Magi Vol. 1 (Viz)


Rating: 4/5 – Aladdin and Alibaba – together again for the first time?

When you see the puckishly cute waif on the cover of Magi, it’s a pretty good indication of what you’re going to be in for when you start reading the manga. Aladdin is a young boy who’s already found his genie, although in this case the djinn lives in a flute, not a magic lantern. Through a series of misadventures he comes across Alibaba, a young worker who has amassed a large debt in the pursuit of justice. The two join forces to conquer dungeons – strange buildings that simply sprung up all over the world one day – with the promise of fortune, glory, and a proper container for Aladdin’s genie.

This is a fun book, packed with enough humor, adventure, and the occasional bit of lasciviousness (despite his size, Aladdin seems to have a way with the ladies in the way his partner does not), to keep even the most storied manga reader entertained. Sadly, this first volume only hints at the villains they’re going to encounter, but the book showed enough to make readers want to know more.

The real selling point, though, is the artwork. Writer/artist Shinobu Ohtaka does a masterful job of weaving the super-detailed with the super-deformed where appropriate. I’m also a big fan of manga that allow the creators a page or two to talk about how they broke into the business, as well as how they go about day-to-day operations on creating their work. This first volume provides both.

To be fair, the book follows pretty much every manga convention you can expect from a shonen book. Guys getting in fights while they go on quests and occasionally there’s a cute girl to woo or fawn over. The trick is to find a book that’s aware these tropes exist, but find a unique and compelling way to tell the story anyhow. On that front, Magi succeeds greatly.

Reviewed by: Al Sparrow – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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