Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Vol. 1 by Shinobu Ohtaka (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

August 5, 2013 by  


“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” is an entertaining, humorous manga series with fun characters and an enjoyable storyline.  A solid first volume and I look forward to reading vol. 2!

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Image courtesy of © 2009 Shinobu Ohtaka. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Vol. 1

STORY AND ART BY: Shinobu Ohtaka



RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE: August 13, 2013

Deep within the desert lie the mysterious Dungeons, vast stores of riches there for the taking by anyone lucky enough to find them and brave enough to venture into the depths from where few have ever returned. Plucky young adventurer Aladdin means to find the Dungeons and their riches, but Aladdin is just as mysterious as the treasures he seeks. Together with his friend, Ali Baba, and the genie, Ugo, Aladdin sets out to find his fortune in the depths of the endless dunes…

When it comes to opportunities of becoming a manga writer/artist (mangaka), Shinobu Ohtaka’s story.

She has written about her story of how she became a manga artist, as a person who was the person who would sit quietly in the corner of class and was not really great at anything and often playing a supporting role.  But if there was one thing that she was confident in, it was drawing pictures.

Her first year in high school, she was submitting manga manuscripts because it was her dream to become a manga author. And like many writers, her submissions were denied and this continued through high school and college.   And when she was about to call it quits, she was given the opportunity to do a one-shot and it led to the creation of the series “Sumomo Momomo” in 2004 which would eventually become 22 volume manga series and also a 22-episode anime series.

After completing “Sumomo Momomo”, Shinobu then created “Magi” which would be serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday in 2009 and to this day, the series is till ongoing (currently, at 17 volumes) and an anime adaptation which was aired in Japan in Oct. 2012 – March 2013 and a new second season set to air this fall.

But in August 2013, the manga series titled “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” will be released in the US courtesy of Viz Media.

“Magi” vol. 1 begins with a boy begging for water and food but the bandits that captured him want to strip the young boy of everything he has.  Immediately, massive arms is seen coming out and defeating all bandits.

While at the Oasis of Utan, the boy named Aladdin meets a merchant named Laylah and Sahsa, the daughter of a caravan leader.  He introduces them to his friend Ugo, which appears to be a flute.  When Aladdin blows into the flute, massive arms come out of the flute.  Ugo is a Djinn, spirits that appear in myth and not many people thought it was a real thing,  but we learn through a flashback that Aladdin was given three wishes in which he could have fortune, fame and eternal life.  But instead, he just wants one wish and that is for Ugo to be his friend.  And since then, the two have been together.

Aladdin has the ability to extra Ugo which is a massive body without a head.  As Aladdin goes on trips with various people, we learn that Aladdin must be well fed and have had a lot to drink in order to use Ugo, but also Ugo is shy if a girl touches him.

And in Aladdin’s adventure, he meets a boy named Alibaba.  Alibaba’s wish is to be rich and find treasure inside buildings that have shown up all over the  world.  And treasures with wonderful powers are the most valuable, the one that Alibaba seeks is the Djinn’s metal vessel.  But he sees using Aladdin as important in his plans as Aladdin’s use of Ugo can help protect them while they visit the dungeons to find treasure.  But he realizes that for Aladdin, his main thing that makes him happy is having a friendship.  For Alibaba, for now, he’ll play the role of being a friend in order to find treasure and obtain a Djinn metal vessel.

Hilarious, fun and a little naughty, Shinobu Ohtaka’s “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” has turned out to be a pretty enjoyable series.

The main protagonist Aladdin is rather interesting because he has an appearance of a little boy who possesses a flute that houses a headless giant named Ugo.  But there are quirks with Alibaba, for one, he’s often hungry and thirsty, which helps with activating Ugo.  He’s also somewhat of a pervert as he is often wanting to rub his head on a woman’s breast.

But most importantly, it’s his strong desire to find and have friends which makes him a bit naive when people pretend to be his friend but they have ulterior motives.

One of these friends that he does make is Alibaba, a boy who is in severe debt and people who owe debts, end up being slaves for a wealthy owner (most often a tyrant).  He desires wealth but most of all a Djinn, similar to Aladdin and hopes that with partnering with him, he can obtain treasure and a Djinn.

Also, adding interest to the overall storyline is the fact that everything takes place in the desert where bandits have ruled the land and many people have been killed or have become slaves.  The only way to survive is by being a merchant and as a merchant, you are constantly under the threat of your merchandise being stolen by bandits and being killed.  So, the storyline is set during a dangerous time where buildings have shown up all over the land and inside are treasures.  But for those who have tried, all have not come back from their search.

But with the power of Ugo, Alibaba is betting that having Aladdin on his side, their chances of finding treasure and a Djinn is great.

So far, the series seems to primarily focus on Aladdin and Alibaba but there are antagonists such as bandit, especially one wealthy slave owner named Jamil, lord of the Oasis of Qishan.  His goal is to catch the attention of the king of the land and he feels that his way of doing it is to conquer a dungeon and claim his own country.

Also, adding to the enjoyment of this manga series is mangaka Shinobu Ohtaka lending her story of how she became a manga artist but also a short manga story of her life as a mangaka and creating the stories for “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” and having her editor and Shogakukan check out her work.

Overall, “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” is an entertaining, humorous manga series with fun characters and an enjoyable storyline.  A solid first volume and I look forward to reading vol. 2!

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