Another very solid episode for Magi this week, as Aladdin’s storyline continues to be the most interesting element in the series. As expected, Baba-sama case off her Earthly body and joined the Rukh – but not before raising herself from her deathbed long enough to urge her people to accept the agonizing reality of becoming a tributary of the Kou Empire rather than be destroyed with their pride intact. The fate of a fallen empire is a harsh one, and that was portrayed with surprising sophistication and in a rather bleak realism here.
In addition to confirming just what Aladdin is, the main thrust of the episode was to establish that the Kou empire is going to be a major force in the story to follow. We meet Ren’s younger brother Hakuryuu (Ono Kenshou) whom Ren’s djinn Paimon (Oohara Sayaka) informs us has been chosen by the Magi Judal (Ryouhei Kimura) as his candidate for King. Paimon – who’s giant blue breasts are fully anatomically correct and uncensored, interestingly – also tells Aladdin that he needs to pick a King candidate too (gee, I wonder who that will be).
Perhaps the most interesting element of the episode was when Ugo (who finally gets a head and Morikawa Tohsiyuki’s voice in Aladdin’s flashback) destroyed the Kou army that was in the process of betraying Ren, including the noxious leader Ryousai (Tobita Nobuo). I’m not crazy about Scooby-doo villains like Ryousai, who seems like he might have fallen out of SAO, but the larger take-away is that for all his shota kawaii, Aladdin is not human and seems quite willing to send humans to join the Rukh with extreme prejudice – wiping out an entire squadron with a happy smile is a little chilling, and I suspect it was supposed to be.
Kamisama Hajimemashita – 06
This is really a classic “under the radar” series. It isn’t a terribly flashy show to begin with, but perhaps airing alongside two more prominent (and more prominently romance-driven) shows has pushed Kamisama even more out of the spotlight. It’s a shame because this is a show that deserves some attention – crisply written and flawlessly directed, with an exact sense of what sort of show it’s trying to be and no ambitions to try and be anything else.
What stands out this week in one of the more “serious” episodes so far is how good the supporting cast is. Kurama especially has become a favorite of mine, his hilarious popinjay idol antics at school (and some of the worst Engrish ever) always good for a laugh. With Tomoe impersonating an ill Nanami at school (badly) the possibilities are obvious, and they pay dividends. Mizuki too is an interesting addition, and the various takes on the guardian spirits are cleverly designed. There’s always something interesting to look at in this show, and lots of little background details that demand close attention. Sight gags like the one that ended this ep (Tomoe putting the turtle’s head in his mouth) are arguably the best of the season.
It’s a truism how often in shounen series it’s the girl who’s the dynamic center despite not being the main character, and how often in shoujo it’s the guy – and it’s becoming increasingly obvious here that it’s Tomoe that really drives this show. It was a good idea to have Mikage give Nanami (and us) a little taste of his dangerous past running with the Bloodthirsty King (Suwabe Junichi) – it adds an interesting dynamic to his relationship with her, which appears ready to go to the next level as she’s obviously fallen for him. There’s no suspense about potential pairings here – it’ll either be Tomoe or forever alone – but making how we get there as interesting as possible is certainly job one.