Mahou Sensei Negima

By bluemist on June 30th, 2005

Mahou Sensei Negima!

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I first heard about Mahou Sensei Negima because of my Love Hina hype back in my early anime days. Back then, Love Hina was one of my favorites, and so having this Ken Akamatsu guy doing another new manga serialization is quite a treat.

31 girls? Whoa! 31 girls! When I heard about Negima having 31 girls, I was thinking the guy is really crazy. I mean, are 7+ girls, Love Hina-style not enough? Furthermore, in the midst of the Harry Potter movie craze, main character Negi is being hyped as a HP-ish magician, hmm… a shounen series eh? And so, put extreme harem and shounen together, I didn’t think it was going to be good at all. I forcefully read the first chapter, and I was not impressed at first. Anyway since it was a new serialization at that time, I figure I skip this first, and get back to it when more volumes or chapters are available.

I ate my words that time. Upon announcement of the anime, I went back to reading the manga… and I was so hooked! I went totally ballistic, it is a great manga series! Words can’t express the happiness I had at that time, eating 50+ chapters (up to the Kyoto arc) all in one go, collecting wallpapers, music, etc. I expected the anime to be the main dish. Watching the two initial introduction videos, I was literally stunned! Familiar seiyuu, masterful animation, and staying true to its manga roots, I was thinking Negima anime is bound to be a success, maybe more so than the huge (but in the end crappy) anime that was Love Hina.

Alas, a disappointment.

The TV series was shrouded in horrible stock market animation levels. One episode may not look like another, and inconsistent character art annoyed me to the core. Moreover, the colors of their hair, it’s like basic and neon. I was asking “WHY” all over the internet. Why did XEBEC, the same company who did the excellent introduction videos, change the look of the TV anime? Why is each episode radically different from others? Why did they arrange and mix up events from the manga?

On the flip side however, the strength of the manga content still shines through. I anticipate watching the latest Negima episode every week, more so than similar current anime series. As I said, the Negima manga RULES, and even though the fanservice is toned to nothingness, the rest of the story and events stayed true. My hopes of having better animation came to fruition little by little, as the latter half of the series had some great animation moments, and the upcoming DVD releases will feature remastered versions of the horrible episodes.

The latter half, however (again), became ridiculed with speculation. Fillers, and extreme story rearrangements are abound, but nevertheless it is still as good as it gets. One highlight is the ghost girl Sayo episode, one of the best episodes in the anime. But, here we go to the Kyoto arc, a massive 20+ chapter spectacle in the manga, now reduced to 2 episodes. How about that? From an outsider viewpoint (someone who hasn’t read the Kyoto arc), it was an excellent, action-packed 2 episodes. For fans, it is a disservice.

The alternative story leading to the anime’s ending is a given, knowing that the manga still isn’t finished. While it is quite a SHOCKER, it isn’t too strong to make a good conclusion. Seeing that, I guess the varying animation quality levels, coupled with multiple staff changes including staff and directors really hurt the entire series’ coherence. It’s a shame really, considering that the rest of the Negima franchise is doing so well. I was astounded at the huge number of singles and drama cds related to Negima, and even some of them sell well enough to rank in the Oricon music sales charts. I guess the PS2 and GBA games are doing well too, but I haven’t played them too much because I can’t understand the gameplay. The PS2 game was quite nice though. I should mention all the great seiyuu devoting time and effort for all their voice work in those multiple mediums. And of course, the manga has a huge following because of its awesome quality, both in drawing and story. Ken Akamatsu is quite smart.

Anyway, I can talk legions more text specifying all the different emotions that this series (manga, anime, music, games) had brought to me, but I have to stop at some point. (I thank myself by the way for not reacting on EACH of the 31 girls) In any case, Mahou Sensei Negima the anime is still a worthy watch, despite the flaws. But be sure to check out the manga too. Besides, where else can you get more than 31 beautiful girls, and a great shounen-style story progression, all in one package? Look no further.

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D.C. ~Da Capo~

By bluemist on June 29th, 2005

D.C. ~Da Capo~

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Back in its time, Da Capo was one of those animes that probably instigated the new wave, a sudden outburst of the popularity of bishoujo games being converted into anime. The game was made by a company named Circus, and I can only imagine how big the Da Capo franchise is to them. With already 7 games (maybe more) composed of rehashes, fandisks, after stories and console versions, Da Capo is huge on the games front. Not to mention all those singles, drama cds, and manga serializations. Da Capo is as big as any Dengeki G's series such as Futakoi.

The anime is equally big. This is the very first bishoujo game based anime series that ever had a full season run of 26 episodes. And with 26 more on the way on its second season this summer 2005, it will very well be the biggest bishoujo game based anime franchise in history. Well that’s saying much, but how does it fair really?

Da Capo is not too bad, but it had its share of little faults here and there. For the first 7 episodes, the main episode is actually short in length, in favor of having a music video of a girl’s seiyuu after each episode. Those music videos were average, some horrible, but nonetheless a part of the Da Capo fandom. I have no complaints here, some seiyuu were popular and cute anyway. Many other episodes have a side story part focusing on a character or number of characters, which eats up the main episode’s time as well. While some of those side stories are interesting, others are just annoying. The recurrent figure in these side stories is a certain mysterious cat guy, but it never adds any coherence to the side stories nor does it add up to the main Da Capo story at all. Furthermore, there are two recap episodes in this anime. So much for 26 episodes you think?

Well, the latter half is where this series shines. The tone slowly changes from filler-comedy to pure classic drama involving the magic of the sakura tree. The characters in Da Capo actually live in a town where a mysterious power exists within the cherry blossoms. Because of this, our characters actually have some sort of magical affinity as a result. For example, one of the girls can actually read people’s minds, while another girl is actually a cat transformed in human form. These unique but weird traits haunt them somehow throughout this series, and is where the dramatic parts explode into. I tell you, the drama here is powerful, and that is definitely a treat.

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And my favorite girl? Mako! She rocks!

Of course, getting the good stuff like this requires you to go through 15 or so episodes of comedic and mindless filler, but the result will not leave you disappointed. Try out Da Capo. You may be disappointed with some parts, but in general I hope you will like it eventually. Besides, the second season is up for you to anticipate as well.

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This is a Summer of Bishoujo feature

Comic Party Revolution

By bluemist on June 28th, 2005

Comic Party Revolution

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After To Heart, bishoujo game company Leaf/Aquaplus made Comic Party. It was a moderate success, and for good reason. It is about a generally positive outlook on the realities of Japanese otaku culture, through a bishoujo game, and the main focus of course is doujinshi.

As some of you know, doujinshi is basically “fan comics” made by fans for fans. They are usually of the ero nature, and is visibly seen whenever there are anime and comic conventions. They also usually parody or purposely base their material on existing popular anime, manga, or game series. The Comic Party game and anime series highlights a group of individuals who are into these kinds of stuff, as well as give a viewpoint on how outsiders think about them.

The first Comic Party anime was a simple story about this guy named Kazuki and his entry into the world of doujinshi. Part of it is because he likes drawing, the other part is because of his friend Taishi’s plans for world domination. The bishoujos of the game are featured somehow, but the anime is mostly Kazuki’s viewpoint and story. Dunno if this had gone well with Comic Party fans, although I liked it quite a bit.

Now, can you believe that Comic Party Revolution was originally a 2-episode OVA? For some reason (maybe sales went well, or maybe fans crave for more), Comic Party Revolution had gone extended to 3 episodes… and then 4… and then now an entire 13-episode TV series run! Isn’t that amazing? Whether fan approval or sales made Aquaplus deliver a half-season worth of Comic Party, it’s all good for me! Why?

First, the animation is great! All the girls look beautiful and are consistently animated. Very, very unlike the horrible variety of To Heart ~Forget my Memories~. Also, because of its doujinshi nature, there are bound to be parodies and spoofs right? Comic Party Revolution has LOTS of them! Everything from basic doujinshi and cosplaying to even entire episodes devoted to parodying numerous anime, manga, games, and other Japanese culture stuff! Wanna see a Cardcaptor Sakura parody? Wanna see To Heart 2′s Konomi Yuzuhara before the anime comes? How about an entire episode dedicated to baseball and tennis TV parodies? Want a direct reference to Gundam SEED again? Or maybe delve into action and horror? Everything gets mixed up! What’s more, each character gets her own time to shine! There are entire sequences or episodes dedicated to an specific character, so fans of each girl would definitely be delighted. Comic Party Revolution may not be too story based as opposed to the first series, but it’s definitely a “very entertaining show”. That’s what matters most.

This anime has one of the most stylish opening sequences I have seen from this genre. Also, the OP/ED songs are so great I have been anticipating them since over two years ago! (it only did get released during the 2005 TV series). The music may be forgettable but it complements each scene just right.

If you crave for a funnier, more colorful and slightly more positive version of Genshiken, Comic Party Revolution is the anime for you. Don’t forget to get the original Comic Party anime too, and try to play the game if you can. I can say that this is my personal favorite out of all the current series ending this season. Everything in this series has gone just right, I’m really, really satisfied with what Aquaplus has done this time (a better To Heart and more Comic Party please!!!). Oh, did I see a “To Be Continued?” sign at the end? I HOPE SO! I hope you watch and enjoy it, too.

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This is a Summer of Bishoujo feature

Cardmaster Peach vs. Princess of Tennis

By bluemist on June 28th, 2005

Taken from Comic Party Revolution 13:

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Who would have predicted this at all? This is Mizuki vs. Mizuki! Only in Comic Party Revolution!

Mahoraba ~Heartful Days~

By bluemist on June 27th, 2005

Mahoraba ~Heartful Days~

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Great characters and even greater supporting characters grace this beautifully animated, well paced, and funny series involving a group of people in the Narutaki apartments.

Nope, don’t mistake it for another of those apartment harem shows where the guy gets to hit on all his neighbor girls. Don’t mistake it either for that similarly named average anime of 2003 called Maburaho. Mahoraba is, simply put, nice. You got a slice-of-life comedy starring our usual dorky male lead (but with a bit of backbone at least) named Shiratori. He’s moving to an apartment near the city because he’s taking his art class there. And so he goes to Narutaki-sou, a seemingly classic provincial inn, very different from the rest of the concrete metro jungle. The inn itself is like a self-contained park, with lush greens and nice atmosphere.

While it seems like heaven to live in, the people who live there make Shiratori’s everydays a living hell. A megane drunkard, a camera touting freak, an incompetent mother and hardworking daughter, and an old puppeteer round up the rowdy comedic crew. They give Shiratori trouble in many ways, including the seemingly routine beer and slumber party every night. The only saving grace is Narutaki’s apartment manager, Kozue, the main girl in this series. She’s kind, sweet, and extremely cute. Kozue-chan has some addiction to umeboshi (pickled plum) as well. Shiratori and Kozue serve as the main pair of the series. Unfortunately, Shiratori still has trouble, because Kozue-chan has some sort of multiple personality sickness! Everytime she gets surprised, he transforms into either one of 4 alternate personalities. A rowdy punk gal, a cute kid, a cosplay addict, and a quiet magician. After some time though, she transforms back to normal kind Kozue-chan. Aside from the already excellent main cast, the supporting cast shines. They are as interesting as the main ones, and maybe even more, if only they had adequate screentime. One particular character, a voodoo freak girl, gives me a laugh every time, especially when she does the “curse me more” bits.

The animation is perfect for its theme, and the music is great too. The pace is really slice-of-life, with the necessary comedic parts and some occassional drama. The story is rather coherent, although some may want more when it comes to the ending (but don’t we all). The anime producers did some of its creative freedom especially near the end, because its original manga series is ongoing, but it never feels forced. All in all Mahoraba is a very recommended watch if you want some kind of warm, fuzzy, and funny heartful days feeling in your anime.

Negima sakuga tracker: DVD comparison

By bluemist on June 23rd, 2005

I found comparisons of the original broadcast Negima episodes with the supposedly remastered DVD version.

It is said that the animation company has re-edited some entire episodes of the TV series in the transition to DVD, because as we all know, Negima’s animation quality is like a stock market. Featured here are some links that show side-by-side screencaps of the first few episodes.

http://anime.thenexxus.org/blog/archives/2005/07/negima_dvd_impr.html
http://anime.thenexxus.org/blog/archives/2005/07/negima_dvd_2_im.html
http://www.prototype-blue.com/log2005_06.html
http://www.ne.jp/asahi/kinu/tategamiya/NegiDVD.htm

Seeing these comparisons, I could say that they have really changed a LOT of scenes, and this is entirely great news for me! The girls look a lot more beautiful in these DVD episodes as compared to the original broadcast versions.

I actually watched the DVD versions of episodes 1 through 4, and I can say that not only the girls look better, but the colors (especially their hair colors) are much richer now. Fans will like this, although I wouldn’t know if people would rewatch the series just because of this.

The Asuna and Yue sakuga trackers are updated with some DVD versions, so check them out.