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DVD Review

DVD cover

Series 2 - Part 1


Starring (voice): Akemi Kanda, Rina Satou, Ai Nonaka and Akeno Watanabe
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 13 July 2009

Negima Springfield is a young welsh wizard who is sent off to teach in an exclusive Japanese, all girl, school. As the son of a Nagi, the powerful mage of a thousand spells, Negima has power of his own, but he has also inherited his father enemies. When he starts at the school he runs into a powerful vampire whom his father had restricted to the school for all of time...

Negima!?: Series 2 - Part 1 (2006) is a comedy/magic show from director Akiyuki Shinbo, it was accompanied with a new manga series written by Takuya Fujima called Negima!? Neo. If you’re wondering what happened to season one, well there wasn’t one as such, as Negima!? is a retelling of the original Negima, so it has the same characters but told in a different way. The first show with its fan service was aimed directly at young males, the new series concentrated much more on the magic and comedy side of the story. The first thirteen episodes are presented as a two disc DVD.

I thought Naruto was guilty of producing ridiculously long episode titles, then I started to watch Negima!?. Disc one hold the first seven episodes. Episodes one to three introduce us to our characters and situation - What? 31 students right off the bat!, No way! That's what you do for a probationary contract and Oh-ho, so that's how a probationary contract card is used - at the close of each episode is a short reimagining the girls as Power Rangers, short but funny.

So the first three episodes introduce us to Negi. Aged ten he looks a lot like Harry Potter, with small round glasses and a wand come wizard’s staff. He starts by teaching year 2A, which contains around thirty characters, so don’t worry if you get a bit lost here, I did. One of the most important characters is Asuna (the girl who first discovers that Negi is more that he appears to be, by the end of the third episode, while they are battling for their lives she agrees to become his apprentice). They are aided and abetted by Chamo, a small creature who acts as Negi’s familiar. The battle is against Chachmura the android companion to Evangeline, a vampire, who Negi’s father has locked in the school. By day she looks just like any of the other girls, but at night she uses her magic to turn herself into a full grown and dangerous woman. The only way to break her confinement is to drink Negi’s blood.

The first three episodes, as well as setting up the characters, introduce us to their various moral stances. Negi is odd in the fact that, given the premise of the show, you would expect him to see Evangeline as a threat, but Negi actually feels that her imprisonment was a cruel act by his father and voluntarily offers to give her some of his blood in trade for a promise that once free she would not hurt others. Evangeline is as short sighted as she is proud and rebuffs his offer, preferring to fight him. Guess she has unresolved issues about his father. Although she doesn’t win, well that would make the series a bit on the short side; she learns a lesson when Negi saves her from falling to her death.

With the setting and cast of characters in place the show starts its first proper story arc, which takes up the remaining episodes four to seven on disc one with - Teacher... It's my first time..., Security deposits and key fees are expensive in Tokyo. Wait, that's not what the probationary contracts about, Pardon me. Might I not be excused with either the forehead or the cheek? and 'Um, I think there are some good things about not being seen, but I do think there are times when it's better to be seen.

Shichihi and Motsu, special envoys from the Magic Academy, arrive at the school to inform them that the The Star Crystal has been stolen from the Academy. Negi thinks that its theft might be responsible for the outbreaks of darkness on the campus. Negi gets a further two acolytes in Konoka and Nodoka and meets the school's resident ghost. Along the way they have to battle with Kaede, Yuuna, and Chisame who are being controlled by the evil force which has invaded the school. Having set the characters the next four episodes effectively expands Negi’s resources prior to the quest itself. Although very watchable I’m not sure of the sense of spending a quarter of your available episode just getting the story to the point where the quest begins. The show's subsequent episodes will require some tight writing if it isn’t to disappear up its own rear.

So, onto disc two, which holds episodes eight to thirteen and the quest for the Star Crystal has begun in earnest with - Professor; please make us adults and You hide the "heart" with a "sword" and read it as ninja. It is a little different than how you write "serious" and read it as "for real. In these two episodes Negi and his students search the Mahora Library Island for clues about the crystal before taking the spring break to hone their fighting skills.

Back at the school in, Professor Negi went behind my back?! I shall never condone such a thing; Negi is drawing the attention of the class president, Ayaka, who is suspicious of the amount of time that some of the students are spending with him. Things start to unravel for Negi in Huh, so the Baron is a kind of rose. I thought it was a kind of potato, Negi is discovered using his magic. Finally in After much quibbling, in the end it all comes down to is how you feel and Rather than a question of you being the enemy, the issue is really whether or not you are a nuisance to the Master, the whole class discovers his secret.

The show is presented in its original 16:9 aspect ratio, with 2.0 stereo audio options for either a pretty good English dub track or the original Japanese track, with optional subtitles. The show was originally created as both a 4:3 pan and scan and a 16:1, and it looks like the DVD sports the latter. Levels of animations are high for an animated television show, though with the number of characters some more variation of character design would have made following the show a little easier, especially where the schools pupils are concerned.

There are some extras on the disc in the form of two textless songs, 'Starry Sky Letter' and 'A-LY-YA', a section which is called Notes from the Classroom which highlights where captions and art from the original artist can be found, usually lurking in the back of scenes, and what they mean and lastly there is a full length commentary for episode twelve.

So the show has on its plus side a good number of episodes for your money, a light-hearted centre and some good animation, but unless the story is cranked up in the second half its going to be a bit of a meander through the life of Negi and the school rather than a full blown story.


Charles Packer

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