I can show you some boobs
Shining, shimmering, splendid
Tell me, pervert, now when did
You last let your libido decide?
You can open their bras
Take them udder by udder
Over, sideways and under
On a magic groping ride
A pair of boobs
A new fantastic house of whores
No one to tell us no
Or where to go
Or say could you stop staring
As much as I’d dearly like to leave this post at that, I have some more serious points I’d like to get across. More serious than my image of Aladdin being ruined. To be fair, it has been an awful long time since I’ve seen that Disney movie. I can’t even remember how it ended, although I’m pretty sure it didn’t end with Aladdin motorboating the princess.
Before I get into the nitpicking, I genuinely liked the first episode of Magi. It nails a few things, the most important one being the sense of adventure. There’s a big world out there. It’s tough and mean but beyond it there are great rewards, which our two characters will explore. It also helps that the world has a very distinctive feel to it. It’s one of the reasons I couldn’t get into Hunter X Hunter. It’s hard to get invested in a world with no over-riding logic the same way something like Magi has. This goes hand in hand with having an endearing character to explore this world in with Alibaba. He’s got a dream of becoming rich and everything, but is wimpy and flawed and not entirely convinced he’s taking the right choice with his life. You’ve got all the right ingredients for a strong shounen adventure story.
Right, now the nitpicking begins!
I’ve heard fans of the manga say Magi will be the next Fullmetal Alchemist. If Magi continues like this first episode, I think it’s safe to suggest that it being hailed the new FMA is a load of rubbish. For one, FMA actually had some nuance. Sure the first episode of FMA was about a crazy priest breeding chimeras and brainwashing the people of the village. But the episode was also about the fear of death, what happens if you tamper with higher powers, the ability to move on after the death of a loved one. The subjects were a little bit more complex than Magi’s themes of “friends are good” and “slavery is bad”.
Or perhaps I’m not giving Magi the credit for how complex the morality behind slavery is, because even that basic concept it managed to muddle up. There’s that hilarious moment where the two of them are looking at the slave girl and saying “look at her living that horrible life with no free will. She is nothing but an object to be traded and objectified where she has no choice in the matter, looked down on by society and ashamed of her position. NOW HOW ABOUT WE GET SOME CHEAP PUSSY TONIGHT ALADDIN!!” I get that Alibaba is supposed to not have his morals aligned perfectly as of yet, but the line delivery came off as super awkward when it was just after them saying how terrible slavery is.
The last issue is a bit of a Fedex Arrow case, in that I only noticed it after someone on twitter pointed it out, but now I can’t get it out of my head. That is, for an anime supposedly set in a middle eastern setting, the characters seem to be rather fair-skinned. Before I do any cries of Hollywood-esque whitewashing, this is hardly at the same level as that. The active ignoring of ethnic actors in favour of white actors isn’t at the same level of not applying dark tone to your manga characters when it’s easier to just leave them white under the page. Also there’s the classic case of cartoon characters always appearing as our own ethnicity. Why do we consider the Simpsons white? They’re all yellow, so surely that means they’re Asian? Even with that all taken into account though, the characters are still clearly not dark-skinned. It’s not as though they’re supposed to be seen as all having dark skin. Taking a flick down the character sheet on MAL, there’s 3 in a cast of around 30 that have dark skin. Its one of those things that, now I’ve seen it, it really bugs me.