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.
Heh, there’s more: