Rushed and stripped to the bare bones, but the central core is still strong.
Much like my complaints from the last 4 episodes, my big issue here is a lack of screen time for everything outside the current battle. Whether it’s Al-Thamen’s manipulation of Magnostadt even after cutting ties, Mogamett’s Dark Djinn producer that eventually kills him, or suddenly doubling the amount of battle participants in half an episode, there’s a ton of background information that could really enhance the experience if it was properly foreshadowed. Sure seeing a grown-up Morgiana wipe out enemies with flaming kicks or witnessing the entire Sindria alliance in battle was awesome, but there’s an entire story behind how they got this far that we’ll never get to see.
Aside from the build-up though, how they handle the pay-off here is predictable and rushed. Time that could’ve been used to enhance the build-up is instead wasted on an overlong cycle of showing off everyone’s magical prowess or will to sacrifice themselves. I understand that this isn’t anything new to the shonen genre, and the combination of power parades and level of danger does lead to a climax that’s both large in scale and heavy in stakes. But by the time you reach 3 consecutive last stands, the fighting seems more like padding rather than a way to utilize tension or let emotions explode. There’s certainly a greater sense of teamwork here compared to the finale to Kill la Kill, but teamwork can only get you so far before it seems like wasted effort.
But what makes it all work is the central theme that’s held in Magi since the first season: its strong sense of heart. Whether it’s the desperate alliance between warring factions or the simple relationship between two dying souls, the focus of this story goes beyond the cliche of resolving everything with a punch. It’s not about the endless djinn equips used against dark djinns or combining extreme magics against Al-Thamen’s medium(even if they happen). It’s about finding a middle ground between Kou, Leam and Sindria when conflict immediately arises. It’s about reuniting the trio that was separated for years while reminding us of those who lost hope(Hakuryuu). It’s about Mogamett rekindling his trust for humans and rewarding Titus for sacrificing everything to get him this far. Few other shonen seem to highlight the soul above the fights, and I think the final scene with Titus reuniting with Marga after death signifies why I love this series.
While still far from perfect, I can proudly say that this season of Magi is a definite improvement over the first. The scale was grand, the twists were surprising, and no character missed their chance to take the spotlight. It does suffer from disproportionate screen time, and we’ll probably have to wait years until the truly epic clash is ever revealed. But considering how well the build-up has been thus far, it leaves me excited for more. Props to you A-1 Pictures. For once you’ve redeemed an adaptation while giving us more of what we wanted.