Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic 181-183

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With each passing event, Magi continues the current arc at a slow pace but with plenty of developments to keep things from getting uninteresting.

Ohtaka-sensei’s style of writing tends to be reminiscent of Tite Kubo’s style. At times, reading a chapter of Magi is an experience similar to reading a chapter of Bleach, not in terms of content, just the ability to make the chapter feel extremely short with the requisite number of reveals and developments to make it a little more memorable. This happens from time to time, and comes as no shock; this series of chapters is no different. Chapter 180 saw the restart of the war, which was done through meticulous character development with a big twist ending, a restart that was sure to be followed by the Kou empire’s prince fighting back for his comrades and fellow soldiers, with whom he shares a deep bond. So far, this was nothing unpredictable, which remained the case for the majority of the chapter.

Kouha showed off his skill as a dungeon conqueror, but that was shown to be futile. The black rukh monsters prove to be an obstacle, which can only be expected from Mogamett’s last gambit. If they didn’t pose any challenge, the battle would have lost its purpose and Mogamett’s reign as the ambiguous villain of the arc would come to an abrupt and premature end. Of course, it did serve another purpose: Ali Baba’s appearance at the end, a moment that could only be met by sighs of relied and outbursts of welcome by the readers.

This well-timed moment came right at the last page to leave the audience wanting the next chapter. It’s not that Ali Baba’s djinn equip was something to anticipate, but rather something that’s been in the works, and conversely delayed, for quite some time now. The delay is because of the nature of the series – dual protagonists, separate plots – and it did come at a time that was surprising. Because he’s been out of sight for a while, it was a little unexpected to see Ali Baba show up. It became more evident after the next chapter why he did, but that didn’t change the initial reaction of surprise to his appearance.

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Carrying on swiftly from chapter 181, chapter 182 gives the people what they’ve wanted: Ali Baba’s djinn equip.

Unfortunately, that was only for a short time, as Ali Baba’s display of new powers was cut short by the arrival of Prince Kouen. This rapid development carries both merit and disappointment. On one hand, the knowledge that Ali Baba has more to offer but his time in the spotlight getting cut short feels like a cop-out, especially after not seeing him for a while. Enjoyment of this turnaround depends on opinion of this development in the plot, which, regardless of disappointing Ali Baba fans, did move the story up another gear. What may have soured the development was the one month hiatus Ohtaka-sensei took.

Whilst not seeing a favourite character in action for a decent amount of time is forgivable, it’s harder to forgive a break from the main storyline for a whole month. Then there’s the case of the story being left off with a cliffhanger and the Adventures of Sinbad side arc being drawn, that just doesn’t excuse the break from the series. Not to mention, as a cliffhanger it didn’t have the punch it would have if Kouen had previously been shown more than once. With him being a relatively new character – Kouha as well – it was hard to get excited about the development. Yes, it was intriguing, because Kouen and his odd bodyguards look interesting, but it wasn’t exciting.

This was an odd way to end things for a month to say the least, on top of being very short to boot.

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Finally, chapter 183 arrived, which ended Magi‘s month off.

Immediately, reader curiosity is expanded as Kouen’s bodyguards display powers unseen before in the series. This is a development that also puts the king of the enemy empire right up there in power level rankings, where he should be, though his exact powers are uncertain. By the looks of it, there will be some mystery surrounding the eldest prince of the Kou empire and that could add something different for the series. It would definitely make the war different from what was expected, and based on the ending of this chapter it may well be the author’s intent.

With the second half of the chapter shifting focus to Leim, the story continues to divest from the simple war story it’s used so far. No longer is the case merely about the war between three separate powers, but it’s now about the smaller subplots as well. As shown at the end of the chapter, Titus will be coming back into focus, and that can mean a variety of things. Right now, his purpose is a little unclear, but it’s not wild to assume his personal problems will be the cornerstone of his part of the story, as opposed to Leim’s overall involvement in international affairs.

Again, it feels like the series is taking a break, which also makes it feel like the black djinn showdown was just the teaser of things to come. If there’s one thing these past three chapters have done well, it’s introduce the next big opponents and simultaneously power up Mogamett. It’s best to view them as the build-up and to expect the real meat of the story to come in the not so distant future.

Final Flash: Alone these chapters were fine, but together they do a good job in getting ready for the next big arc.

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