Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Ep. 1 – Aladdin and Alibaba
*Episode Spoilers are contained in this article*
Straight away, the names of the characters in this anime should ring familiar for most people, mainly from Aladdin, the popular Disney movie, which is loosely based upon the story ‘Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp.’ Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic is also based upon this story, as well as others like ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.’ It’s obvious, though, that the writers did not intend to create anything that closely resembles the original stories, but instead chose to use the concepts as a base to build a unique story.
The very first scene introduces us to some type of fantasy realm, and it is not quite clear what it is exactly, even by the end of the episode. What is clear, however, is that Aladdin, the main character, has been given a unique offering by a mysterious creature: a single wish.
Afterward, we are introduced to the current setting and another character, Alibaba. Alibaba works for a man named Budel, who is the detestable overseer of trade, which includes food, wine, and…slaves. Alibaba is not a slave; however, his position doesn’t seem to be much higher than slave, because of how Budel treats him. For the two main characters’ first meeting, Aladdin is caught stuffing his face with watermelons. Alibaba is of course thrown into a panic, because he knows that Budel will be furious with him. The situation takes a turn into the preposterous, as we are introduced to one of Aladdin’s unique characteristics: his love of….boobs. Yes, even the old, flabby man-boobs of Budel seem to be of interest to this strange young boy. This kind of humor can be quite hilarious, but the fact that it involves a 10 year-old boy is a bit strange.
Shortly after that curious scene, Alibaba reveals his real motivations- to brave into the world’s dungeons and plunder the treasures within. Those treasures include magic flying cloths, gold, and a special metal vessel that contains a ‘Djinn.’ Already, the wheels are in motion, and most viewers will connect the dots from the previous scenes. Especially the part about the vessel and the Djinn- Aladdin was seen speaking to some sort of mysterious being in the beginning, and he also carries around a flute everywhere he goes. At the end of the scene, Aladdin talks to his flute and calls it ‘Ugo.’ A little bit more about this relationship is revealed by the end of the episode.
Shortly after an introduction to the seventh ‘dungeon of the world, ‘Amon,’ which Alibaba intends to pilfer, we are introduced to another important character who is currently referred to as ‘Big Sister.’ It is revealed that she is a slave, and Aladdin, as much of a troublemaker as he is, decides to take action. Pulling out his flute, he uses some ability within and breaks the chains, and thus causing another big commotion with Budel. In this scene, we get a small glimpse of Ugo.
As in similar renditions of the stories of Aladdin and his magic lamp, Ugo has the ability to come out of the flute at it’s owner’s command. In this particular scene, Ugo’s beastly blue arms come out and wreak havoc for Budel and his guards. Shortly after the scuffle with Budel, Alibaba comes to realize that in fact, Aladdin himself is carrying the mythical ‘metal vessel’ that contains a Djinn, and he immediately plots to use Aladdin to his benefit.
Budel’s superior, Lord Jamil, is introduced in the next scene, and for various reasons, Budel tries to keep Ugo’s appearance a secret from him. We still don’t know much about Jamil from this scene, except for the fact that he personifies a pompous ruler with a very subtle but deep-seated ego and lust for power. It is apparent that he knows something deeper that the writers don’t want to show yet. At the end of the episode, he is seen watching Aladdin and Alibaba from afar, thus confirming the fact that he is absolutely aware of Aladdin and his possession of Ugo.
In the last major scene in the episode, Budel is leading- or, I should say, commanding Alibaba to lead a caravan across the desert for the purpose of transporting goods (and er….slaves). Of course, there is trouble, as a massive plant creature called a Desert Hyacinth rears its ugly head; the creature apparently preys upon wine, which the caravan is transporting. Here is where we get to see some of the underlying qualities of all the characters shine through- that Aladdin and Alibaba are both strong willed, and come to the rescue of some of the slaves who are caught in the Desert Hyacinth. ‘Big Sister’ has also shown courage as she jumps in selflessly to help another slave. This is the act that caused Alibaba to finally take action– in the face of frustration of Budel’s cruel selfishness, he takes a vat of wine and shoves it into the Hyacinth.
This is most obviously the climax of the episode, and we finally get to see ‘Ugo’ in all of his (or its) glory, sans head. That’s right– when he is called forth, he makes his full appearance, which at this time is missing a head. His giant beast form holds back the Hyacinth and Aladdin reveals for us one more secret that he is carrying. Yes, the last thing that we were all waiting for. Aladdin pulls off his turban-like head wrap and reveals it to be a magical cloth, similar to the mythical floating carpet. With this, Aladdin swoops up many barrels of wine and dumps them into the Hyacinth, thus saving his friends. Then, the wish that Aladdin made to Ugo is finally revealed: for them to simply be friends.
By the end of the episode, we can make a few notes about how the Magi plays out. It contains many of the iconic ideas from the stories of Aladdin and Alibaba, except with a different twist. We have Aladdin as a small boy, containing a flute instead of a lamp, and his inanimate sidekick is in the form of a magic turban. There are still hints of a deeper plot-line revealed, as we don’t know that much about the pact between Aladdin and Ugo, and also what role Jamil will play in the plot. No doubt, he will probably want to use the Djinn for his own selfish purposes, of course.
For the next episode, Aladdin and Alibaba will begin their adventure presumably in Amon, the 7th dungeon, which was mentioned earlier in the episode. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic is being streamed by Crunchyroll (http://www NULL.crunchyroll NULL.com/magi).
I have not read the manga, so I do not know how the new anime compares. If anyone has read the manga, please feel free to discuss the differences in the comments.