Negima! Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • 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
  • MSRP: ¬£15.99
  • Running time: 150
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Negima

Negima! Vol. #1

By Bryan Morton     March 06, 2007
Release Date: February 19, 2007


Negima! Vol. #1
© Revelation Films


What They Say
Vampires, Robots, Sorcery.. And that's all before Gym Class! Wizard-in-training Negi Springfield is only 10 years old, but he also happens to be the newest English teacher at the all girl Mahora Academy. Too bad a bachelor's degree and enchanted staff can't prepare a lad for the chaos of being surrounded by dozens of Junior High girls!

Episodes Comprise
1 - Asinus in Cathedra
2 - Omne Initium Est Difficile
3 - Amantes, Amantes
4 - Nullus Est Instar Domus
5 - Fama Volat
6 - A Fronte Praecipitium a Tergo Lupi

The Review!
Would you trust a 9-year-old with your kid's education? That's how old Negi Springfield is, and somehow he's managed to land himself a job teaching English to a class of 31 teenage girls. Fortunately, he has more than a few tricks up his sleeve to help him " he is a wizard (in training), after all...

Audio:
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:
Video is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect, and looks good " especially considering the high episode count. 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.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
Fairly straightforward menus this time around, with Asuna sitting 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 - these are both static screens with another image of Asuna hiding behind the text panel. There are no transition animations, so it's all quick & painless to use.

Extras:
Extras are very thin on the ground this time around. There's a text extra explaining some aspects of school life in Japan, and creditless versions of the opening and closing sequences, and that's all.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
High-school student Asuna Kagurazaka's hoping and praying to have Takahata-sensei, the man of her dreams, as her homeroom teacher again when the new term starts. She's even gone out of her way to perform some very unlikely good-luck rituals to help improve her chances. Unfortunately for her, it's not to be - instead, her and her class have been landed with 10-year-old boy genius (well, 9 rounded up) Negi Springfield, the school's new English teacher. For Negi, it's a mixture of good and bad - good, as he gets to be surrounded by highschool girls, and bad as he's somehow supposed to teach a class who are all older than him. For some reason, he doesn't get much respect from his new charges - especially from Asuna. In case you're wondering how a 10-year-old got to be a teacher anyway, Negi has a secret: he's a wizard - and it's only his first day before Asuna catches him using his powers.

Of course, the first rule of Negi's school of magic is not to let anyone know you're a wizard, so he has to take immediate corrective action " but even when he tries to erase Asuna's memories of seeing him in action, all he manages to do is erase her underwear, and all this isn't improving her opinion of him one bit. When he resorts to grovelling to persuade her to keep his secret, Asuna agrees - on one condition: Negi must help her get her way with Takahata-sensei. There's a perfect opportunity during Negi's welcome party, too - if only his class of oddballs wasn't so demanding of his attention. Later, there's another surprise for Asuna, when she finds out Negi's her new room-mate.

I think Negima! has to take the record for most girls around one guy " Negi has a class of 31 of 'em, most of whom think he's unbearably cute and lovable. Fortunately, the series doesn't try to introduce them all at once " this disc's episodes focus on just 3 or 4, apart from Asuna and Konoka, Negi's new room-mates. The series is 26 episodes long, so while the manga it's based on may be able to give them all their moment of glory, the anime simply won't have the time. Having read some of the manga, it's going to be interesting to see who they focus on.

The characters featured so far are an interesting bunch. Asuna's your average, easily-angered girl who hides a caring heart under her more aggressive exterior, and it takes Negi a while before he realises that she's not the complete meanie he first took her to be. She's definitely the lead female and takes Negi under her wing, despite her token protests that he's more trouble than he's worth " she's more mothering him than anything else, but it's the beginning of the good connection between them. Konoka's his other room-mate " friend of Asuna and grand-daughter of the school dean, she's a young lady with a cheerful outlook on life.

As the disc continues, we get introduced to Nodoka, the painfully shy bookworm who's usually not happy being around males but soon warms to Negi's caring nature; Evangeline, a mysterious foreigner who hides a surprising secret; Makie, a not-to-bright gymnast who ends up on the wrong end of an attack by a vampire; and more besides. The girls all have their own individual " and very stereotypical " personalities. These episodes introduce enough of them to give you a flavour of Negi's class without leaving you feeling completely overloaded, but it would have been nice to have a few major characters that were different from the usual anime schoolgirls " as it is, it just feels that the show's been set up to have something or someone that appeals to everyone, and a jack of all trades is a master of none.

The first few episodes aren't exactly inspiring, either, as you can fairly easily predict where the story is going. It's only with episode five, where the story begins to move away from purely high-school stories and gives Negi some problems to deal with other than trying to fit in, that it began to grab my interest a little more. It seems that Negi's not just at Mahora Academy to teach, but to find himself a magical partner " it's Negi's aim to become a Magister Magi, and to do that he needs a partner, a Minister Magi, to be a sort of magical assistant. He's also not the only person in the school " or his class, for that matter " to be keeping special abilities secret, and in episode six the first of them reveals themselves and gives Negi his first real challenge. That side of the series looks to be more interesting than the classroom-based stuff " it's not so heavy on the comedy, but it works well, will probably be what gives Negi room to grow as a person, and is more enjoyable to watch than another communal bathroom scene.

As you'd expect from a series with so many girls, there's a reasonable amount of fanservice on show. There's nothing too over-the-top " we're not talking the next Najica here " but enough to keep the fanboys happy. With Negi being so young there's a fine line for the show to tread without getting into areas that some may consider worrying " personally, I don''t think it ever crosses the line, but your mileage may vary.

In summary:
Negima! didn't exactly inspire me at the start, but as the disc went on, the episodes became more interesting and less of being just another high school / harem comedy. There's setting and story hooks that have been revealed so far do provide some promising possibilities, and the characters that have been given decent introductions so far are all likeable enough, it just seems to be taking a while for the show to get into its stride. Hopefully the next volume will see events get properly into gear. In the meantime, this volume gets a cautious recommendation.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Schools in Japan,Creditless Opening & Closing Sequences

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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