This chapter reminded me of the good old days of Bleach, before Aizen got tiresome, back when he was still the enigmatic villain the exact nature of whose goals and interests were shrouded in mystery.
All you needed to know about Aizen back then was that he wasn’t completely evil, merely focused upon achieving his goal. A better example might be Fate/Zero, where the exact nature of every conflict chose to ignore the good vs. evil cliché, instead presenting an amoral cast driven by there own personal interests.
My point, Magi is doing everything right in presenting the perfect villain for the series’ heroes.
Judar and Hakuryuu embark upon the journey to kill Gyokuen.
So we are most definitely in the past; this has to be a flashback of sorts, showing us the events that took place while Aladdin and group partook in their summit; I guess it makes sense, showing us exactly what happened and how Hakuryuu gained the power the defeat his mother rather than allowing speculation to thrive.
I wrote a blog post a short while ago, giving my take on what it took to create a great villain; and I explained my disinterest in the complex villains of today, the excess of whiny child like antagonists with what had become cliché sad back stories, most of which where intended to attract sympathy to characters that were completely undeserving of pity.
Basically I lamented about the lack of true villains in the anime and manga, those bad guys that were truly bad, and who could truly pose a threat without the risk of them breaking down at the end of the arc; except that Magi, in these two chapters, showed that it is actually possible to create dark villains that are as sympathetic as they are threatening and engaging.
Hakuryuu and Judar combine two facets of the common villain, coming off as both tragic and sympathetic even while operating in a dark persona driven only by evil.
Having fallen into depravity, Hakuryuu falls into the category of villains that are more or less evil for the sake of being evil.
Because, with a mind driven by dark rukh, Hakuryuu is now acting on instinct, and will commit evil with no remorse or thought, no different from the typical mindlessly evil villain.
Except this is a path that Hakuryuu chose to follow, having counted the cost, realized what he would lose by falling into depravity and choosing to take the plunge.
And that is what makes Hakuryuu and Judar better than almost any other pair of villains in shonen; they are aware. They are not driven by an uncontrollable lust for blood or vengeance. There are no dark forces deceiving them into following their dark path, or at least there weren’t.
There is a cleverness in the manga’s choice of Djinn in this situation, with Belial allowing both young men an opportunity to fully scrutinize their souls, during which they saw the dark path before them, understood what it offered, admitted that the path of light indeed offered true hope and peace, and still chose to sink into the shadows of their dreams.
They will destroy the world not because they are misguided or unknowing; rather they understand the big picture, better than even Aladdin, and yet they choose to continue in their depravity. These are the sorts of villains I like, the type that are not likely to get talked off the ledge by the heroes when the final battle comes.
This isn’t bad per say, merely a less flattering consideration, at least with regards to Alibaba; as the primary protagonist of the series, Alibaba is quickly becoming irrelevant and obsolete, far too quick and willing to follow anyone that will promise to save his friends and his home rather than taking any actual definitive action.
And considering the fact that Hakuryuu ranked far below Alibaba as far as interesting characters go in the past, he has come a long way in the time it has taken Alibaba to shift alliances haphazardly.
But maybe that is simply great story telling on the mangaka’s part, showing Alibaba’s failures before finally allowing him to rise.
+RATING: 8/10, both of these chapters were great and provided some insight into the minds of Hakuryuu and Judar, especially the hate they carry and unwillingness to forgive Al-tharmen for the role the group played in creating their miserable lives.
It makes you wonder whether Judar spent so much time pursuing Sinbad because he was simply lonely and wished to share his depravity with someone; because now that he has his king vessel, he no longer shows any interest in Sinbad.
I can’t figure out how Aladdin and his group are going to figure into the coming conflict; as a dark king vessel, Hakuryuu’s only interest is still destroying Al-Tharmen and all they stand for. Which means that the big villains of the story are about to fight. Not a very bad thing for the rest of the world.