Magi, Vol. 1

By Shinobu Ohtaka. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in the magazine Shonen Sunday. Released in North America by Viz.

I like Shonen Sunday series a lot, and I wish they sold better over here, as I’ve noted before. Therefore, when a really good Sunday series debuts, I get a bit excited. Of course, like most really good shonen series, you read the first volume and realize ther4e’s going to be several volumes of setup before we get to the really good stuff. This one is clearly in for the long haul. That said, the worldbuilding is fun, particularly if you are a fan (as I am) of the Arabian Nights stories, which are used as the basis for this series.


The boy on the cover is Aladdin, one of the two main heroes we meet in this volume (we also meet a third major character, but spoilers). Aladdin is very much cut from Luffy stock (the author notes she grew up in high school reading Jump, which sounds like it was right about when One Piece hit it big, so this isn’t surprising), being naive, upbeat, and generally happy-go-lucky. Unlike Luffy, he also seems to have a thing for busty women, though he’s young enough that no one really minds all that much. He carries a flute with a genie inside, which is generally weak/strong depending on how much food he’s eaten, and gives him most of his cool powers.

The other main lead is Alibaba, who is also another common shonen hero. He’s been slightly trampled down by life, and is trying to make it through this world by being a cynical money-grubber. Sadly, he has a good heart and can’t stand injustice, so that doesn’t work out very well for him. It’s not helping that he runs into Aladdin, who frequently serves as his conscience when Alibaba is trying to drown out its loud voice. Alibaba does NOT have a genie who can grant his every wish, so has to get by on street smarts and some basic fighting skills. He makes an excellent contrast with Aladdin.

After the two of them team up, we hit what seems to be the other main feature of this world, at least in this early part of the series: dungeon crawling. Yes, gamers will feel sympathetic here. There’s a twisty maze of passages (all alike) that have to be marked as ‘bad’ by previous dead explorers. There’s hideous creatures, and deadly traps. And there’s also, allegedly, buttloads of treasure. Treasure that everyone seems to have been waiting for a kid like Aladdin and his genie to show up so they can use him to acquire it. As such, we meet, right near the end, the lord of the territory Jamil and his faithful slave (so faithful she returns to him even after getting freed by Aladdin) Morgiana. It’s not entirely clear if this will be our first bad guy or if his ways will be changed by our heroes’ goodness and niceness. I suppose we must wait till Vol. 2 to find out.

Again, there’s not much that’s original here. But it’s fun! Likeable characters, a lot of fascinating Arabian tropes, some cool fights, and a quest that can go anywhere. Magi is a big hit in Japan, with an anime under its belt already, so I’m very pleased that Viz is taking a chance on it. If you like One Piece or Toriko, give Magi a try.

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  1. My first reaction to vol 1 was something along the lines of “do we really need another shonen hero who likes boobs a lot?” But it’s a good thing they got to the dungeon because Aladdin showing a calm side was very nice and makes me more interested in the character. Still, I didn’t like this as much as, say, Kekkaishi’s first volume (that series also took several volumes to get going), but given how Shonen Sunday series do take a while to get going and I do tend to prefer shonen drawn by women, I’m willing to stick around for at least a few more volumes to see if things improve. I might want to rent them from the library first though.


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