes pretty famous as a skilled tradesman and negotiator.
However, the forces that conspired against Aladdin previously have returned and now Aladdin and his friends must stop them and bring peace to their world once and for all.
The manga ends with a climactic battle that results in all magic disappearing. However, people are not bothered by this and adjust accordingly, finally living in peace.
Similarities to Disney’s Aladdin?
No. Not even close.
The only similarities I can really think of are that the titular character is Aladdin and Alibaba being a thief. Otherwise, both are completely different. Don’t expect a Princess Jasmine or a huge romantic subplot to be included.
Having said that, however, the influences are the same so you will see some desert action, a genie (they actually called djinn and there are many of them in Magi), and some familiar names although the occupation may be a little different.
The djinn is not all voiced by Robin Williams sadly.
Immense World Building
If you thought that Kubo’s (Bleach‘s mangaka) world-building was amazing, you should see what Ohtaka Shinobu can do with this manga.
Like I mentioned above, there are at least 3 countries with their own culture, language, and problems. Aladdin and his friends actually visit a lot of these places and get involved pretty extensively.
I cannot imagine how long it must have taken Ohtaka to come up with countries let along language and culture. It’s a very immersive experience and it makes the story all the more complete as readers feel that they are involved in something important.
I once quit this manga because of the court intrigue and political events that occurred in this title. It was a lot and I was more into adventure and fun times with friends at the time. However, I picked it up again because it made all the conflict exciting and characters a lot more wholesome.
Adventure doesn’t necessarily have to be so straightforward with the hero and his friends freely intervening in political affairs. There are consequences to doing so and Magi really brings home that fact. Spoiler alert: Aladdin and Alibaba got way too involved in Kou’s (some militaristic country influenced by ancient China) affairs, leading to one of their presumed deaths.
Plus, I did learn a bit about political debate and negotiation from reading Magi haha. Is that bad I wonder??
Throughout the manga, I was really impressed with the pace of the story: Aladdin exploring the world, Aladdin meeting new friends, Aladdin training to be a better magician, etc. It was all very steady and not all over the place.
However, towards the end of the manga it felt like the pacing was starting to accelerate. It was almost rushing to the point it felt inconsistent to the rest of the manga that came before that.
Even the manga ended with me feeling a little dissatisfied because, in addition to being rushed, it felt abrupt. I had quite a number of questions regarding all the magical processes in the last few volumes or so. It had my head spinning and I wished that the manga explained that a little better.
You would think that a manga like Magi with such intricate political events there is no way it would have any fanservice. But you’d be wrong!
I feel that it’s pretty distasteful to have fanservice here because this title is so serious a lot of the time, filled with serious heartbreaking scenes. Luckily, the fanservice is pretty scarce and Magi is actually one of the few titles that use fanservice correctly in my opinion — comedic purposes only, not during major battles.
What Is A Good Leader??
One common theme that Magi has is the idea of what good leadership is.
Ohtaka has created a really extensive, detailed world filled with different styles of governing and the leaders that accompany it. Something that I’ve noticed that I really liked is that each leader and country has a weakness as a result of their respective government and governing.
Sindria has a trade monopoly which made them a lot of enemies, The Ream Empire sticks to its tradition of slavery and gladiatorial games which made them a bit of an outcast with more of the progressive nations, The Kou Empire is militaristic making them a threat to many around them, the list goes on.
4.4 out of 5 mangabooks.
First, the general review:
Although it is not Disney, Magi brings a fantastical world that fantasy writers can only dream of. With such immense world-building, Ohtaka Shinobu has created a story that will make a great impression to readers all around. Although the fanservice was unnecessary and the pacing of the manga became inconsistent, Magi is a manga that is worth immersing yourself into, for the magic and the wonderful world that accompanies it.
Now, for my personal review:
I’m a really big sucker for magical lore and I was extremely upset that Magi did not try to explain or clarify a lot of its magical processes, especially during the last few volumes of the manga. As I always said, I like a complete story and when stuff like this isn’t explained, I get a bit miffed.
However, I do love the cast of Magi because:
1. They are ethnically diverse
2. They are personality-wise, pretty unique
The Dungeons and the djinns add a little spice to the traditional genie and the lamp thing and I love that because it gives variation to the original influences and I personally find that really cool. Combine that with Magi and king candidates then you get a really cool magic system that is central to the story.
The magic itself was pretty impressive because I can tell it was mostly original. That is also the reason why I felt it was incomplete because it is so original that it is hard to complete in your own head.
In all, Ohtaka Shinobu has created a stunning series that is so detailed I could cry. A shame that I felt that the ending was rushed, otherwise I could give it a better rating. In addition, Ohtaka Shinobu has created a spin-off series titled Magi: The Adventures of Sinbad which tell the story of Sinbad, the ruler of Sindria.
If you would like to read Magi, click here to buy the first volume on rightsufanime.com.
As always, if you have anything to mention regarding my review, feel free to comment down below, I’d love to hear it 🙂