Writer/Artist: Ken Akamatsu
Translated by: Toshifumi Yoshida
Adapted by: Ikoi Hiroe
What They Say
Boy wizard and high school teacher Negi is the only one who can stop Chao and her plans for world domination. But Chao - master magician, Martian warrior, and supergenius - may be the most formidable opponent the boy wonder has ever faced. Who will survive their final clash?
Volume 17 is a significant event for Negima; as the “real” conclusion to the Mahora Academy storyline, one that has been running since Volume 9, it marks Akumatsu's first attempt at ending such a major story arc. It could have been a bloated attempt at fitting too much into too small a package. It could have been an awkward attempt at juggling story resolution with decisive action. It could have been a lot of things, honestly, but what it turned out to be is awesome. In your face, pants-soilingly awesome.
What we get is a volume so packed with action you'll get whiplash just from opening it. The fights are everywhere, and are all amazing. Chisame gets her Artifact and plunges into cyberspace, Makie and Ayaka in tow, to fight off Chachamaru's hold over the campus' communication. Kaede faces off against Tatsumiya, who is armed with a powerful sniper rifle and bullets which send the target three hours into the future, removing them from the confrontation. Soon <I>all</I> of Chao's robots are armed with the time bullets, facing off against a huge number of participants in what, they believe, is an event sponsored by the Academy. Equipped with magical weapons and armor, the rest of 2-C (along with several hundred other people) battles against the robots, which begin to get exponentially larger and more difficult to put down. Asuna and Setsuna even join the fray after their defeat at Chao's hands, to help Kotaro hold off Chao's robotic legions long enough for Negi to put a stop to her plans.
Then there's the showdown between Negi and Chao, which is almost worth the <I>seven volumes</I> it's taken to arrive. Both armed with the ability to jump through time, the fight begins by eschewing magical tomfoolery for a brutal close-range melee, each constantly jumping through time to avoid taking hits. As the action intensifies Latin and Greek incantations are tossed back and forth, and just when you think things are over Chao pulls another ace out of her sleeve. Which is, just for the record, bursting with aces.
There's no true ending here; you'll have to wait for the next installment to see what fallout is from all this fightin'. Which may frustrate some readers, but it's much better for them to save the story resolution for an entirely separate volume than to shoehorn one in here and cut out some (fantastic) action. There's also a <I>little</I> too much philosophizing between Negi and Yue on whether Chao is actually the one who's working for Good, with a capital G. In the end it's not a deal breaker, since these moments take up <I>maybe</I> five pages and then it's back to elbowing people in the back and making them explode with light arrows, and that's all I ask.
Perhaps the best compliment I can level at this volume is that it validates the Mahora Festival arc, which was growing a bit long in the tooth. I'm already looking forward to the next gigantic, multi-volume story arc, if it ends with a similar bounty of stylish bone-snapping action.