Sigh. They grow up so fast… (except Ugo, of course, who is apparently a 58 year old, glasses wearing, gym-attending virgin genie. Brilliant).
So following the time-skip, we reconvene in Alma-Torran to find Sheba having grown into adolescence. With the shift in age has come a serious boost in offensive ability, having won the rather grandiose title the ‘eight headed walls defensive magician’. Genius indeed.
But this chapter isn’t really about action – oh no. It’s all above loooove. Or, at least, teenage crushes. Same difference…
Let me make pretty clear before I get started that I really, really enjoyed this chapter. I’m not much of a shipping-type fellow, though I’ll admit that fictional relationships can very occasionally make me go a little bit gooey, despite myself (Minato and Kushina. ‘Nuff said), but Sheba’s feelings towards Solomon certainly made me smile. It’s all rather adorable. I think it a credit to Shinobu the mangaka that I have come to really root for Sheba as a character, having found her so irritating during her introduction – as I’m sure was the plan all along.
Getting to see her go all awkward over her crush was really sweet – and, tellingly (I think) really reminiscent of the way that Aladdin reacts to pretty much every pretty woman in the series. Ever. I mean, come on – the art style was exactly the same, all chibi and puffy-cheeked and peculiar. I’m sticking to my guns that Sheba is Aladdin’s mother (in some way, at least) and can see personality traits of both her and Solomon in the series protagonist.
So, Sheba x Solomon is a go-go. Or it will be if Arba doesn’t get in the way first.
Sheba’s reaction to seeing the guy she adores getting all sweaty with another girl (kinda) was rough. I mean come on – unrequited love sucks, and I’m sure we’ve all been there, so it’s easy to empathise.
More importantly, though, those two pages confirmed something critical, at least in my eyes: Arba = Gyokuen.
I’d suspected before, but the way Arba was drawn here leaves me with little doubt that she is the witch of Al-Thamen in her younger days and not Sheba. She’s even wielding the staff the woman I suspected Gyokuen to be was wielding back in 215. I’m still not sure how Gyokuen came into possession of Sheba’s crescent staff, but eh, let’s handle one thing at a time, eh?
What’s clear is that, much like Ithnan, Arba is a far cry from the Gyokuen we know from the current world. It seems she’s got a long way to go to becoming the horribly manipulative woman that I love to hate from the main series. Or is that perhaps she is already at her manipulative best, attempting to secure and develop her relationship with Solomon for her own gains..? Honest for now or treachery with a smile..? I guess only time will tell.
Meanwhile, poor old Sheba turns to gluttony to cheer herself up. Sniff.
Not that she was given any time to recover as the plot spun on a sixpence (as it so often does with Magi). Within a few lines, Solomon had made the claim that the world’s magoi felt off and that the Origin Dragon (whatever that is) had to be consulted. No rest for the broken-hearted…
Looking forward to finding out what the dragon has to say next time…
- The build-up for Sheba and her feelings towards Solomon has been great and this chapter did a neat job of bringing the romance to the forefront, but not without forsaking story or progression (much).
- The reveal of Solomon’s closeness to Arba not only sets up a tasty love triangle but also acts as conclusive evidence (in my eyes, anyway) that the witch of Al-Thamen already has her claws into him…
- It was a character-orientated chapter to a tee, so I can’t be too harsh, but the story really didn’t go anywhere fast this week. Hopefully that’ll change as we head towards a meeting with the Origin Dragon and further revelations.
Overall: A super sweet chapter, with Sheba undoubtedly the star, which never felt sickly. Arba is a witch – Solomon x Sheba forever. There, I said it. Oh, and the chapter gets a solid 7.5/10.