Negima! Vol. #2 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, May 14, 2007
Release Date: Monday, April 23, 2007
What They Say
Negi Springfield may be a teacher at Mahora Academy, but he's in need of an education as well! There's more going on at this school than the little magi could have imagined. And while the standard fare is on the curriculum, it's the extracurricular activities that have him sweating!
Mon - Survival Training
Tues - Student / Teacher Relations
Wed - Vampire Hunting
Thurs - Walking Club
Fri - Death by... Dodge Ball?
By the way, you didn't take a ball to hard to the head... that really IS a talking ermine!
7 - The Appearance of Things are Deceptive
8 - One Night Befalls All of Us
9 - I'll Get You, Wascally Wabbit!
10 - Where There is Harmony, There is Victory
Negi attempts to calm the savage beast that otherwise answers to the name of Evangeline, before moving on to the joys of twins and the hazards of playing dodgeball with seniors. All in a volume's work for the diminutive teacher...
Audio is provided in both Japanese & English 2.0 stereo " I listened to the Japanese track for this review. There's good use made of the available channels for dialogue placement, which given the number of scenes where quite a few of the huge cast appear at once, works well and adds to the feel of the show. Background music doesn't play a huge part in Negima, but what there is doesn't drown out speech. There were no obvious problems.
Video is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect, and looks good " especially considering the high episode count. There's heavy use of bright colours, although there isn't a huge amount of detail either in the character designs or backgrounds. There's also a slightly soft-focus feel to the transfer, but apart from the there were no obvious problems.
Evangeline strikes a pose on the front of this volume, looking supremely confident as ever against a purple background with outlines of magical symbols and Negi just about visible. The rear has screenshots, the usual promotional material and the disc's technical info. The disc comes in a clear keepcase, with the cover artwork for all six volumes shown on the inside cover.
Fairly straightforward menus this time around, with Evangeline off to one side of the various menu options (same piece of artwork as the dis cover), and a clipshow running in the background - although it's so obscured by the menu text there probably wasn't much point. Direct access is provided to each episode from the main screen, while submenus are provided for Extras and Setup. There are no transition animations, so it's all quick & painless to use.
Along with clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, this volumes provides a text extra explaining the cultural significant of communal bathing in Japan & the etiquette you're meant to follow, along with a commentary track for episode 7 featuring to of the English VA's.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
When we last saw Negi, he was finding himself on the receiving end of the vampiric attentions of Evangeline, who had also been spending her evenings chomping on her classmates. Tasty. This disc opens with another two episodes of them facing off against each other, with the added bonus that we now have an explanation as to why there's a one-hundred-year-old vampire at the Academy. Cue flashback.
Evangeline had previously had a run-in with Negi's father, which led to her becoming maybe a bit obsessed with him " she certainly took to following him everywhere. Eventually this got a bit much for the Hundred Master to deal with, so he came up with a solution that coincidentally dealt with what he saw as her need to learn how to live with normal people: a spell that sent her to school, and would keep her there until she graduated. An electrical field thrown around the Academy would also keep her vampiric magic in check. Eva can't do much about the stay-in-school spell " but there are ways around the other problem, which she uses to good effect to give Negi a hard time before they finally call the fight off.
These are probably the best two episodes on the disc " I've become a fan of the storylines that take Negi and his girls out of the classroom, as the show then steps away from being a school comedy, and is far more enjoyable for it. Bringing a connection between Negi and Eva into play, in the form of his father, also works quite well and makes the final resolution of their battle believable and satisfying, while the battle scenes between them give Negi a chance to really show off his magic beyond the smaller tricks he's usually been restricted to.
The remaining two episodes go back to comic mode, and while they're okay as far as they go they're not really anything special. The first one up gives Negi a chance to get to know twins Fuka and Fumika better when he asks them for directions to the Tatsumiya Shrine " as members of the walking club, they're only to happy to show him the way there, but they insist on taking the most indirect route possible, landing Negi in some trouble along the way. The twins are fun " they've both got quite childish, fun-loving personalities and are more looking for an excuse to spend some time with Negi than going out of their way to annoy him, and Negi being Negi doesn't quite know how to get them to do what he wants, when he wants.
The final episode brings Negi's class into conflict with a group of students from the Academy's high school section, who are doing their best to pull rank and annoy their juniors by just generally being pains in the rear. As the homeroom teacher, it's Negi's job to try and calm things down, but as ever he has a complete lack of authority and no-one listens to him, with events escalating from there. A game of dodgeball is eventually suggested to try and resolve the problem, with the winning team getting their way " and with the senior girls also being the regional dodgeball champions, you can easily guess what sort of mayhem is going to follow.
One thing that surprised me this volume was how low-key some of the characters were " Asuna only makes a few appearances, mostly playing the part of Negi's minister, while Konoka and Nodoka, who both featured quite heavily in the first disc, disappointingly barely appear at all. It's the problem of the show's large cast rearing its head, I think " with so many girls on show, I had been hoping the series would pick a subset of them and really try to develop them, but it looks like it'll instead go down the route of giving them all a small portion of the spotlight before moving on, and that's a disappointment.
For all that, the disc is still enjoyable enough to watch " nothing spectacular overall, but with some very enjoyable moments to balance out the more mundane segments.
Negima! has a tendency to swing between typical high-school comic fare and more imaginative scenes away from the campus. The Evangeline storyline that's tied up in the early part of this disc is a good example of the better stuff, and it's a shame more of the series isn't done in the same vein. The campus comedy isn't bad by any stretch and will keep a lot of people entertained, but it does stand out against the better portions of the show. I'd also like to see more of a focus on getting some decent development for the girls. Despite its flaws, though, Negima! is still enjoyable " just not quite as good as it could be.
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Schoolgirl Commentary,Communal Bathing in Japan,Creditless Opening & Closing Sequences
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: Revelation Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2