Negima! Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Revelation Films
  • MSRP: £15.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Negima

Negima! Vol. #4

By Bryan Morton     August 27, 2007
Release Date: August 20, 2007


Negima! Vol. #4
© Revelation Films


What They Say
It's summer break at Mahora Academy, but things are far from quiet. And while vacation means a break from the classroom, hassle and hilarity fill the class agenda. After all, Professor Negi Springfield's still on duty!

Episodes Comprise
15 - A Reliable Friend is Perceived in an Uncertain Situation
16 - Love and a Cough are Not Kept Secret
17 - Nothing is Difficult for a Lover
18 - Love Does Not Recognise Rank

The Review!
More of the same from Negi and his students, as summer break gives the girls a chance to indulge in yet more high jinks. Wasn't there meant to be a real story in here somewhere? For Nodoka, it's a chance to go looking for some summer romance...

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. 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:
Konoka get her turn on the front cover this volume, looking as cheerful as ever against a green background with outlines of magical symbols and Negi just about visible. The rear has screenshots, the usual promotional material and the disc's technical info. The disc comes in a clear keepcase, with the cover artwork for all six volumes shown on the inside cover.

Menu:
Fairly straightforward menus this time around, with Konoka off to one side of the various menu options (same piece of artwork as the disc cover), 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. There are no transition animations, so it's all quick & painless to use.

Extras:
Along with clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, this volume provides a text extra explaining a bit about Japanese cultural values, along with a commentary track for episode 15.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
A tale of two parts, really, with Ayaka and Nodoka being the stars of the show for this volume, and Asuna making occasional appearances when someone's in need of a kick to the head. Someone needs some anger-management lessons, I think.

When Asuna first came to Mahora Academy, she wasn't the most outgoing character - something that soon led to a rivalry with Ayaka, who took her shy and quiet attitude for rudeness. Years later, and even when she's home for her summer vacation, Ayaka's still dreaming of the fights she used to have (and still has) with Asuna, and it's beginning to really get on her nerves. So when Negi turns up with the rest of the class in tow - including Asuna - it's not exactly a recipe for a good day. Not that that's going to stop her from trying to seduce her sensei, of course. As ever, though, Asuna keeps getting in the way of her plans - not to mention the chaos that's unleashed when Chachamaru gets stuck in Berserker Mode.

Ayaka's huge indoor swimming pool makes this episode half swimsuit fanservice spectacular, with the other half looking at the relationship between Asuna and Ayeka. It's mostly a comedy half-hour, but there are few little moments in there " the girls are like a pair of little kids who only fight because they like each other so much. Nothing hugely memorable, though.

The remaining three episodes each stand on their own up to a point, but also include elements that make up a great three-episode arc about Nodoka and her feelings for Negi. It was established ages ago that the little bookworm was quite taken by her new teacher, and these stories cover her finally being urged to do something about it by Yue, working up the nerve to actually say something while on her themepark date, and then dealing with the aftermath while she waits for Negi to respond to her confession. Now, Nodoka's probably one of the most popular characters in the show " there's something about her shyness and general attitude that just makes you want to go "Awwww!!" " so giving her the limelight in this way can only be a good thing. The themepark date itself takes up most of episode 17 and is just a series of really cute moments as Nodoka tries to work up the courage to say something (there are several false starts which make for good comedy moments in their own right), and the scene where she finally expresses her feelings is probably the best pay-off for watching Negima! so far. Of course, Negi has to be very careful about his response as he is a teacher so don't be expecting a happy ending as such, but the arc plays out really well and is one of the series highlights so far " not quite up there with the battle against Evangeline, but close.

In amongst the important stuff, the "test of courage" story also provides a few laughs, although it's fairly predictable stuff. I'm still hoping the more serious aspect of the show, as last given to us by Evangeline, will make a re-appearance. There are some hints towards the end of the disc that something ominous is brewing, but how much will be made of it remains to be seen. I'm keeping my fingers crossed " the light & fluffy Negima! that volumes 3 & 4 have served up is okay as far as it goes, but I still maintain the series is capable of so much more.

In summary:
I could copy & paste the summary for volume 3 here and still be pretty much on target " this volume of Negima! is good, but nowhere near as good as the series has the potential to be, and that failure to make the most of what it has is ever so frustrating. On the plus side, the mini-arc dealing with Nodoka's feelings for Negi is really well handled and great fun to watch, and there are signs we may be getting back to the "good stuff" soon. At the moment, though, the series is simply worth a look.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Schoolgirl Commentary,Japanese Values,Textless Songs

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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