Seeing as how these two chapters are rather talky (edit: VERY talky) and generally see a lot of continuation of the same basic themes, I thought I would cover both together for my inaugural Magi review. Double the Magi bang for your buck!
Chapter #211 opens with Mu Alexius talking to Morgiana about the Dark Continent – the Fanalis’ homeland. Turns out he too once tried to cross the great rift (as Morgiana attempted to back during the world-exploration arc…) and also encountered Yunan. Unlike Morgiana, though, Mu ploughed on against the Magi’s advice and made it across the divide where he discovered himself becoming a beast. And when he reached the other side, he found this…
Turns out the Fanalis are a bit wild-at-heart: I definitely got a werewolf vibe, and the notion of them being rampaging beasts in human form certainly explains some of the Fanalis’ ridiculous prowess.
Mu said that the Fanalis can only take that form in their homeland, but I wonder if in the future Morgiana might be able to tap into her inner beast on our side of the divide… In any case, I’m sure she too will make it to the Dark Continent at some point, and if it looks anywhere near as awesome when she gets there as it does in this panel, then I’m pumped.
To be fair, Morg did claim that her two heroes (Aladdin and Alibaba) were enough to quell her curiousity about her heritage as she is unlikely to return from the other side were she to travel there (according to Mu, no one comes back – he himself only returned because Yunan dragged him away – sneaky bloke), and she couldn’t live without them. ut I still think we will see her make the journey at some point. But hey, that’s just a theory.
Mu’s final words to Morg neatly set up the next major twist in the story. He warns Morgiana to be wary of Sinbad. Cut to Alibaba having a heart-to-heart with Kougyoku, whom he might well have to marry for the sake of his home, Balibad. It’s all very fraught, and I love the notion that, for all he is an accomplished soldier, Alibaba is still a mere child when compared to some of Magi’s biggest players, caught between a power-struggle between Sinbad and Ren Kouen.
Alibaba tells Kougyoku of her brother’s plans for the pair of them in order to bind Balabad to the Kou empire when all of a sudden he’s not talking to her anymore… Instead, Sinbad is controlling her through the use of his Djiin, Zepar.
I mean, I’ve harboured my doubts about Saladin’s squeaky-clean image for a long time, but this just blows that image of him as a heroic king out of the water… Forcibly controlling another person? Really?!
It just feels wrong. What’s even more disturbing is Sinbad’s complete lack of any concern over how he is manipulating an essentially innocent girl. To him, such an invasive practice is not only justified, but essential: he would, he claims, do anything to protect his country. That, to me, sounds as ominous as hell.
All this was underlined by the way that the mechanics of Zepar’s abilities were drawn, which was really, really dark. There can be no denying just how nefarious this one of Sinbad’s abilities really is.
Those eyes… the way Zepar is smiling… this is some villainous stuff, right here…
Alibaba, bless him, suggests to Sinbad that he might not be OK with all of this, and that he certainly won’t be a spy for Sinbad – which would involve living some serious lies in the process. He tells the King of Sindria that he will reveal his current control of Kougyoku to her, and that if it comes to a fight he might well stand against the Seven Seas Alliance as a vassal of the Kou Empire! It’s a gutsy move, and one that would flip everything that’s been established thus far on its head.
So what does Sinbad do next? Oh, right. He smiles, and then BLACKMAILS Alibaba!?!
Does Sinbad see anything wrong in all of this? Hells no. He simply waves goodbye and says he’s looking forward to the summit leaving Alibaba (and me!) stunned by the lengths to which he is willing to go to achieve his aims. I tell you, Sinbad is one of the most fantastically complicated characters in anything at the moment, let alone within manga. Hats off to Shinobu Ohtaka (the mangaka…) on that front.
After all that, chapter 212 has nearly run its course. It ends with Alibaba and Ren Kouen chatting as they head towards the summit between the Seven Seas Alliance and the Kou Empire. It seems to me that following his discussion with Sinbad, Alibaba might actually be turning away from Sinbad and towards Kouen as a potential mentor and ally, seeking assurances that he is not an ally of the big bad Al Thamen. Kouen sort of dodges that one, but then goes on to say that he, much like Sinbad, would do anything to protect his people – including manipulating his revenge-tormented younger brother, Hakuryuu, whom he sees as no sort of threat.
Clearly there is a comparison being drawn here between Kouen and Sinbad, and I wonder if it could transpire that Kouen – the one who is unashamedly harsh and cold – might be a better man (and King) than the duplicitous Sinbad – whose cheerful facade clearly hides a heart of stone. Food for thought, eh?
Sinbad and Ren Kouen: two sides of the same coin..?
Phew. All in all, these chapters really drove the story forward in a BIG way, and we could be on the cusp of events with world-shattering potential. I for one can’t wait for next week, as Kouen, Sinbad and Alibaba all look set to meet in the flesh at the summit! Can peace be maintained, or is war – potentially, incredibly, with Sinbad as the villain – inevitable?
- The story goes from strength to strength. Much like The Seven Deadly Sins #63, this was pretty much a set-up chapter, but this story is so good and so devious I really can’t complain. Can’t wait to see where it goes from here.
- The art: Magi’s art-style is rarely my favourite (I’m a Bleach enthusiast on that part) but those pages with Zepar and the Fanalis really showed what Shinobu is capable of – inventive, dark and unsettling. More please!
- Honestly, I’ve reviewed three chapters this week, and not got to talk about a single fight! (Desperado, meanwhile, gets to cover a Fairy Tail chapter in which a blind matrix-wannabe drops a comet on some bad-guys. Am I jealous? Not a bit…)
I’m ok with that, really I am – story is more important to me than mindless action – but given the potential in Magi for some stunning action set-pieces, I’m really hoping the action kicks off next time…
Overall: Again, another fantastic story orientated chapter. I gave The Seven Deadly Sins a 7 for a similar chapter; Magi, I feel, deserves more for the fantastic job chapters 211 and 212 did in developing the deviousness of Sinbad’s character, teasing us with the Fanalis homeland and setting the stage for the upcoming summit. I give them an 8/10.