Mahou Sensei Negima! Vol. #04 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 10.95
  • Pages: 202
  • ISBN: 0-345-47784-7
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Mahou Sensei Negima! Vol. #04

By Mike Dungan     January 28, 2005
Release Date: January 01, 2005

Mahou Sensei Negima! Vol.#04
© Del Rey

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Ken Akamatsu
Translated by:Douglas Varenas
Adapted by:

What They Say
A field trip into peril. Ten-year-old teacher/magician Negi Springfield is looking forward to taking his class of beautiful girls to the historic cities of Kyoto and Nara - but there's a catch! Negi's student Konoka is a kidnap target of feuding magicians in those very cities. Her grandfather the school principal orders Negi to protect Konoka - while keeping the fact that she's in danger a secret from the unsuspecting girl. To add to Negi's headaches, his sword-wielding student Setsuna may be a spy for the kidnappers. With so much on his mind, how is a young magician to see the sights, care for a sarcastic stoat, and stay in the good graces of his hot-tempered magical partner Asuna?

The Review
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Negi and Evangeline having come to terms in the previous volume, it's time for the two of them to move on. Negi's father, known as the Thousand Master, cursed Evangeline to a child's body, but promised to undo the curse when she matured. With his death ten years earlier, she's now stuck. However, Negi is certain he met his father only 6 years earlier. If he's still around, he's sure he will undo the curse. Evangeline suggests Negi begin looking for him by going to Kyoto. His father lived there for a while, and there may be clues left behind. Asuna suggests a class field trip to Kyoto and Nara as a cover. The headmaster of the school agrees, but he warns Negi it's going to be very dangerous. The magical guilds of Kanto, where Negi teaches, and Kansai, which is where Kyoto and Nara are, are on very poor terms. The headmaster wants to end the feud, but there are those who would like to see the feud continue. He entrusts a letter to the head of the Kansai guild to Negi to deliver for him. In addition, he asks Negi to look after Konoka, his granddaughter and Negi's student and roommate. It turns out she has incredible latent magical abilities, but her parents wish to keep it a secret from her. The headmaster is sure she will be a kidnap target to use as a pawn in the Kanto/Kansai power struggle. What's more, Negi is to keep it all a secret from Konoka.

Because of her curse and the fact that she's a vampire, Evangeline and her partner Chachamaru stay behind, but the rest of the cast heads off to the west. One of Negi's students is the quiet, stern Setsuna Sakurazaki, a brilliant swordswoman trained at the Shinmei Ryu school of swordsmanship in Kyoto. That, and other circumstantial evidence leads Albert Chamomile, Negi's wisecracking weasel to suspect she may actually be a spy within his own class. However, their true enemy is a practitioner of traditional Japanese Onmyou sorcery, especially proficient at creating paper golems. An attempt to kidnap her by a beautiful but deadly woman from the Kansai Magical Association is nearly successful, but with the power of Setsuna's sword and Asuna's temper, Konoka is saved. It's not over, however. More adventures await Negi, from learning about the relationship between Setsuna and Konoka, to a confession of love from one of his classmates, to dealing with accidentally drunken students, to surviving the inevitable mix-ups in the open air baths.

Ken Akamatsu is one of the most popular shonen manga artists working today. His previous Love Hina was a huge success in both Japan and the US, and with the recent announcement that Negima will be animated, it looks like this title is just as popular. The volume begins a much longer story arc. Akamatsu has always been known for excellent fanservice, and this volume doesn't disappoint. There are plenty of scenes in open-air baths and girls in various stages of undress. But increasingly, Akamatsu's also becoming known for excellent action scenes, with some of the best sword fights in recent memory. His pacing is truly excellent, creating scenes of great power. His character designs are gorgeous, beautifully rendered with strong, confident linework. His army of assistants create wonderfully detailed backgrounds that add depth to every page. The scenes of Kyoto and Nara give a great feeling of actually being there.

The English adaptation by Peter David and Kathleen O'Shea David has settled down nicely from the first couple of volumes. Only occasionally do the slightly out of place pop-culture references slip in. The only downside is that the female Kyoto assassin's unique Kansai dialect doesn't make it into the adaptation. The bigger issue is that Del Rey continues the translation mistake of referring to Negi's father, the Thousand Master, as the Southern Master. This, despite Albert mentioning that he's called the "Southern" Master because he allegedly had probationary contracts with one thousand girls. Unfortunately, that makes no sense unless the name is translated correctly. The rest of the presentation comes off much better. There are plenty of pages of extras, from early design sketches and notes to a lexicon of the Latin used in Negi's spells, to 4 pages of translation notes. There is also a 4-page preview of the next volume, but unlike previous volumes, this one is in English. As with previous volume, all honorifics are retained, with a two-page explanation of them at the front of the book. The art reproduction looks quite good, even when compared directly with the Japanese tankouban. The front cover continues the Del Rey look with the oblique black curve down the left side. The cover image is the same as the Japanese volume, featuring Negi and Konoka on their field trip, as several of the students spy on them from behind pillars in the background. The back cover shows Setsuna in her school uniform, wielding her sword and looking quite determined.

I will admit I'm an unabashed fan of both Akamatsu and Negima. His combination of fanservice and action is a powerful one-two punch. Though it lacks as much of the romantic entanglements that made Love Hina such a worldwide phenomenon, it's still great fun to read. With the exception of the "Southern Master" translation error which needs to be corrected in future printings, this volume is an improvement from the previous volume.


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