Story/Art: Shinobu Ohtaka
Translation & English Adaptation: John Werry
Touch-Up Art & Lettering: Stephen Dutro
Editor: Mike Montesa
What They Say:
Aladdin, Morgiana, Hakuryu and Kogyoku each leave Sindria on their own quests. For the first leg of their journey, they will all be aboard the same ship, and Alibaba can’t resist stowing away on it too. The high seas are dangerous though, and an encounter with pirates will lead them on a journey they never expected to take…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Magi knows when to get serious, which is when it really draws me into its pages. For the last couple volumes, or at least what’s felt like a long time, Magi has been spinning wheels and giving the characters a much needed break between Zagan’s dungeon, the subsequent invasion, and whatever is coming next. But now they’re back in action.
The volume starts as the last have, with wheel spinning, but its very character focused. There’s looks into the most vulnerable characters and, eventually, everyone. I don’t know how I didn’t notice this when watching the anime, but the four main characters right now were all abandoned (or taken from) their parents at a very young age—younger than they can remember. Without really knowing this about each other, they bond through it.
Aladdin is perhaps the most interesting example of this. His entire existence started around the beginning of this manga, but we know almost nothing about it, besides that he was in Ugo’s dungeon. Despite this, he’s a very interesting character with depth of his own, even if his jumping into boobs gag has worn its welcome long ago. He’s never missed his parents because he’s never thought about their existence, really. But when he’s suddenly welcome into the Kouga Clan by Baba as a family—way back in volume two or three—he realizes that belonging is what he’s wanted all this time. The word “family,” I believe, is a misnomer, but the best word to put the type of feeling everyone’s having, and the type of feeling they get with each other.
But panels like this are why I love Morgiana so much. She was taken from her family, made to be a slave because of her strength, was freed by the very people she calls “friend” now, and has escaped on the other side of it all relatively unscathed. She hasn’t felt what it’s like to lose her family, because she doesn’t remember it, but she longs for a heritage she doesn’t really know, that was reconnected when she met first Goltas then Masrur. There are other Fanaris out there, and some could be her flesh and blood family. Nothing can replace Aladdin, Alibaba, and now Hakuryu in her heart, but nor can they replace the family she was taken from.
That’s the thematic core of the volume, and into the next. It serves as the main antagonist as a woman going by the name of Aum Madaura who kidnaps children from the slums of Leam and makes them subservient of her by manipulating their minds to enhance their instinct to grasp toward their mother, toward Aum Madaura. It is a brilliantly evil trick.
But this trick serves into the larger themes of the main characters. They know what it’s like to have lost. Even if these kids don’t remember as well because of this brainwashing, they will soon enough. Their real mother isn’t Aum Madaura; their real mother is still in the slums of Leam, praying to whatever god they have to bring their child back. The characters—older, wise, and having been through more crapola—know that this isn’t where they belong. It’s also evil to kidnap kids and indoctrinate them, or whatever. But themes!
This volume, like whatever the previous volume that did this, reminds me why I love Magi so much. Magi is much more than the shonen adventure it set out to be, and it begins with Morgiana, who is one of my favorite characters of all time. Right when you think the political intrigue will ramp up with the increasing tensions between Sindria and Kou, Ohtaka throws a curveball of thematic character development. Everyone faced their demons this volume.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: August 11, 2015