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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Negima!? Re-imagined and Uncut, Part 1
Negima!? Re-imagined and Uncut, Part 1
FUNimation // Unrated // December 16, 2008
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted December 22, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
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The Show:

You know, I actually was a fan of the original Negima!. Apparently a lot of other people were too because the manga is still running, the first season was a success, and since then there have been other seasons along with some OVA. Now, that doesn't mean that Negima!? is a complete collection or even a direct sequel to the original. FUNimation's latest collection is actually the second season of the show which proved to be a reboot for the franchise. It's a little more faithful to the source manga material and the tone is definitely different. How does it stack up though?

When I sat down with the original series I found the sense of humor and concept to be quite refreshing. Sure it didn't really do anything new, it was loaded with fan service (this is a Ken Akamatsu series, lest you forget), and several parts weren't quite as developed as they could have been, but overall it was a lot of fun. Thankfully the reboot is just about as successful with roughly the same concept, more humor, better animation, and slightly less fan service than I remember. FUNimation has also taken to release the series as a part so if you were a fan of the original you can pick up the first thirteen episodes of Negima!? in a two disc set.

The concept working behind this version of Negima is more or less the same. The series centers on the adventures of young Negi who is a ten year old graduate from an academy of magic. He's been sent out into the real world to teach and has the unfortunate distinction of getting a class at Mahora Academy in Japan. Considering he's a little kid from England it's not surprising that he sticks out like a sore thumb, especially when you consider he's teaching an all-girls class. It makes him even more unique with regards to show, creates some light harem aspects, and gives him plenty of opportunity to interact with the students in hilarious fashion.

When the series starts up Negi is trying to get by with his new position, but he's being pursued by a vampire and that's just not very conducive to good education. Well, I say he's being pursued, but really it just involves a student named Evangeline who has some issues with Negi revolving around his father, the Thousand Master. Over the course of the first three episodes we uncover what Evangeline's beef is and also see Negi form a pact, which enables the receiver magical powers as well. Sealing the deal means they have to kiss Negi which becomes one of the show's running gags because it happens every time.

After this opening arc there are a bunch of random episodes which feature Negi forming pacts with more of the students. When this happens it gives Negi the ability to team up with them in battle and it's something that comes in handy when some evil fairies attack the school. Throw in some more pact forming, chupacabra nonsense, and random elements galore and the first thirteen episodes of Negima!? are wrapped up before you know it.

This is a fast moving series with a lot of flashy animation, fights, and jokes. It moves at a very brisk pace though the material gets somewhat repetitive after a while, not that the original Negima! didn't. Comparatively I'd say that this incarnation of the franchise shares about as much with the manga as the original, but it's just different in tone. This one feels slightly more innocent, the characters look younger, and the animation is all around better, but it's more style than substance.

Whether or not you appreciated the first series of Negima your reaction to this version will undoubtedly be more or less the same. The show itself is nothing special really, it doesn't break any molds and it doesn't push the envelope. Fortunately it does have enough personality and it is entertaining enough to stand on its own so in the end it's an easy recommendation. This may be a title you want to wait for a price drop on but it's still something that should wind up in your collection if you appreciate fantasy comedies.

The DVD:

Video:

Negima!? is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The show looks pretty good on DVD with some vibrant colors, great animation, and a relatively solid video transfer. I'm not going to beat around the bush; FUNimation packed too many episodes onto each disc (7 on the first, 6 on the second) which means higher than normal compression artifacts and video noise. It's not to the point that it's very distracting, but it is noticeable and more care could have been taken with regards to improving the compression rate. Despite this flaw the season as a whole looks good so far and it's visually pleasing though it's not going to knock your socks off.

Audio:

The audio presentation for Negima!? comes in the form of two 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo packages with English and Japanese languages as you'd expect. This is a dialogue driven show for the most part, but there are some elements of action here and there which could have used a greater sense of immersion. Overall the show doesn't feel lacking because of this, but it doesn't necessarily stand out either. Thankfully the presentation is otherwise solid with fine enough quality and dubs that are equally effective with what they attempt to do.

Extras:

As you'd expect there are some trailers and clean animations available for this release, but some other additional material is present as well. Included on the second disc are some liner notes regarding specific moments from the series where kanji appears on screen. It's interesting to learn what was written down, though I can't help but think this could have been implemented in through the subtitle track. An audio commentary is also provided for the twelfth episode. This track includes three of the voice actors from the English side of the show and it's basically your standard English commentary. The actors don't provide any real information about the show and rather they talk about themselves, their impressions of things, and what's happening on screen. It's entertaining enough because the commentators are energetic, but it's not a very meaty supplemental.

Final Thoughts:

Negima!? is a welcome addition to the franchise, though it's not quite as good as I was hoping it would be. I enjoyed the first series a lot and the second entertained me a little less than I was expecting it to. The jokes are funny, the concept is enjoyable, and the characters are every bit as charming as ever, but the different direction for the series doesn't always hit the high marks. If you liked the original Negima! then you'll definitely want to check this out and if you haven't it's still a solid enough comedy series. Consider it recommended.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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