Negi Springfield is sent to an all-girl's school in Japan to be a teacher. While he's there, he has to keep his magic status a secret, naturally, which isn't very easy when the school and the students are beset with fairies that send them plunging to an alternate dimension to do battle.
Back when I had finished the first version of the Negima anime, I heard some rumors about a new Negima show with vastly improved art and animation. Naturally, I was interested, but also wary. There was little else in the way of information to be had, so I was concerned about whether the levels of fanservice in the manga would make a return, or how this show would turn out altogether.
I'll say this, though; It's a pretty show, that's for sure. I'm just not sure this is Negima anymore.
No, I'm not talking about just the completely new storyline that has little to nothing to do with the original anime OR the manga. The issues I had with the show is mostly centered around how it plays out and the changes that were made to the core of Negima itself. I mean... at least the original TV show were fairly accurate, kiddified or not.
But it sure is pretty, though. Neatly animated for the most part, and a good deal more colorful than the original, it was what I would have liked seeing in said original. The odd editing and directing made me wonder, though. It's actually directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, who also directed the atmospheric and strange Moon Phase, and I'm not entirely sure his style fits this show very well.
I was happy to note that fanservice seemed to be just as absent here as in the original anime. A relief, considering the age of most of the female cast in the show. There's nary a pantyshot or anything like that to be had, much less any nudity. Of course, there is the ermine, Camomile Albert, who looks like... uh....
...you know what? That's probably just a coincidence. They didn't do that on purpose, I'm sure. Yeah, I'll have you know that Chamo-kun is one fine upstanding animal, and... I just created another euphemism for penis, didn't I?
Anyway, the... ah, backgrounds and settings also really catches the eye, though, again, that's probably because of the odd direction, which seems to suit a horror movie/series better. Still, it's a very energetic show, and all things considered, clever with the visuals for the most part.
NOT ON PURPOSE, DAMMIT! IT'S JUST A COINCIDENCE, OK?!
Ok, I admit it. I'm just trying to get you people in a good mood, because it's time to talk about Negima's flaws, to which there are many.
The main problem with Negima is definitely the pacing. For those of you who've read the manga, you might recognize the Evangeline arch, which gets fast-forwarded through in the first three episodes, with some completely unrelated material added. Also, for some bizarre reason, they changed the entire concept with the pactio, which I shall go more into later. Anyway, once the Eva arc is done, the viewers are thrown right into a whirling editing maelstrom which is the story about the fairies that creates problems for the school and a good number of the students in Negi's class. Compared to the manga -- and even the original anime, for that matter -- the following part comes off as more choppy and jumpy than anything else. This anime also seems to assume that you have already read part of the manga and are familiar with the various characters, which is bad enough. Sadly, having read the manga just makes it worse due to some of the changes made to the main characters, and the addition of some.
For some unexplainable reason, they've chosen to turn Asuna into a complete idiot. Instead of being reliable, down to earth and smart, she's now spazzy, easily distracted and seems to have gained an obsession with a creature called Chupacabra. Seriously, nearly every single freaking episode has at least some part dedicated to the discovery and hunt for this.... odd creature, which has nothing at all to do with the main story. And for what? The occational moment of comedy relief, from which this anime isn't really lacking in the first place.
Now, the pactio kisses... you remember those, right? Kiss Negi, and each girl obtains a special power that somehow fits the personality of the character in question. I.E. Asuna becomes a knight of sorts, while Nodoka gains librarian powers. And instead of having a physical card in their possession, Negi now pulls said card out of their stomachs. (In a non-gory, very magical way, of course.) The dumb part, sadly, is that the creators of the show has seen fit to add a certain chance element to it. There's now a useless card that transforms the girl into some animal, or even "rare cards", which gives them EXTRA special powers. I can almost smell the licensing opportunities here.
Take these ingredients and mix them well, and you have Negima!?, a rather chaotic, oddly paced and oddly edited show. Much like the first Negima show, it's not a total and utter disaster -- in fact, like the first show, they did a good job on the episode that starred the ghost girl, Saya, among other things. Unfortunately, the main story is a mess, and each episode contains so many weird ending side stories that are either partially or completely unrelated to the main story. (Gotta include the Baka Rangers somehow.) Those would have fit much better as a side story or extra material as a standalone episode or something, because they really break the flow of the story if you watch episodes back to back.
It's a bit aggravating, you know. Another attempt at animating Negima, and this is what we get. I guess we should be grateful that the show isn't as creepy as the "Haru" special, if nothing else. And... uh...
Haha, ok. I'll stop now.
Another miss, sadly. May we can hope on a 'third time's the charm' scenario? — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: Pactio kisses and phallic animals shouldn't really be a problem. The original Negima show was rated 15+, probably because of discussion about boobs and whatnot. And since there's little of that here, well....
Version(s) Viewed: Pre-license digital source
Review Status: Partial (15/26)
Negima!? © 2006 SHAFT, TV Tokyo
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