One thing that the Negima!? manga was notable for was the high level of fanservice, something that didn't quite make it into the anime adaptation. Until now. The Spring and Summer specials seem to be trying really hard to make up for that omission, so be ready for girls in swimsuits or less…
What They Say
The girls of Class 2-C are up to their usual antics, and they've got poor Negi all kinds of hot and bothered! First, Ayaka arranges a romantic getaway, determined to lift the little prof's spirits (and possibly something more!). But when the rest of the group finds out, their private tété-å-tété turns into a no-holds-barred spring break! Later, a magic spell goes awry, and Negi finds himself on a short leash - Harnessed to Nodoka! And while it may be a dream come true for the soft-spoken bookworm, an impromptu trip to the spa ensures a hard-core nightmare for her sidekick! Suck it up, little man! Let's get you soapy...
Audio is provided in both English and Japanese 2.0 versions. As usual, I listened to the Japanese track for this review, which is okay if nothing spectacular. Both episodes are heavy on the dialogue without worrying too much about background music, which limits the opportunities for giving the soundstage a workout. There were no obvious problems.
Video is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Looking at the R1 review, I can see that Chris reported a number of issues, with the comment that "the larger your set the more noticeable the problems are". He was watching on a 70" screen – on my somewhat more modest 37" set (and with a different encode of the disc, thanks to the UK PAL release) I couldn't see anything that caught my eye enough to bother me. Colours are bright and vibrant, animation is fluid and the disc just looked good. Your mileage may vary on larger screens, though.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
The main menu is a static screen with Asuna and Negi falling down towards their tropical island. Options are provided for Play All, episode select, setup & extras. There are no transition animations, so it's all quick and easy to use.
Along with creditless versions of the opening and closing songs, along with a Schoolgirl Commentary track for the Summer special.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Negi and his class are away on their spring trip, although with Negi having had an unfortunate row with Negi a few days earlier (something to do with unwanted sneezing) he's not really in the mood to enjoy the trip. You can't go on a beach holiday to a tropical island and not have fun, though, and the rest of the class are soon trying to find ways to help Negi enjoy himself. And they have a variety of creative and titillating ways of doing that. Asuna, meanwhile, is doing her best just to keep out of Negi's way & ignore everyone's efforts to get them to speak to each other. But her willpower can't last forever - can it?
Later, the Japanese legend of the red thread of fate unexpectedly takes real-world form after Nodoka casts a spell that will tell her who her fated man will be. Or at least, that's what she thought it did - in reality, it creates a red thread to the person in your heart when the spell is cast, meaning that Nodoka's just created a bond of destiny between Negi and herself. Nodoka's not complaining about that, but Negi and the others would rather the spell was undone (such things are cheating, don't you know) - but no matter what they try, the thread just can't be broken. It's also rather short, which makes for an interesting class trip to a spa resort, where Negi and Nodoka just can't be separated...
This will be a short review, mainly because the "story" elements of these two episodes can be summed up in about three lines: Negi and his class go to places that give the girls an excuse to wear very little, and get involved in adventures that give plenty of opportunity for fanservice. And I do mean plenty. The first episode in particular really goes overboard, with most of the girls wearing swimsuits or less throughout the episode (and with the character designs being noticeably more curvy than they ever were in the TV series – I wonder why that might be). That said, you know exactly what you're letting yourself in for as soon as you see the coverart – the release is shallow, mindless fluff, but it makes no bones of that, and to be honest sometimes something with zero plot is just what you want.
If there's a failing, it's that fans of any of the girls other than Asuna or Nodoka will get short-changed – there are just too many of them in the series for there to be any hope of giving them all any sort of meaningful screentime in two short episodes. On the plus side, Asuna and Nodoka are probably two of the most popular characters in the series anyway, so focussing on them is probably no bad thing. Both episodes are also broken up by regular "flashcards" featuring one or two of the girls and giving their vital statistics – another way of getting them all their chance to get a look-in, but they really do break the flow of the episodes and quickly become tiresome.
Despite its failings, though, if you have any appreciation for fanservice then this is a release that will be hard not to love. I'm also a fan of Asuna and Nodoka, so having them feature heavily does these episodes no harm at all. Just don't expect much in the way of depth, and you won't be disappointed.
Japanese Language 2.0, English Language 2.0, English Subtitles, Commentary for "Summer", 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.