On Magi

Of course, I have to undermine my post's message with this

It’s been a long time, but I’m craving for the original Dragon Ball, when Goku was a kid and went on crazy adventures. Back then, the Dragon Balls weren’t cheap plot devices and collecting them all was a difficult quest.

I wondered why there isn’t more adventure-based shounen anime. I’m not an avid shounen manga reader (I followed Bakuman to its conclusion, but stopped reading Jump afterwards), and I rarely watch long-running shounen anime, so I wouldn’t really know.

Then I remembered One Piece. I don’t like One Piece. I watched a few episodes of it when it aired on local TV. It was fine, but I never grew to like Oda’s crazy art. And even if someone did convince me to start on it, there’s so many episodes for me to go through. I see its appeal and why it’s popular, but nah.

So you’ll understand why I got into Magi fairly quickly. The manga’s art has a nice softness to it while keeping its appeal universal. The anime’s character designs are easy to like, and aren’t an acquired taste. The main characters don’t automatically resort to force to solve their problems, because two of them aren’t even fighters. And it’s funny how it’s the girl who has the biggest physical strength of them all.

Instead, Magi follows an adventure plot where the main characters meet new people and places, gaining life lessons along the way. This might sound generic and applicable to a lot of shows, but few of them distill the fun of having an adventure like Magi does. It’s simple, but isn’t simplistic.

It’s about making friends and keeping them close to your heart, knowing that they’ll come around eventually. It’s about feeling connected with people, kinship or not. It’s about shrugging off all sorts of chains that hold you back, even those that aren’t immediately obvious. It’s about keeping your integrity despite hardships. Because Magi isn’t very interested in the spectacle of battle, it could present its themes with much more variety.

I’m mostly drawn to the character of Alibaba, who’s had a rough life, but which isn’t noticeable until he actually sits down to recite his backstory. He may seem weak and faltering at times, but he has an inner strength that allows him to perform great feats. And I’ll be around when that happens.

Do you know other shounen adventure anime/manga that are similar to Magi? Tell me about them!

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4 Responses to On Magi

  1. r042 says:

    Not so much shounen but I always felt Nadia had a sort of adventure vibe to it. I’m also currently watching Cyber Formula GPX, a shenanigans and adventure series about a kid F1 racer and his robot car bro.

    • r042 says:

      Fun fact, Cyber Formula was written by the same Fukuda who would do Dendoh and later SEED!

      It also has the VA of Max Jenius as the masked racing star Knight Schumacher.

  2. omo says:

    I feel the same way as you as far as One Piece goes. I like Magi for different reasons though–I just dig the setting a lot, and at least they make the primary thematic question something that is not a clear-cut situation (as opposed to One Piece most of the time).

    Sometimes I feel this is how I approach stories like Yokokhama Shopping Log actually.

  3. Matt Wells says:

    Gonna be one of the guys berating you to read One Piece. Forget the anime, just read the manga. It has the best plot of any Shonen series ever written (which would normally be akin to praising a Yaoi show for it’s depiction of women, but in this case is entirely valid). And it is tremendously fun. It’s hard to NOT like a series featuring both a Cola Powered Ace Ventura Hawain Surfer Rocket-Punching Carpenter Cyborg and a Senile Afro-Wearing Violinist Zombie Skeleton.

    Toriko sounds the closest to how you’ve described Magi, but that has plenty of battles so maybe yes, maybe not? There’s also Hunter X Hunter, until the Chimera Ant arc kicks in and it’s all battles non-stop. The adventure is still there but the tone is exceedingly dark and violent, even from the outset.

    You might want to give Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure a try. It’s more melodramatic than lighthearted, but there’s still plenty of gags (uintentionally or otherwise), and the Adventure bit of the title is wholly accurate. it jet sets from Victorian London, to 1930’s New York, Venice (twice), Florida, the Old West, Egypt, and the Japanese suburbs. And the fights are incredible.

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