As for Magi, I at one point in time really thought it was the best shounen I've ever read, period. I too, love the geopolitics and willingness to tackle the complex issues of a world. It's just to me the series somehow hasn't managed to grab me after the (Spoilered for those who haven't read):
The best part was definitely David. I still think the scene of all the present day characters reflected in his eyes while he holds one hand up like a monocle was perhaps the best choreographed scene in recent memory (at least for what it is, not having any action or glittery explosions). Problem was, I actually feel that arc was too short. I'd have loved to get a bigger feel for Alma Torran than we got. To feel for the people who would one day become Al Thamen. The two members who lost their son and ultimately were driven to call down the Black Dot. They had a passably good enough backstory, but there could've been more. The story as it was was good, but suffered from being neither short enough for the flashback haters and not long enough for historian minded me, and those like me. (Assuming that mystical group of others exist outside my head. )
In short, I think the Alma Toran story should have been approached as more a full-fledged stand-alone piece within the manga itself, despite me knowing very well that is just wishful thinking on my part, and one not held by most. So much happens and isn't fully expounded upon, like when they created the Metal Vessel technology. It's all there, the explanations, but they're not given the focus I truly wished for. Instead we get Arba and Sheba and the attempt at red hearings to confuse readers as to who Gyoukuen was in the past.
(Phew, you know what, I almost recall trying to make a Magi thread waaaaaay back when Silver August was on here discussing it. My posts are getting long enough to warrant creating one, me thinks.)
Balbadd, well, I guess if you didn't buy into the friendship with Cassim, it makes sense that you didn't find it to your liking. It's not most people's cup of tea. Though the fights were great and well-drawn. But this is how I looked at it: it was a deeper question about what it means to be a leader, about the different paths some people might take to it, along with the internal struggle Alibaba held inside about what he wanted out of it all. Not to mention the whole ordeal with the king of Balbadd being... what he was. I admit, it WAS a slow burner, and I hated it up until around the time Alibaba readied to take action. Yet in retrospect I found it a great arc, flaws aside. I still think the finale outweighs the negatives. And I'm biased, since that scene with Cassim saying "Everyone has the qualification to be King!" still gives me shivers. Ahem...
And Magnoshadt was awesome. I loved every bit of it. The fear of something dreadful happening, the secrets, the too-good-to-be-true Megomett. It all could have culminated into... ok it DID culminate into an EPIC finish. It could have passed for the ending of the series and still managed to be good enough. The fact that it wasn't gives me hope for a great ending to Magi, still. It's just I feel almost like Magi is suffering from One Piece's issue of burnout. Not from formulism, but from giving us its best and now having to try and outshine itself. It's trying, but there's just... so... much.
You know, I think the secret with Magi is that it's so different from regular weekly shounen that me reading it week by week blinds me to some of the merits that were apparent to me when marathoning it several years ago. Perhaps a reread would be good for me.