Negima! Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Release Date: Monday, December 17, 2007
What They Say
As the world grows dark at Mahora Academy, one succumbs to her fate end. Negi Springfield and the girls of Class 2-A are about to get a life lesson none will soon forget... But first, a surprise birthday party is in order! The celebration may be a day too early, but it's almost a day too late, as words of parting prove painfully true...
Death hangs heavy over all, and each suffers their own flavor of guilt. From the deranged to the demonic, Negi searches in vain for a cure to the reaper's cold embrace. Stumbling upon the unlikeliest of answers, he inadvertently drags all of the girls into his insanity. And it's a history assignment of unparalleled proportions! The soul of one hangs in the balance, where a kiss may save all. The final bell has rung!
23 – Remember to Die
24 – Both Weapons and Wounds Wound
25 – Death is Certain, the Time is Uncertain
26 – Not for Me, Not for You, But for Us
A volume of Negima! with barely a hint of comedy on show – who'd have thought it? But with Negima's serious side having produced most of the series' highlights, that's no bad thing – and in this case, it means the best has been saved for last…
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. 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.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
Another fairly straightforward menus this time around, with Nodoka off to one side of the various menu options, 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 two creditless versions of the opening sequence and a creditless ending, we get a commentary track for episode 25 by the dub ADR director and VAs, and a text extra explaining the significance of the Tree of the World.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
It's been ten years since Asuna's parents died - or rather, since they were killed. Asuna doesn't remember much about what happened that day, only that a demon of some sort was involved, and that it promised that something would happen on the tenth anniversary of the attack. On the morning of the anniversary, a tearful Asuna leaves the dorms for her paper round, but Negi is quick to realise that something's wrong, and tries to find out if there's anything he can do to help. His efforts lead him entirely up the wrong path - but they at least persuade Asuna that maybe her fate isn't carved in stone...
If you're looking for typical Negima! humour, then this definitely isn't the disc for you – it's by far the darkest volume of the series in tone, with death and demons both playing key roles in the story arc that plays out across the four episodes here. We've already discovered that most of Negi's class hide special abilities – this disc looks at Asuna's, and the bargain she made 10 years earlier to prevent those abilities bringing any more harm to the people around her. It's a bargain that is now going to cost her her life, and most of the story here revolves around the efforts of Negi and those around him to find a way to find a magical Undo button to bring her back.
Along the way, there are other things that are touched upon – Negi's father and his fate, Nodoka's feelings for Negi, a lesson in when not to give up, and more. In some ways, it's very out-of-tone with the rest of the series – even the previous 'serious' arcs dealing the Evangeline and Kyoto didn't touch on affairs of the soul in quite the same way that this arc does – but that's in no way a bad thing, as the series is daring to do something different from what would really be expected to it. That's should be worth a few points in anyone's book.
As the story progresses, all of the girls in Negi's class get to play a role – some more than others, with the usual suspects such as Nodoka and Eva being key to how events play out, but it's one of those rare story arcs where no-one is left out. Given the size of his class, that's no small achievement. As the story comes to a close, some of the show's lighter aspects do make a return – that's thankfully done in a way that doesn't ruin the impact of the darker moments, and is part of making sure the ending is as happy as it should be.
That's right, there's a happy ending – and for once, one that I'm not going to grumble about. I may have a history of looking for bittersweet or unhappy endings to shows, but Negima! is one of those rare cases where I would have had a hard time accepting anything other than shiny happy moments when the closing credits finally rolled. I'll also ignore my usual instinct to talk about how the story plays out in a fairly predictable way, and how it's all been done a hundred times before – simply because, in this case, that's exactly what I wanted. Negima! was never meant to surprise or confuse, just entertain. While some previous volumes missed that mark a little, this final volume hits it right on, and allows the series to finish on a real high.
Just a little hint, though, for those who like to skip through the closing credits & next ep preview to get to the next episode – there are a few post-credit scenes on this disc that you really don't want to miss, so go easy on that forward-skip button.
Negima! isn't anything earth-shaking, and I doubt it will ever be considered a classic – it's been too inconsistent over the full run to earn that. When it's been at its best, though, it's a hugely enjoyable diversion – and this volume has been the most enjoyable of the bunch. If you've been following the series up to now, it's a no-brainer – but even if you haven't, the story here stands well enough on its own that the disc is probably worth a rental.
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Schoolgirl Commentary (Episode 25),Textless Songs
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.
Mania Grade: A-
Maniac Grade: A+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: Revelation Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:!
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2