Sunday, May 11, 2014

[Ended] Magi, Kingdom of Magic

I want to clarify, first and foremost, that I will be talking about both the first and second season at the same time here.

-Strong appeals to humanity. More on this later.
-In Fantasy Context, practical action combat. This is still a fantasy universe, but the paths of power tend to follow logical lines, and obey the rules. While the show more than loves to leave a massive I-can-be-the-most-powerful card hanging in some characters pocket, they enjoy surprising you several times with just how late in the game it actually gets played.
-Surprising amount of Gray Morality. This shows story core is Humanity. Say what you want, but as much blathering on as all of the characters do on the topic of good and evil, I can't say its about anything else at heart. Most of the show, especially in the second season, ends up being an exploration of the Gray Area between Good and Evil on the morality spectrum.

-Weird. While it can be an appealing thing, as it is more than proven that people love New and Novel ideas and things, it can also be off-putting. This universe is influenced not only by Japans culture, and the Anime culture, but very loosely by the Arabian Nights minor culture elements too.
-Endless appeals to humanity. If you absolutely have heard everything you ever want to hear about Good and Evil, and don't care to hear anymore harping about Morality, I guarantee some topic the show covers will annoy or outright anger you.
-Predictable Plot Outcomes, this show seemed to be taking several cards out of the Mainstream Anime hat, including "Previously on Magi..." and "Next time on Magi!" prefaces and Outros for the episodes. Some of the plots are even more predictable than the usual "The Good Guys Win", although I do grant that the show enjoys being ambiguous about who all is 'A Good Guy', (see previous Con again)
-Sinbad is literally the 4th wall breaking Plot-hole. That boggles my brain. No really, even the in-world Lore considers him a plot hole. He is literally addressed as a Singularity at one point.

My Opinion: To begin with so we're all on the same page, I liked it.
I not only just finished this now, I only just started it...what, a month ago now I suppose? I literally started on season 2, because of the peculiar way Crunchyroll formats its layouts for multi-season anime, and watched...13 or 14 episodes in before I realized I had missed an entire seasons worth of information and story. While that tripped my obsession with doing things in the proper order to go bat-shit crazy for a while, and I got royally pissed off at just about everything I set my eyes upon, or could lay my hands upon, it does say something about how well made the show is. If someone as obsessed with making sure they don't miss anything as I am can not notice until 14 episodes in, I begrudgingly have to grant them some credit for making a very air-tight sequel. I thought it was just using In Medias Res, starting in the middle, with characters based on Arabian Nights to save them having to create them from scratch. In fact, up until I realized I had missed an entire season worth of content, that was my biggest criticism of the show, excessive use of In Medias Res. As it turns out, it was just their good practice for sequel construction, using flash-backs to fill in info from the previous season as needed, to make sure the viewer hasn't forgotten(or had no idea what it was, because he hadn't seen the first season).
[Aside End]
The reason I never picked it up until recently, was because right around the time I laid my eyes in its direction to consider for adding to my list of anime to watch, the internet was flipping its shit about "BIG BLUE BOOBIES OMG YES/NO/HOW-COULD-YOU". Being less aware back then as I am today, I still gave it enough of the benefit of the doubt to go read some summaries. As always, summaries on most websites can go jump into a Black Plot Hole. The summaries made it sound like the worlds most shallow harem and pandering piece of garbage nonsense I'd ever heard summarized, and plagiarizing the Arabian Night tales to add to the shallowness. My thoughts at the time were roughly, "Most anime has pandering enough, I don't need to go out of my way to increase the headache for myself."
So I suppose it lends itself to being talked about, since checking the archives of the Blog leads me to see that Evil Cat probably dropped the anime roughly that, or there-abouts in episodes, since he never had an [End] post for it. To clarify, that scene occurs in the first season. To render my opinion about it, it's actually about the most mature handling of nudity I've seen in an anime for a while. I'm pretty sure I've seen a more explicitly mature handling of harsher material somewhere else, but vague brain memories. I don't work with my vague memories, because I don't trust them anymore. Evil Cat also appears to have taken note of her nipples being pierced, but honestly, if he hadn't included the scene as his screenshot, I wouldn't have even remembered it. I've seen so much messed up shit on the internet that something like that is well beneath my threshold of surprising or weird.
You should see some of the crazier shit people in real life get pierced. On second thought, no actually, you shouldn't. I don't enjoy having that knowledge.
[Aside End]

To get back on topic, it is more than worth mentioning that the show gets in more than its fair share of pandering elsewhere. They don't include Aladdin's love of breasts in almost every summary for no reason. To be frank though, it's roughly the most childish pandering I've seen yet. Most pandering is trying to be 'Politely Erotic', to coin a phrase. It's trying to pull at a mans pants, without explicitly earning the Evil Eye from the department that determines Mature, Explicit, and Sexual content in individual countries. The worst the show got from me on most occasions when Aladdin's booby-switch gets flipped was a sigh, most of the time I was just laughing instead of ... whatever it is that most of the anime fan base that enjoys pandering does with its pandering. I can guess, but honestly I don't know, and have no desire to know.
To talk about something else, the extent the show goes to with it's willingness to have nudity and strangeness, is present just about everywhere in the show. They literally have a scene in the second season where they peel off the skin of basically all of the protagonists on screen at one point. "Oh, this thing everyone's doing gets their skin peeled off. Let's rush in and have it happen to me too!" is roughly how the scene goes, because Angry about hurt comrades and such. It could probably turn someones stomach I suppose.
(see previous point about the me and the internet ruining my brain).
This, of course, also includes it's appeals to humanity. The show has a fascination with introducing a character that is absolutely insane/cruel/evil, and then just...rolling with them, molding and exposing more of their character, until eventually they somehow end up as protagonists or dead after repenting or cursing to their last moments.

Impartial Judgement: This show is all over the map. If it wasn't for an AMV I watched that had a lot of the choice scenes from the show spliced in, I never would have looked at this show again after my initial rejection of it. If you have been put off away from it for its summaries, its hype, or
"BIG BLUE BOOBIES"...I'm sorry I find that phrase really funny for some reason*, I'll stop.
Then I would advise you to turn around, and go back and pick it up. If, however, you dropped it for any reason, you are very likely well justified. The only thing that may not come across fast enough, is the shows exploration of Gray Morality. It's very 'hope', 'kindness', 'Good in Humanity' and so on focused, a bit thick early on. While the show does kill characters, it's undeniable that several of the main characters have border-line Plot Armor immunity to death. Roughly standard practice for Mainstream anime. In fact, that's how I'll describe this show:

Surprising in the context of Mainstream Anime.

If you put this show down for being weird, I shouldn't have convinced you with anything here that you need to pick it back up. It's still very proud of its uncanny. If you like a good story about Good, Evil, and everything in between, it will suit you just fine. Off the top of my head,
[Spoiler Warning, Highlight to See]
[a Mother gets murdered in front of her children. ]
[Spoiler Warning End]
If that doesn't give some kind of scope of the morality spectrum this show covers, my headache drowning brain doesn't know what will.
Oh hey, I found a way to hide spoilers. My headache appears to have produced at least one good thing this morning.
Did I mention I have a headache? I had a headache start about one paragraph into writing this post, and steadily get worse. I need to start going to bed at a decent time, this staying up late thing is probably killing me on some level.
[Aside End]

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