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Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Season 1 Part 2 UK Anime DVD Review

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Magi Season 1 Part 2 UKContinuing on their Arabian nights, an abrupt end means the taste for a sequel is gonna be agonizing…

What They Say :
Aladdin has yet to regain consciousness from the battle with the fallen magi Judar. Meanwhile, as the third prince of Balbadd, Alibaba tries to stop his older brother King Ahbmad from turning Balbadd into a slave-exporting nation. But his plans are thwarted by none other than Cassim, his childhood friend from the slums, now transformed into a Dark Djinn by the Dark Metal Vessel. Cassim tries to strike down the royal family for causing their citizens to suffer for many years. Cassim’s attacks crush Aibaba both physically and mentally, but he gets back up again and again. Just then, a friend reaches out a helping hand! With Aladdin’s support once again, can Alibaba rescue his country, people, and Cassim from the darkness? Soon after, Alibaba and Aladdin will learn about Al-Tharmen, the organization that has been causing the Abnormalities of the World.

Set in 2.0 Stereo in English, Japanese and French, there is a Dolby Surround release on the English track but isn’t show obviously on the menu (had to access it manually), none of the tracks again had any issues and also no issues regarding delays to lip flaps or transition to subtitles. Video wise, colours were clear and quite beautiful, and no issues in terms of video to audio on a 16:9 aspect ratio, no problems video wise with subtitles synching, no video freezing or any slack animation when pausing the show, so overall a quality release – aside from one incident on episode 25 where there was some minor slowdown for some reason which was odd considering this wasn’t present anywhere else in the disc.

Menu is really nice looking, set on an Arabian palace background with darkness overshadowing, each menu has a shot of Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgiana in a triangle with some Arabian Nights style music overheard. There are no submenus bar extras on the first disc, everything is selectable on the main menu (Play All, Audio – Original With Subtitles/English though as previously mentioned there is a Dolby Surround option but you have to do it whilst watching the show, as is the French option for language which again isn’t shown immediately on the main menu and have to select it manually) so whilst it is easy to navigate, a few of the options you would need to do yourself if you wanted to set up to stereo or change the language to French, so it does fall because of that.

The only extra is a clean version of the 2nd ending theme.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Magi was a pleasant surprise when I reviewed the first half – a unique look and cast, a good mixture of action, comedy and suspense, and with this second half we get more of a plot feel and whilst it ends with a obvious sequel set up, there was definitely enough here that kept me in my interest so I would look forward to the inevitable sequel.

We first follow up from Alibaba stopping the evil Abhmad and now trying to resurrect their empire, where Balbadd eventually forms a democracy, and thanks to him and Sinbad, they manage to ally with the Kou Empire without needing the princess to marry the old princess and also no need for anyone like Alibaba to be forced as king. However some people just want bloodshed so despite the war seemingly over, Cassim returns to rebel by convincing himself and others that the monarchy must still die, even though they have no power. This leads to a fight between Alibaba and Cassim, as well as Aladdin discovering a power known as the “Wisdom of Solomon” via his summon genie Ugo. Cassim basically also uses his Rukh powers and transforms into a Dark Djinn, now overpowering Alibaba – but thanks to Aladdin, he manages to save him before Alibaba tries to reason with his old friend, which leads to both quite a sad and somewhat happy ending at the same time when the many deaths that have occurred actually get a small moment with their friends and family thanks to Aladdin, was surprisingly touching and won’t completely spoil everything but was quite a surprise this arc ended this way…

The story then continues with Alibaba trying to reoragnise the government in Balbadd but quick things become tough for the new ‘ruler’. First, he gets bitten by a strange snake (which later has bad consequences) whilst the Kou Empire appears to be invading it so Sinbad travels there to offer democratic relations. We also get some introductions to some new characters who become Alibaba and Aladdin’s teachers in swordplay and magic, and the core characters (including Morgiana, who despite being out of the way had a big part in making sure Alibaba survived his battle with Cassim) all get items to help get stronger as they have the flow of Aladdin and Alibaba’s magic/magoi. The real intrigue is the introduction of the prince from the Kou Empire Hakuryuu, who at first seems to be against the crew because he thought Sinbad had taken advantage of the princess Kogyoku, but after it is all explained (with some surprisingly good comedy), he reveals that he actually wants to overthrown the Kou Empire, which is under the influence of Al-Thamen, the main dark energy and fighters that have caused much of the havoc.

This sets up the final arc of the series – combining the seemingly earlier minor issue of the snake biting Alibaba now has formed a dark energy inside him, seemingly trying to make him rage, in particular to try and kill Hakuryuu. It doesn’t help a bit later, Sinbad also gets cursed from this by an agent of Al-Thamen, hoping they get overtaken by the Black Rukh magic – so to counter it, they revert to the original dungeon conquering plot scheme in the very first arc, only here to find a Djinn that can hill any kind of disease. This leads Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryuu to go find this Djinn, and realize that there is more than meets the eye as this Djinn named Zagan has apparently trapped many a person from the island in question…

…this sets up basically a combination of everything that has been subtly led up to this point – the magic and sword training, the wisdom of Solomon, the attack on Alibaba’s kingdom as well as on Zagan itself, along with the development of Morgiana as she is now Alibaba’s ‘vessel’ in terms of sharing some magoi energy and using that to create a weapon using the slave chains that she was freed from when she met Alibaba in the first place. The finale is during the fight in Zagan, Alibaba suffers from his darkness being enveloped in him and becoming a Dark Djinn. It all wraps up with the potential for a sequel without giving too much away as pretty much both every main character and the side generals get their moment to shine during the final battle.

The real interesting thing I felt about this release is just how well everything and indeed everyone gels together – we get a bit of comedy when we think Sinbad has defiled one of the princesses of the Kou Empire, but in fact was actually a way to try and get the two Empires unioned in a bargaining chip by one of the princess’ servants, and the fact all the generals and trainers manage to solve the problem…but also admit it wouldn’t be farfetched for Sinbad to do this anyway. That does lead to the new character Hakuryuu to get involved – and despite his limited involvement as he was only in for half the series he was showcased to be an interesting character. He is headstrong, wants to prove himself, and has to learn via Alibaba how to calm down and don’t take the burdens of his Empire’s sins (not his fault though) in some sort of suicidal track. With him now getting a Djinn of his own and the obvious sequel set up, there is more time to see what he can do and hopefully will be sooner rather than later.

The plots all wrapping up after the initial arc was both a good and bad thing. I liked the way they tied in everything from the initial arc (with Kassim becoming a Dark Djinn) and used that subtly so that Alibaba would also have to suffer the same fate after that snake bite – the battle sequences were well done and it became more serious as a lot of comedy was thrown away as things came to a standstill. The problem was it did indeed feel too rushed – it felt like there was so much cut out because of the amount of episodes remaining. As I have not read the manga not sure if this is the case but it does feel that there may have been a lot more manga story, and the anime had to trim it down to get it to the 25 episodes.

The characters however seemed to really develop quite well overall. Sinbad is shown to be a competent leader with a wild streak, but not stupid enough to threaten his position. Morgiana is still a badass but also shows how much she can truly care for her friends and now with her new role she should hopefully be more involved than normal. Aladdin slowly loses his perversion (though minor hints are still in the show) and focuses on his magic, and Alibaba is a leader that has to suffer the good and bad, and knows not everything can go smoothly and needs to make tough decisions. It all flows quite well and makes all of the characters memorable and they mostly share equal screen time in the later arc though the focus is obviously on Alibaba with his new role in being a democratic society.

Magi works quite well as an anime and it concludes overall quite well, though the fact that it does seem like it wrapped up quite quick is either screaming for a sequel or had to unfortunately cut out a lot of stuff. It doesn’t hurt the anime in a general watch – it is well written and animated, some great battles and animation – memorable characters and some good elements of comedy as well as the uncertainly of the future with every decision can be problematic. Certainly a pleasant surprise as I really didn’t think there would be much I would be enjoying so was glad I was proved wrong. Definitely worth a watch.

Magi is a show that I had low expectations which turned to be a surprisingly good action based show with a lot of intelligence behind it. Some memorable characters who are all quite well developed (even the minor ones) which leads to a couple of climatic battles but also sets up a sequel easily. The only main issue was when the new character enters, the last arc whilst good feels rushed and a lot was cut out potentially. However, this shouldn’t slow down any enjoyment as a series just to relax and enjoy it, there are far worse than this.

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade:A-
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C-

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date:May 12th, 2014
Running Time: 300 minutes
Price: £24.99

Review Equipment: Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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