Negima Season 2 Part 2 (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, March 31, 2009

With the bulk of its time spent in a world of magic, Negi and his class find lots of silliness as well as a little bit of danger.

What They Say

Negi Springfield has a classroom full of head-turning school girls to deal with and a lesson plan that spans dimensions. He and the cuties of Class 3-A are trapped in a world that looks familiar - but isn't. The mysterious and powerful Star Crystal has been stolen from the Academy of Magic, and the Black Rose Baron is driving all the girls crazy.

But that's not the half of it; there are wild catfights to hose down, a giant vampire roaming the hallways, and Negi's been turned into a Chupacabra for acting naughty in public! Before the final bell rings, the young wizard will wear out his lips on an outrageous adventure he may never recover from!

Contains episodes 14-26.

The Review!
Audio:
Negima’s audio mix is pretty straightforward as this release contains a pair of stereo language tracks encoded at 192kbps. Both language tracks are about what’s to be expected to a comedy series with a good helping of action along the way as there is some noticeable placement and directionality across the forward soundstage in a lot of scenes, but a lot of it is also basic center channel material. It has a good full sound most of the time, especially if your speakers are set far apart, but it all comes across sounding good and problem free. This isn’t a show that really requires a 5.1 mix, but I can imagine a few scenes having a bit more impact if they did have it.

Video:
Originally airing in 2006 and early 2007, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This transfer is something of a mixed bag and it’s due to some source issues by all appearances. In general, this is a very pleasing transfer with lots bright solid colors that look great and some very strong animation. Some scenes do bring in a bit of noise, sometimes intentional, but it’s not unexpected with a seven/six episode count across two discs. Where the main problem lies, and it is sporadic across these thirteen episodes, is in the cross coloration. It sneaks into a few small areas here and there, sometimes more than others, and can be somewhat distracting both on large and small sets. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but it’s a noticeable flaw on an otherwise very appealing looking show.

Packaging:
This collection is like most other ones FUNimation has put out recently where it has a simple cardboard slipcover to hold the two thinpak cases. The slipcover is decent, but in the end you can forget it easily if you want to just run with the thinpaks themselves. The slipcover is bright and eye-catching with some of the colors used a lot in the Mahora Academy itself serving as the background while the front has Negi laying between Konaka and Asuna, though we just see Konaka’s legs and backside. The back cover works well in selling the show with some nice plus about the creator and a bunch of shots of the show. Amusingly, they do try to sell the fanservice side a bit, which is what the show doesn’t focus on all that much. The summary covers the basics of the setup and there’s a good listing of the discs extras. Production information is along the bottom of the back cover and the actual technical specs are on the bottom of the slipcover.

The individual thinpak cases are nicely done though a bit amusing when you start. The first cover has the same logo as the slipcover but a lighter and less busy background design. That lets you focus on the character artwork and the first volume has a cast shot of six of the girls in some very fine Asian dresses with their student numbers around them. The second cover has some of the secondary characters done up in black suits with hats looking all serious as well as including their student numbers where appropriate. The back covers are very simple with just the episode listings with the full titles, which are admittedly fairly lengthy, as well as a listing of the extras that are on the second volume. Each of the covers are reversible and they each have a different set of girls with different outfits; the first one with them wearing traditional kimonos while the second one in five of them in varying maid outfits. No inserts are included with this release.

Menu:
The menu design for Negima!? Is rather minimal as it uses the orange and yellow color pattern from the cover artwork along with different pieces of artwork for each of the main menus. The first menu for example uses the same character artwork as the front cover, though it comes across as a bit more colorful and vibrant here with more detail. The main menus have only the basics with episode selection, playing the whole disc and language setup while the second disc has the additional submenu for the extras. Submenus load quickly and episode selection is detailed due to the lengthy episode names. And as is usual, the discs didn’t read our players’ language presets and defaulted to English with no subtitles.

Extras:
The second disc contains all the extras outside of the commentary on the first volume, and they’re somewhat of a surprise for FUNimation. The opening and closing songs are definitely great to have here in clean form. The surprising extra is that we get the “Notes from the Classroom” extra. The liner notes are as we saw in the first set and are definitely welcome for covering some of the strange things that appear in the show. A new extra is included here that I rather appreciated called the “Baka Rangers” in which we get photo stills of the English language voice actors and what characters they played. It’s a nice touch as I always like it when they do things like this to let the fans connect with the actors more.

The set does contain a commentary track for episode nineteen, but like the first set, it’s not listed in the extras. You may miss it unless you do individual episode selection or take note of it from the back cover. Would it have been hard to include a way to access it in the menu?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This interpretation of the Negima manga continues to amuse me, though I know it’s more for the offbeat humor and style of the production studio behind it. As mentioned in the first half, the same folks behind Paniponi Dash worked on this so it has the same kind of weird humor, quick cuts to jokes and a lot of text in the backgrounds that changes regularly. It’s the kind of show that does offer a fair amount of replay value since there are things you can get out of it you missed the first time. It does also offer up something of an actual storyline as well, though it’s spread thin over the thirteen episodes that are here and doesn’t really lend itself to deep introspection for the most part.

The episodes on here cover a fair bit of ground overall for what it wants to do, but it’s very leisurely after the first couple of episodes. The entire incident with Negi as a chupacabra is dealt with rather quickly here as he enters into a contract with the remaining girls from the class and that sort of sets things right and brings him back to normal. Of course, there’s also now the problem some of the girls have in that they haven’t really kissed Negi since they did so when he was the chupacabra, so there’s one or two who would like another crack at his cute little self. Once this is dealt with, the class finds themselves dealing with a sudden physical darkness that’s after them and their world is upended.

That upending brings them back to the school but it’s the school in another dimension, a dimension where magic is apparently abound. Unable to get back to the real world, the class settles into something resembling a normal life as they figure out what works and what doesn’t. They’re a rather industrious group as they take care of all the necessities of living rather quickly and settle into something of a routine. Of course, Evangeline and Chachamaru head off to their own little place so they’re out of the way. Into all of this comes one new addition in the form of Nekane, Negi’s older sister. She suddenly appears in the bath and causes quite the commotion, but she brings a bit more of the magical knowledge side to the group and she has a kind of quirkiness to her that’s certainly charming. And with Takamichi being the only other adult really there, she helps to give things a little more balance there as well. For Negi, it’s something familiar and safe at his side once again, though he doesn’t become childish in the slightest because of it.

The time spent in this place covers the bulk of this set and runs through a number of relatively standalone stories. Negi deals with all the girls in different ways as they cope with the situation and there’s a overarching story about a mysterious woman named the Black Rose who has come to seemingly cause a little commotion here and there. By and large though, it’s the small stuff that makes up this arc as you have Yue realizing she’s in love with Negi or you have Asuna on her latest creature hunt with the bongebonge that’s roaming around the campus. Or, as it’s really known, “Catherine.” There’s also one really good episode where the entire class is reduced to mini form due to their pactio cards being released in dud form, and that forces Negi to play caretaker before he realizes he has to play with them and enjoy having no responsibilities for a bit. The show is certainly cute and fun throughout, especially with the weird and quirky humor that’s used for the quick cut jokes, but there’s little real meaning to it other than to have fun with the large and diverse cast.

The series does spend its last few episodes back in the real world and decides to push along the story a bit more in regards to what’s been going on with Negi’s father. Not surprisingly, this isn’t given all that much attention in full since it’s not been dealt with in the manga at the time and this adaptation doesn’t want to go too far in that direction. They do touch upon it in a way that is fairly endearing however and it allows Negi to have some good emotional moments befitting him and his age, but also showing his general maturity as well. Things aren’t exactly wrapped up here, but there’s enough closure for the show overall that you do feel that they got somewhere and that everyone is now a part of Negi’s life since they’re his partners. In terms of a first chapter kind of feeling, it’s nicely done and the ending does leave you wanting to see where they may go next.

In Summary:
I’ve not had the best relationship with the Negima franchise overall, but this series was one that I found quite enjoyable. It avoided a lot of the real romantic aspects of it that were problematic for me in the manga and the first series and it avoided excessive fanservice overall. The shift of focus towards the humor side worked in its favor and with this particular style of humor. There’s a lot of characters here and by going for the short gags and quirky moments, you don’t feel like anyone is getting left out. You do lose the main characterization for several characters, but the trade-off works in this particular format. In the end, I think this is the only incarnation of Negima that I actually like and would really like to see more of. It’s also the one that’s not for general audiences I’d say and is a bit more niche in its appeal. But comedies tend to be like that and this one likely even more so. I enjoyed it, it made me laugh and it had great character designs and for my money one of the best opening sequences period.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Notes from the Classroom

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
MSRP: 59.98
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Negima