Ok, bit of a slower chapter. Don’t get me wrong, I found some of the world-building stuff interesting, and there’s a lot that can be implied about the Magi world as a result of it, but this chapter didn’t really move things in the Alma-Torran storyline along all that much.
What it did manage was to flesh out and push forward the character of Sheba immensely. After he encounters with the Lion-y/monster-things, it seems like she is moving to become a more sympathetic, less racist character. I remain unsure as to whether she’s Gyokuen or not, so this could be a permanent change or only a temporary one with a dark reversal of fates to come. In either case, the development felt natural and was handled very well.
Mirroring that focus on Sheba was the fleshing out of Solomon’s character, which this chapter did a good job of. I for one really like the guy: he’s a little bit goofy, beneath the cool, obviously excitable in a way very much like Sinbad in his younger days or (perhaps more tellingly) Aladdin.
It was also cool to get to see him interact a little more with his gang of companions, especially Ithnan and Ugo. Both of these guys are really great characters, complimenting each other simply by being complete, polar opposites. Who’d have thought that Ugo, the absolute tank of a Djinn from the earliest chapters of the series started life as a specs-and-scarf wearing nerd? Someone hit the gym. HARD.
He’s also a bit of a genius, having created a moving mountain of a magic-tool.
The real revelation, though, is Solomon’s closeness to Ithnan. They were best mates! And we all know how that’s gonna end up. It’s sort of sad, really, seeing Solomon confide in the man he thinks of as his greatest (and, interestingly, his strongest) ally and knowing that Ithnan will bring everything down around his king’s head. Just goes to show that despite the comparable briefness of his appearance in the present day before getting absolutely trolleyed by Sinbad, Ithnan was a mega, mega important character. Who knows? Maybe we haven’t seen the last of him…
Away from the characters, the other big facet of this chapter was world-building. A couple of things struck me while reading. Firstly, the mention that there were 72 of the staves – which is interesting as there are, to my knowledge, supposed to be 72 dungeons in the Magi world, housing Solomon’s 72 djinn. Seems those staves are to hold a key purpose in just how the members of Solomon’s household became djinn.
There’s some discrepancies, however, as Gyokuen holds one of the staves and Scheherazade holds another. Does that mean there are two less Djinn? Also, where is Ugo’s staff..? Aladdin doesn’t have it, and I don’t remember seeing it in the current time-frame (might be wrong) so is it still with his head in that dungeon (wherever that is..?) Great. More questions – just what I need.
The second major intrigue was the appearance of a great rift in Alma-Torran, and that such things were becoming more common recently in Alma-Torran. Is there a link between this and the divide in the Magi world? I guess there must be, but I have to admit I’m not sure how the two things add up, yet. Maybe such continental degredation could be the work of Illah, in some way? But that’s just random speculation. Sorry folks, but on this one I’m a bit stumped…
- The character building for Solomon, Sheba and the gang was well done and helped to hook me into their story.
- The world building for Magi is, as I’ve said in the past, some of the bizarrest and most fascinating of any manga series. Period. This chapter did a great job of teasing some of that (if not actually delivering any answers…)
- It all still feels pretty slow… But that’s kind of Magi through and through: start slow, end explosively. I’m sure this arc too will go supernova (eventually)…