Magi is a rather large anime fantasy series , having two separate anime series , a set of OVA’s and being based on an award winning manga, there was a lot of buzz for Magi : Sinbad no Bouken. The initial two series , Magi : The labyrinth of Magic is a shonen manga that started being serialized in 2013 in the magazine Shonen jump. In 2013 it received the Shogakukan manga award which it shares with , 20th century boys, Bleach and Haikyuu. The series earned its first anime adaptation called simply , “ Magi : The Labyrinth of Magic in 2013 and the next year was followed up by the second season , Magi :The Kingdom of Magic.
The Magi : Sinbad series , so to call it , is a prequel story following the early years of one of the most powerful characters in the series ,Sinbad. The series also has a manga series and a completed OVA series that aired 2015.
Now full disclosure I have never seen an episode of Magi before watching this show , however from what I could find on the internet Sinbad no Bouken works rather well as a stand-alone experience without any prior knowledge. Having watched it now , I’m inclined to agree.
Sinbad no Bouken is made by studio Lay-duce , who were in charge of the Sinbad OVA series but not the original Magi series. In fact it’s a very small studio with only 6 anime under their belts.
“Not so long ago, mysterious structures called dungeons began appearing all over the world. No one knows what they are or how they came to be, but adventurers and armies around the world instantly took interest in them. Thousands set out to explore the dungeons, but so far, not a single person has returned.
In a Parthevia port, a young boy is about to make a name for himself. Sinbad is good-natured, strong, and craving adventure. A kind deed leads to his meeting with Yunan, an enigmatic traveler who is far more powerful than his frivolous personality lets on. Yunan instructs Sinbad to attain the "power of the king" and change the world—by conquering a dungeon. The eager boy readily accepts, setting out on the grand adventure he so craved.
Taking place 15 years before the events of the original series, Sinbad no Bouken chronicles Sinbad's youth as a dungeon conqueror. Along the way, the budding adventurer and merchant will have to face many obstacles, but anything is possible with the power of a king.”
The series follows all the events in Sinbad's life that shaped him before the Magi series. It’s a very character driven story set in a enjoyable world , filled with adventure and magic. The stories balances the adventure and action rather well. I will note that the moral stances the show takes are pushed very far into the viewer's throat. Do we really have to be told how bad the war is , every episode ?
Same with the emotional moments , though I assume if you’re already acquainted with the characters you’ll feel the effects more. Despite having a lot of material to cover the pacing is handled rather well.
The world despite being a fantasy world feels quite realistic and has nothing too outlandish in it. The loose historical setting fits the original arabian story of Sinbad.
Visually it’s very pleasing , not because the art style is anything too amazing but the aesthetic of the world is very colorful and romanticized , dripping in adventure.
The landscapes are diverse and always have seem enormously sprawling, which is quite a key component where our main characters drive is to explore.
Historically the buildings and markets add up and it’s an interesting part of the world since most fantasy anime these days take place either in feudal Japan or medieval Europe.
The armour, weapons and costume designs are fairly grounded in reality , the violence is quite brutal , which can be jarring given the overall atmosphere of the show but depending on your view that’s can either be a pro or a con.
The combat is pretty campy , characters jump 50 feet in the air and bounce off the walls. It’s still enjoyable though has a great sense of speed and movement. The shots are mostly open and just allow you to just enjoy the action. In the more emotionally charged the choreography paired with the more elaborate direction are always intense and usually far more gritty than the regular action.
Since this entire series is based on a character so awesome ( I have to assume ) that the creators felt he deserved his own series, it’s not really unexpected the characters are great. Sinbad has a lot of depth and seeing him grow you understand why he acts like he does and the people who help mould his world views.
The side-characters are , in general , far weaker. The bad-guys are evil with no redeeming factors and the good-guys can do no wrong. I can understand why his father is such a pinnacle of perfection , especially since that part of the story is told from the view-point of a young child. Still there was definitely a lot of room for further development , the first episode gives us a very well-built up confrontation and a satisfying combat scene but still I felt disappointed as the show had a great chance to give the bad guy some real depth but chose to steal his chance of gaining a little humanity.
If you liked the original Magi series , then I think this should have given you a brief overview of the general quality of the show , which is that it’s pretty damn great. If you’ve , like me , never heard of Magi before then I think even though Sinbad is good show and carries a great sense of adventure akin to One Piece , you can safely put it on the back of your priorities list.
I think a second season is quite guaranteed looking at the series past successes and the speed at which the original anime got a sequel.