By Clinton Nix / November 7th, 2012
Episode 4 of Magi takes place after the events in Amon, and Alibaba has not heard of Aladdin’s whereabouts. After meeting with Morgiana, he confirms his desire to see Aladdin again and to go on another adventure with him. Meanwhile, Aladdin wakes up in a completely new place. He finds out that he is with the Kouga clan, and that they had found him passed out. The Kouga Clan, as the clan leader Chagan Shaman (affectionately called ‘Baba’) explains, is a large ‘family’ with the same blood running through them, and they thrive on their own community. It is apparent right away that Chagan ‘Baba’ is more than just a clan leader, as she is also aware of the little floating lights that look like butterflies, known as ‘Rukh.’ She explains to Aladdin that Rukh are the home of your soul, and after living beings die, the Rukh travel back to a central place.
In a scene of Aladdin’s clumsiness with a horse, we are introduced to Hakuei Ren, who is the third Princess of the Kou Empire. As nice as it is to save Aladdin from a runaway horse, her real reason to be there is to address the Kouga Clan and offer them the ability to submit to the Kou Empire. At first, this comes off as a mere formality for takeover of the Kouga clan, and those in the clan react negatively to the offer. This matter is made worse because of the fact that Ryosai, who is seen as a protector for the princess, is a completely overbearing type that likes to rule over those he thinks as inferior with an iron fist. This is first displayed as he rashly knocks Toya over as she tries to offer horse milk to the princess. Naturally, Dorji has affection for Toya and can not accept any ill treatment of her, so he rushes off in a mad rage at Ryosai to attack, but is blocked by the other man standing near Hakuei Ren. Dorji finally relents, as Chagan commands, and the Princess and her retinue take leave, with stifling tension.
During a scene when Aladdin and Chagan Baba are out under the moonlight, we get a brief explanation of the clan leader’s experience with Magi. The Kouga ‘Empire’ was created, as history says, by a Magi who helped the people choose a king and created a society. In this, there are several allusions to Aladdin as a Magi and Alibaba as the ‘future’ king who will be the one to lead a great nation into the future. Despite the reality of the ancient Magi and what it reveals about Aladdin, Chagan Baba still refers to him affectionately as her family.
There are some interesting things about the nature of Hakuei Ren and her retainers. There is certainly a conflict of personality types, as it becomes clearer throughout the episode. Starting with the very next scene, we get a chance to see that the princess is in fact transparent and clear about her intentions and motivations. We see this in the scene where Aladdin secretly goes to meet her, and the ‘Rukh’ flow around her while she speaks. Her real desire is to unite the world. This seems to be a stark contrast to Ryosai, who seems to have a ‘rule with the iron fist’ type of personality. But, after Aladdin’s meeting with the princess, we can see that she has the potential to be as kind as she is determined.
On the return to the Kouga village, it has been made aware that some slave traders have taken some women hostage, including Torya. What culminates is a scene where Dorji must face the conflict of his rage with the words of Chagan- to not kill anyone, less a war should start.
After that scene, it is affirmed that Dorji’s choice was the better one- to not kill, and return the women to the clan. As the others return from the rescue mission, though, we are dealt a hand of cards that reveal sorrow, tradgedy, and of course, irony- most should have been expecting this- as just after Chagan’s decision to accept rule under the Kou Empire, she is slain during the celebration of success by an arrow from some unseen attacker. We do not know how the rest of the Kouga clan will react to this event, as the Chagan Baba was alone during the assassination. I can only guess that her death will disrupt what she and others tried so hard to do in the previous scene, which was to avoid war. Where does this leave the relationship of the Kou Empire and the Kouga clan? Was it in fact Princess Hakuei Ren or Ryosai who committed the assassination, or was it someone who has no ties to them?
And now, an image from the final scene that puts an arrow into our expectations of what is to come.
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic is currently being streamed by Crunchyroll.
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