Season 1 avoids a lot of the more irritating shonen tropes and has a good amount of complexity. The characters are all typically heroic, but even down into the supporting cast there aren't a lot of "stock" characters. Probably the stand out feature that really pushes the story in a unique direction is Aladdin's commitment to pacifism that is neither absolute nor dropped at the first pretext.
Season 1 is a solid 8/10.
Reviewing half a show:
I don't like to watch incomplete shows because I can't stand waiting. I don't like to review incomplete shows because I view an anime series as a single body of work, like a book. To offer a full review of Magi at episode 25 would be like reviewing Lord of the Rings halfway through Two Towers and couldn't possibly do justice to the work as a whole. Season 2 is confirmed for this fall, though, and looks to be in a good position to wrap up the story, so expect a full review this time next year.
In the meantime, if you are a normal person who can watch just one season at a time an not get frustrated, Magi is definitely a cut above your usual Shonen fare.
The expansive adventure of Magi is captured more maturely with the two Fullmetal Alchemists and less maturely (as in, targeted towards a younger demo) with Avatar: Last Airbender (and probably Legend of Korra, but I haven't seen that yet). Also, for some reason Pandora Hearts comes to mind as a more character focused show that might be of interest if you can get past (or appreciate) the more goth setting.
Assorted Extra Thoughts:
- I am an economist by training, so the fact that the middle portion of the show was essentially a leftist coup explicitly underpinned by neo-reactionary mercantilism was very interesting. For those without such a background, know that our storytellers don't quite understand why inflation, paper money, and fiat money are problems. They certainly do have drawbacks, and inflation is one of them as is benefits to the politically connected at the expense of the rest of the nation, but the proposed mechanisms by which they damage the economy are very confused. And it is implied in parts that part of the Kou domination of Balbadd is the coerced entry into a free trade regimen, prohibiting sovereign control which usually consists of nothing more exotic than the imposition of tariffs and regulations which for all the damage this may do to the state should enliven, not enervate, the docks. Of course this is accompanied by a regime of sanctions, so all together we have a realistically nonsensical muddle of economic policies. Go watch Spice and Wolf for an example of how to do these things right.
- Most of the animation is high quality, but those teeth are just so weird and bothersome. I don't know if this is how they are always drawn and I am just now noticing, but something about them was just distracting.
- Here is a show that demonstrates how to have attractive female characters without crass fanservice. Ten points to Aniplex.