Negima! volumes 1-13

After graduating from magic academy, ten-year-old Welsh wizard Negi Springfield dreams of following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a Magister Magi. The last thing he was expecting was to be sent to Japan to become a teacher in an all-girl junior high school- but that’s exactly where he has been assigned! Can the pint-sized teacher cope with a class of thirty-one teenage girls?

Given my experience with Love Hina, and the whole creepiness of a ten-year-old boy surrounded by fanservice, I initially wasn’t interested in venturing into Ken Akamatsu’s juggernaut. Nonetheless, curiosity eventually got the better of me, and when combined with yet another chance to raid a sibling collection, I decided to give the series a go.

As I feared, fanservice was indeed to be a big part of the Negima experience, and although it greatly reduces after the first few volumes, it never entirely goes away. Normally, this wouldn’t be too much of an issue if the series had something else to offer, but there’s something creepy about fourteen-year-old girls getting naked in front of a ten-year-old boy- especially when they start peeking under his towel and taking a look at his ‘tackle’.

If you can live with this, however, Negima isn’t actually too bad a story, although it counts as ‘solid’ rather than good. Seemingly a mix of various different elements such as magic, romance, shounen-style tournaments and enemies, nothing is particularly original, but it is varied and well-paced enough to keep you reading. All in all, it’s not something you should prioritise if you have better series waiting, but if you’re stuck for something to read, then this will fill a gap.

Fortunately, Negima does have one trump card to play- compared to the usual run of dislikeable male lead, Negi is actually a rather pleasant character. Of course, he does have the usual destined powers and tragic past, but beyond this he is a hard-working, determined and optimistic person, far from the irritatingly arrogant or clumsily incompetent leads that we have seen so many times before.

Negi aside, there are also 31 girls to get to grips with (and that’s before considering any other supporting characters)- a mammoth task for the creator, let alone a reader. Admittedly, even after thirteen volumes I can’t remember all of their names and some are blanks in term of personality, but it’s surprising how many characters have had the chance to move into the spotlight and have their back stories revealed. And with so many to choose from, everyone is bound to find one or two characters that they like- whether it’s hot-headed ‘main girl’ Asuna, quiet librarian Nodoka, warrior Setsuna, class rep Ayaka, android Chachamaru or one of the many other choices on offer.

Artwork has always been Akamatsu’s strong point, and Negima is no exception- say what you like about the content, the character designs are always attractive, and amazingly enough, apart from a couple of lesser characters, it is easy enough to tell everyone apart. Settings and backgrounds have all been designed on computer, and are all highly detailed without feeling cluttered- there is enough content on each page to ensure that reading one volume takes longer than average, but at the same time it never feels too eye-achingly packed or crowded.

Final Thoughts
Despite appearing to be some sort of unholy fusion of Harry Potter and Love Hina, if you can get past the initial stigma attached to the series, Negima isn’t all that bad. It may not be poised to win any awards for quality or originality, but if you fancy some light reading and attractive character designs to while away a few spare hours, you could do worse than occupy yourself with this.

5 thoughts on “Negima! volumes 1-13

  1. Good review.

    Mahou Sensei Negima can pretty much be nick-named “Harem Potter”. But still, i like this series a lot. Very funny. :p

  2. How you could forget Evangeline the vampire I´ll always wonder :p

    Other than that, good review, as always 🙂
    I started reading Negima, thought I stopped just after Negi and Evangeline had their battle. I just stopped.

    Then after watching the first anime series I thought: no, I´m not going back. Then Shaft picked it up and that made the series much better, except for the usual Shaft randomness…

    The characters are great, the design and whatnot are really intresting to see and all. I don´t get any creepy feelings when girls want to have fun with younger boys… it just doesn´t faze me anymore, I don´t think most of the stuff does, it just get boring really really fast.

    Since I don´t have any siblings I have quite a troublesome time leeching of them :p espacially the way anime/manga is treated around here…

  3. To be honest the only work of Akamatsu’s that ive ever really liked was Love Hina. I recently read Negima and AI Love You and found both to be weak.

    Like you i found the entire concept of a 10 year old kid getting nekkid with 31 girls a bit on the creepy side. And on more than a few occassions that creep factor would go through the roof in certain situations.

    The excessive fanservice ruins it aswell for me. A series shouldn’t rely on it’s fanservice, and to often thats the impression i get, that he’s trying to use fanservice to keep people reading.

    I wouldn’t say Akamatsu’s art has always been his strong point (though if you compare it to his plot and story flow, then i supose it could be lol). But the art of Negima is really good, but there are to many parallels between AI Love You, Always my Sanata and Love Hina for me.

    It’s not a bad series, but it’s not one that i would actively go out and look for to buy. For series like this i usually wait until Waterstones have a 3 for 2 offer on, then pick up a volume as my 3rd book, so it dosent cost me anything lol.

  4. Having got into Negima through fanfiction, I’m more or less hooked now. The only problem is the fanservice, which under normal circumstances I can’t stand. Oddly, I’ve now begun to tune it out to the extent of not noticing it’s there at all. It takes my husband looking over my shoulder and saying, “Why are they all in their underwear?” to wake me to reality. Kinda scary, but at least it doesn’t grate anymore.

    Which is fine, until you get to the live action version. I rather like it, in a typical Japanese drama way (you know what I mean), but when the creative team feel they need to add manga-style fanservice… bloody hell. I turned the last episode off after five minutes because a load of schoolgirls in bikinis looking vaguely uncomfortable is not the stuff good drama is made of. Even J-drama. 🙂

  5. I’m a big fan of negima, so my opinion is pretty much biased. For some reason, I don’t see what’s the big deal with the fanservices. I know that a lot of fanservices is pretty much part of akamatsu’s style. But I just don’t seem to notice them. Maybe I’m already desentized from them. I’m more interested with the characters(akira, chachamaru and chiu is my favorite) and the story (all the fightings, love triangles, conflicting interests & sad pasts is enough to grab my attention).

    to continue my bias: I also heard that the first couple of volumes were loaded with fanservice because the sponsor? wanted to sell the fanservice even though he wanted to make shounen adventure. Lucky for us, later on they let him make what he wants. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother following it. Fanservice can only carry you so far before it gets really boring.

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