Kenta MiyakeKappei YamaguchiMisaki KunoAyumi Fujimura
Magi: Adventures of Sinbad
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2016: M
Also known as: Magi: Sinbad no Bouken
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2016
Director: Yoshikazu Miyao
Original creator: Shinobu Ohtaka, Yoshifumi Otera
Writer: Taku Kishimoto
Actor: Daisuke Ono, Takahiro Sakurai, Wataru Hatano, Ai Kayano, Akira Ishida, Ayumi Fujimura, Ayumi Tsunematsu, Hiroki Touchi, Kappei Yamaguchi, Katsuyuki Konishi, Keiji Fujiwara, Kenta Miyake, Kenyuu Horiuchi, Misaki Kuno, Soma Saito, Takehito Koyasu, Tomokazu Sugita, Yoko Hikasa, Yu Kobayashi, Yumi Touma
Keywords: Sinbad, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 13 episodes
Website category: Anime 2016
Review date: 23 November 2017
I'd heard good things about Magi. It's an anime franchise based on the Arabian Nights and other famous Middle Eastern fantasies. It had fifty episodes and two seasons in 2012-2014, starring Aladdin, Ali Baba, Sinbad, Scheherazade, djinn, magicians, etc. It's not a one-for-one mapping, though, so for instance they've included a fantasy equivalent of the Roman Empire (i.e. Reim) and possibly even Old Testament influences (characters called Solomon, Abraham, etc.). I'm guessing with the latter, though. The characters don't have the right skin colour, but there's some variation there and it's all a fantasy mish-mash anyway.
Adventures of Sinbad is a prequel series, about Sinbad before he became King of Sindria. I had all the Magi episodes lined up to watch after I'd finished this... but halfway through this show, I decided not to bother with Magi and deleted them. It's okay. There's nothing wrong with it. It's quite well made and I approve of the show's stated philosophy, but the target audience feels a bit young to me. I'm imagining ten-year-old boys. That kind of demographic. It'll sometimes do kiddie cartoon comedy, while all of its active heroes are male.
The show starts with Sinbad as a small boy and the son of a hero. By the end of ep.1, he's fourteen. He then goes off to conquer dungeons, win allies (both human and djinn) and... negotiate trade monopolies. Yes, that's right. If he's going to be king (which seems massively unlikely at this point), then he's going to have to master economics. Of course he's good at fighting too, but he doesn't actually like war. There's a war going on right now. He'd like to stop it. All that I loved. It feels fresh to have a shounen hero who's motivated by merchant trading. Episodes like ep.7 were a breath of fresh air after some fairly dull shounen battles in the earlier episodes. Step one: establish a trading company and travel the world! He visits lots of countries, recruiting travelling companions. There's Imuchak, populated by absolutely huge blue warriors. Sasan is basically a big religious cult that shuns the outside world. Artemyra is a land of sexy Amazons.
...and that's it, really. Heroes have adventures. It doesn't feel as if there's that much to discuss beyond that, although that's not to say that the show's bad at all. It's good, solid shounen adventure. Sinbad's fun and likeable, with beliefs, moral principles and interests that distinguish him both from most people in this pseudo-ancient world and from other shounen heroes. However he's also a goofball who's capable of being lazy, overly flirtatious and food-driven (e.g. ep.11). Occasionally being a bit pathetic is a funny character trait.
His name here is "Sindbad", by the way, not Sinbad. It's a legitimate Arabic variant.
The supporting cast is fine, although its use of female characters is telling. (The original manga's by a female author, incidentally, but there's no rule to say that creators can't write whatever genre they want.) The only female regular is Rurumu, a warrior from Imuchak, but her story role isn't to be a surrogate love interest. Instead, she's the audience's mum. She's Hinahoho's wife and she's absolutely gigantic, towering over even him. She becomes a loving-but-strict teacher to the smaller boys, gets pregnant, gives birth, gets pregnant again and gets almost no screen time.
Artemyra's sexy Amazons are the other half of the show's female representation. They can be amusing, with their hard-nosed queen showing no mercy to Sinbad and co. However the reversed gender roles in Artemyra mean that all of its men are: (a) house-husbands who just do housework all day, and (b) mincing camp homosexual stereotypes. Personally I found that a bit annoying. They don't have enough presence in the story to be anything but a throwaway gag, but unfortunately it's a gag that's inviting the audience to make regrettable associations.
I also wasn't wild about half of our heroes wanting to visit the red-light district, although in fairness that has a funny punchline.
It's a perfectly decent show, really. It's basically sound. I'm sure the parent show is good. It's just that there are some little things about it that suggest it's not for me. Mostly just niggles. Nothing too serious. I liked the unexpected subtlety of the merchant discussions in ep.7, but then the episode resolves everything a bit too easily. (Oh, and there's perhaps an implication that trade monopolies are bad in Reim when our heroes are on the wrong side of them, but good when our heroes negotiate them to their own benefit.) Wherever Sinbad goes, the important person is the monarch and they'll probably be introduced into the story while disguised as a normal person. There's less fighting than I'd expected, thankfully, but I got a bit bored by the battle scenes around ep.5 or so. I wasn't entirely convinced by ep.1 and had to watch another episode to talk myself into continuing with the rest of the series, but in the end that was how I felt about the show as a whole. My first impressions were about right. If you've watched one episode, you've probably got a good idea of what all the others are like.
That said, though, Sin(d)bad is quite cool and his adventures are reasonably fun. If you're ten years old and male, go for it.