Magi – The Kingdom Of Magic Series 2 Part 2 (Episodes 14-25) (Cert 12)
2 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment/Kaze UK) Running time: 293 minutes approx.
There is no pausing for breath as we dive right back into the action of this second series of this distinctly Japanese take on the One Thousand And One Nights. Unlike the opening half which explored separate stories for the main characters, this time the focus is solely on young Aladdin’s arc.
Having enrolled in the Magnostadt Academy for mages, Aladdin befriends Titus, a clone created by High Priestess Scheherazade of the Reim Empire sent to infiltrate Magnostadt. Along with fellow student Sphintus, they discover a fifth district in the city which is unoccupied and closed off to everyone except high-ranking mages. Their curiosity getting the better of them, the trio disguise themselves to gain entry and discover an underground community of dishevelled and impoverished people hidden away from the world.
Titus becomes attached to a young orphan girl, Marga, who is seriously ill and wants to help her and the others of the fifth district. Head mage Mogamett explains that these people are being drained of the Magoi, energy need to keep the magic tools of Magnostadt going for the mages, and when they are done, they are discarded like empty bottles. This outrages Titus but his passion is rewarded by Mogamett by allowing him to bring Marga to the surface. But when Mogamett learns of Titus’s true identity, he refuses to hand him back to Scheherazade, resulting in the Reim Empire declaring war on Magnostadt.
This may sound like an overreaction in the context of the above précis but the numerous revelations and pertinent history shared about the characters and the situation between the two kingdoms puts everything into perspective. It is quite remarkable that one simple discovery could open up a veritable Pandora’s Box of mayhem and potential global catastrophe but that is exactly what occurs over the twelve episodes presented here.
While this rash declaration of war brings with it many on screen casualties, there are others off screen two, referring to the stories of the other cast members. While they do return for the climactic battle in the final episode, they remain mostly unseen or barely referenced until then, with the exception of Alibaba who arrives but Aladdin’s side prior to the battle’s kick off.
This is rather frustrating, not in the least because of how the individual stories were left at crucial points but because of the potential wasted. In the case of feisty slave girl Morgiana, she was last seen trying to return to her homeland and entering into a huge canyon called “The Great Rift” from which there is no return. How does she get on? Who knows, but the “no return” aspect of this is proved a fable since she is able to leave to participate in the final battle.
Then there is the Kou family feud over who gets the throne which, while had reached a suitable point for a break, required at least a coda to update us in the fallout of the situation and maybe a hint for the future direction. Even when Alibaba returns, little is mentioned of his training in the Reim Empire which would be somewhat congruent to the fact that he is fighting on behalf of the opposing army.
The latter point however can be forgiven as this is not a straightforward scenario and Aladdin, now having achieved the rank of Magi, has deduced that this war isn’t about Magnostadt vs. Reim Empire, but a possible ruse from a higher power with a more destructive purpose that sees Mogamett and unfortunate conduit for this to manifest itself and take action.
Again for reasons of not wanting to either spoil anything of have this review be a complete recap, these summaries may sound glib but the execution is anything but. Time is taken for fully explore the various components of this battle and the ramifications of their actions, while revealing via some verbose info dumps sufficient data to keep the story moving.
Nothing is therefore left to chance – aside from the unexplained cameos – and everything in given equal weight in order to feel credible and relevant to the scenario at hand, before throwing in another twist, resulting in quite the epic finale. Thus the humorous tone the show is known for is severely reduced to a few moments of levity, keeping the mood very much one of tense anticipation for the next development.
With the final seven episodes devoted to this battle, the action sequences are rationed to avoid peaking too soon, often interrupted by Dragonball Z like moments of verbal procrastination and gauche explanations of a particular tactic or magical power play. But when the fighting starts the focus of the show’s budget reveals itself and certainly no scrimping occurs here.
Feeling less like a Middle Eastern fantasy tale and more akin to a show like Bleach, the monster heavy battles are, within the diegesis of the story, a star-studded affair with various factions and cast members you most likely will have forgotten about reappearing to do their bit. Probably the closest comparison one could make in that respect is the multi-Guild battle in Fairy Tail, where numerous faces are brought out of the closet to fill the ranks and defend their turf.
As far as conclusions go, visually “explosive” doesn’t even come close to describing the sheer bombast and spectacle of the presentation, while the story neatly brings this chapter to a close but once again, leaves the door open for a whole new series based upon the aftermath, complete with an ambiguous farewell from one character. So far, no third series has surfaced but an OVA mini series featuring Sinbad was made, released over a one year period.
Magi – The Kingdom Of Magic is so far removed from the original Arabian Nights it’s not even funny, but, even reduced to a mere concept to facilitate typical shonen fantasy action, it proves a fecund format for what is a hugely enjoyable and engaging series.
Japanese Language w/ English Subtitles
Disc 1 only:
Textless Opening 2
Textless Ending 2
Ratings – *** ½
Man In Black