Magi Episode 8: A Broken Promise
“The two of us are different. We have been since birth.” -Kassim
Summary: With Aladdin and Alibaba reuniting under the worst of circumstances, their friendship seems to be heading towards disaster. But with a little help from Morgiana, the two sit down and have a good, long talk, as the tragic history of Kassim and Alibaba slowly comes to light.
Impressions: You see that black, withered, thing broken into little pieces over there on the floor? That’s my heart. I didn’t have much of one in the first place, but this episode fucking broke what was left of it. Sweet baby jesus. This is the opposite of what I wanted Magi!
Heartbreak aside, this episode had plenty of stuff going on. And all of it was great. Even the soul-crushing stuff. I think all of the super-ultra-cute baby Alibaba helped sooth that burn. But let’s talk about the soul-crushing stuff first. My poor little baby Aladdin gets a dose of reality when Alibaba says that he can’t keep the promise he made to go out and have adventures with him. Ja’far is correct when he says that even though Aladdin is a Magi, he is also just a kid. And you can really see that this episode. Up until now it’d never crossed his mind that Alibaba would stop being his friend. And when Alibaba turns his back on him, you can just see Aladdin kinda shut down on the inside. It was like a punch in the gut to see him later, trying to cheer himself up and be his bright, happy normal self, but he just can’t do it. He strength just gives out.
The real emotional weight though is in Alibaba and Kassim’s history. With a little… gentle nudging from Morgiana, Alibaba tells Aladdin and her about his past. And boy, is it a tear-jerker. Growing up together in the slums, having good times and bad times together, only to eventually go down two separate routes in life; Kassim (or Cassim if you go by the spelling in the manga) and Alibaba have known each other for a very long time. Their lives where by no means easy, although Alibaba was spared from the worst of it by the grace of having a loving mother who cared for him. Kassim and his sister Mariam weren’t so fortunate. They suffered terribly under their abusive, alcoholic father and when he disappears, and they go to live with Alibaba and his mother, it seems like the chance Kassim needs in order to change for the better. But alas, Alibaba’s mom dies, and the three of them are left to fend for themselves as Kassim turns to theft and other underhanded deeds in order to ensure their survival. This is where the differences between Kassim and Alibaba appear.
Kassim believes that he was born rotten, a bad apple through-and-through, while Alibaba is someone who is still “good.” I’m a firm believer that no one is born bad. Sure, you can make bad choices and do awful things but it isn’t because you were born that way. To see that Kassim believes that he has no value because he was born evil at such a young age, or that he can’t change, is tragic to say the least. It’s sad, but it’s not an excuse for the emotional blackmail he uses on Alibaba, or for all the other deeds he’s done. It’s all of this that makes Kassim such an interesting (and very human) character. Alibaba and Kassim end up parting ways when the King comes and tells Alibaba that he’s his son (a bastard one, but still his son), and takes him back to the palace.
Yup, that’s right, Alibaba is a prince (sort of) of Balbadd . It explains his knowledge of ancient languages as well as his excellent sword fighting skills. With Alibaba locked away in the palace and Kassim working his way up the gang ladder, it’s many years until fate throws them together again. Alibaba sneaks out of the palace to visit the slums where he grew up only to find that they’ve been cleared out. It’s here that he happens to see Kassim again, who of course feels no qualms about getting Alibaba drunk enough to spill the beans about how to get into the castle. In a turn of events much like the beginning of the episode, Alibaba is betrayed by someone who he thought of as a friend as Kassim raids the castle, setting it on fire and leaving Alibaba to blame himself for what happened. Even all these years later, it’s clear that Alibaba feels he has some sort of debt to pay to Kassim for how his life turned out. Alibaba probably blames himself not just for Kassim’s betrayal but also for the route Kassim had to take because he was trying to protect Alibaba and Mariam when they were younger. They have a complicated relationship, and the show does a good job of presenting it in such a way as that you feel not just for Alibaba but also for Kassim and everyone else from the slums of the city who are just trying to get by.
Anyway, here are some other things that happened, outside of Alibaba’s story:
- Awww yessss, use that djinn Alibaba! We see him use his djinn for the first time this episode and it is pretty cool.
- Morgiana! I love how even though she’s a quiet character, that doesn’t mean that she won’t say exactly what she’s thinking (and often it’s something that really needs to be said) or do things that need to be done. I also love how she stands like a solider all stoic-like, but she still will let her anger show in small ways, like clenching her fist.
- Ah, yes the Kou empire is brought up again. They’re the ones responsable for flooding Balbadd with paper currency, which is worthless and partially the reason that the city is in so much trouble. No better way to weaken a country than to cripple it economically, which can lead to all kinds of other trouble, and leaves the whole place open to foreign invaders. That, and marrying someone from your country into the royal family, and the place is practically gift-wrapped and ready for the taking.
- Even though the episode was mostly depressing as hell, there were also some really funny parts. Mostly involving Morgiana kidnapping Alibaba and carrying him, bridal style, while jumping from roof to roof in order to bring him to Aladdin. Oh my god, I was laughing pretty hard at that.
- SUPER CUTE BABIES EVERYWHERE! Baby Kassim! Cute little street urchins! Baby Alibaba! This show and the cute kids man. They do a good job.
- I think it’s interesting to note that the king was faceless until he admitted that he loved Alibaba’s mom. It’s like he wasn’t a real person to Alibaba until that point. Just a thought. (They also have the same eye color, just to point out.)
- To be totally fair: As much as I love this show, there were a lot of still images this episode that the camera just panned over. Especially in the flashbacks to Alibaba’s childhood. I know it’s to cut costs but did we really need that many?
Next episode: Sinbad vs. Alibaba? It’s a rumble in the jungle (and by jungle I mean city) that’s not to be missed! Hopefully there’ll be lots more Mor, because let’s face it, her and Koko are my favorite ladies of the season.
Final Thought: I wish more characters where like Morgiana. How awesome would it be if every time two characters needed to sit down and have a good talk with each other, someone would magically appear, kidnap one of them, and then lock them in a room together until they had sorted it all out? It would be literally the best. THE. BEST.