Monday, October 21, 2013

First Impression: Magi: The Kingdom of Magic

MAGI: THE KINGDOM OF MAGIC: I have mixed feelings for this

The Kingdom of Magic directly continues the story of The Labyrinth of Magic. After clearing Zagan’s dungeon, Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana, and Hakuryuu returns to the city. Amidst the celebration, Aladdin decides to take on a journey on his own, to hone his magical skills and knowledge. At the same time, there seems to be looming dangers in Magnostadt, and Sinbad begins his move to accomplish his own political ends.

The pilot episode is either good or bad, depending on how you see things. For me, it’s both. What makes it good is the fact that it expands the world of Magi, which is already huge, some more. I’m introduced to new characters and places, and this makes the experience even more intriguing, because it means that I have a lot to look forward to. Also, my interest has been captured by the opening sequence, wherein I see Aladdin in the middle of a decisive battle, in medias res style. It suggests a very climactic story.

But as I said, I have mixed feelings for this pilot episode. That opening sequence, as much as I find it intriguing, is unnecessary. Yes, it does give me something to look forward to, but I think the presentation is overdone -- it contains some spoilers.

Another bad thing about this pilot episode is its lack of plot development. It’s just composed of character interactions that serve as exposition and foreshadowing. I could tolerate a few of them, but if the whole episode is nothing but chatting, I couldn’t help but be disengaged. A story should have a hook in the first episode, something that would make me stick to the story. But it seems that The Kingdom of Magic doesn’t understand that.

The characterization also has good and bad traits. The good thing is that it seems that the story is giving back the focus to Aladdin, who is a little neglected in the last episodes of The Labyrinth of Magic to give room for Alibaba. Another good thing is the developing relationship of Alibaba and Princess Kougyoku Ren.

I’m also glad that Sinbad is being established as a character that has the potential to turn into an antagonist. It gives me something to look forward to. But the bad thing about the characterization -- well okay, it’s not technically bad, just an opinion -- is the fact that the main characters will be separated again.

As for the animation and music, there really is nothing that could be said. They’re basically the same from last season. I’d expect the same chibi moments and the magical action sequences, and nothing much on the soundtracks embedded in these scenes.

Overall, I think the pilot episode is pretty mediocre. It lacks plot elements that could attach the viewers to the story. However, like last season, the world of Magi is very intriguing, and it is enough to draw more viewers. But a great series requires more than just an amazing world. It also needs an amazing story. Magi, as an overall anime title, has that story. But it seems to be having a problem with storytelling, just like last season. I’ll still be watching The Kingdom of Magic, however, and give it a chance, expecting that the storytelling would turn out better.

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