Negima! Vol. #5 - 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. #5

By Bryan Morton     November 06, 2007
Release Date: October 22, 2007


Negima! Vol. #5
© Revelation Films


What They Say
Excitement runs high at Mahora Academy as the girls of 2-A prepare for their annual school trip. But poor Negi Springfield has more than Kyoto fun on his plate, for one of his students seems to be missing!It seems some of the girls have been keeping secrets even bigger than his own! As the new-found academic allies mount another rescue mission, Negi fears that they may not quite add up. But all maths aside, ancient Kyoto serves as a bittersweet backdrop for friendships, both old and new, as one suffers in silence and another proves unable to breach the rivalry.

Episodes Comprise
19 - Words Fly Away, Those Written Remain
20 - Unless You Have Believed, You Will Not Understand
21 - It Must Not at All Be Despaired
22 - It is Difficult to Make a Joke With a Sad Mind

The Review!
After several volumes of treading water and not really going anywhere, Negima! gets back to the good stuff, when a class trip to Kyoto spells trouble for Negi and the growing number of magic-users under his care…

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:
Setsuna gets her turn on the front cover this volume, looking as cheerful as ever against a red 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 Setsuna 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:
No so many of the extras this time around, with only a text description of Kyoto & its cultural significance, and the usual clean versions of the opening & closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Four episodes this time around, and the disc gets off to a leisurely enough start with a look at the mystery of the class’s missing girl – Sayo, who’s named on the class register but has never been seen. There’s a simple reason for that: Sayo’s been dead for 60 years and, while she is attending class, it’s hard to spot her ghostly form. Now, though, some of the other girls are getting curious about their invisible classmate and making efforts to find out more about her.

Probably the best thing about this episode is that Negi and Asuna barely appear at all. That’s not to say I don’t like their characters – it’s just nice to get a change from the usual formula and see how things look through another set of eyes. Sayo’s also remarkably cheerful for someone who’s been stuck in the same place for 60 years. As episodes go, it’s something different from the Negima! norm and a nice diversion, and breaks things up before the more serious stuff of the remaining episodes.

Wait one - Negima!, serious? Well, yes – it’s been done before (the Negi / Evangeline battle arc, way back on volume 2), and the Kyoto arc marks a return to that type of action-oriented story. 2-A arrive in Kyoto - including Sayo, now that she's a little less ghostly - and the gang are soon busy taking in the sights. For Negi, though, there's more to it than just teaching, as there have been rumours of two rival magical groups causing problems around the city & he's under strict instructions to make sure the girls don't come to any harm. A plague of frogs is the first sign that something's not quite right, and Negi soon finds that someone is after him. Could one of the enemies be one of his own class? Time to turn to their secret weapon - magical girl Asuna...

As the story goes on, we’re introduced to the new “enemy”, the Hoganji Faction, and it soon becomes clear that it’s not Negi they’re targeting, but someone a lot more surprising. Even more surprising is Negi realising that, when it comes down to it, his magical ability isn’t really that great, and that he needs help to improve. Personally, I really enjoyed Negima! last time it got into magical combat territory – that aspect of the show stands up a lot better than endless high-school comedy – and these episodes are just as good. The number of little plot twists and surprises that are thrown in threatens to derail things a little, not so much through keeping track of them all but in how believable they are, but so long as you keep your brain in a low gear it’s all enjoyable enough to watch. Come the end of the disc, the confrontation has been resolved but it’s fairly clear that the Hoganji Faction will be back for another crack, so I’m looking forward to seeing that part of the final disc, at least.

Also thrown into the mix, just at the end of the disc, is a little romantic angst, as Asuna finds out that the love of her life is apparently seeing someone else. I vaguely remember being a teenager once and feeling the pain of unrequited love (just from a male viewpoint), so I can just about relate to Asuna’s immediate reaction – but the real surprise here was finding out that they weren’t just using her feelings for Takamichi-sensei as a comedy foil. Whether that turns out to be a good thing or not depends on where the storyline goes from here, but given how good Negima! can be aay from the comedy, I’m cautiously optimistic.

In summary:
Negima! is always at its best when it’s less comedy and more action / drama, and that’s what this disc serves up. The Kyoto story isn’t quite as good on balance as the Evangeline arc earlier in the series, but there’s still plenty here to like and it’s definitely one of the show’s better volumes. Hopefully the final disc will carry on the good work.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,The City of Kyoto,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.

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