I couldn’t have put it better myself, Sin. Let’s get on with it…
This chapter was a blast! Humourous, fast-moving and with a number of great reveals, it really drove the plot forward and built upon the grubby groundwork of last week’s chapter for the characters of both Sinbad and Ren Kouen.
The stage was quickly set as Ren Kouen, his household and Alibaba and co convened with the delegation from Sindria to begin their summit. A great throwaway line at the very beginning of the chapter raised the notion that, with their vessels removed (as a sign of good faith before the negotiations) Sinbad and Kouen were suddenly just normal men. I think this chapter proved they remain anything but, powers or no.
More on that later…
Kouen arrives: what can I say? The art this week was epic…
So with both kings and their households stripped of their abilities, Kouen and Sinbad finally came face to face. On the sidelines, Alibaba’s supporters tried to guess (wrongly) as to why he was not stood beside Sinbad. It’s clear at this stage that no-one suspects just how mercurial the king of Sindria truly is, and Alibaba is keeping his mouth shut (for now) over what he discovered last chapter. I found the interplay between the naivety of his followers and Alibaba’s obvious heavy-heartedness over the whole affair fascinating, and can’t wait for all this to hit the fan (which I imagine it will, and pretty soon!).
With everyone in place the negotiations began. Except, they didn’t.
Sinbad, it transpired, had tricked everyone by sneaking the Yambala tribe (gladiators..?) into the meeting! Those guys looked naasty, and clearly have some clever magoi-concealment techniques not on show last time we met them (way back when Toto trained Alibaba during the exploration arc). It’s a move that certainly caught Kouen’s household off guard (Seishuu’s transition from cockily declaring that the four of Kouen’s guard in their assimilated states would destroy all seven of Sinbad’s retainers to abject shock was a great moment).
Talk about pulling a fast one…
But not Kouen, though. That man is ice-cool.
Without a word, the Fanalis Corps appeared at his back, counterbalancing Sinbad’s treachery. I’ll admit I actually laughed like an idiot at this whole section, as Sinbad and Mu shared some banter (Mu refuses Sinbad’s offer of a relationship-building pint on grounds of he doesn’t drink; one of his subordinates surreptitiously states Mu, in fact, drinks like a fish…).
So many great reveals; so many stand-out pages!!
And if Kouen can do cool, then Sinbad is every bit his equal…
Utterly unfazed by the shock arrival, he smiled through it all. Originally, the Fanalis’ appearance surprised me, but in the course of writing this review I remembered that Mu turned up out of the blue in Kouen’s palace two chapters ago – something I had completely dismissed it as not the slightest bit odd. Clearly, the plans for their new allegiance to Kouen were laid then – a set up that paid off fantastically here. Kudos Ohtaka. Well played.
In the end, both men expected the other to have a trick (or two?) up their sleeve. Whilst they might be currently powerless in the conventional manga thunderbolts and flame-throwing sense, what this chapter demonstrated above everything else was that Sinbad and Kouen are absolute super-star strategists, leaders and equally formidable when it comes to politics. They are both amazing characters, and this relationship and rivalry is becoming one of my favourite things about Magi. I can’t wait to see where it will all lead!
And what’s the result of it all? Kouen told Sinbad to cut to the chase, tired of their mutual scheming. And they do! With so much in play (world peace or war/unbelieveable military prowess on either side… these guys are playing high stakes…) their respective suaveness in reaction to potential treachery made me a bit fanboyish – in an intelligent, composed way, of course (ahem).
All in all, an utter sledgehammer of a chapter then, even if it’s still all really just build-up towards bigger things.
But what’s that? There’s MORE??!
Yep – Yunan. The only man who can make Sinbad lose his composure (and how fantastic was that, by the way?? – clearly Sin has some real deep resentment for the wandering magi…) arrived with a grandstanding entrance, bringing with him two OTHER MAGIS (should that be magii? I’m confused. Damn plurals…)!
It was great to see Aladdin back in the picture (clearly none to impressed with being paraded about on Yunan’s orders…), alongside Titus, and it seems they will have a major part to play in the coming chapters.
And to top it all, he then delivers a knockout line to end the chapter:
Hear that, folks? Answers about the mysterious original world of Alma Toran might soon be forthcoming. Feel the hype.
- Seriously, for a story-orientated chapter this was an absolute gem. Pacing? spot on. Shocks? brilliant and numerous. Character development? well-formed and intriguing, to put it mildly. This chapter built on the fantastic groundwork Magi has been setting down recently, and drove the plot forward fantastically.
- Not only is the main story great, but now the grand backstory is being teased, too? It’s all too much… I think i might have to sit down…
- AND the art was amazing. Not the most action packed, but there are some really pretty individual frames in there (the amount of pages in this review is testament to that, I feel).
- To pick holes would be small-minded of me. The only reason this chapter might not score higher is because I genuinely believe that even better chapters may be on the way, and I don’t want to have to start dishing out 9s and 10s like there’s no tomorrow in the coming weeks… watch this space.
Honestly guys, this is still only the beginnings of this arc, but it could be one of Magi’s best. The action will come, I’m sure, but for now I’m fully gripped by the plot and potential revelations to come! Bring it on!
OVERALL: An utter powerhouse of a story-based chapter. Magi is really firing on all cylinders at the moment, and chapters like these are why I believe it to be among the best mangas out there. I give it 8.5/10.