Magi Episode 9: A Prince’s Duty
“And as Prince, you carry a heavy responsibility, don’t you?” -Sinbad
Summary: Alibaba finishes the rest of his story, just as Kassim shows up to “rescue” him. Sinbad, Ja’far, and Masrur take it upon themselves to beat the Fog Troupe, and after taking out everyone including Alibaba, Sinbad proposes that they let him join the group, so that they have a fighting chance of changing the hopeless situation they find themselves in. Alibaba agrees, and he and Sinbad go to Ahbmad (the reigning King of Balbadd) in order for Alibaba to be recognized as a Prince and to beg that he do something to help the common people. But darker forces are at work, as Ahbmad turns Alibaba away and two dangerous characters reappear.
Impressions: NOooooooo, cliffhanger! Curses! Why’d it stop there? I wanted more, gosh darn it! This episode marks about the point that I’ve read up to in the manga, so unless I do some reading between now and next week (of which there is a 45% likelihood), I have no idea where the story is going from here. Next weeks episode looks like it’s going to be pretty intense, so maybe I won’t spoil it for myself by reading ahead. Decisions, decisions.
Alibaba wraps up his story this week. The old king did if fact die after seeing Kassim’s attack on the royal palace. Alibaba, out of guilt over what happens, runs away from the city and lives hand to mouth, working as a caravan driver and dreaming about conquering a dungeon. Until he meets Aladdin, of course. Just when things where starting to change for the better for him, the two of them are separated, and Alibaba goes back to Balbadd to see how his home is, and to try to confront his past. The city he sees when he arrives though is in far worse shape than he could ever have imagined. Destroyed houses, disease, and poverty have overtaken Balbadd, while the newly formed Fog Troupe tries to fight back by robbing the wealthy in order to give back to the people living in the slums. When Alibaba finds out that Kassim is the one running things, and hears first hand about exactly how bad things have gotten (Kassim’s sister Miriam died because they weren’t able to get a doctor to help her), Alibaba decides to join Kassim. Even though he was betrayed by him once, Alibaba still thinks of Kassim as his family, and seeing the desperate situation the city is in, recognizes that maybe by helping the Fog Troupe, he’ll be able to fight back against the Government, who are largely the reason that things have got as bad as they have.
The end of Alibaba’s back story throws more light not just on him, but also on Kassim. He’s probably one of the most morally grey characters so far, and raises some complex issues about what’s is right and what is wrong. Does it make it any better that he’s stealing, destroying, and probably killing in order to help some very desperate people? Should striking a blow at a corrupt government come at such a high prices? Both Alibaba and Kassim seem to be aware that the path they are on is not the most ideal one, but they are both at such a loss as to what an alternative course of action would be. Even if they could do something else, neither of them are powerful enough to do anything. And that’s at the heart of what Sinbad says after defeating not just Kassim and his magical sword, but also knocking out Alibaba and his djinn. If Alibaba embraces the part of himself that is a prince, that is different from the rest of the Fog Troupe (no matter how much he might deny it), he could try to take a different, more peaceful course, in order to negotiate with his half-brother to help save the city from itself. Of course, Sinbad has a second reason for offering not just to join the Fog Troupe, but also to support Alibaba’s claim to the throne. Sinbad mentions how abnormalities have started to occur all over the world; war, slavery, poverty, and other ill omens have become much more abundant and he wants to put a stop to it starting with what is happening in Balbadd.
In the end Alibaba agrees to accept Sinbad as a member of the Fog Troupe, and with the support of the people, goes to have an audience with his older half-brother, Ahbmad Saluja (or as I like to call him, He of the Giant Head.) But of course, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, which is exactly what happens after Alibaba makes his impassioned plea on behalf of the citizens and himself (he even admits to his own mistakes, which isn’t always an easy thing to do.) Ahbmad turns Alibaba down flat, and to rub salt into that wound, he tells him that he’s never even considered Alibaba his brother. Oh, burn! Ahbmad is just about to kick Alibaba out, when a familiar (covered) face appears. We last saw him in episode four or five, I believe? This time with a name (more of a title really), Banker is someone who looks like he’s up to no good even though we can’t see his face. I think it’s the fact that his face is covered, and he has a menacing looking staff. He’s the same guy who played a big role in raising and educating Jamil (and look at how he turned out…), and is often seen in the company of the other oh-so-obvioulsy bad, long-haired, midrif-barring, Judal (Hurray for finally revealing his name!)
Judal, if you couldn’t tell by his color palette, evil glaring eyes, the fact that he tried to collapse a dungeon on Aladdin and Alibaba, or the black little bird things that follow him that look like the inverse of the Rukh that follows Aladdin, is clearly a bad dude. He and Banker, last seen in the Kou Empire, are most likely the ones who are really pulling the strings behind the downfall of Balbadd. Ahbmad knows who Banker is, and I’m willing to guess that it has something to do with the contract that Ahbmad had from the Kou Empire last episode. Not only do we now have two new bad dudes in the mix, but Kassim is still out there. He might have been forced into excepting defeat at the hands of Sinbad, but I wonder if he’ll really just lay down and roll over so quietly. I get the impression that he’ll be making another appearance as well. Next weeks episode is shaping up for a real showdown!
Final Thought: I almost forgot about the fight scene this episode, which was pretty good. We got to see Ja’far in action again (he can be one scary dude.) Sinbad also fights, and in addition to being very good with a sword, his Magoi is also very powerful. He’s able to break the black fog from Kassim’s blade without much trouble. He’s not a dude you really want to mess with. But most importantly, we finally get to see Masrur throw down. And he’s pretty awesome (what can I say, I love me some strong and silent types.) Even Morgiana is impressed! I think it’s probably that first time that she’s seen another Fanalis fight, so she seems pretty star-struck by how fast and strong Masrur is.