From Akamatsu Ken, the creator of Love, Hina, comes another romantic-comedy show, Negima! This story of a ten year old boy with secret magic powers who just happens to be teaching a class of eighth grade girls is a lot like Love, Hina. It's funny, sweet, and has just a touch of mystery to keep the story interesting. Fans of Ken's earlier work will surely want to give this series a look too.
Asuna Kagurazaka is a 14-year-old student at Mahora Academy, class 2-A, a private all-girls school in Japan. As the eighth grade is about to start, she really hopes that she'll be assigned to Mr. Takahata's homeroom class since she has a big crush on the hunky instructor. Unfortunately, she's not that lucky. Her homeroom teacher turns out to be not the teacher of her dreams but...a ten year old boy; Negi Springfield. Asuna naturally takes an instant dislike to the young prodigy teacher from Scotland. How dare he take the place of her heart-throb Takahata? Not only that, but all of the other girls think he's cute!
To add insult to injury, Negi doesn't have any place to live, and since Asuna and her roommate are sharing a dorm room built for three, he gets assigned to live with them by the dean of students. Things look like they can't get any worse when Asuna discovers Negi's secret: He's no ordinary teacher, he's actually a magician. As part of his training he's been assigned to teach at Mahora, but no one is to know that he has powers. If the students find out, he'll fail and never obtain his goal of becoming a Magister Magi.
In addition to teaching at Mahora and trying to earn the rank of Magister, Negi is also trying to locate his father who has been missing for a while. He also has other problems to deal with, such as the fact that one of his students, Evangeline, is some sort of vampire. She has teamed up with a robot posing as a student, Chachamaru, and the two of them really clean Negi's clock. The only way to defeat this villain is to take a partner himself, and Asuna is tapped to become his comrade in arms.
This is a good series, but an uneven one. It can't quite make up its mind on whether to be a harem-style comedy or a darker suspense-filled show. The two styles never really mesh, and each episode tends to fall into one camp or the other. The comic shows are pretty entertaining, though there's a bit too much fan service. While some of these episodes fail (such as the episode where Konoka and Negi go shopping and when the girls from 2-A see the pair together and assume that they are on A DATE!) they are generally fun.
The better episodes are the ones where Negi has to use his powers for real. The story with the vampire and the concluding plot line had a darker tone and were much more entertaining.
The main problem was that there were too many filler episodes or really stupid plot elements that made me roll my eyes. In one show Negi is informed that he'll be fired (and therefore unable to complete his training) if his class finishes last in the standardized tests. Things like that are just silly and make it hard to take the show seriously. Luckily the other episodes make up for the weaker ones and overall this is a fun series.
The 26 episodes of this series are presented on six DVDs which come in a fold out holder with a slipcase. These discs seem to be identical to the individual releases.
This disc comes with the original Japanese soundtrack and an English dub, both in stereo. There are also optional subtitles in English. I watched episodes in both languages and I really liked the Japanese audio much better. I found the English voice for Negi to be a bit irritating. Greg Ayres provides the voice for the young teacher and tries to make the character sound both Scottish and 10 years old. It doesn't really work. I've enjoyed Ayres work in other series such as Burst Angel, Detective Loki, and D.N.Angel, but this voice sounds a little silly.
Both audio tracks sounded fine with clear music and strong voices. There isn't a lot of separation between the two tracks, but some use is made of the front soundstage. Overall, the disc sounds good.
The full frame color video looked pretty good. The lines are tight, the blacks are firm, and the colors are solid. On the digital side things also looked good. Aliasing, something that usually plagues animation, is absent from this show. Blocking, cross coloration and other compression artifacts are also missing. A fine looking DVD.
There are a fair number of extras scattered across these six discs. There are character bios, a clean opening and closing, a blooper reel, and some liner notes about Japanese culture that were interesting. There are also three commentaries by the English dub cast. I really don't enjoy anime commentaries very much, since the voice actors don't have much insight into the show. These tracks were better than most. Some to the actresses talk about getting started in the business, some of the nuts and bolts of recording, and anime conventions. These were more interesting than the usual "oh, there's my character!" commentaries that seem to populate anime.
This was a fun though uneven series. There were too many filler
episodes and really lame jokes to rave about the show, the good episodes
are really good and worth wading through the rest to find. A fun
and entertaining series, this set comes recommended.