Negima Vol. #6 (also w/limited edition) - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98/34.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Negima

Negima Vol. #6 (also w/limited edition)

By Chris Beveridge     February 28, 2007
Release Date: February 20, 2007


Negima Vol. #6 (also w/limited edition)
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
As the world grows dark at Mahora Academy, one succumbs to her fate end. Negi Springfield and the girls of Class 2-A are about to get a life lesson none will soon forget... But first, a surprise birthday party is in order! The celebration may be a day too early, but it's almost a day too late, as words of parting prove painfully true...

Death hangs heavy over all, and each suffers their own flavor of guilt. From the deranged to the demonic, Negi searches in vain for a cure to the reaper's cold embrace. Stumbling upon the unlikeliest of answers, he inadvertently drags all of the girls into his insanity. And it's a history assignment of unparalleled proportions! The soul of one hangs in the balance, where a kiss may save all. The final bell has rung!

Contains episodes 23-26:
Remember to Die
Both Weapons and Words Wound
Death is Certain, The Time is Uncertain
Not For Me, Not For You, But For Us

The Review!
With Negima being a series that doesn't have a real conclusion to it, this installment of the series draws closure to the first main chapter of the characters lives.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. This track and the English track both sport a stereo mix and to my surprises that wasn't the usual 5.1 remix that's usually done for the English track. The stereo mix is pretty decent though as it uses the forward soundstage well since there are so many characters talking at different times across the screen. Dialogue is fairly well placed and discernable with no problems while the sound effects and music use the soundstage to good effect though not with anything really outstanding. Dialogue was clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Overall the show looks decent on smaller sets but when you move to larger ones or use upconversion, you'll run into more problems. The main problem that comes across with this release is a combination of a general softness to the show, which may be intentional but it's hard to tell, and a fair amount of mosquito noise in the backgrounds and in the solid colors of the characters uniforms and clothes. Cross coloration is very minimal though and aliasing isn't much of a problem but the noise in general was fairly distracting at times.

Packaging:
There's almost something of a book/graphic novel style to the layout of the cover art as it has a tan strip down the left side while using just character artwork for the rest of the cover, this time of Nodoka smiling while wearing her school uniform set against some of the magic symbols in an orange hue. The logo is solid and looks good, the character artwork isn't hugely eye-catching but it looks good and I like the focus on the individual characters for covers. The back cover is a bit busier as it has a number of shots from the show strewn around it as well as some character artwork to tie it together. The layout actually provides for the episode listings by number and title and listing the title both in translated form and the original Latin that's used in the episodes. The summary material isn't too detailed which is nice and the discs extras are clearly listed. The technical information, always far too small on FUNimation releases, is difficult to read due to its size. No insert was included with this release.

In addition to the standard single disc release, a box + toy release is also available. The packaging for this is basically a thin cardboard box that pops at the top where you can take out the disc and the figures. The box is essentially a duplicate of the keepcase artwork for the front and back but just expanded a bit to hold everything inside. The figure for this release is that of Chachamaru in her maid uniform that is simply very cute.

Menu:
The main menu is a very simple but cute piece that has a foreground full color image of Nodoka from the cover while the background has a mixture of magical symbols and a shot of Negi in an orangehue, all of which is set to a very mellow instrumental piece of music. The layout and design is simple but it works well in drawing the eye and having a very clean look between the navigation strip and the use of the logo as seen on the front cover. Access times are nice and fast and while the disc did read our players' language presets, it only picked up the language properly as the subtitle tracks are unlabeled.

Extras:
Bringing the series to a close there are a couple of good extras included here. The first is the standard material in the character profiles as well as the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences. A new schoolgirl commentary is included to let the cast talk a bit more about the series as it draws to a close. A bit of liner notes appears in the form of an explanation on the Tree of the World while the other new extra here is a collection of amusing bloopers from the English language voice recording sessions.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the manga series having plenty more ground to cover and the anime variant already taking enough liberties, it's little surprise to see that there isn't any sort of true conclusion to the show. Also unsurprising was the attempts within these last episodes to try and really mess with the viewers by creating a false sense of hope that someone would actually be killed and kept to it. Like much in the entertainment world, death is just a temporary thing unless it involves live actors and contracts that aren't renewed.

The series has had its interesting moments along the way and while it never won me over handily there was a certainly level of enjoyment to it. I wouldn't quite call it a guilty pleasure but I could see and enjoy aspects to it that I liked from other Akamatsu works. This set of episodes tries to play the heartstrings a bit more with mostly serious material for the bulk of it as it wants to build up tension and to make sure that viewers care about the cast at this point. In order to do that though, they have to keep the show focused on a smaller number of characters and basically push the majority of them to the side for the duration. If your favorites get sidelined it can be a bit more arduous viewing experience.

One area of the cast that's been underutilized is Asuna's ability to defuse magic, be it Negi's or Evangeline's. It's come up at various times in ways that has helped but the reasoning behind it has long been kept out of the picture. That aspect comes in full bore for this story arc as it's discovered that her ability to keep magic at bay was done as part of a pact with a very powerful demon. Asuna's life as a child was one fraught with peril as she seemed to be like a magnet to demons that wanted to kill her. These incidents often ended up causing massive destruction on wherever her home was at the time until she came across a high level demon who made her a deal to give her ten years of peace in exchange for her life. That moment has come.

Asuna being who she is at this point in her life you would think that she would fight back against it at every cost. Instead, she finds herself simply resigned to all of this and counting down the hours until it happens. The event ends up sending most of the cast into a depression as they don't know the cause. For Negi, it sends him into a guilt spiral that pushes him into believing that he can make a deal or use magic in some way to bring her back. Even Evangeline is surprised at his going this route since she points out there is no such magic. If there had been, you can imagine that she would have utilized it by now herself. Negi's youth works to his advantage here as he doesn't give up easily and finds though some of his students a means that will allow him to go back into the past to rescue her.

The trip back in time is interesting enough as it brings in some small amount of closure to a secondary plot while also managing to extend it in a new way. It also brings the entire cast of characters in the class together to come to a realization about what's going on which would make the show possibly more interesting if it continued on. But there aren't any real surprises here as it is plainly obvious that a show like Negima would not allow one of their main characters to pass on. Getting to see a young Asuna is cute and fun as is finding out who her protector is at that point. Where it becomes a bad show is in how the entire class all works together using their various special skills to defeat the big bad demon. It simply becomes such a big production of wankery at that point that it just feels ridiculous. While some of the cast has obvious advantages and skills that would conceivably help, the cheerleaders, gymnasts and other various clubs that the girls belong to just become what they obviously are, marketing gimmicks of fanservice.

As I haven't read much of the manga I don't know if Asuna's pact is something that was dealt with in there. In the context of this show it feels like a very bad fit when you take into consideration Asuna's personality. As she discovered what Negi is very early on, it's surprising that she didn't bring up her problem to her once she trusted him. They came to a level of trust and understanding fairly early on, even with the romantic interlude with Nodoka getting in the way, and Negi could have provided much more help to her early on in figuring this out. Instead it's suddenly the day before the pact is due and she can't bring herself to truly ask help of anyone she's close to. The only one she makes even an ounce of comment to about it is Evangeline who would be the wrong person considering her style of magic. The concept overall of the pact is not one I find bad, but with its introduction here with little real build-up to it just helps to reinforce how mediocre this show truly is.

In Summary:
Negima has had its moments and there are some very good ones here as the show gets darkly serious. Unfortunately for it, these moments can't be taken truly seriously as you know that the consequences of Asuna's actions will be reversed in some way because a happy ending is required. It is an Akamatsu property after all and there are lots of character goods to sell. There is a lot to like about Negima in total providing expectations aren't kept high. The series is essentially fluff with some moments that hint at better material. With a solid cast on both sides of the language fence but with a bit more character because of how well the English accents work, Negima will certainly have it's appeal but like other Akamatsu works doesn't truly sate the appetite.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles,Schoolgirl Commentary,Tree of the World,Bloopers,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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