Blu-ray Review: Magi – The Labyrinth of Magic – Season 1 Part 1

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We take a trip to the desert to find out what KAZE’s release of Magi has to offer, but what did we think of the series and its unique approach to the Arabian Nights tale? Find out in our Blu-ray Review of Magi – The Labyrinth of Magic Season 1 Part 1.

Synopsis:

In a fantastic middle-age world where slavery is very common, there are mysterious tall towers named Dungeon which mysteriously appeared out of nowhere fourteen years before the story line. Someone who conquers a Dungeon becomes very powerful and wealthy.

Our hero Ali Baba is a teenager who works for merchants to support himself. He dreams for conquering a lot of Dungeons and becoming a very rich person. One day, he comes across with a strange young boy named Aladdin who carries a mystical flute with supernatural powers in it. Ali Baba and Aladdin agree to travel their first Dungeon together.

Our View:

Ever wondered what an anime take on the Arabian Nights tale would be like? No, me neither but that’s what the core elements of Magi – The Labyrinth of Magic has to offer and that’s before I mention the inclusion of magic, powerful deities, comical antics, darks storylines and invading nations. Magi seems to have it all and this is only the first half of season one.

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This first half of season one contains 13 episodes spread across two Blu-ray discs, with eight episodes on the first disc and the remaining five episodes on the second disc. These initial episodes introduce us to the main cast of characters, namely our protagonists Ali Baba, Aladdin and Morgiana and the struggle they face as they try to achieve their goals. Each protagonists has a different and unique story to tell, whether it be Ali Baba’s hopes of conquering a dungeon or Aladdin’s unique magical abilities – each one presents an entertaining story to tell, with each one getting a piece of the spotlight.

The storyline of Magi seems to shift to a new perspective every few episodes, for instance the first three episodes introduces the main cast and the harsh realities of the world, whereby wealth and power rule over the poor and weak, with humans sold off as slaves to the highest bidder. However later episodes tend to focus on a particular characters objective, such as Morgiana’s attempt at stopping slave traders operating within the area or Aladdin trying to form a peaceful relationship between two rival clans. These individual storylines may seem unrelated to the main story, but in fact they act as a build-up and give vital information surrounding the politics of the world.

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This main storyline, for this half of season 1 at least,  sees Ali Baba become the leader of a group of thieves in an attempt to overthrown the current king of Balbadd, Abhmad. Meanwhile Abhmad is preparing to form an alliance with the Ko Empire, an alliance that will turn all of Balbadd’s citizens into slaves if completed, however things get complicated when even the Ko Empire has a secret agenda up there sleeve, one that will see the entire country under their control. It’s now a race against time for Ali Baba, along with his new found friends Aladdin and Morgiana, to put a stop to this alliance but as the story evolves secrets of Ali Baba’s past come to light, secrets that will change the countries future.

Unusually this isn’t the only story taking place as the series has another story (in conjunction with the multiple storylines between nations and characters self-disovery) and that is the “battle to be king”. It’s explained that each Magi must choose a “kings candidate” by guiding their chosen person through a dungeon to acquire a magical item. Rumour has it that one of these candidates will become future king of the entire country and save the people from despair.

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It’s a topic that’s brought up quite often within this first half of the series, but since Aladdin has no prior knowledge of it he never engages in people this way, instead he helps his friends while trying to find out exactly who he is and what he is supposed to be doing. As you can see Magi may look charming and entertaining but it can be quite confusing with all of the evolving plotlines taking place at once.

Extras:

Following in the trend set by previous KAZE Releases the extras included on Magi – The Labyrinth of Magic Season 1 Part 1 are the bare minimum with only text less songs included on the disc menu; however dig deeper into the disc and you’ll find some additional bonus content.

magi_season_1_part_1_menu

What is interesting is that the textless opening included on the disc is from the first episode, an opening which is entirely different from the remaining episodes on the disc. It’s a bit puzzling why the ‘alternate’ opening wasn’t included unless this is being saved for the next instalment, but by then another opening will be used (as seen in Episode 13).

Text less songs are not the only extras included, as before you get to the menu two trailers for other KAZE releases are included, these are for Bakumen and Penguindrum . If you want some more content flip over to the French side (as French version is also included) and you can see a Japanese (but subtitled in French) trailer for Garden of Words along with another anime series.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50 x2
Region: B
Running Time: 3:14:16 (Disc 1), 2:01:35 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio:  LPCM 2.0 (English, French & Japanese)
Subtitles: English, French
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Magi – The Labyrinth of Magic Season 1 Part 1 may seem like an adventure series whereby three strangers become friends and search dungeons in hopes of finding treasure (that was my initial impression at least) but instead it’s a journey of self-discovery.  For instance other than his name Aladdin has no knowledge of himself or what being a “magi” actually means, Ali Baba on the other hand knows exactly who he is but attempts to hide it, finally Morgiana only knows the rules of slavery and finds it difficult to interact with other people, that is until she joins Aladdin and Ali Baba on their quest. Like I said before each character has a story to tell and something to overcome, each of which constantly develops throughout the series.

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Of course discovering each characters “true self” is only one part of this series puzzle as the different storylines showcase the harsh realities of the world of Magi as well as the impeding threat that lies for our characters. This first half of Magi – The Labyrinth of Magic has many things, so much so that you may find yourself being overwhelmed, and that’s not just from the varying storylines but the varying differences in action, comedy and emotion.  Some episodes focus on the storyline, while others focus on the emotional bonds of family and friendship, while other episodes tend to focus on intense magical battles – it’s a real mix and at times doesn’t flow naturally with the storyline.

It’s not just the storyline that I found a bit disappointing either as this Blu-ray release by KAZE has its own problems, namely the blu-ray menu. The menu has everything laid out at once, including audio options and extras, but more oddly is that episodes are listed in a scrolling pattern rather than KAZE’s usual list format. Another issue I encountered with the Blu-ray is that upon choosing an episode the audio will start in Japanese fade out and the fade back in to English automatically but this only occurred when English audio was chosen from menu, furthermore audio options can only be changed via the main menu / pop-menu (which nearly covers half of the screen) and cannot be changed via the audio options button on the Bu-ray players remote. It’s a similar story with the subtitles as these are locked to the Japanese audio track and can not be removed. In hind-sight it is a traditional KAZE release with restrictions and limited functionality, on the plus side the picture and audio quality are as you’d expect with chapter markers in their correct places, unlike Sword Art Online.

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Magi – The Labyrinth of Magic Season 1 Part 1 can be a marmite show, some will love it and some will loathe it, for me I can see its potential and I expect that it will get better in the next instalment. In regards to this Blu-ray you can class it as another “as expected” release by Kaze as everything (contents and quality-wise) is as you’d expect it to be. Of course the major positive is that we get a Blu-ray release as while I have doubts on the series storyline presentation the HD quality is what you’d expect it to be and is well worth owning on Blu-ray.

Score: review-stars-3

Magi – The Labyrinth of Magic Season 1 Part 1 will be available on Blu-ray and DVD from the 24th February 2014.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

5 Responses to Blu-ray Review: Magi – The Labyrinth of Magic – Season 1 Part 1

  1. Pingback: Manga UK To Host Magi: Labyrinth of Magic – Season 1 Part 1 Tweet-A-Long Next Week | AnimeBlurayUK

  2. Pingback: Anonymous

  3. Pingback: Manga UK Unboxes Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic – Season 1 Part 1 | AnimeBlurayUK

  4. nb says:

    Hello,

    Is this a genuine HD release or upscaled/upsampled bluray?
    Thank you in advance!

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