Fate, the invisible force guiding existences through the universe towards some unknown and mysterious path yet towards a path that has a purpose and reason laid out. Breathing life into the now and opening the path towards what will be, the hands of fate continue to work like the beat of time ticking continuously and eternally. Ever changing and ever unchanging, the life of fate takes the form of courage that exist in each heart allowing people to choose the way forward in the now they find themselves in. Reasons for why you are born, reasons for who you are, reasons for what you want, questions that weight on the heart of each person; through the breath of fate, each person is guided towards the answers that allow people to find themselves.
The Labyrinth of Magic – Magi (by Ohtaka Shinobu) is a story about a boy, Aladdin, who is a Magi traveling the world in search of metal vessels that contain Djinn (genie), as well as traveling to find answers to who he is. The story is themed around the Arabian Nights stories and so there are several references in the manga throughout its story.
Having the story themed around Arabian Nights makes getting into the manga much easier; since most people have experience with some Arabian Nights stories, a quicker and stronger connection is able to be formed with the manga early on, especially when the main character is called Aladdin (he is so cute!) with a Djinn he can summon. References to Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor also come into the story later on.
Another great thing about being themed around Arabian Nights is the fact that it gets the reader intrigued by how the manga will develop and handle itself as it continues on, especially if the reader has enjoyed the Arabian Nights stories beforehand – like Aladdin and Sinbad, etc. And while it is themed around Arabian Nights, the great thing about Magi is that it is its own story.
Magi is not your conventional shounen, it reminds me more of Fullmetal Alchemist in how it does things. Rather than your usual battle type developments in shounen series, Magi pushes the story element more strongly and pretty much does away with the conventional one vs one shounen battles. It incorporates its fights scenes extremely well in its plot, always making every battle hold meaning and relevance in the story. Trying to separate the story and battle elements in Magi is impossible because the story and battle elements both intertwine together with each other so strongly throughout the manga that I just see it as one existence now – they compliment and further each other so amazingly well. Every battle the characters of Magi finds themselves in is relevant and meaningful to the story, as well as necessary when you look at the characters growth and development. Each battle serves to help the characters mature and grow, they are deep and very necessary and also serve as an experience which allows the character to reflect on themselves and truly see just who and what they are.
The themes of Magi are really heavy-hitting; war, slavery, civil-war, conquest, fate, existentialism, identity (subtly), world-guidance, magic, etc. And these themes are explored quite early on which makes the reader even more interested in following the story. The world Magi is based in is one filled with conflict and conquest; nations, empires, dynasties, kingdoms all seek power and control. The appearance of beings known as Magi and the mysteries they bring with them beckons those power-hungry people to satiate they desires. Of course there are those that recognise the fragility of the world and seek peace to prevent people from destroying themselves, wanting to live in the world together with others.
While the world of Magi is still largely unrevealed, the basics of it have been laid out and the set-up of the major players in the world through economic power and military power is quite comprehensive. I may not be that knowledgeable in history, but references to the Mongolian Empire, Persian Empire, Chinese Dynasty, Roman Empire, and most likely others which I’ve not picked up are apparent. So far only a portion of the world has been explored and only one Empire has been focused on, though another Empire seems to be coming into the picture in this current arc (as of chapter 92). The way economic factors play a major part in the story is great, I love how it was handled in the Balbadd Arc. The comprehensive nature of the economic and military powers in Magi makes the world that much more defined and absorbs the reader even more into it’s world which in turn adds to the manga’s enjoyment and charm.
Another great element to Magi is obviously the “magic”, the purpose and development of the “Rukh” concept has been great so far. I won’t go much into “Rukh” this post because the story does a great job of explaining it and I don’t want to spoil things for anyone, but I will say is that fate plays an essential role in the Rukh’s existence. While the concept of “Rukh” has been explained in the story, the extent of “magic” has only slightly been expanded on. In addition to the exploration of magic, the overarching story to Magi has only recently been revealed, though I suppose it was hinted at near the start. From here onwards, the bigger mysteries in the world of Magi will become more focused on.
For these reasons I think Magi is an incredible series especially when you realise it is an action shounen series. It does much more than what is expected. Life, fate, destiny, war, conflict, pain, lose, tragedy, conquest, differences in perspectives, growth, change, adventure, existence, connectiveness, and so much more; all these elements come together so comprehensively in the story of Magi. When you add the great and lovable characters to that, the quality drama, hilarious comedy scenes, great art, and exciting and very entertaining battles, you have one compelling manga that is a really worthwhile read, it really is a fantastic manga. I’ve now become a fan of Ohtaka-sensei and am looking forward to seeing how Magi will expand it’s story, world and characters.
Thanks for reading,
Syphin out and hoping for an anime adaptation at some point.