Once again, we bring you a guest review of Negima! Magister Negi Magi by the redoubtable Sean Gaffney! Yaaaaaay! (Say this last bit in a Kermit the Frog from the Muppet Show voice.) Sean’s review is quite timely, because as you know, I loathe Akamatsu’s work and didn’t feel like writing anything today. :-)
Let me take this opportunity to thank Sean, also, for having been one of the most AMAZING staffers we had at Onna!. He was a whirlwind, handling not only the panels, worksops and demos, but also stepping in to handle many of the Programming events, which freed me to do important things like tell people where to find paper and pens and interview for 80 minutes with people who quoted me for less than 20 words. LOL Sean, you have my eternal thanks. No foolin’.
The manga and anime Rurouni Kenshin is known for its Kyoto arc, which is generally considered to be lightyears ahead of the other arcs. Likewise, Negima really steps up with its own Kyoto arc, dropping most of the comedy for a Volume to focus on action and drama, as Negi and the others are under attack from their rivals.
The action is fairly well drawn, with little of the confusion that mars series like Trigun. We get a few more girls finding out Negi is a wizard, though Mana and Ku Fei don’t seem very surprised. Negi’s secret is still one of the worst kept ever.
Then there’s the Yuri. Aside from the ‘grasping at straws’ couples (“Look! Kaede is holding Yue in her arms after rescuing her! It must be love!”), there’s still just Konoka and Setsuna. Luckily, that’s more than enough.
Setsuna in this volume reveals her other big secret – she’s half demon, and has big wings. Setsuna is convinced this will make everyone loathe and fear her. But these aren’t bat-like wings, they’re big, fluffy bird wings – everyone notes they look cool. So Setsuna races off to save Konoka, who notes that they make Setsuna look like an angel. OK, self-worth crisis over, mostly.
(In the Negima anime, they kiss. But the Negima anime is awful in so many other ways that I can’t recommend it even to the staunchest yuri fan unless they just get one episode, watch the kiss, then delete it.)
In Volume 7, there’s less of a focus on the two. However, we see Konoka being told that with training, she could be a very powerful mage. She chooses to begin the training, and wants Setsuna as her partner.
This is the best part of the volume. Konoka relates to Negi that Setsuna says that girls shouldn’t kiss, but she wants Setsuna to be her partner, so is there another way to make a pact? It’s very clear from Setsuna’s denials that what she meant was that when the two of them kiss, it shouldn’t be just for a simple magical pact, but for something deeper. Her expressions are very cute.
One last thing to note on the yuri front is Kazumi, the sly newspaper girl, who is clearly amused at Setsuna’s blushing denials, and notes that ‘It’s just a kiss. Girls our age experiement with that stuff all the time’. Which again is a nice bone to throw to those seeking more yuri in the series than Konoka and Setsuna. OK, it’s a tiny fragment of a bone.
Negima continues to be far more interesting than it should be, considering the artist and all the shounen fanservice. And indeed the 10-year-old hero. Despite all that, it’s still a page-turner, and more and more characters are gaining depth as they get focused on.
Oh yes, and in the Translation Notes, Del Rey will tell you what a paipan is.
Erica here: Once again – thank Sean! (Insert wild applause, again in Muppet Show style)