From the creator of what is possibly the most fun name to type – Sumomo mo momo mo – is an adventure series (very) loosely based on the 1001 (Arabian) Nights stories, starring Aladdin as lead. He’s a small, cheerful young kid with an adorable innocence that contrasts rather hilarious with his love of any kind of boobies; lady boobs and mantits alike. Ali Baba, a young merchant, finds him eating some stock he was entrusted with one day, and although he initially is annoyed by the kid he realizes how handy he could be to keep around. Because Aladdin carries a special flute which contains Ugo, an incredibly powerful djinn. Ali Baba had always dreamed of conquering many ‘dungeons’ – mysterious structures that appear suddenly and contain unimaginable wealth – yet few, if any, ever return from them. But with Aladdin by his side, perhaps the dream is attainable.
However, Aladdin is a little more complex than his simple happy attitude lets on, and he has quite a lot of secrets.
Magi is one of those rare series that manages to get obscenely, ridiculously popular with merchandise and doujinshi events from just its manga series alone, so it really was no big surprise that an anime adaptation would happen. (Usually, merchandising doesn’t tend to start until an anime is made, but Magi’s selection of character goods in Animate before the announcement even happened was pretty damn impressive. They had perfume even.) I’ve read about 3 volumes or so of the manga myself, and while I’m not quite getting the hype it’s enjoyable enough and the characters are fun, so like many people I was looking forward to seeing how the anime would fare.
And, like many people, I’m kind of disappointed. It wasn’t as terrible as many people are making it out to be, but the pacing is really off. I realize that they wanted to get things started as soon as possible and so skipped the first chapter and even included Morgiana the slave girl in this first episode, which is all fine and good; this will be a long series after all… but I really wish they could have done it in a better way. Many scenes – Aladdin’s meeting with Ali Baba, the first appearance of Ugo, etc; are all much funnier in the manga. (Especially Ugo. It was one of the most memorable sight gags in the manga because you actually couldn’t see that his gigantic muscular arms were coming out of the flute; it looked like they were coming from Aladdin’s tiny body, which was hilarious. In the anime…you see Aladdin blow the arms out of the flute, and its just not as striking or memorable). It’s difficult for me to tell how good or bad the flow is for someone who hasn’t read the manga, but I really hope things improve.
The series at least looks good, in-betweens of questionable quality aside. The deserts of Arabia is not a setting usually associated with anime, and it looks beautiful and vibrant in colour, and the bustling market-places really come alive. I’m pretty pleased by the voice-work, Aladdin does sound perhaps a little too girly but his voice is seriously adorable, and Ali Baba sounds exactly as I imagined him. The ridiculous facial expressions the manga is famous for are also in tact, if not as numerous.
The problem with anime adaptations of long running shonen manga is that it’s usually always better to just read the manga; especially when the quality starts to drop and it ends prematurely, although its too early to tell if Magi will follow suit.
Anyway, skipping ahead aside the story is still only barely beginning so I’d like to watch a few more episodes to see how things are translated into animation, although I’m probably not sticking with it for the long run unless it becomes truly enjoyable to watch. As it is now, I’m far preferring the manga.