I haven’t done a review going into the Yuri in Negima in a long time. Mostly as there’s been almost nothing to say. The only Yuri couple with any subtext, Setsuna and Konoka, have remained pretty much at a stasis for about 20 volumes.
However, this new arc in the Magic World seems to be finally showing some character development. Tsukuyomi, the Evil Psychotic Lesbian of Negima (whose psychotic crush on Setsuna is shown even more blatantly, to the point of verging on attempted rape), notes that Setsuna is weaker now that she’s more ‘human’, and notes that she’ll never be able to protect her ojou-sama that way. (This will be in Volume 25, which should be released here in early 2010.)
We’re now 3 volumes later (i.e. what you’ll see at the END of 2010), and Setsuna is still worrying about this. This is unsurprising, as worry, self-hatred, and love for Konoka are Setsuna’s defining traits. She frets that her blade is now ‘dull’ because she’s grown close to Konoka, and is happily walking around town eating cotton candy with her. She fears that she is unable to protect her, even as she unconsciously cuts a huge boulder heading towards Konoka without even stepping out of her self-loathing monologue.
And thank God, Konoka, who has always been more observant than people give her credit for, breaks her out of this, having known all along (with a little push from Eva) what’s going on. She snaps Setsuna out of her funk, points out that true strength is the opposite of what she thinks, and asks Setsuna to be her partner forever. And then they Pactio kiss.
Which goes on, and on, and on, and it’s clear that it’s Konoka who’s making the kiss never ending. It only ends due to lack of breath. And now Setsuna has a new Konoka-powered Pactio card, with who knows what new powers.
Being as Negi is ten years old, this is the closest we get in the series to a real couple. And this scene is almost everything that the fans have been looking for – I found it rather startling, in fact, especially for a shounen fighting harem manga like Negima. Akamatsu has never shied away from Yuri feelings in some of his other manga series, but it’s always been subject to the ‘main pairing’. But, aside from mocking Setsuna’s admiration of Negi on occasion, these two have never even come remotely near having a male rival who might get between them. I now declare it canon.
Even if, yes, Konoka is still teasing Setsuna shamelessly. (Setsuna, after that kiss, can’t figure out if Konoka is that naive or that easygoing. It’s pretty clearly the latter.)
Oh yes, Negi and his friends are in this chapter too, and there’s a major plot revelation confirmed (by a villain, so don’t take bet money yet). But that’s sort of irrelevant to the Yuri awesomeness.
Art – 6. Overuse of the computer CG and far too much busy background, distract from the cute girls that are the only reason people read Akamatsu.
Story – 7. Interesting things are being dished out at a decent shonen rate. Not as well-paced as One Piece, but far better paced than Bleach.
Characters – 8. Likeable, flawed heroes, and Akamatsu has done pretty well at actually having Negi still act like a 10-year-old. I hope we’re nearing the end of Setsuna’s mega-angst.
Yuri – 7. Only the one couple (sorry, fans of Chisame/Chachamaru and other fanon pairs), but a very nice payoff.
Service – 9. (It’s Negima. They’re still getting their clothes blown off every 2-3 chapters.)
Overall – 7.5.
It’s hard to recommend Negima to newbies (the first 4 or so books are a bad intro to what it’s become), but for fans, it’s nice to see a reward for all that diligence.
Go KonoSetsu! –SG
And Go Sean! for letting us know that there is any payoff at all in this series. And thanks again for bringing your unique perspective to the readers of Okazu.