Mania Grade: A-
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- Art Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Text/Translatin Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Released By: Del Rey
- MSRP: 10.99
- Pages: 208
- ISBN: 0-345-46540-7
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
Mahou Sensei Negima! Vol. #08
By Robert Harris
September 27, 2006
Release Date: December 27, 2005
Translated by:Toshifumi Yoshida
Adapted by:T. LedouxWhat They Say
Ten-year-old magical prodigy and girls' school instructor Negi Springfield has a new secret... and some of his more stubborn students are determined to uncover it. Few know that Negi has magical powers - in fact, he'll be turned into a weasel if he is officially found out. No wonder Negi is so cautious while taking magic lessons from the so-good-at-being-bad Evangeline.
As one of the few students who actually knows about his special abilities, Asuna is the one girl to whom Negi decides to tell yet another secret - one involving Negi's long-lost father, who disappeared years ago. But what connection can there possibly be between the Thousand Master and Asuna?The Review
Volume 8 of Negima is kind of a new jumping off point for the series as a whole, and as such is quite a bit different from the previous volumes. It revolves almost completely around Negi's past, and we are shown a good part of his childhood and the reason he's trying so hard to find his father. Then Kotaro shows up with an inconvenient case of memory loss, and only remembers that he has to find Negi and warn him about something. He's found by Chizuru and Natsumi, two characters that finally have something to do, and recuperates with them for a while until the danger he was trying to warn Negi about literally shows up at the door. It all comes to a head when Kotaro and Negi have to work together to bring down this new bad guy and rescue the captive girls of Class 3-A. I have a feeling that, come high school graduation, one of the 3-A girls is going to be voted "Most Likely to be Taken Captive by a Magical Villian". But there's still plenty of Negima left, so it's anyone's game!
The key word for this volume is characterization. Negi's motives and determination are explained much more clearly and in depth than ever before, and it really helps flesh him out. He was already a great character before, but now the reason he seems so grown up and focused really makes sense and doesn't come across as artificial or phony. And at the end of the volume, when he finally faces off against the target of his revenge, we get to see just how much he's grown since coming to Mahora Academy. However, Negi is not the only one to show some character growth, as many of the others (especially Kotaro and Asuna) get some time to shine. Kotaro gets developed more as a real character rather than a sympathetic villain, and a connection between Asuna and the Thousand Master is hinted at again during Negi's flashback. As for Chizuru and Natsumi, the newcomers to the story, they get a lot more time to develop than they have previously and are able to display their own individual personalities (although thinking of Chizuru as "The New Mutsumi" wouldn't be entirely unwarranted).
Thankfully, all this character development doesn't come at the expense of physical and magical violence. The action has definitely been ratcheted up a few notches from the (fairly calm) last volume, which is a little surprising with the amount of story development involved. This, I feel, is Negima's strongest asset; each volume of Negima juggles so many different genres, and does it so well that just as you begin tiring of one it switches to another. For someone who's past experience consists solely of romantic comedies, I really have to applaud Akamatsu's ability to balance so many different aspects so well.
Finally, I'd like to take a moment to applaud Del Rey for not only including translation notes at the end of each volume, but also character sketches, fan art, and everything else that (I assume) was included in the Japanese release. I know I, for one, greatly appreciate it, and I've gotten hooked on the front and back cover sketches (with notes) they've been including since volume 6. Akamatsu's notes about the characters on the back cover especially are very interesting and have mentioned similarities and connections with Love Hina characters several times. Speaking of which, this volume's packaging was a bit on the bland side, but Chizuru on the back with a Tama-chan apron on really earns some points, because I am a gigantic Love Hina nerd.