And now for something completely different…
As Magi: The Kingdom of Magic heads into its final story arc for season 2, I can look back on both seasons as a whole and say with confidence that Magi is a thoughtfully entertaining anime. Though long-time anime fans may pass up Magi as another copycat shonen fantasy in the vein of popular franchises like Fairy Tail and Fullmetal Alchemist, I argue that Magi is an example of good shonen and in general, just competent storytelling. Magi shows that fusing over-the-top shonen action does not mean cutting corners with exploring deeper philosophical thoughts such as human sovereignty. What does it mean to be a good king? What is a king? How does one rule over one’s people, one’s country, responsibly? Is it possible to be a good king while avoiding war? Is war an inevitable “fate” of humanity?
The venues for analysis are many for Magi but the one I’ll be taking is looking at the theme of kingship, specifically the qualities of king candidates and the show’s portrayal of their attempts (successes or failures) at sovereignty. At the end, I hope to arrive at a clearer idea of what Magi’s trying to answer. Does the “king and magi” system really work? What are the political and philosophical implications for this kind of system?
In order to spare readers the monstrosity of a paper I’ve got mapped out for this project, I’ll be splitting up “What Makes a King” Magi posts into several posts. The posts will be as follows:
Part I: “Why Balbadd Failed: Negotiating Empathy and Difference” will focus on Aladdin’s King’s Vessel, Prince Alibaba Saluja, and his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to revive Balbadd.
Part II: “Kou and Empire: The Squalor of Imperialism” will focus primarily on the disturbing consequences of Prince Kouen’s “world is one” treatise as well as Princess Hakuei’s subjugation of the Kouga Empire.
Part III: “Disenchanted Magic: Racism and Persecution in Magnostadt” will focus on Headmaster Mogamett’s prejudices towards non-magicians and the meritocratic traps built into Magnostadt’s school system.
Part IV: “The Maternal King: Scheherazade’s Rearing of Reim“ will focus on the implications of a largely absent king and the case of a Magi, rather than a king, ruling a country.
Part V: “Shadows in Sindria: Sinbad’s Art of Political Warfare” will focus on the interesting case of King Sinbad, who is not a King’s Vessel but has captured seven dungeons and is arguably the strongest king in the anime. Described by the Magi, Yunan, as being “too ideal of a king,” all Magi treat him with wariness and this post will tackle the subject of whether or not Sinbad is a good king and why he is so dangerous.
Now off to watch Aladdin and co kick some Dark Djinn butt~